3 Reasons why your prospecting doesn’t work!Imagine this…(it may even be a real scenario.)

Things have gone quiet in the showroom, footfall has disappeared for the holidays, salespeople are sat around with little to do and no sales coming in, your sales manager panicking about this month’s (quarter’s) target.

So what can you do?

I know, let’s get prospecting! Get the business manager to look at all the two and three year old deals, have a look at the equity situation and see if he/she can stack them so we can call and get people to change their cars for no extra monthly payments.

You produce a list, say 20 on each, and then pass them out and say – get calling!

Salespeople hate it, customers hate it and it has limited effect – so why isn’t it more successful if we are offering existing customers the opportunity to own a brand new car for the same payments?

Well three reasons – and here they are before I explain each in turn;

  1. The customers don’t trust you!
  2. The call is not well planned!
  3. Salespeople do not know what they are selling!

Ok let’s take them one at a time…

The customers don’t trust you!

Well of course they don’t. I recently had a conversation with a salesman about prospecting and one of my first questions was – “and how often have you spoken to the customer in the last 2/3 years before these prospecting calls you are about to make?” His answer had me rolling with laughter – “well we have a 3 day, 1 month, 6 month and 12 month follow-up policy”

“Really?” I said “and how does that work for you?” – he looked at me slightly aghast, so I went on “that’s the policy, what is the reality?” “Well sometimes I am too busy to do the follow-ups so they don’t always get done”. My take on this; they NEVER get done!

So, think of it this way; you haven’t spoken to the customer in 2 years, he/she’s had problems with the Service Department that you don’t know about, and then you phone him/her full of the joys of spring because you think you are doing him/her a favour – Doh!

Prospecting is not a one-time thing, an effective well managed follow up process would alleviate any need for prospecting existing customers, because you would already be managing the relationship!

Therefore, when you set of on a mad spree of prospecting, you’re already on the back foot, because you’re basically saying to the customer – “the only time I am interested in you is when I want to sell you something” – which may well be true, but believe me, it’s not a great reputation to get.

OK number two – The call is not well planned.

I would be surprised if you even need me to justify this one. The typical scenario is this – “here’s your list and I want all 20 done by the end of the week” (or in some ridiculous cases, the end of the day!)

You stand back and let them get on with it…

The call goes something like “Hi Mr Smith its Bob from XYZ Motors, I hope I am not calling at a bad time?” with a customer response of “well actually yes you are you will have to call back” (and when you do call back, he avoids you because he knows what you want – after all, you only call him when you want to sell him something!)

Alternatively, the customers reply is “no it’s OK what can I do for you?”“ah well the reason I called is – do you still have the XXX car?” (although you should know this stuff) – lets pretend customer says yes – “well we have put a deal together where you can swap your car for a brand new one for little or no extra money, is that something you are interested in?” resulting in a yes or no

There are a number of issues here; for a start as soon as you introduce yourself, the customer will be on his/her guard because they haven’t spoken to sales for 2 – 3 years and they don’t remember who you are (even if you tell them – they are only being polite!) Secondly, when you ask if you are calling at a bad time, there is no real incentive (beyond being polite) to say
yes! And thirdly, the salesman went straight for the close on changing the vehicle! (A quick and efficient way to sort out the dross – but not good selling!!)

Which brings me on to reason number three as to why your prospecting doesn’t work….

Salespeople are selling the wrong thing.

The essence of any sales prospecting is to look for people who may have ‘some’ interest in buying your product or service, not to sell the product or service – that’s a sales call!

Prospecting in a car showroom, is about finding people who would be open to meeting face to face to discuss the offers we have available that would suit their needs and wants. So, if we are trying to close a sale (even in principle) on the phone, we are selling the wrong thing.

Prospecting calls should set up a ‘tease’ and create ‘intrigue’, so the customer agrees to a meeting and then goes on to have a test drive, hopefully then on to buying a car.

Selling the meeting is the real purpose of the call – the stacked deal is just the tease, or maybe the tease is “we have someone interested in a car just like yours, so I think we can get a good price, would you like me to value it for you?” – whatever it is, you must define the tease to make the ‘offer’ to meet.


Prospecting is actually very easy, and when done well, very enjoyable. The problem is usually the way the business and the salespeople go about it!

I believe salespeople should be making a minimum of 10 follow-up calls per day, then there would be no need to prospect. But, if there is, then 3 Prospecting Calls a day should be the minimum and I would suggest and a maximum of 5 (that’s EVERY DAY mind you!)

If you need help getting your team to prospect please do call me…