According to a recent survey by CSO Insights, sales professionals spend an average of 18.1 percent of their time prospecting and preparing for calls.1 That is nearly one day per work week. Salespeople who have a lean pipeline of opportunities spend even higher amounts of time. With this amount of investment, one would think that sellers would spend their time as wisely as possible. However, when I conducted research for the book, The Collaborative Sale2, I discovered that only a small proportion of salespeople were prospecting effectively to keep their pipelines full of qualified opportunities.

Four prospecting mistakes to avoid at all costs

Here is a list of the top four prospecting mistakes that salespeople should avoid at all costs.

  1. Making prospecting a spare-time activity

    A surprisingly large number of salespeople, especially those who sell business-to-business solutions, do not reserve “sacred time” in their calendars for prospecting and pipeline replenishment. Instead, they conduct prospecting whenever they have “free time” on their calendars. This reduces prospecting effectiveness in two ways.

    First, it prevents sellers from perfecting their messaging for prospecting. Effective sales prospectors are those who develop compelling messages, and then refine and enhance those messages as they deliver them repeatedly. By only conducting prospecting sporadically, or when time allows, sellers limit the opportunity to practice and improve their delivery through experience.

    Second, spare-time prospectors hardly prospect at all, as a rule. There is always another more urgent and immediate task to complete. Sellers who prospect sporadically always seem to have lean – or even non-existent – pipelines.

    A best practice for prospecting is to reserve a set amount of time each week in your calendar to research, practice and then deliver effective messages to potential customers. This time can be increased if your pipeline is lean, but it should never be reduced. Top performing salespeople always find time to prospect, even when they have exceeded their short-term sales goals.

  2. Polling instead of creating interest

    Too many salespeople think that success in prospecting depends on the amount of activity they conduct, rather than the effectiveness of that activity. Making a lot of calls or sending an abundance of emails is simply polling, not prospecting.

    The most effective sales prospectors focus foremost on stimulating buyer interest and curiosity, not just reaching a lot of potential prospects. They do not define prospecting as getting an appointment or an agreement to meet, but as making a potential prospect curious and eager to learn more. Effective prospects therefore use customer success stories and pertinent industry research to develop provocative points of view, and then apply these to stimulate buyer curiosity. Once the prospect acknowledges their interest and desire to know more, then the seller can ask for further contact.

The remaining 45% of the article is available for logged-in service users.

If you have an active subscription, go to login. If you are not yet our Reader, please choose the best SUBSCRIPTION VALUE..

Log in Order a subscription Buy this article

Możesz też zobaczyć ten artykuł i wiele innych w naszym portalu Sprzedaz 24. Wystarczy, że klikniesz tutaj.

Favorites Print

Also check

Open access no. 14/2021

Whom should I sell to first?

Whom should I sell to first?
  • How can you choose the most promising clients?
  • Where to look for new customers?
  • Why should you prioritise your regular clients?
Read more

Project management methods for a sales manager (Part 1. Waterfall)

Project management methods for a sales manager (Part 1. Waterfall)
  • What exactly is project management?
  • When does an organised, project-oriented approach become essential for a sales team?
  • What project management tools may be useful for the sales department?
  • When closing a meeting, how do I make sure that everyone feels motivated and understands what they’re supposed to do?
Read more

Go to



Privacy cookies

By Further active use of the Website (viewing content, closing the message, clicking links on the page) without changing the privacy settings, you agree to the processing of personal data by EXPLANATOR and partners in order to provide services in accordance with Privacy policy. You can specify the conditions for storage or access to cookies in your browser.

Service Purpose of use Enabled
Cookies necessary for the website to function You cannot disable these cookies, as they are essential for the website to function properly. These cookies also store the cookie settings you have defined. YES
Analytics cookies Cookies that make it possible to collect information about the way a user uses a website in order to optimise its functioning and adjust it to the user's expectations. Information collected by these files do not identify any particular user.
Marketing cookies Cookies that enable us to show you marketing content tailored to your preferences, and to notify you of marketing offers that match your interests, including information about the products and services of the site administrator and third parties. If you choose to delete or disable these cookies, advertisements will still be displayed, but they may not be relevant to you.