The Top 5 B2B Prospecting Mistakes To Avoid At All Costs

Prospecting mistakes are the most deadly errors you can make in professional selling, in large part because they are so difficult to quantify. Sales mistakes and blunders in the sales process or in closing are much easier to recognize and calculate.

However, since prospecting mistakes often result in sales opportunities that never actually made it into the “loop,” it is far more difficult to see the affects. So, here are the 5 top B2B prospecting mistakes that you need to avoid.

#5: Referrals
One word: REFERRALS. Though we all know about the importance of asking for and getting referrals, most sales people have still not become proficient and consistent in doing this. Not asking for referrals; especially from prospects that DO NOT BUY is like throwing away money out of the window.

#4: Misunderstanding Objections
Two near instant responses from prospects cause sales people a world of problems because they do not understand how to respond. They are:

a. “I am happy with my current supplier.”
b. “I am not interested.”

The typical reaction to these two automatic prospect responses is to begin trying to overcome the objection. The problem is that these are not objections at all. Sales people usually start with rebuttals trying to “answer” or argue the point. Instead, you need to understand that it is perfectly natural and OK for the prospect to feel that way at that point. Do not try to refute the prospect’s feeling. Take the sales process one step at a time and do your job.

#3: Not Recognising Gatekeeper Screens
The real reason many sales people do not believe that they have a problem with gatekeepers (GKs) is that they don’t even realise it. Today’s sophisticated and educated GKs are not like those of the past. A good GK screen is invisible to the average sales person. This causes sales people to continue calling, going on and on, never reaching the decision maker and never knowing that they have a problem.

#2: Poor Record Keeping
Poor, inadequate and antiquated record keeping and customer relationships management (CRM) will flat-out kill you. You can not underestimate the critical importance of maintaining accurate sales activity data. Leads WILL slip through the proverbial cracks and they are usually the ones that make the difference between success and failure.

#1: Selling The Product Or Service Prematurely
The number one prospecting mistake in B2B sales is selling the product prematurely and out of order. When prospecting, you have to stick to a sales process and accomplish each step in turn. If for example, the next step is to contact the decision maker (DM) to get information to see if this SUSPECT qualifies as a PROSPECT; then you must do ONLY that.

However, the moment a prospect raises any issue, the sales person usually goes into SELLING the product or service. The sales person calls just to see if the suspect has the required amount of network servers to qualify as a bona fide lead. The prospect says, “I’m really not interested…”, and the sales person immediately launches into answering this like an objection, as in #4 above.

Whatever is your NEXT STEP in the sales process is what you need to SELL and nothing else. Too often sales people, after a mere 30 seconds on the telephone, are trying to convince a buyer why he or she needs to buy; instead of just making an appointment, for example.

If your objective is to set an appointment, or get information or gain an opt-in for email or literature, JUST DO THAT! Do not fall into the trap of SELLING when you should be SETTING.

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat
Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image by Stuart Miles at

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The 3 Most Costly Prospecting Mistakes

Below are three clear and simple mistakes that sales people routinely make while prospecting. Prospecting mistakes are the most costly problems because most sales people and sales management never actually realise the full affect of prospecting errors.

What You Can Not See CAN Hurt YOU
The problem is that it is much easier to see and understand others selling issues that result in loses, such as closing mistakes, poor customer service issues, or losing sales to the competition. It is easy to spot lost sales opportunities.

However, it is far more difficult to recognise or quantify the lost in sales revenue when it comes to sales opportunities that NEVER developed in the first place, due to poor prospecting. So, please take these three prospecting mistakes to heart and avoid them at all costs because it is likely they are already costing you more money than you can imagine.

#3 – Failure to Get Referrals
Not getting enough referrals; especially getting referrals from the prospects that do not buy, is a killer. You must become and expert at getting referrals and if you are already good at this, then practice getting more.

#2 – Selling the Product or Service Prematurely
Prospecting is but a set in the sales process, and it is not the close. However, far too many sales people confuse prospecting with closing. In that I mean, when they should be qualifying the prospect, or identifying the decision maker ort just setting an appointment—they are trying to sell the product.

When a prospect objects to an appointment, you need to sell the appointment and not the product. Avoid falling into the trap of trying to sell your product or service during the prospecting stages.

#1 – Poor Record Keeping and Customers Relationships Management
The most costly prospect mistake is the lack of effective record keeping. Most sales people overlook the importance of keeping accurate sales-activity records. Prospects that slip through the cracks are often the difference between success and failure. Prospects you forgot to call, emails you failed to send or lost leads, are a fraction of what slips through your fingers. If you are using post-it notes, an A4 pad, memory or the back of a cigarette packet for prospecting, you are losing money!

Avoid these costly prospecting mistakes and keep your sales funnel fill.

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat
MTD Sales Training

(Image by Digital Art)

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