The Top 5 B2B Prospecting Mistakes To Avoid At All Costs

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

stamp errorProspecting 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

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training | Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

450 sales questions free report

Originally published: 21 November, 2012

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