Type “sales book” into the Amazon search window and you’ll get nearly 2,300,000 results. But every once in a while, a book comes along that rocks the sales world. That’s the case with Fanatical Prospecting by Jeb Blount. It’s a practical guide on how to do the most important – and the most difficult – thing in sales: prospecting. Recently, April Williams, President of North Star Marketing, Inc. (NSM), sat down with Ted Williams, NSM’s Chief Revenue Officer, to discuss the highlights of the book, and its implications for sales leaders and sales people everywhere.
April: Tell me a little about Jeb Blount, the author of Fanatical Prospecting.
Ted: Well, Jeb is the Founder of SalesGravy.com, and a much sought-after speaker and sales consultant. He wrote Fanatical Prospecting to remove the complexity of prospecting and provide a real, practical formula for its use.
April: What is it about the book that’s made you such a groupie?
Ted: Ha! I guess you can say I drank the Kool-Aid. Fanatical Prospecting is a playbook that teaches sales professionals the do’s and don’ts of successful selling. It’s a book that everyone in the sales world should read and embrace. Jeb Blount and his team teach a methodology that develops routines and habits that – through the relentless pursuit of sales – make all of us in this profession better and more efficient.
April: So, why the need for fanatical prospecting? And not just prospecting?
Ted: It’s because fanatical prospecting is what separates the sales superstars from everyone else.
From his years of experience in sales, Blount observed that many sales people possess the drive, talent and hunger to succeed. And many have the intelligence, talent, skills and education to be top performers. Yet they consistently underperform the superstars. What separates them? The inability to add qualified prospects and opportunities into their company’s pipeline. And if the pipeline isn’t filled, you can’t nurture and close customers, the sales can’t happen, the company can’t grow, and people can’t reach their goals. The only way to do this is to be “obsessively concerned” with your pipeline – so it becomes a daily obsession to fill it.
April: Or as Blount says, “You’re not going to eat, much less have a job, if you don’t prospect!”
Ted: Exactly! And the great thing about Fanatical Prospecting is that it provides action plans to improve prospecting through today’s methods of phone, email, social, texting and in-person meetings. Blount shows how to leverage those methods to achieve four core prospecting objectives:
- Set an appointment
- Gather information and qualify
- Close a sale
- Build familiarity
Blount says that there are three things we can control in our lives: our actions, our reactions, and our mindset. These are especially true when it comes to prospecting. Fanatical Prospecting compartmentalizes it with the Four Pillars of Mental Toughness in Sales:
- Mental resilience
- Outearn = outlearn
- Physical resilience
Fanatical Prospecting shows us that we need to be relentless in our personal pursuits of learning and growing, and in our professional pursuits of prospects and opportunities. Putting the lessons in Fanatical Prospecting into practice helps put any sales person on the road to being a top performer.
April: In the book, Blount refers to the power of interruption. What does that mean?
Ted: It’s a really core concept. Blount wants to empower salespeople to fill their pipelines with traffic by embracing, not fearing, interruption. Research your prospect, pick up the phone and interrupt. He stresses that sales leaders’s job is to get salespeople to stop prospects in their tracks. To teach them to believe in the product, and believe they are solving people’s problems, so they can interrupt with confidence.
April: What are some other valuable takeaways you got from the book?
Ted: First, is his point of view on prospecting. Blount stresses that you shouldn’t call the first name on your list. He points out that it’s the sales athletes who call the highest probability prospects first. They close that deal, set that appointment, and build their lists strategically. The first 10-15 calls are to those most likely to buy, so the pipeline fills with a better probability of producing results.
Second, I like his take on social media. Utilizing social tools provides access to information sales people need to connect. But Blount emphasizes that all those quick connections can make a sales person feel like they’re creating a network without ever getting an appointment. It doesn’t replace getting on the phone.
And third, Fanatical Prospecting teaches that speed and efficiency are critical. Failure is expected and will happen – often. And when it does, don’t take it personally, but instead move on to the next opportunity, quickly. ‘There is always time for one more call’ is the mantra Jeb teaches which reinforces the relentless, fanatical pursuit of sales.
April: You recently went through some fanatical prospecting training of your own. What were the highlights of your time training with Andy Feldman of Jeb’s team?
Ted: Andy took us through a three-month program where we evaluated our process, brainstormed better techniques for our industry and perfected our craft. The process gave us the answers and techniques that will lead to successful selling and ultimately closing deals. The program was both brilliant and helpful, especially in corralling sales professionals who are strong-willed, independent and usually don’t listen to other’s advice.
April: As you look at North Star Marketing’s Sales Amplification program, how does it fit with the lessons of Fanatical Prospecting?
Ted: If Fanatical Prospecting is the methodology, Sales Amplification is the engine that drives this methodology. The concept behind being fanatical is that it’s a numbers game and success is measured in small results. However, Sales Amplification is a process that supports individual sales people with creative and thoughtful engagement with prospects. This process helps us determine which prospects are truly the most valuable to pursue. When we’re being fanatical on behalf of our clients, success rates are increased tenfold which allows us to nurture more leads for the sales people in the program.