It seems universal, we don’t have enough in our pipelines, we have to prospect. We have to find more opportunities.

But then our prospecting outreach isn’t producing what we need, so we cast a wider net. Where reaching out to 100 prospects no longer works, we bump it up to 200, then 500, then 1000, then…..

To meet this need for more, we cast wider nets, we increase volumes and touches. If one email won’t do, then we do two, then three. The average number of touches to get a response is skyrocketing. Years ago, it was 6, then 10, then 16, and who knows where it is going?

Something seems fundamentally wrong. Things are going in the wrong direction. We aren’t getting the engagement we want/need, we have greater difficulty filling our pipelines, or we relax our standards, and the quality of the pipelines plummet, aggravating the problem.

Yet we have better tools–we can personalize every outreach, we can carefully segment and target, we have propensity to buy tools that refine our targeting. These tools should improve our ability to reach the right people, at the right time, with the right message.

In doing so, we should actually require less volume to achieve our goals.

But somehow it isn’t working that way. The quest for volume continues to dominate.

What’s happening? Why aren’t the things that should be working not working?

Well, there are a few thoughts:

While our tools offer us tremendous capability for targeting, personalization, and so forth; we don’t use those capabilities. If my inbox is typical of most people’s 90% of the prospecting emails I get should never have been sent. Our company is not in the target market. We aren’t a manufacturing company, though we have manufacturing clients. But why are we receiving prospecting email for manufacturing solutions? Or the email could simply say “Dear Dave, …” or it could begin with, “I read one of your articles and thought we might have a common interest.”

Our tools give us capabilities, and we are paying for them, yet we don’t use them. This can only be chalked up to sloppiness, laziness, or cluelessness.

Second, we aren’t producing enough from those that respond, or those opportunities we qualify. Win rates may be falling, average deal size may be decreasing. To make our numbers, we need more…..

Which gets us back to the same prospecting conundrum. More prospecting, more outreach, bigger and bigger numbers.

Yet, the solution to more may be getting more out of what we already have. Winning more of our qualified deals. To improve win rates, we need to make sure we are chasing the right deals, that the customer has a high sense of urgency to change, that we are executing strong, value based sales strategies aligned with customer buying processes.

Getting more out of those deals we pursue, means we have to find fewer opportunities. Ironically, when are really good at winning those deals we qualify, we actually get better yield in our prospecting efforts.

We are targeting the right opportunities, we are better able to engage the prospect in the right conversations, we are better able to help them understand why they might change, we are better able to create greater interest and engagement with our prospects.

It shouldn’t be a surprise, if we are weak in one aspect of selling, that weakness ripples through to everything else we do. We will never be great at prospecting, unless we are great in managing our qualified deals through closure. If our weak prospecting skills cause us to qualify the wrong opportunities, our ability to meet our goals will plummet. If we are weak in our account/territory planning, we will be weak in our prospecting. If we are weak in our call planning and execution, we will be weak in our deal and prospecting strategies.

Too often, we look for the one thing that enables us to make our goals. But if we aren’t doing everything well, we will always struggle.

Stop looking for the one thing. Do the work!