Fanatical Prospecting by Jeb Blount (Book summary)

Fanatical Prospecting by Jeb Blount (Book summary)

Written by Jeb Blount, Fanatical Prospecting is a practical guide for prospecting and a must-read for salespeople, sales leaders, entrepreneurs, and executives. You get to know the details of one of the most important sales process activities, which is prospecting.

The primary reason for not succeeding in sales is an empty sales pipeline due to not being able to prospect consistently. In Fanatical Prospecting, the author presents his creative approach to prospecting that works in the real world. You can learn ways to keep the pipeline full and avoid periods of slumps in the sales process. The author uses a balanced methodology for prospecting across several channels. 

The book has the strategies, techniques, and tools you require to keep your pipeline filled with top-quality opportunities. This book is the most detailed one ever written on sales prospecting. The author reveals how you can improve sales productivity and earn more revenue.  

About the Author

Jeb Blount is a Sales Acceleration expert, a business leader with 25+ years of experience with Fortune 500 companies, SMBs, and start-ups. He spends over  250 days every year delivering speeches and conducting training programs to sales teams and leaders worldwide. 

The key points of Fanatical Prospecting

1. For running a successful business, prospecting is important. A fanatical prospector is the one who focuses on the next sale.

2. Prospects don’t have a fear of the other person turning them down. They know that when they require something, they have to get it themselves.

3. You can’t replace phone calls even if they are not fun to make. A good sales professional would make phone calls when they begin their day at work. 

4. Social media has a lot of potential, but it is not where you can make a sale. You can use it to promote your product or service and place your ads, but you can’t close deals there. 

5. Good prospectors use numbers to guide their work. They depend on data and analytics as it gives them direction. 

Main ideas of the book

Let’s take a look at the Fanatical Prospecting book summary and move on to the main ideas of the book. 

The secret of succeeding in sales is simple: Fanatical prospecting.

Businesses can survive only when there are sales. It is essential, but only a few people understand how they work, and experts give advice that doesn’t seem effective. They are trying to sell you a shortcut for success that is not true. Some salespeople fall for it as everyone wants instant success. 

Sales can be a time-consuming and challenging activity, and it is the ‘’sales superstars’’ who can understand that you need to work hard to succeed. The chief reason is that they have seen their peers who failed because they weren’t dedicated or talented enough. The actual reason for superstars to earn better is the hard work they put in by reaching out to a new prospect and not missing out on any opportunity to ask for a sale.

Successful salespeople are those who invest more time in getting more fresh leads and building contacts. They avoid wasting their time on other activities. They believe that if they keep adding prospects to the sales pipeline, sales will happen.  

Fanatical prospectors don’t fear rejection; they try everything to interrupt prospects.

In Fanatical Prospecting, the author does not make prospecting sound exciting. It is not fun as you will interrupt someone’s day to sell them your offering.

The recipient’s response isn’t easy to know when you send emails or make phone calls.  It can be a positive response, but the reply might not be favorable. It can disappoint salespeople, and it is the fear of rejection that makes few sales teams underperform. The author says that some reps stare at the phone in companies he visits for consultation instead of calling clients. They are scared about the call’s outcome if the person is not interested in buying their solution. 

Companies usually have a tough time finding customers to purchase their products. Even after that, it is not sufficient to earn a profit as top businesses already have so many sales reps pursuing them. Waiting for the prospect company to contact you will only lead to disappointment because the number of salespeople outweighs the number of clients.

It shows that as a salesperson, you must try hard to get what you want. If people don’t get it, you must fight for it. For that, you must get over the fear of calling people even if they don’t pick up or call back.

Nobody likes phone prospecting, but it is a tool you cannot replace.

In Fanatical Prospecting, the author says that he adds humor at conferences by asking – How do you get a salesperson to stop working? 

Answer: Put a phone in front of him, being the most stressful part of his job, and he will try everything to avoid it. 

Despite all that, making phone calls works well, and it is the most efficient tool in prospecting. 

Compared to the percentage of finding prospects successfully through social selling and email, the percentage of doing so via phone calls is higher. In this modern age, phones connect to people instead of desks, so they are more effective. Also, as people do everything in business online, calling someone over the phone adds a personal touch that you can’t get in email communication. While face-to-face meetings are great, they are time-consuming and cost you money. This is why calling someone over the phone is still a great way to reach out. 

For those who dislike making phone calls, the best way out is to do it as the first activity in the morning. That will relieve you of phone prospecting for the remaining part of the day. This technique seeks its inspiration from Nicolas Chamfort’s idea that says if you have something disgusting on your plate, it is better to eat it up quickly because then nothing else will be as bad as it is. 

Social media is not the best for selling, but it is still a helpful tool for prospectors.

Social selling has changed the way people interact with each other and has changed the way people do business. There is also an opinion that social media will replace other kinds of prospecting. However, it is just a misconception because the conversion rates from phone calls and emails are higher than those from social media. It is like phone prospecting will continue to thrive. 

The fact is that when compared to conventional ways of prospecting, social selling is not effective. The fundamental problem with social selling is that it annoys prospects and turns them off. You can damage existing relationships with prospects when they don’t like you pitching them on social media.

While social media can’t replace prospecting, it is an essential tool. It can give you valuable information about potential customers and help salespeople develop bonds with people and build their brands. 

To use social media for building relationships, you must try to spend time on the social media platform where your customers are more active. If it is Twitter, it is where you should be. 

The worst enemies of every prospect are procrastination, perfectionism, and paralysis.

The fear of rejection is the major reason why salespeople avoid prospecting. However, there are other reasons as well that stop them from making phone calls and meeting clients. One of them is procrastination, which refers to putting things off to do later or not doing them. Then there is perfectionism. It means being too critical about yourself and your work that it is not possible to move ahead. The third sin is paralysis which refers to not taking action because of nervousness due to fear of failure. 

Being slow and steady will not make one win a race, which applies to sales. Spending a significant part of your time on the sidelines will only make your boss unhappy because of the empty pipeline. Perfectionism is quite common but differs from being meticulous. Perfectionists are so much into the perfection that they don’t do anything at all. 

Here’s an example, Jeremy wasted his time reading his notes repeatedly each morning before speaking to clients. As a result, he made only seven calls in 3 hours. On the other hand, Sandra had 53 conversations in an hour, engaged 14 decision-makers, and made two appointments with qualified leads. This clearly shows the vast difference between the temperament of the two sales reps.  

Top salespeople use a mixed prospecting methodology.

When a friend tells you he knows a stock option that guarantees money and wants to invest all his savings in it, what would you say? The chances are that you would ask him to be careful as experienced investors diversify portfolios so that they don’t lose everything in one go. 

This logic applies to sales as well. It is better not to take the risk of putting all your eggs in one basket. Why do salespeople end up doing it? Because of the advice from sales gurus who say that there is only one way to win at selling. You can succeed when you can adapt yourself and use different methods of prospecting. A salesperson using only one method will not perform as well as someone who uses multiple channels like cold calls, email, phone calls, and social media. 

You must ask yourself what works best for your industry if you want to succeed and grow the business. If you are selling products locally, getting leads by going door to door will help you, but it won’t work out if it is a rural area with few people. If a place is new to you, you have to build your database by making calls, and it will help your name become familiar to people. This strategy will not work if you have been in the area for quite some time now, and everyone will already know who you are. 

Also, the prospecting method varies for different types of companies. Find your balance and learn from people who succeed in sales. You can follow what they are doing and mix it up with your methodology.

Following the three laws of prospecting is important to keep the pipeline full.

Salespeople have to bring in a steady stream of prospects. The top sales professionals know that prospecting is the only way to do so. They spend 80 percent of their time on the task of prospecting. There are three laws of prospecting:

(1) Prospects are everywhere

(2) Every No takes you closer to a Yes

(3) Do not stop till you get what you want

The author points out that the more you need something, the lesser are the chances to get it. This applies to salespeople with several prospects in the pipeline. As they don’t want to fail, they may make calls desperately, and it may irritate the prospects. 

It is essential to stop yourself from getting into a cycle that doesn’t let you prospect. The author suggests that you follow the 30-day rule stating that your deals are only as good as the potential customers you reached out to in the last 30 days. 

Even a single day without prospecting can make your sales pipeline get empty and result in desperation. Not finding clients actively can trouble you.

Like top athletes, prospectors improve their performance by following numbers.

In sports, athletes are obsessed with statistics as the difference between first and second place is just a few seconds or centimeters. They know that by inspecting their numbers and tweaking them, they can improve their performance. 

On similar lines, salespeople track their sales outreach data through metrics as doing so helps them be more efficient and effective. They maintain a record of the contacts they made, the appointments they scheduled, and so on. This helps them understand what works best for them. 

Take a look at this from a different angle. Efficiency refers to the amount of work you complete in a particular period, while effectiveness refers to the ratio between your work and outcome. Making 100 calls but not generating any leads shows that you are inefficient. However, making ten calls and getting one lead that closes a sale reveals that you use your time effectively. 

The most prominent trait of a good salesperson is that he has a perfect balance between efficiency and effectiveness. They should track their progress, but most don’t do that. The author feels that a sales rep has to know how he is performing to know where he stands.

You can maximize your efficiency and effectiveness with the prospecting pyramid.

In Fanatical Prospecting, the author recalls his days when he worked as a consultant for a company. He found that the company’s sales team was calling random prospects instead of prioritizing them based on need or data. The rule is that if you don’t prioritize the best opportunities, you will end up wasting your time. It involves grouping prospects as per the size of the opportunity and their likelihood of turning into customers. You will get a pyramid in place of a square so that when you focus on the top 10 to 20 percent, you don’t have to work too hard to convert the prospects into customers.

An infographic image showing Prospect Priority Pyramid, which Jeb Blount describes in Fanatical Prospecting. It has five tiers. The base consists of general population, these are prospects you don't know well.
On the topmost tier are highly qualified prospects on whom salespeople should focus on.

To keep the structure stable, at the base of the pyramid, you must try to place the prospects you don’t know well. The aim is to collect as much information about them as possible and move them up in the structure to the second tier of prospects. You would know the prospects of this tier better than the first tier, but you might have to ask a few questions to qualify them further. After that, you can spend time nurturing the relationship and looking out for signs that tell you that the prospect is ready to purchase. 

The fourth tier of the pyramid provides the best opportunities, and monitoring them will help you stay prepared to take quick action. Beyond this level are the hot leads and referrals, who are willing to purchase immediately. Get in touch with them and push them ahead in the pipeline. 

Sales reps should give the highest priority to qualified prospects who are in desperate need of what you are offering and will make a purchase once you reach out to them. 

A persuasive pitch is one that tells prospects what it has to offer them.

While salespeople want a sales pitch that gets clients running to them, the truth is that you have to learn how to craft persuasive pitches. Even then, it won’t open doors for you! 

When you approach a client, put yourself in their shoes. After a hard day at work, you would not want to waste your time on those who have no idea what they are talking about or are selling you a product or service that doesn’t seem relevant to you. Instead, you would want to speak to a salesperson who comes to the point and explains how their offering would benefit you. 

The main concern of potential customers is ‘what is in it for me?’ Ask yourself whether your sales pitch has the answer for the number one concern of every potential customer. 

Highlights of the book worth noting 

After taking a look at the main ideas of the book, Fanatical Prospecting, here are a few highlights that would help you out further,

1. The seven mindsets of fanatical prospectors

Fanatical prospects are those who are 

  • Optimistic
  • Competitive
  • Confident
  • Relentless
  • Hungry for knowledge and to improve oneself
  • Systematic
  • Adaptable

2. The Universal Law of Need

The more you want something, the lesser the chances of you getting it, as other people can understand your desperation. 

3. The 30-Day Rule

The 30-Day rule says that your 30 days of prospecting efforts pay off in the next 90 days. It is a simple rule but it is a powerful one and you should not ignore it. Missing one day of prospecting will cost you in the next 90 days. Not prospecting for a week will affect your commission and missing prospecting for a whole month can mess up with your pipeline and push you into a slump. 90 days later you won’t know how you landed there. 

4. The law of replacement

Keep adding new opportunities into your pipeline to replace the ones that fall out naturally. 

A 10% close rate means that for every deal you close, 9 others will fail. That means you must find 10 new prospects for each close you make to keep the pipeline full.

5. Sales Slumps

If you forget the 30-day rule and stop prospecting, there can be sales slumps even if the pipeline is full. The only way to escape a sales slump is by prospecting. 

6. Time blocking 

Time blocking involves dedicating specific hours to certain activities.

Golden Hours: These are time blocks meant for prospecting and customer engagement.

Platinum Hours: Time blocks for making lists of prospects, researching, managing CRM, and preparing for tasks so that you can focus on prospecting when you have Golden Hours.

7. The Four Objectives Of Prospecting

Prospecting should involve,

  • Setting an appointment
  • Gathering information and qualifying
  • Closing a sale
  • Building familiarity

The above goals are essential to help the sales process move forward.

8. The Law of Familiarity

Activities to build familiarity are important to facilitate future sales. However, it would help if you balanced them properly with other prospecting activities. 

Familiarity Threshold: It is a point where a prospect is willing to build a first-name relationship with the salesperson even though they don’t want to make a purchase. 

Here’s the fundamental idea of the author in Fanatical Prospecting in a single sentence: Many businesses believe that you can increase sales by having good closers, but the key to success is that you should have good prospectors who are able to find prospects who need your product or service the most.

Conclusion

Fanatical Prospecting by Jeb Blount is for all those who are in sales and business development. The book has tactical sections. The author gives practical advice on how to run a successful business. You can find ways to build a solid pipeline after reading this book. 

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