Prospecting mistakes to avoid

9 Prospecting Mistakes That Can Destroy Your Sales

More than 40% of salespeople say that prospecting is the most challenging part of the sales process. So, if sales prospecting is a struggle for you, you’re not alone.

While cold calling is still an effective form of prospecting, there are easier ways to generate leads in today’s market, no matter what type of industry you work in.

Here are seven ways to generate new leads, fast.

Once you HAVE those prospects and you’re trying to determine whether or not they could become a customer, the real work begins.

With most first impressions being made within three seconds, salespeople have an incredibly limited window to form a connection with potential buyers. How do you grab the attention of your prospects right away?

Below we describe 9 surefire marketing prospecting mistakes that you should avoid at all costs—and what you could do, instead.

Mistake #1: Target the Wrong Sales Prospecting Leads

Successful prospecting comes down to identifying the proper leads. But many sellers don’t bother to do this, opting to avoid the research component. However, with the internet at your fingertips, it’s easier than ever to:

  • Identify decision makers
  • Understand whether a consumer/business is a good fit
  • Connect directly

Rather than call all the prospecting leads on your list, try to segment them based on the information you have at hand. For consumers this may include identifiers like gender, age, or hobbies and interests. For businesses this may include number of employees or geographic location.

Reach out to one segment at a time and identify where you are finding success. Target new prospects with commonalities. 

Mistake #2: Focus on Quantity, Not Quality

You don’t need a lot of prospects, you need only the RIGHT prospects. Yet so many sellers are focused on how many leads are on their lists as opposed to the quality of the leads they receive.

Quality vs Quantity

A lead is simply someone at the top of your marketing funnel who may or may not want what you sell. You can have hundreds, thousands, or even millions of these in your pipeline.

A prospect fits specific criteria you determine your customers need to have in order to be considered a good fit. There are fewer of these in your pipeline, but that doesn’t matter—they’re the more likely sale.

Mistake #3: Ignore Lucrative Prospecting Platforms

Prospecting means never getting too comfortable with a certain way of doing things. Yet many sales people live in the relative comfort of connecting through a platform they know and love. They stick to telemarketing campaigns or always send email to make contact.

Marketing prospecting successfully means embracing various techniques. Social media marketing, email marketing, direct mail marketing, blogging, referrals, and even networking are all opportunities to earn business and form new connections.

When sales people use only one or two techniques, there are often ebbs and flows which is what leads to high highs and low lows. Prospecting long games are formed around multiple channels so that when one ceases to perform well, you’re not scrambling to try something new—it’s already in progress.

Mistake #4: Clinging to Current Clients

In most cases, you enjoy your existing clients—and you want to take good care of them. However, doing so should not come at the expense of searching for new prospective clients.

Time and again, we see SMB owners get wrapped up in the deals that are in progress or following up on deals that have already closed. This is important, but it’s not MORE important than continuing to prospect and build your list. You found the ones you have—and you can find more. But you have to keep putting yourself out there!

Mistake #5: Not Using Personalization

Sellers have an entire world of information at their fingertips—but few take advantage of the opportunity it offers prospect wise. That is, the opportunity to truly personalize someone’s sales experience.

97% of marketers witnessed a rise in business outcomes as a result of personalization.

Meanwhile, generic outreach will kill your sale faster than you can say, “Salesgenie.”

Use the internet, especially social media, to add a deeper level of personalization to your prospecting efforts. Did you attend the same university? Do you both love dogs? Do you live in the same town?


Finding small ways to drop humanizing information about yourself that your prospect can relate to is a great way to build trust while prospecting.

Mistake #6: Lack of Preparation in Sales Prospecting

If you’re a seller who thinks your prospecting job is done because you’ve set the meeting, you’re wrong. Don’t believe us? Look at the facts:

58% of buyers state that sales meetings aren’t of value to them.

Needless to say, that if you’re fortunate enough to gain someone’s time, do them the honor of treating them like an individual.

What are their specific pain points?

Why are they interested in your particular product or service?

What makes them a particularly good fit?

You should know all of this based on your initial prospecting call. Your prospecting meeting means taking that information to a deeper level and showing them how your product or services applies to them specifically.

Your approach should not be canned or in any way “one size fits all.”

A prospect who feels like you’re wasting their time will be lost to you forever.

Mistake #7: Try to Sell

Selling comes naturally for most sales people. Yet while you are undoubtedly excited to share absolutely everything about your product/service and company to prospects, prospecting is not the time to do it.

Prospecting isn’t about selling so much as it’s getting to know whether a lead or prospect is qualified.

During a prospecting conversation, you’re asking targeted, simple questions around the issues your lead is having.

You’re also truly listening to their responses. You’re being honest with yourself about whether or not they are a qualified prospect. You are seeing them as more than a sale.

The only thing you should be selling during your prospecting call is the meeting, the appointment, or the free demo. Nothing else. Not the benefits of your product/service. Not why you’re the person they want to buy from.

Instead, promote all the benefits of an appointment. The takeaways. How their time investment will pay off.

That is what sells the appointment.

Mistake #8: Avoid Prospecting

Unfortunately, skipping out on prospecting altogether is a rampant issue among sales teams. We’ve seen it time and again!

Prospecting successfully comes down to repetition. You need to block out time in your schedule regularly—and stick to it. Block time in your calendar. Close your door (if you have one). Turn off your phone or set it in a drawer. Close all windows in your browser save for those you’re using to research leads.

Don't avoid prospecting

Set an appointment for yourself to do prospecting—and don’t let yourself down.

Mistake #9: Not Following Up

You might think that if you didn’t close a deal on your initial call, there’s no point in trying again.

In fact, 44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up attempt.

In reality, 80% of all sales are made between the fifth and twelfth contact.

For a lot of salespeople, that number is mind-blowing. After all, you’ve been taught to never seem too “pushy.” Certainly, reaching connecting with a prospect 12 times would qualify as pushy?!

Don’t worry! Connecting doesn’t always mean a follow-up phone call. Salespeople can also connect via email, direct mail, online ads, social media, and so much more.

But successful selling comes down to a good connection formed at the exact right time. Keep yourself top of mind with frequent follow-ups so that when your prospect is ready to act, you’re there.

At Salesgenie® we can help you find and connect with the exact right prospects. Choose from hundreds of search selections and easily find leads. Connect with them using our turnkey marketing services such as email marketing, direct mail, or online advertising. Plus, take the stress out of lead management with Salesgenie Lead Manager, which makes it easier than ever to manage your list of contacts.