Gambling with Your Future? Hit the Bricks!

I have  had numerous discussions with sales professionals of all types and colors regarding the issues of prospecting tactics and strategies.  It is without doubt that any sales strategy that does not include strengthening prospecting activities could well be a real gamble.  Read this and get at it!


We all might have a little gambler in us, but do we all win?  The simple answer to that is no!  We don’t all win when we gamble.  As a matter of fact, some gambling can be bad for your career.

The gambling I am talking about is that the short amount of prospecting time that you spend cold calling is going to yield acceptable dividends and benefits.

I am guessing that prospecting may not be your favorite activities, although you might even agree that it is your most prosperous.  When you prospect extensively, every week is the spring season in terms of renewing hope.  Rejections have less impact on your momentum as you are consistently touching fresh and ready prospects that seal the wounds.

A Different Way of Thinking

First of all, we all need to think of it this way:

  • If you are cold calling once a week, you are gambling.
  • If you are cold calling twice a week, you are still gambling.
  • If you only take out the time to cold-call three times a week, you are still taking a heck of a chance.

I am going to suggest that you cold call/prospect 4 times a week to achieve success. Cold calling gives you your edge in sourcing prospects.  It is an activity that gives you confidence when you have a good day, and keeps you grounded in the reality of this profession when you have a tough day.  Keep in mind that I am not talking about prospecting the whole day; I am suggesting a minimum of 2-3 hours a day, and certainly more if you are new in the sales professional.

Cold calling creates real work in the form of follow-up, appointment setting, and the preparation that goes with it. Between those activities the training, networking, and even preparing for other forms of prospect sourcing you will have your hands full, but not be lacking for qualified prospects to make your sales goals.

The Black sales professional even has more reason to cold call as it will take more prospects to fill your sales funnel. Many of the prospects will fall out as a result of preferences and other problems in the process.  Always have enough to work on and you always will be prepared

Cold Calling Creates Real Work

The best sales professionals are organized and systematic.  You may be correct that cold calling and prospecting (whether phone or in-person) is tedious and monotonous at times, yet you will not be successful on a long term basis without it.

Cold calling creates real work.  After you do it the most important thing is follow-up and organization.  Recording the conversations, cataloging the buyer and the responses is a must.  As a matter of fact, you can waste valuable cold calling effort if you forget important details.  Record and be specific and you will benefit.

Now, many sales gurus and advisors prefer you to do prospect for five days a week, yet I am being realistic.  If you do it right, and you do it with the gusto that you need to, you will deserve the 5th day off.

Always vary the cold calling times for your cold calling regimen, as you will potentially reach buyers that you were not able to reach at other times.

The Best Use Of Your Time – Alternatives

You are tired of hearing sales managers, and people like me tell you that you should prospect frequently.  I certainly understand that, these comments and urgings have the smell of truth.  Your choice is to increase your prospecting or gamble…but there are a couple of alternatives that I have spoken of in the past, and will spend some time with in some past posts:

Networking at a networking event produces contacts and prospects in volume.  It may appear more like ‘speed-dating’, but it does have benefits.  They are low cost, as you are only attending, and they are low-risk.  You talk to as many prospects as you can, then make your exit.

Seminars are work, but can deliver results in amounts that are amazing.  Putting people with like needs in a room and talking to them about an important or impending subject is powerful.  Participants ask questions and your responses give you a chance to be the expert that your customer needs.  Don’t miss that opportunity.

We will have more discussion on these subjects in upcoming posts.  You can still have the variety that you need in sourcing prospects to keep you engaged.  Never stop growing your prospect list.

Your comments are welcome.

When Sales Mentoring Goes Wrong!


You may know my sentiments about mentoring from past posts in this journal (Do You Need a Mentor? You may Need Two, Black Sales Journal 1/27 and Being a Mentor, Can You Help Someone Else? Black Sales Journal 3/28).


I believe that if your are an accomplished sales professional you probably need to mentor some up and coming neophyte, and if you are new to sales, you probably need a mentor that can help you understand the sales world you are in, as well as understand the organizational politics and dynamics.  That could mean two separate mentors (one with sales knowledge and one with organizational expertise) or one who has a strong understanding of both.

Having been in both of those situations, I do recognize the fact that life can be easier when you have a mentor.  It would be hard for most sales professionals to dispute that mentoring did not help him or her.  Mentoring, is a role, and not a position, and whether it is formal or informal, it can go wrong.


Most sales mentoring relationships are informal.  They happen when a less experienced sales professional gets help from someone who has “been around the block.”  These relationships happen naturally, and because of that, there are very few “agreements” citing what the rules are.

As a matter of fact, it is because they are informal, and there are no basic rules, that animosity and resentment appear when things go wrong.  No one “evaluates” the effectiveness on a formal basis, and termination happens because the utility just might not be there.  Basically, the two parties move “apart” and seldom have the conversation that “this has been good, yet I need to work on my own now”, or “this is not giving me what I need, but I have appreciated your help.”

What Goes Wrong?

There could be a multitude of things that could go wrong, yet there are a few things that make really make a difference:

  • Common Elements - The more the mentor and the mentee have in common regarding work styles and ethics, the more compatibility there will be.  Working similar hours and with like intensity can help to develop mutual respect and even admiration, akin to “looking in a mirror”.  Note, when these elements are opposite or have a wide variance, they can be the ‘wedge’ that breaks up the partnership.  The more common the work elements, the more chance there are for a fruitful mentoring relationship.
  • Communication – The bond of a mentoring relationship is communication.  Communication styles differ vastly, so an understanding of communication styles and frequency are very important.  Mentors who are not effective communicators can be problematic, as the mentee may never understand fully the gist of the problem and solution, or the gravity of the issue.  The mentee must communicate openly and frequently regarding questions and issues that need clarification.  If neither of these happens, both sales professionals could be in a situation that they are wasting their time.
  • Trust and rapport – Since the majority of these relationships happen informally, the parties have usually chosen each other, or one of the parties has proposed the arrangement.  When this goes wrong, it is a short-lived mentoring relationship.   This means that they must trust each other and have a general affinity toward one another.  The trust issue is large in the arena of sales.  Since prospecting activities as well as sales territories are all in play, the mentor must be able to trust the mentee will respect what he or she is doing to help.  The pilfering of a prospect will change everything if it happens, and so it should, as that is a character issue.  Rapport is important as well because it forms linkages that may develop in to stronger bonds.
  • Agreement on goals and objectives – Most sales professionals have enough to do in the course of a day or week than to enter into an arrangement without some agreed upon goals and objectives.  Yogi Berra (yeah, I am quoting Yogi Berra) once said “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.” Know where you are going and have agreement on what will give value to the mentoring relationship and set your sights to get there.  If it is learning how to prospect more effectively then the mentoring activities should be focused there.  If it is becoming accomplished in sales techniques, the focus should go there.  Have a plan in mind, and have the discussions that make it real.
  • Agreement on the “end game” – The mentoring arrangement, whether informal or formal will have to end at some point.  It is only right, and gives the mentee an opportunity to help someone who was in the same “boat” as he or she was.  Plan where this terminates as you go along.  Yes, this sounds formal, yet it is more realistic than one of the two parties to the mentoring relationship starting to avoid the other.

A Personal Example

As a fledgling sales representative, I searched out another Black sales professional to help me figure out how to get started.  I know that I did not call it mentoring at that time, and neither did he, yet he talked to me about prospecting.  More importantly, he talked to me about prospecting when you are Black in a business world that was not always kind.  In the State of Illinois with over sixty sales professionals of which three were Black (that included me), I needed someone who would help me learn the ropes.

His name was Walter, and he saved me a little time in a lot of my activities by taking that time with me.  I did not always agree with what he said; yet we had rapport and I appreciated him spending that time, as in a world where you don’t get points for spending it helping others, he helped.  Having someone pick up the phone when you had a question is worth its weight in gold. You will learn from the things the mentor does right, and the things that the mentor does wrong.

Reach out to others as a veteran and offer to help someone who is in need. Give then a chance to succeed.  If you are a sales professional in need of help, reach out to the veteran’s whom you can learn from, and get some badly needed advice.  Always remember that color is not an issue in mentoring.  Helping someone who has promise is its own reward.  You also learn much about yourself and your own abilities when you help others.

As always, we appreciate you comments