For the fourth entry in our summer series on sales techniques, we look at Jeb Blount’s “Fanatical Prospecting.” This eye-opening guide sheds light on the most crucial activity in sales and business development: prospecting. Blount emphasises that the primary reason for failure in sales is an empty pipeline, which stems from the failure to prospect consistently. With a blend of innovative approaches and real-world examples, “Fanatical Prospecting” offers salespeople, sales leaders, entrepreneurs, and executives practical strategies to fill their pipeline with high-quality opportunities.
Let’s explore some of the key takeaways and how they can be applied using BuddyCRM.
The secret to sales success is simple: fanatical prospecting.
The author says there are five types of salespeople: bad salespeople, mediocre salespeople, good salespeople, consistent salespeople, and then there are Superstars. Superstars are motivated, competitive, and empathetic, but they are fanatical prospectors above all else.
Blount says the primary reason for failure in sales is an empty pipeline resulting from inconsistent prospecting. Regular and consistent prospecting is emphasised as the key to sales success. Sales Superstars prospect even when they don’t feel like it because they are driven to keep their pipeline full.
“Easy is the mother of mediocrity.”
It is too easy to be distracted by new best-selling techniques that promise instant success. The simple fact is that sales is hard work, and success requires constant work to maintain a pipeline full of opportunities to sell.
“In sales you are owed nothing! You’ve got to get your ass up and go out there and make things happen yourself. You have to pick up the phone, knock on doors, make presentations, and ask for business. Sales is not a nine-to-five job. There are no days off. No vacations. No lunch breaks. The great salespeople are skipping meals and doing deals—whatever it takes to win.”
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.
Key Ideas described in the book
Seven Mindsets of Fantatical Prospectors
1. Optimistic and Enthusiastic
Successful prospectors have a positive outlook. They believe that they will succeed, and this optimism fuels their activities. An optimistic mindset helps overcome rejection, one of the most challenging aspects of prospecting. Enthusiasm is contagious; it’s easier to engage a prospect when you are genuinely excited about the opportunity to help them.
Sales is inherently a competitive field. The mindset of a fanatical prospector reflects an intense desire to win, not just for the sake of winning but to meet and exceed sales targets. This competitive spirit often results in setting higher personal standards, aiming for stretch goals, and maintaining the discipline required to accomplish them.
Confidence is a key trait in sales, and it’s even more crucial in prospecting, where rejection rates can be high. Confidence doesn’t mean arrogance; it means strongly believing in your abilities and the value your product or service offers. Confidence is also self-reinforcing. The more successful you are at prospecting, the more your confidence grows, making it easier to face challenges.
Being relentless means having a never-give-up attitude. It entails understanding that prospecting is a numbers game, requiring a volume of activities to find success. Relentless prospectors are disciplined and committed to their goals, constantly pushing to break through barriers and overcome obstacles.
5. Thirsty for Knowledge
A fanatical prospector is always looking to learn. Whether it’s understanding the product better, keeping up-to-date with industry trends, or learning new prospecting techniques, this mindset emphasises continual growth and development.
6. Systematic and Efficient
Fanatical prospectors know the importance of following a structured approach, using schedules, and adhering to a set of best practices. They block their time, tune out distractions, and avoid disruptions. This helps them manage their time and resources more effectively, enabling more targeted and successful prospecting efforts.
7. Adaptive and Flexible
Using the three As (adopt, adapt, adept) they actively seek out new ideas and best practices, adopt them as their own, and work at it until they become adept at execution. They try new things to flex with the environment around them – whatever it takes to keep their pipeline full.
Activity Pays Off
Knowing that activity takes 90+ days to pay off, successful salespeople relentlessly fill their pipeline through a mixture of telephone, in-person, e-mail, social selling, text messaging, referrals, networking, inbound leads, trade shows, and cold calling. Balanced prospecting will involve a mixture of all types of lead generation.
Don’t Fear Rejection – Interrupt
Fanatical prospectors don’t fear rejection. Instead, they look to interrupt. Many salespeople have got it into their head that cold-calling is hard and they will be rejected, so they plan to make a plan to make a call, and put off calling until everything is just right. Blount says that all you are really doing is interrupting, so get over your paralysis and start calling. After all, most ‘cold calls’ are not that at all. The prospect will either have heard of you, have filled in a lead at some point, met you at an exhibition, or have visited your website. There are few genuine cold calls, and even then, you need to understand that all you are doing is managing an interruption in the prospect’s life.
The Three Laws of Prospecting
Blount discusses the three laws of prospecting, which are universal in prospecting.
The Universal Law of Need
The Universal Law of Need is based on the premise that the more desperately you need something, the less likely it is that you will get it. According to this law, the more you communicate, even subconsciously, that you need the sale or need the client to say yes, the more likely it is that the client will say no.
The psychology behind this is simple but profound. When you come across as needy or desperate, it triggers alarm bells for your prospect or client. People generally prefer to do business with confident, successful individuals who provide value rather than those who seem to be begging for a sale. Neediness can often be interpreted as a lack of value or confidence, undermining trust.
To counteract the Universal Law of Need, Blount advises salespeople always to maintain a robust pipeline of prospects. When you have multiple opportunities in your pipeline, the loss of any single prospect becomes less devastating, and this natural abundance is communicated in your demeanour. Your interactions with clients become more about how you can provide value to them rather than how much you need their business, and this shift in dynamic can make all the difference in the world when it comes to closing a deal.
In essence, the Universal Law of Need highlights the psychological dynamics at play in a sales relationship and underscores the importance of maintaining a healthy, active prospecting pipeline to ensure success.
The 30-Day Rule
Blount introduces the “30-Day Rule,” which suggests that what you do in terms of prospecting in a 30-day period will generally impact your sales funnel for the next 90 days. This underlines the importance of making prospecting an everyday habit rather than an occasional one. Being inconsistent with prospecting can lead to a “feast or famine” scenario where you’re either overwhelmed with opportunities or scrambling to find them.
The Law of Replacement
The Law of Replacement refers to the principle that you must continually add new prospects to your pipeline to replace those that naturally fall out due to disinterest, financial constraints, or other reasons. If you’re not continually adding new prospects to the pipeline, it will dry up—leading to a decrease in opportunities and revenue.
The Three Ps That Hold You Back
Many people procrastinate on prospecting activities because these tasks often seem difficult and fraught with the potential for rejection. Salespeople might find themselves doing ‘busywork’ or focusing on less essential tasks to delay or avoid the discomfort of prospecting. Procrastination can lead to a vicious cycle where the salesperson has fewer opportunities, becomes desperate, and then is even more hesitant to prospect because of the increased pressure, thus making the Universal Law of Need kick in.
Perfectionism in the context of prospecting is the belief that you need the perfect script, the perfect list, or the perfect timing before you can start reaching out to potential clients. While preparation and planning are important, they can also be used as an excuse not to take action. Perfectionism often leads to delays and missed opportunities because the salesperson is waiting for everything to be “just right” before they make a move. Blount emphasises that prospecting is a “do it now” activity, and perfectionism serves as a hindrance to this immediacy.
3. Paralysis by Analysis
This is the tendency to overthink or overanalyse to the point where no action is taken. They get trapped in a loop of ‘what ifs’. “What if they say no?”, “How will I know if?”, “What should I do if?” Salespeople might find themselves endlessly researching a prospect, revising scripts, or gathering data but never actually taking the step to make contact. While it’s important to be informed and prepared, excessive analysis is another form of procrastination. It can create a false sense of productivity that masks the fact that nothing is actually getting done regarding making contact with prospects.
The Four Objectives of Prospecting
These are goals that every salesperson should aim for when they engage in prospecting activities. Understanding these objectives can help salespeople focus their efforts and better evaluate the success of their prospecting endeavours. The four objectives are:
1. Set Appointments
One of the primary goals of prospecting is to set appointments with potential clients. Whether it’s an in-person meeting, a video conference, or a phone call, the appointment serves as an opportunity to delve deeper into the prospect’s needs, present your solution, and move the prospect down the sales funnel. Setting appointments is often the first measurable outcome of successful prospecting.
2. Gather Information
Prospecting isn’t just about pushing your product or service; it’s also an opportunity to gather crucial information. This could include details about the prospect’s needs, pain points, budget constraints, and decision-making process. Gathering this information is essential for tailoring your sales approach to that specific client, making it more likely that you’ll be able to provide a solution that meets their needs.
3. Close the Sale
Although the primary objective is often to set appointments, the ultimate aim is to close the sale. This doesn’t mean every initial prospecting contact will result in an immediate sale, but each activity should be a step toward that goal. Even if the sale doesn’t close immediately, each touchpoint provides an opportunity to move the prospect further along in the sales process, increasing the likelihood of a future close.
4. Build Familiarity
In the book, Jeb Blount refers to the “Law of Familiarity,” which suggests that people are more likely to engage with those they are familiar with. Prospecting activities help in creating touchpoints that build this familiarity. Even if a sale is not immediately forthcoming, regular contact helps establish a relationship and keeps you at the top of the prospect’s mind for when they are ready to make a purchase. Familiarity increases each time you leave a voice mail, send an email, connect with them on LinkedIn, like, comment on, or share something they post on social media, meet them at an industry conference, etc.
The 5 Cs of Social Selling
Social media platforms are today’s water coolers and coffee shops, providing a less intrusive yet more information-rich environment for salespeople. The “5 Cs” are:
- Connect: Building rapport and genuine connections rather than just adding people to your network.
- Converse: Engaging in actual conversations, not sales pitches.
- Content: Sharing valuable content that showcases your expertise and knowledge.
- Consistency: Remaining consistently active and engaged.
- Community: Building a community around shared interests or problems that your product solves.
“The bottom line is people don’t want to be pitched or “sold” on social media. They prefer to connect, interact, and learn. For this reason, the social channel is better suited to building familiarity, lead nurturing, research, nuanced inbound prospecting, and trigger-event awareness.”
As we learned earlier, calls are interruptions to people’s lives. How you manage that interruption is up to you. If you interrupt a prospect with cheesy pitches like, “I would love to have a few minutes of your time to tell you about my company,” then you are wasting the prospect’s time and subconsciously, they hear, “I would love to come by your office and waste an hour of your life talking all about me, my products, and my wants. Won’t it be awesome for you to spend your valuable time listening to my pitch?”
No one wants to be pitched. Pitching leaves prospects feeling you don’t listen and makes them feel unimportant. It’s important to understand that prospects meet with you for their reasons, not yours.
“You must articulate the value of spending time with you in the context of what is most important to them. Your message must demonstrate a sincere interest in listening to them, learning about them, and solving their unique problems.”
What you say and how you say it are important. If a prospect senses fear or lack of confidence, they will shut you down. Successful salespeople ooze confidence and are relaxed while speaking. Have enthusiasm and confidence in what you say and your prospect is likelier to believe in you.
Your prospecting message must be quick, simple, direct, and relevant. Lower their risk in accepting a discussion with you by asking for a short meeting. You also lower the risk by answering, “What’s in it for me?”
Telephone Prospecting Tips
Given the digital world’s complexity, the humble phone call has returned as an effective means of making a genuine human connection. Blount highlights the importance of tonality, pacing, and the 3 Cs (Courteous, Concise, and Compelling) when making those calls.
Remember, nobody answers a phone that doesn’t ring!
Use the Five-Step Simple Framework
Get their attention by using their name: “Hi, Julie.”
Identify yourself: “My name is Jeb Blount and I’m with Sales Gravy.”
Tell them why you are calling: “The reason I’m calling is to set up an appointment with you.”
Bridge—give them a because: “I just read an article online that said your company is going to add 200 new sales positions over the next year. Several companies in your industry are already using Sales Gravy exclusively for sourcing sales candidates and they are very happy with the results we are delivering.”
Ask for what you want, and shut up: “I thought the best place to start is to schedule a short meeting to learn about your sales recruiting challenges and goals. How about we meet Wednesday afternoon around 3:00 PM?”
The Triple Touch
This method emphasises not relying on just one form of communication (like an email) to make your prospecting touch. A mix of phone calls, social interactions, and emails is recommended for a balanced and more effective prospecting strategy.
The Golden Hour
Jeb suggests scheduling prospecting activities during the ‘Golden Hours’—times when the prospective customer is most likely to be available and receptive. Identifying and capitalising on these hours can dramatically boost your prospecting success rate.
Dealing with Rejection – Reflex Responses, Brushoffs and Objections (RBOs)
Salespeople often encounter these barriers when reaching out to potential clients. However, Blount argues that these are not necessarily deal-breakers but are rather opportunities for skilled salespeople to distinguish themselves and turn the situation around. Here’s how he approaches each:
These are the almost automatic responses people give to sales outreach, often before they’ve even had a chance to consider what’s being offered. “Not interested” and “I’m busy right now” are typical examples. Blount advises salespeople to anticipate these reflex responses and to prepare for them. One method is to acknowledge the response without allowing it to derail the conversation. For instance, you might say, “It’s great you’re busy. Can we schedule a call for a time that works better for you?”
Brush-offs are a more persistent form of rejection but are often still superficial. “Send me some information” or “We’re happy with our current provider” are examples. Blount suggests that brush-offs are often tests, where the prospect is gauging whether you can offer something truly valuable. The key here is to probe a little deeper, asking questions that reveal the real issues or needs that your product or service might address. For example, if a prospect says they’re happy with their current provider, you might ask, “What do you like most about them?” The answer can give you insights into what is important to the prospect and how you might offer a better solution.
Objections are more concrete issues or concerns the prospect raises, like price, contract length, or specific features. Blount argues that objections are actually a positive sign because they indicate a level of interest. A completely disinterested prospect won’t bother to object; they’ll end the conversation. The key to handling objections is to acknowledge them, provide additional information that may alleviate the concern, and then guide the prospect back toward a commitment.
For all three types of RBOs, Blount stresses the importance of remaining composed, not taking the responses personally, and viewing them as challenges to be overcome rather than insurmountable obstacles. He also emphasises the importance of preparation and practice, advocating for role-playing exercises to help salespeople become more comfortable and effective in handling RBOS.
Use the Turnaround Framework to overcome these RBOs
Anchor – have a response prepared to fight off the initial rejection while your brain catches up to the conversation.
Disrupt – Disrupt the conversation by taking away the fight. eg. agreeing with their response.
Ask – following the turnaround, ask for commitment.
Rather than attempting to overcome—defeating or prevailing over your prospect—you should disrupt their expectations and thought patterns when they push back with a no. The key is a disruptive statement or question that turns them around so that they lean toward you rather than move away from you.
When they say they’re busy, instead of arguing with them into how you will only take a little bit of their time, say, “I figured you would be.” Agreeing with them disrupts their thought pattern… When they say, “Just send me some information,” say, “Tell me specifically what you are looking for.” This calls their bluff and forces engagement… When they say, “I’m not interested,” say, “That makes sense. Most people aren’t.” Their brain isn’t ready for you to agree with them…
One phrase you want to avoid is “I understand.” When you use the phrase “I understand,” you sound just like every other schmuck who uses this phrase as insincere filler so they can get back to pitching. It demonstrates zero empathy and tells your prospect that you are not listening and don’t care.”
What else is in the book?
Blount also covers email prospecting in some depth, from writing an email, when to send, and what to cover in your content. Text messaging is also covered in detail.
“When it is time to go home, make one more call. “
The Balancing Act: Technology and the Human Element
While Blount emphasises the importance of the human touch in prospecting, he doesn’t negate the role of technology. CRMs, automated follow-ups, and analytics are vital in managing and optimizing the sales process. However, Blount warns against becoming too reliant on these tools at the expense of initiating actual conversations. Technology should assist, not replace, the human element in sales.
Where does CRM fit in with the sales techniques discussed in Fanatical Prospecting?
The principles Blount discusses in the book align well with using a CRM system. CRMs, like BuddyCRM, can be an instrumental part of embodying the practices and mindsets that Blount advocates for in the book. Blount describes the CRM as the most important weapon in your sales arsenal.
“A well-managed, living, breathing prospect database is a golden goose that keeps on giving.”
1. Systematic and Efficient Prospecting
Blount stresses the importance of being both systematic and efficient in your prospecting efforts. A CRM system allows you to systematise your sales process by keeping all of your prospect and customer information in one place. You can easily schedule follow-ups, log communication history, and keep track of leads and opportunities.
2. Tracking and Metrics
Being a “Fanatical Prospector” requires understanding that prospecting is a numbers game. CRMs have built-in analytics and reporting features that allow you to measure key performance indicators like call-to-meeting ratios, conversion rates, and more. This enables sales reps to understand what’s working and what isn’t, aligning with Blount’s advice to optimize your strategies continually.
3. Consistency and Follow-Up
One of Blount’s critical messages is the power of consistent and persistent follow-up. CRM software excels in this area by allowing you to set reminders and automate follow-up emails or tasks. Consistency is much easier to maintain when you have a tool that’s keeping you on track.
4. Centralised Information
Blount emphasises the importance of thorough research and preparation before reaching out to prospects. A CRM stores vast amounts of information on each prospect, including past interactions, needs, pain points, and even personal details that can help in rapport-building. This centralised hub of information is invaluable for preparation and personalisation, both of which are emphasised in “Fanatical Prospecting.”
5. Team Collaboration
While the book often focuses on the individual salesperson, it’s clear that sales is often a team effort. CRM systems facilitate better communication and collaboration among team members. Knowing what stage a prospect is at in the sales cycle, or which team member last interacted with them and how, is invaluable for a coordinated approach to sales.
7. Time Management
Blount stresses the importance of effectively managing one’s time to ensure that adequate time is allocated to prospecting activities. A CRM can help you prioritise tasks, block off time in your calendar for calling, set reminders, and even automate certain activities to ensure you’re making the most of your time.
Own it like a CEO
Blount emphasises the importance of taking full responsibility for managing and maintaining your CRM data. He suggests that salespeople should view the CRM as an asset that they own and manage, much like a CEO would treat a vital part of their business.
CRM systems often hold a wealth of information that can make or break a sales strategy, including client details, interaction histories, and sales pipeline data. However, CRMs are only as useful as the quality of their data. Inaccurate or incomplete data can lead to missed opportunities, while well-maintained data can provide valuable insights that drive sales.
“More often than not, salespeople treat their database like a trash can rather than a gold mine.”
When salespeople “Own it Like a CEO,” they recognize that the CRM is not just a tool imposed by management but an essential asset that can help them be more effective in their roles. This means meticulously updating client records, logging interactions, tracking leads through the sales pipeline, and even performing regular “audits” to ensure the data’s integrity and usefulness. The CEO mindset encourages salespeople to proactively use the CRM to analyse trends, forecast sales, and strategise their approach—tasks that are typically considered the purview of high-level executives.
Owning the CRM like a CEO means that you don’t just interact with it when required but rather engage with it in a way that sets you up for future success. By taking complete ownership of this tool, salespeople can align their daily activities more closely with their goals and objectives, much like a CEO aligns a company’s resources for strategic success.
What did the bros at r/sales think about it?
We checked Reddit’s r/sales reviews and comments sections to find out what real salespeople thought about Fanatical Prospecting.
What did we find out? It’s a popular book!
Many credited it with changing their performance. Some had problems with the activity-at-all-costs approach and the hustle style of the writer, and a few suggested it would not apply to more complex sales environments. The vast majority of commenters, though, loved it.
Fanatical Prospecting…changed my sales life. Made me finally realize the problem with my sales results was 100% the man in the mirror.
I don’t actually like Jeb Blount. His overworking style and “it’s-only-what-you-made-today” mantra makes him sound like he’d be a nightmare to work under.
With that in mind, his book is excellent. Probably the best book on prospecting I’ve ever read. Not only does he detail every form of prospecting, but he clearly knows his shit. He has done – and succeeded – in sales for a long, long time.
I recommend it to anyone who doesn’t understand why they’re failing in sales. If the book deters them or pushes them away, then maybe outbound sales isn’t for them.
It’s refreshing. 50%+ of Sales people don’t want to pick up the phone. It’s hard and it sucks to get rejected, but become good at it and you’ll rise quickly.
I’ve been a very successful sdr in about 4 different verticals.
I attribute my success to reading and implementing the concepts in this book early on in my career.
What I love about this book is that it’s simple: prospect all the time and the highest performers are always the ones who prospect constantly.
Fanatical prospecting i’ve found very good at easing my prospecting anxiety. “It’s a bad time of day for this person” It’s always going to be a bad time of day for that person. “I don’t want to interrupt their lunch” Why not? Maybe that’s the only time they answer calls. Just call and find out. etc.
I found it really good at providing excuses to not listening to your excuses. And excuses is the bane of sales.
What did Amazon reviewers think of Fanatical Prospecting?
- Quality: Many reviewers found the book to be of great quality, describing it as one of the best they’ve read on sales and prospecting.
- Insightfulness: The book is seen as particularly insightful for those lacking sales and prospecting experience. It provides practical advice and strategies that are relevant to the modern sales landscape.
- Motivation: Jeb’s engaging and honest writing style resonates with readers. His personal stories of failures and successes motivate readers to persevere, emphasizing the importance of consistency and persistence in sales.
- Practicality: The book offers many practical tips, tools, and techniques. It emphasises the importance of adopting tools like CRM and leveraging social media for prospecting. The anecdotes and references make the content easy to digest.
- Length: Some readers felt the book could be more concise, mentioning that it sometimes goes off on tangents or becomes repetitive. However, the core message remains impactful.
- Value: Many found real value in the book, with some even considering it a must-have for those starting in sales. It is a comprehensive guide to prospecting, from understanding its importance to implementing effective strategies.
- “Great book, I don’t waste my time on many books but this one was well worth it. I’m glad I came across it.”
- “Jeb has a very engaging and honest style of writing which makes the book really enjoyable. … Life is entirely a numbers game.”
- “This is one of the best books about sales, prospecting and other activities I’ve read so far. … This book has pride of place in my growing library and certainly gave me a boost to my prospecting mojo.”
- “The message in this book is important, consistent, regular prospecting is crucial.”
- “Absolutely fantastic book! … Quite possibly one of the best self-improvement books I have read yet, I will be keeping it close to my desk as I’m sure I will be going back to it for advice on things when it comes to it.”
- “It’s about prospecting as it says on the cover. … Of course, there isn’t anything earth-shattering new in here, we have been prospecting for years, but hey if prospecting 101 is what you want. It’s a good start.”
- “Practical, relevant and full of invaluable insight. If you are looking to take your sales prospecting to the next level, then I could not recommend this book more highly.”
- “The main points are solidly made and it comes with a number of very practical tips. … The author is a salesperson and not a professional writer of course. Which makes for some tedious reading at times.”