Sales Prospecting is Mostly About Discipline & Doing It

Filling the pipeline is hard which is why prospecting efforts often fail. But, it isn’t because salespeople lack the tools, rather it’s the failure to adopt the right mindset and skill set.

So what makes filling the sales pipeline so hard? If any of you are my age, you probably prospected by calling names in the yellow pages or marketing lists that gave you little or no background on the company.

It should be much easier today. Salespeople have access to amazing technology, websites, LinkedIn, direct messaging, and the ability to follow potential customers on multiple social media channels.

You can google potential clients or use artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT, Gemini, and C0-Pilot to gain important information that helps you craft compelling messaging. AI can even assist you with building that messaging.

It’s easier than ever to prospect. So what’s the reason for all of these empty sales pipelines?

The reasons for ineffective and inconsistent prospecting hasn’t changed in 50 years. It isn’t about the sales tools, it’s about the salesperson’s mindset and skill set. Here are three to review:


I often refer to discipline as delayed gratification. It is the ability to put in the work before you get the reward. The prospecting step of the sales process is about delayed gratification. You have to:

Put in the work of calendar blocking. That means proactively marking off times on your calendar to reach out to prospects, existing clients and potential referral partners. This is the old ‘plan your work and work your plan approach.’ It’s not a new concept, yet most salespeople are lousy at this basic time management principle.


Put in the work of researching and defining your ideal client. It’s easy to confuse being busy with being productive.

You can be doing all the right stuff—emailing, cold calling, linking in, writing blogs, and attending networking events. The effort is there, however, doesn’t produce results because engagement is not directed at your ideal client.

Analyze your wins. Get clear on your ideal customers.

  • What is the common denominator?
  • Size of company?
  • Industry?
  • Pain? \Attitude of the organization?
  • Life cycle of the company?
  • Competitor activity?

Just Do It

I remember a quote from a mentor during my early days in the sales training business. We were discussing the prospecting side of the business and I am fairly sure I was whining about the time and effort.

He looked me in the eye and said, “You don’t have to like it, you just have to do it.”

This goes back to point number one. Put in the work to get the reward. The reward in sales in running appointments and landing business.

The reward is working with great customers and helping them grow their businesses. You don’t have to like prospecting but you do have to DO IT.

BONUS TIP: Taking and Not Giving

It doesn’t matter if you are building relationships on-line or in person. The most successful salespeople apply the deposit strategy.

They are focused on making a deposit in a prospect or referral partners ‘relationship’ account.

Back in the old days, it might have looked like sending an article of interest to a person. Today, it’s sending a link or video with content that is relevant to your target.

Givers are also great at connecting people. They pay attention to who needs what and when.

Then, they take time (calendar blocking) and introduce clients and colleagues to each other. Back in the old days, the introduction might have been a phone call.

Today it could be an email or LinkedIn introduction but the strategy is the same. Givers want to do something for you before they expect anything in return.

The old Capital One commercials are a good way to sum up this newsletter. “What’s in your wallet?” And if there isn’t enough in your wallet, look at the above points and figure out a way to fill it your sales pipeline.

Improve your prospecting outcomes with our Free Guide: The Seven Steps to Building Effective Prospecting Sequences

Learn how to develop a series of prospecting touches, arranged in an intentional sequence, to improve the probability that you engage your prospect.

About the author

Colleen Stanley

Colleen Stanley is president of SalesLeadership Inc., a business development consulting firm specializing in…

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