People love to tell me how they don’t need to prospect, because they already network, and that’s enough, in their opinion.

Sure sounds good, doesn’t it?

In reality, I’ve watched so many salespeople employ such a strategy, only to end up failing miserably.

We all network to one degree or another.

I meet a lot of people who I think the world of and with whom I enjoy spending time.  I consider these people part of my network.   The problem is I can’t rely solely on my network to provide me with the prospects I need, no matter how robust my network is.

Do not believe that just because you’ve spent the entire week networking that you can be excused from prospecting.

I’m  a firm believer that every salesperson (myself included!) must spend a certain percentage of their time prospecting.  What do I mean by prospecting?  I mean talking with people to understand their needs and determining how I might be able to fill them.

Sure, this may include making phone calls to people I know, but the point is that such activity is part of a specific prospecting process I use to get business.

I’m being blunt about this issue for one reason.

In the last week, I’ve had more than my share of requests from people I know, asking if I would like to have coffee.  I’ve had way too many phone calls from others I know who simply want to talk.  I’ve even received dozens of emails from people checking in with me to see how things are going.

All of them are good, and I will be the first to say that I genuinely appreciate all of them. But they’re networking activities, not prospecting.

I can’t count my time spent networking as prospecting, unless I’ve been straight up with the people with whom I’m meeting that I want to understand their needs and how I can help them.

Do I sound like I’m ranting about this?

Maybe — but there is a difference between networking and prospecting.

Every now and then, I believe we need to call something out so it doesn’t become a stumbling block.  Doing so allows us to get back to what we need to be doing — closing sales.

Copyright 2012, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog.

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