6 Steps for Solving the Prospecting Puzzle

May 16, 2019
6 Steps for Solving the Prospecting Puzzle

Solving the prospecting puzzle isn't easy. Read on to learn how to get your sales team solving their prospecting problems.

I have an exercise for you: ask your sales team, “How do I put together a jigsaw puzzle?”

Most likely, they’ll tell you to follow a process.  Start by emptying the pieces out of the box, find all the edge pieces, and complete the border.  Then they’ll tell you to fill in the rest of the puzzle.

Believe it or not, prospecting is like working on a jigsaw puzzle. However, there’s one small problem.

The sales team doesn’t have a puzzle to work with.  Each salesperson has to create their own.


Well, they have to make contact with a lot of people. Your salespeople work the puzzle as they go.  And they’re always adding more pieces.

Don’t employ salespeople who expect you to give them the puzzle with all the pieces.  And don’t employ salespeople who don’t have the patience to put the puzzle together.

If your team follows these steps, they’ll complete more prospecting puzzles!

6 Steps for Solving the Prospecting Puzzle

1. Decide on the puzzle

Tell your sales reps to think of a puzzle as a type of company. Is it a manufacturer or service provider?

Next, brainstorm all of its characteristics. These could include its size, location, or growth cycles. This gives your sales reps a parameter to build, and thus, they can work towards piecing together the border of the puzzle.

2. Find the pieces

For the this part, encourage your sales team to view pieces as people.

Then, consider their functions. These could include CEO, CFO, or other c-level executives. Similarly, vice presidents, directors, and managers are people, too.  Finally, think of any other employees doing a particular job, like selling, marketing, programming, or operations.

These pieces may include people from different companies.

The purpose of pairing people in a sales process to pieces in a puzzle, is about identification. The pieces might identify third party puzzle parts, like referral sources, influencers, friends, etc. The pieces put together a bigger picture of strategy that you might not have been able to see in the past.

Next, figure out where will salespeople on the team find their pieces.  Will it be by cold calling?  Asking for referrals?  How about from inbound marketing?  A lot can come from there.

Then ask, determine if they are the right pieces. Will they fit?

3. Create the borders

So, now that you've figured out what all the pieces mean and have figured out the parameters, it's time to build the borders.

Encourage your sales team to organize their contacts by the edges.  For example, the borders are made up of decision makers and key stakeholders – whoever that may be in a specific organization. Look for these types of people in the “pieces” of your puzzle.

4. Find patterns that match

This is when it gets fun. Figure out who’s connected to who. Which people work on the same team? Or similarly, which people do the same thing on different teams but could benefit the same? You can even figure out who can help find missing pieces they can connect to form the puzzle.

5. Keep adding pieces

There's a great possibility, in fact it's probable, that your puzzle with not be finished after an initial round of prospecting and selling. Along the way, new names will emerge with more people for them to connect with. On the same note, people may leave a firm or a company could restructure. Your sellers will continue to find puzzle parts to add to existing puzzles or to create new ones.

6. Complete the puzzle

You've probably guessed it, but closed/won deals can equate to completion of key sections or of the entire puzzle. Unless, of course, there's room for an upsell! Because then there's still problems to solve and pieces to fit together.

If your salespeople enjoy making puzzles, they’ll enjoy solving problems. Help them understand that prospecting is fun. Just like completing a jigsaw puzzle!

Do you have any other ideas for solving the prospecting puzzle? Let us know in the comments!

eBook: How to Sell Anything to Anyone - A Problem-Solving Guide for Sales Managers, Sales Leaders, & Salespeople

1 Comment

  • Josette - Reply

    I really like how you compared prospecting to solving a puzzle! Especially about how sales people need to create their own parameters for each deal or “puzzle.”

    Thank you for the great content!

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