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Why you need both active and passive prospecting


It’s pretty common for people to wait until their pipeline is completely empty to do something about prospecting, when they should have been doing it all along. Keeping a balance between active and passive prospecting can help keep people in your pipeline.

Let’s take trade shows as an example. It’s amazing how many organizations spend time, energy, and money at trade shows, but they never use that list until they’ve exhausted all their other prospecting activities. When the pipeline starts to dry up, somebody says, “Hey, what did we do with that trade show list?”

They start contacting the people on the trade show list, but by then, the opportunity has passed for most of them. It may have been weeks or even months since the trade show, and those prospects have either found someone else to do business with or they simply aren’t interested in your product anymore.

When the pipeline’s empty, people usually try something out of desperation and are hoping for some magical thing to fill their now-empty pipeline. But the better approach is consistent prospecting over time to keep your pipeline full.

There are countless options for prospecting activities, and they all fall into two categories: active or passive prospecting. Some prospecting activities can fall into either category depending on how you perform them.

Active prospecting includes activities over which you have control, you can measure, and you have results that you can track. This category might include cold calls, referrals, networking, talks and seminars, or targeted mailings.

Passive prospecting includes activities where you’re waiting for someone else to react. Direct mail is a good example, because most direct mail pieces don’t generate an immediate response. It’s generally not cut-and-dried for a specific time frame or call to action, unless it’s a time-sensitive coupon or an upcoming event. At the same time, networking and referrals can also be passive prospecting.

Why is it important to have both active and passive prospecting activities? Active prospecting takes more time investment than passive prospecting because you are calling people, meeting them at events, following up, and doing other tasks that take time.

Passive prospecting, like direct mail, takes a budget investment, but less active time. The combination of the two types of prospecting can help keep your pipeline full so you’re not scrambling for that months-old trade show list when it starts to dry up.

Whether you choose active or passive also depends on your company, your existing network, and how well you’re known. If you’re the industry leader and people recognize your name, you can probably spend some more time doing passive prospecting. But if you’re the underdog, you probably need to be more focused on active prospecting.

Mike Crandall

Mike Crandall

Crandall is the Principal of Sandler in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He works with business owners and motivated individuals to create and implement Professional Development Strategies to foster the growth of individuals, teams, and organizations.