Why AEs Should Always Prospect

full cycle ae leads prospecting Nov 14, 2023

"These leads are crap!"

Ever heard your team say this? Or maybe you are the one saying it.

Or the topic I wrote about a few weeks ago of expecting the lead to show up ready to buy and rejecting it if it’s anything less than that.

It’s pretty simple to solve… have the AE prospect for themselves.

But wait… they can’t do that, they need to focus on closing.

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen AE’s calendars completely empty and still won’t pick up the phone and call or do some basic prospecting.

Why won’t they?  They believe it’s not their job. And quite frankly, it’s hard. They will find anything and everything that makes them “too busy” to prospect. Some are legit reasons but without a full pipeline and calendar, there are no excuses.

Here’s why regardless of how many lead sources a company has, I still want AE’s to prospect.

  1. 𝗜 𝗻𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝘄𝗮𝗻𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗺 𝘁𝗼 𝗽𝗼𝗶𝗻𝘁 𝗳𝗶𝗻𝗴𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝗶𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘆 𝗱𝗼𝗻'𝘁 𝗵𝗶𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗶𝗿 𝗴𝗼𝗮𝗹𝘀 with "I wasn't given enough leads"
  2. 𝗔𝗘 𝗵𝗮𝘀 𝗮 𝗛𝗨𝗚𝗘 𝗮𝗱𝘃𝗮𝗻𝘁𝗮𝗴𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗻𝘁𝗹𝘆 𝘁𝗮𝗹𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗯𝘂𝘆𝗲𝗿... they know how they talk, what their pain points are, and what matters to them. (If they are listening... they are getting this
  3. They work the leads harder when they worked to get them… none of this “they didn’t come qualified so I sent them back” BS
  4. Target companies they have seen success with… they know who is a fit and who isn't.  

Is every AE great at prospecting? No, they aren’t. Should this prevent them from doing it? No, it shouldn't.

Again, if they have capacity, they need to get out there and find more business for themselves.

In general, it’s easier to prospect for yourself as an AE than it is an SDR for someone else. As an AE these are companies you don’t have to hand off. These are going to make a difference in increasing your pipeline and the commissions when they are won is a lot higher too (than SDR finding and passing it on).

The best AEs I’ve ever had, prospected for themselves AND got inbound leads as well. The key for them was consistency. Sometimes they could do more because they had time. Sometimes they backed off a bit but they always did some prospecting.

I get it that in the perfect world, every lead is provided and the AE goes from one great deal to the next. For most, that’s not an option.

So how do you get AEs to prospect? The easiest is when you are hiring. I would tell AEs in the hiring process that it was expected that they would be responsible for 80% of their pipeline. I would say yes we have leads coming in and they will get some but those leads aren’t always great and it’s on them to make sure they fill their pipeline. Why did I say 80%? I wanted it to be known that it was a big part of the job. 

Another thing I would do to help this is when they were hired, their variable compensation for the first month was tied to prospecting deals for themselves. I knew they would be more successful if they had a pipeline and what better way to have them focus on something that would help them build the right foundation and ramp faster. 

Those who are already on the team who weren’t told from the beginning they would be prospecting may push back. I’ll let you work your magic (aka selling them) on why they need to prospect.

The key to success… they need to be trained and have the tools to do it. It can NOT be… “start hunting”. Then be super frustrated that they aren’t or are getting no results.

Yes, they have conversations with prospects and should know how they talk. Help them know how to apply this to messaging and what should they do on the phones.

Bottom line… have the AEs control their destiny and prospect for themselves. They aren’t above it. They will treat their deals differently because they worked hard to get them. And the best part is... they can't point a finger at a single person for not getting it done. They look in the mirror instead.



PS… SDRs have a place too. What I love most about this role is the opportunity to build a foundation of prospecting without the pressure of knowing how to do Discovery and Demo… etc. My ideal world would be 3-6 months SDR and then move to full cycle AE.

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