Sales prospecting is an essential part of maintaining your business. However, it can be a challenge to discover methods that work for your company.
Trial and error can be slow and costly. You and your stakeholders need sales prospecting techniques that will give you results. You can’t wait.
You’re not starting from scratch when it comes to finding methods that work for you. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, you’re still facing a challenge. Sorting through the heaps of conflicting information available online isn’t easy.
That’s why we put together this master post of must-know information. Here’s everything you need to know about effective sales prospecting methods.
Prospecting: A Definition
Before we do anything else, we need to define prospecting. It’s a process through which you drive new business. You do so by looking for new potential customers and guiding them through the sales funnel. Eventually, they convert and begin generating revenue for you.
Prospects turn to buyers. You turn a profit. Easy enough, right? Well, it depends.
If you’re not familiar with the sales funnel, it’s is a multi-step process that looks like this:
- Researching and evaluating potential customers.
- Identifying who, within an organization or family, is your target.
- Connecting with the target through outreach activities.
- Determine whether you have identified their needs and, if not, doing so.
- Successfully closing the deal.
The sales funnel will overlap with your sales process. Each customer’s journey with your company matters too. However, the funnel is less formulaic than a sales process. It’s meant to be adaptable rather than repeatable without changes.
Analyzing your potential customers’ needs is part of the funnel. It’s less customer-oriented than a sales journey. Sales journeys are very individualized. For the most part, they will concern whoever is assigned as a contact point for a particular client.
The Difference Between Prospecting and Generating Leads
Think about the difference between leads and prospects. It’s like the difference between squares and rectangles.
Not all rectangles are squares. All squares are rectangles. Not all leads are prospects. All prospects are leads.
There’s slightly more flexibility in the definitions of leads and prospects. It can be a bit of a headache to differentiate between them.
Let’s break them down into their most basic elements. Leads are people who have expressed interest in your products or services. They haven’t converted to buyers yet. You haven’t yet managed to sell them something, but the possibility is there.
Interest can take many different forms, including:
- Subscribing to your mailing list.
- Visiting your website.
- Taking advantage of a free trial you’re offering.
Prospects are almost always leads that match your target audience. Your target audience is based on the buyer persona identified in your sales process.
Now, let’s talk about that qualifying “almost” in the definition of a prospect. In some cases, a prospect matches your target audience exceptionally well. Then, they don’t have to be a lead.
They may never have even heard of your company before. You might not have done any outreach. You would still classify them as a prospect.
Think about the candy bars for sale near check-out stations at grocery stores. Most shoppers see the products. When they do, they think that it might be nice to have a snack for the ride home. They toss the product in their cart without further thought.
The target audience is hungry or bored shoppers. They become prospects by waiting in the checkout line.
It’s an easy sell. The sales process has been the same for years. Sales efforts are limited to making the product easily accessible and affordable.
Brand name and marketing will rarely be the deciding factor in whether a sale is made. They may influence sales when a shopper has a choice between two similar products.
Techniques for Sales Prospecting
There are two main categories of techniques for sales prospecting. These categories are inbound and outbound prospecting.
With inbound prospecting, your interactions with the prospect tend to be warmer. They’re more familiar. You already know a bit about the person and their company. You can personalize your communications when you first begin outreach efforts.
With outbound prospecting, you might find yourself sending unsolicited messages. Social media and cold calling are common forms of contact. You won’t be operating entirely in the dark since you’ll still research the prospect. Still, you won’t have the same level of familiarity.
Prioritizing Sales Prospecting
Sales prospecting isn’t easy. If it were, you wouldn’t be reading this article. We wouldn’t have written it.
It likely isn’t your favorite part of working in sales either. That’s why it’s so important to focus on.
When you build time into your schedule to work on prospecting, you give yourself the chance to turn it into a habit. It won’t fall by the wayside when other tasks arise. When you commit to prospecting, you’ll see the results reflected in your bottom line.
Identifying Your Ideal Prospect
Before you do anything else, you do research. It’s key to developing a profitable product or service. The research defines your target market. It adds to your company’s long-term success.
Part of a sales research process is identifying and qualifying the prospects most likely to become buyers. Ask detailed sales qualification questions for the best results.
When we say qualifying, we mean whether the prospects you identified want your product. How likely is it that you’ll be able to sell them something? Will the effort you put into outreach be worth it? If they’re interested, you can rank them among your other interested prospects. The goal is to determine who is most likely to convert.
Your ideal prospect will have most of the following characteristics:
- They’re located within your company’s territory.
- Their industry complements yours.
- They would find the product or service you are attempting to sell valuable.
- They either make or influence buying decisions.
- Their budget works with your prices.
- Your existing sales process meshes with their industry.
- They’re already at least vaguely aware of your company, along with your product or service.
Unfortunately, the ideal is rarely the reality. Potential clients seldom check all the boxes you have listed. In the same way, your product or service might not offer everything they would like it to.
Hopefully, nothing about the product is a deal-breaker. You’re selling a compromise as much as a product. You don’t have to find the perfect prospect or have the ideal product.
In most cases, you’ll have far better luck focusing on finding the best fits rather than perfection. Not only will it be easier and more productive, but you’ll also generate far more value. You’ll also find more buyers.
Researching potential clients before you interact with them is crucial. It will allow you to know where you stand. That also means you’ll have an idea about how to begin your relationship.
Connect With People
Outreach is essential. Once you’ve identified the people within a company who make buying decisions, you need to connect with them. That can look a lot of different ways.
It will depend on several factors:
- The form your sales process takes.
- The relationship or lack thereof you have with the potential client.
- The strengths and weaknesses of you and your team of sales reps.
Various types of outbound and inbound prospecting may all come into play. You might think it’s either self-explanatory or trite. However, building a human connection with a prospect is one of the most efficient ways to create a lasting business relationship.
Sales Prospecting Techniques
Balance is vital when determining which sales prospecting techniques to use.
Outbound prospecting might seem unappealing. Cold calling is rarely anyone’s favorite activity, no matter which ends of the phone you’re on. It’s still necessary.
Ideally, you would have already made contact with a lead or prospect and secured the beginning of a relationship. Sadly, that’s not always possible.
It’s crucial to use outbound prospecting methods responsibly. Anything that feels like spam will be treated as such. Your company’s reputation may suffer.
We’ve discussed the similarities and differences between sales and marketing in past blog posts. The necessity of aligning the two is essential for all aspects of generating revenue for your company. Prospecting is no exception.
When it comes to prospect marketing, there are a few things you need to know.
The first is to whom you’re attempting to sell. Your marketing efforts need to be geared toward the same audience as your sales efforts. If they’re not, that disconnect will cause you problems. Your sales process will break down.
Next, you need to ensure that your marketing efforts are reaching your prospects. If they’re not, they’re going to waste.
From there, the marketing department’s job is to produce good content. The content you want will guide the potential customer toward buying a product.
Your sales reps will have a much easier time closing a deal if your company is fresh on the prospect’s mind. The chances of making a sale rise if they’ve seen an advertisement recently. Effective advertisements highlight your product or service’s value.
Sales Prospecting Tools
We’ve covered a potentially overwhelming amount of information so far, but don’t panic. You’re not on your own.
There are a wide variety of sales prospecting tools available. They’re all meant to make your life easier and more productive. We’re going to go over some of our favorites now so that you know your options.
Datanyze is an innovative source of business contact information for B2B sales. They offer a convenient Google Chrome extension. It captures data while you research prospects.
There’s no need for you to worry about tracking that information yourself. Datanyze works in real-time. It collects relevant company data in addition to contact information.
That’s not the only service Datanyze offers. You may find their icebreaking service even more helpful. That will depend on your sales team’s strengths and preferences.
That’s right; they provide icebreakers so you can start a personal conversation more easily. You will no longer have to scramble for a way to start a conversation.
The Chrome extension and the icebreaking tool are their most intriguing offerings. Datanyze also provides its clients with the ability to create, export, and search large contact information lists. Does the thought of searching your current database fill you with dread? This could be the service for you.
Not convinced? They offer a 90 day free trial of their Nyze Lite service, so you can see for yourself what they’re offering.
LinkedIn Company Pages
LinkedIn isn’t just social media for professionals, it’s a useful tool in and of itself. There are many reasons looking through the page of a company you want to sell to is helpful.
Company pages often give you some idea of an organization’s hierarchy. Depending on how complete the page is, you may be able to identify who makes the purchasing decisions. That can save you and the other salespeople you work with time and effort down the road.
Besides being useful for research, you can also reach out to people through these pages. There are two main ways of doing so: value bombing and cold prospecting.
With value bombing, you reach out and offer something of value. No purchase or commitment necessary. This might take the form of a training video, an e-book, or a free trial of your product or service.
People are more likely to think well of your company when you’ve already done something for them. It also serves to get your brand name out there in a way that requires little effort.
Cold prospecting is essentially another way of saying cold calling. The difference is you’re sending a message rather than making a phone call. We mentioned using outbound prospecting responsibly.
This is one of the occasions in which that comes into play. You don’t want to annoy potential customers, waste their time, or produce content that looks like spam.
Before you reach out to anyone via LinkedIn, make sure your profile is thorough and professional. That means a high-quality headshot, original content, and complete information.
It can also be helpful to ensure you’re not viewing profiles anonymously. Find that setting, and make sure it’s off. That way, potential customers will recognize your name from the list of people who have viewed their profile.
Twitter isn’t just a productivity sink anymore, it’s a sales prospecting tool. No, really. Hear us out.
Many companies maintain a presence across social media platforms. While Facebook is the most ubiquitous of them, Twitter might be the most useful from a sales perspective.
As with viewing LinkedIn pages, one of the main draws of Twitter is that it can help you build name recognition.
There are three ways to find prospects on Twitter. The first and easiest is to take advantage of CRM software that automatically finds Twitter handles for you.
If that’s not something your CRM software offers, you can search for accounts from an existing prospect list.
The final option is to search keywords, which may help you discover new leads or prospects.
You can either follow your prospects, in which case they may follow you back. You can also add them to a Twitter list so that you can keep track of them more easily. Note that accounts can see the lists they have been added to.
How should you interact with prospects on Twitter? A good rule of thumb is to be slightly more forward than you would be with a stranger from your personal account.
Don’t @ them incessantly, and don’t start conversations about you, your company, or the product you’re selling. Focus on them instead. Retweet their content if it’s applicable and appropriate, but don’t spam them.
If you’re going to send a direct message, we would recommend value bombing rather than cold prospecting. The person operating a company’s social media accounts is rarely the person who makes buying decisions.
Don’t rely on Twitter as your primary source of communication. It should supplement other forms of professional interaction, not take their place. Reaching out via email after establishing contact on Twitter will result in far more progress.
It’s vital to maintain a professional presence on the Twitter account you use for sales prospecting. Your follow list and likes are publicly accessible. If you forget to switch to your personal account before liking a tweet, public relations consequences could be disastrous. Don’t let that happen to you.
A trigger event is something that creates an opening in a market. It results in demand for a product or service surging, which can lead to an incredible number of sales if you take advantage of it.
Before you can take advantage of a trigger event to sell your product or service, you need to know when it occurs. Monitoring every single prospect your company has without some form of automation is impossible. That’s where Google Alerts come in.
When you create a Google Alert for a keyword or phrase, you receive an email notification every time Google finds new information. Unfortunately, this could result in a flood of emails that could take you hours every day to sort through if done incorrectly. Here are some of the things we recommend tracking with Google Alerts:
- When a prospective company hires a new executive.
- If your prospect has recently landed an exciting new client of their own.
- When your prospect opens a new office or expands.
- If the prospect launches a new product or service.
- If one of their competitors launches a new product or service, as they will likely want to respond in kind.
- Any other move by their competitors that could launch a flurry of activity from your prospect.
- Legal trouble of any kind, but only if it would benefit your company to offer aid or solutions.
- A buyout, sale, merger or acquisition.
- Any relevant legislation that might influence the industry.
- When company rankings emerge.
- If the prospect has recently gone public.
- Finally, be aware of press coverage relating to your prospect.
One of the best things about Google Alerts is that they require very little in the way of technical expertise. You don’t need a degree in computer science, just a knack for knowing which keywords to use. If you don’t want to clutter up your inbox with Google Alerts, you can set up an RSS feed almost as quickly.
The other benefit? Google Alerts are free. Any revenue a salesperson generates as a result of using Google Alerts will come at the expense of your time, but not your budget.
Evernote is oriented toward the organization. At first glance, it may not seem as helpful for sales prospecting as some of the other tools on this list. Just because it isn’t explicitly designed for prospecting doesn’t mean that it won’t be useful.
Anything that boosts productivity is desirable. Wasting time by searching for notes and documents isn’t an issue limited to salespeople. Office workers everywhere are buried under an avalanche of papers. Evernote can help.
Evernote is easy to customize. That means it can be used as a CRM platform.
While Evernote does integrate with Salesforce, this will work better for smaller sales teams. The larger the sales team and the more prospects involved, the more complicated matters become.
Evernote can read handwritten notes. It recognizes multiple languages and makes it simple to scan existing documents. It’s also affordable, and the company offers a free trial so you can try it risk-free.
The final tool we’ll be covering today is Kixie. With Kixie, cold calling or prospecting is no more. You won’t have to work your way through a list of numbers with little hope of converting a lead. Kixie lets you connect with prospects while they’re likely to engage with you.
Timing is everything in sales. Kixie recognizes that. They offer your sales reps the chance to operate proactively.
Automated texting and calling means that your team saves time. You can focus on building stronger relationships with your prospects rather than typing.
You can call or text a prospect directly after they fill out a web contact form. Right after they open an email from you is another good option. You’re connecting with them while your company is on their mind, not cold calling out of the blue.
Automatic texting is one of the most helpful features Kixie offers. It’s low stakes and low effort for everyone involved. Better yet, your prospects are more likely to read and tolerate text messages. They’re probably sick of emails.
Everyone sends emails, and most people get more of them than they know what to do with. Texts offer what’s almost an entirely new medium of communication with prospects.
According to Kixie, 82 percent of text messages are opened, and 45 percent receive a response. Compare those numbers to the statistics commonly cited about emails. An estimated 20 percent of emails are opened. Hence, it’s difficult to say what percentage of the opened emails are read, but it’s not all of them.
The difference Kixie’s automated texting service could make for your business is clear.
Kixie takes just three minutes to set up. It offers a free trial for both their integrated and enterprise versions. If you’re a salesperson who wants to explore the options provided by a custom account, you can schedule a demonstration. You don’t need to enter credit card information or have any special hardware.
Its intuitive design means that you won’t spend your valuable time frowning at an instruction manual or sitting through a training class. You and your sales reps could be doing something productive instead.
Final Thoughts on Prospecting Methods
You need effective prospecting methods you use. They can make the difference between success and failure for your company.
No matter what industry you’re in, you’re likely operating in a competitive global market. You can’t afford to fall behind the curve. There’s no room in your schedule or budget for mistakes or missed opportunities.
The uncertainty and instability 2020 brought will have lasting effects across industries. Adaptation is essential. Ryan Chute has years of experience in dynamic business environments. If you want expert advice, he’s here for you.
Ryan has helped thousands of businesses across eight countries go from surviving to thriving. It doesn’t matter what issue or pain point you’re facing. The odds are good that someone has already come up with a solution.
All you have to do is discover it. That’s easier said than done.
With Ryan’s experience across industries, he has a unique perspective. The solution to your problem might not exist in your industry right now. His knowledge can save you hours of fruitless searching and frustration. He can bridge the gap between sectors.
Do you want your business to transform into the best possible version of itself? You can book a commitment-free call with Selling Revolution today. In 20 brief minutes, the future of your business could open up in front of you. With enough hard work, anything is possible.