If you want to increase your company’s bottom line, you need to find new leads and convert them to customers. This process is known as prospecting. When your sales team prospects effectively, you can convert more leads and increase your earnings significantly.
Unfortunately, prospecting can be challenging, which is why many businesses struggle to get more customers.
In many cases, companies will leverage their top salespeople’s raw skills and talents to build a bigger bottom line. However, what if you could turn prospecting into a repeatable process that any salesperson could follow? Once you do that, success becomes inevitable.
Fortunately, that is what this guide is all about. Here is what you need to know about sales prospecting.
Sales Prospecting Defined
As you may have guessed, this process gets its name from the act of prospecting for gold. Although the precise details have changed over the years, the steps are relatively similar. You have to sift through a lot of dirt to find some golden nuggets, and if you look in the wrong places, you’ll come up empty-handed.
The simple definition of sales prospecting is the act of interacting with a potential customer to move that person through your sales funnel. The primary difference between good and bad prospecting is determining which leads are the most viable. For example, if your core demographic is single men between 20 and 30, you won’t get much traction if you market to married women in their 50s.
Another way to look at this system is to compare leads and prospects. A lead is someone who has expressed interest in your company (i.e., subscribed to your email list). A prospect, however, is a qualified lead that is likely to buy something. Being able to qualify your leads more efficiently can boost your sales almost immediately, which is why sales prospecting is so valuable.
Top Sales Prospecting Methods
Because the goal is to qualify as many leads as possible, you want to utilize tactics that will help move someone through your sales funnel. Here are some standard practices used by top sales reps.
You are likely familiar with the concept of “cold calling,” which is when a rep calls someone without context or any previous interaction. Warm calling means that the salesperson has provided some information or that the lead is already interested in what your business has to offer.
The other side of warm calling is that the salesperson should know a little bit about the lead. The more information collected beforehand, the easier it is to make a compelling connection. Social media is an excellent resource for making this method work.
Networking and Referrals
All salespeople are familiar with the concept of networking, which is the act of building a network of personal and professional contacts. Usually, networking happens in person, at conventions, cocktail mixers, and conventions. The goal of networking is to get referrals and to build authenticity. When you get leads through networking, it is much easier to get them to close the deal.
Most consumers these days can spot a practiced sales pitch, and they tend to avoid it. Content marketing isn’t trying to sell a particular product – instead, it delivers valuable information to a lead. Once customers see what you have to offer, they are far more likely to engage with your sales team.
Sales Prospecting Process
While these methods are helpful, they need to be utilized in a cohesive system. While the details might differ between businesses, the standard process for sales prospecting involves these steps:
- Research – Learn as much as you can about your target demographics, as well as specific leads. The goal is to focus on qualified prospects that are more likely to buy.
- Prospect – Get contact information for your lead. Ideally, you want multiple contact points to ensure that your message gets delivered.
- Connect – Reach out to the lead through a call or email (or both). If necessary, set up a time to chat with them more in-depth.
- Educate – Show the prospect what your company has to offer. The best way to move the person through the funnel is to focus on solving a particular problem. During this step, you can also address any objections.
- Close – Finalize the sale and move the prospect onto the customer service and fulfillment team.
Overall, you should focus on streamlining and automating these processes as much as possible. The other component to master is to qualify leads quickly.
For example, before reaching out, perhaps a lead has to answer a short questionnaire or fill out some contact information. By adding a few steps, you can be sure that the lead is interested in what you have to offer. The goal is to avoid wasting time by having the sales team chase down dead ends.
Tips and Tricks for Sales Prospecting
While your top sales reps are likely closing deals regularly, it helps to coach the rest of your team for success. Here are some high-quality tactics that can make prospecting more valuable to your business:
Create Customer Profiles – Rather than appealing to a mass audience, your sales reps need to take an individualized approach to leads. Customer profiles (or personas) is an excellent way to understand what prospects want and what challenges they face.
Leverage Referrals – Many companies don’t ask for referrals from their current customers. However, your customers are going to be the best way to find new business and warm leads.
Be Informative – Customers tend to ignore businesses that are asking for money. Instead, provide information and value with no strings attached. This strategy will add authenticity to each interaction and build a more substantial brand presence among your leads.
Generate Scripts and Questions – If your sales team can follow a script when talking to a new prospect, it takes all of the guesswork out of that first interaction. Use old sales data to anticipate a prospect’s needs and address their concerns before they are brought up.
Automate Touchpoints and Follow-Ups – With so many leads to manage, it can be impossible to juggle them all. Customer relationship management (CRM) software makes it easy to stay on top of prospects and move them through the funnel.
Focus on the Right Channels – Are most of your top customers referrals or people who visited your website? How much business do you get from social media platforms? Rather than spreading your sales team thin, have reps spend most of their time on the channels that get the most results.
Sales Prospecting: B2B vs. B2C
As a rule, it is easier to sell directly to consumers than to other businesses. While many of the methods we’ve discussed so far will work for both types of prospecting, there are some crucial differences. Here is a quick breakdown.
Decision-Makers and Gatekeepers
In a B2C model, the customer is the one making the purchasing decision. However, when interacting with a business, there are likely multiple people from different departments involved in the process. Not only that, but you may have barriers to getting contact information, such as receptionists or supervisors.
As a result, you need to customize your approach to fit this dynamic. Since you have to appeal to multiple decision-makers, you can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach. Also, the process for closing the deal is often much longer, so you have to account for that.
Since the sales funnel is so much longer for B2B prospecting, you have to maintain communication throughout. Leverage different touchpoints such as email, calls, social media, and print materials. By being consistent with your messaging and providing value each time, you are more likely to stick in your audience’s minds. Here is where automation can also come in handy since you are less likely to lose a prospect.
With B2C marketing strategies, one or two ads can make a huge impact. With B2B marketing, you need to provide as much information as possible to deliver value to everyone involved in the process. One of the best ways to do this is to develop multiple types of content.
For example, perhaps you start with a digital or physical flyer and then direct the lead to a web page. During a sales meeting, you might use a slideshow or video presentation. If you are selling software, you may offer a free trial or a freemium version of the product so that your leads can get a feel for it before making a final decision.
How to Develop a Sales Prospecting Strategy
As we mentioned, the difference between good and bad prospecting is the ability to qualify leads as quickly as possible. This tactic starts by developing a refined strategy for your sales team. Here are some ways to build a plan that works:
- Focus on Your Goals – If the only goal is to “increase sales,” you will have difficulty getting traction. Instead, let your company’s mission statement be your guide.
- Analyze Past Performance – Even if your business is relatively new, you should have some sales data available. Use this information to determine which prospecting tactics work the most and refine your techniques accordingly.
- Pick Your Markets – Not all customers are the same; some are far better than others. Don’t waste time with prospects or leads that won’t yield a high-profit margin. Instead of chasing down small leads, put more energy into top-tier candidates.
- Leverage Your Sales Team – Many companies will create a sales method and force their reps to follow it. Instead, utilize the strengths and weaknesses of your team to your advantage. For example, if one agent doesn’t like cold calling, they can focus on emails or social channels instead.
Skills to Make Sales Prospecting Easier
If you want to get the most out of your sales reps, you need to make sure that they have all the right prospecting skills. Sales coaching can help turn a lackluster representative into a rockstar. Here are some of the top skills needed for prospecting.
With so many leads to talk to and so much research to do, it can get overwhelming fast. Staying organized can make it much easier for reps to stay focused on the task at hand. Whether it’s a neat workspace or organizational software, it is crucial to maintain order.
One reason why prospecting can seem so overwhelming is that it can feel like an endless slog. However, breaking up the process into bite-sized chunks makes it much easier to complete tasks and move onto the next step. For example, have your reps prospect for 30-minute increments. In between, they can work on other tasks and get energized for the next sprint.
No matter what, salespeople have to interact with customers and prospects. Communication skills are crucial for building relationships and moving leads through the funnel. If a rep doesn’t know how to communicate effectively, coaching will be necessary.
Sales Prospecting Tools
Thankfully, there are tons of tools out there to make prospecting simpler and more straightforward. Here are some of the top options to utilize when building your process:
- CRM – Don’t let your sales team try to manage dozens or hundreds of contacts manually. CRM software ensures that each prospect is moved through the funnel as efficiently as possible.
- Lead Generation – Find leads from various channels, such as social media (including LinkedIn), web traffic, and SEO. You need to have some way to pull those leads and bring them to the sales team.
- Calendar – Your reps need to be able to set up meetings and calls with prospects. Fortunately, free options like Google Calendar can be synced to CRM software for a smoother transition.
- Task Management – Organizational apps like Trello or Evernote can make it easy to set reminders and build checklists. Otherwise, your sales team can fall behind almost immediately.
- Analytics – As your team generates sales data, you need some way to analyze it so that you can refine your prospecting process.
Key Takeaways of Sales Prospecting
We’ve covered a lot of information in this article, but the primary points for your sales team to focus on are:
- Qualify Leads Quickly – Don’t waste time reaching out to individuals who aren’t interested in buying.
- Automate Your Processes – Enable your sales reps to close more deals by giving them a step-by-step system.
- Focus Your Attention – Don’t spread too thin; instead, put your time and effort into prospects and demographics that yield the best results.
Contact Selling Revolution Today
Building a high-quality sales prospecting funnel is easier said than done. Rather than trying to figure it all out yourself, you can let us take the reins. Schedule a call with us to find out how we can help your reps prospect leads more efficiently.