About 40% of salespeople cite sales prospecting as the most challenging part of the sales process. That’s four percent more than those who mentioned closing.
And when you consider just how vital sales prospecting is to a company’s success, it becomes clearer that even a business with an amazing product will have a hard time staying afloat without effective prospecting practices.
If you want your sales team to have a shot at meeting their revenue quotas, you need to provide them with enough prospects to work with. Those prospects can’t be just anyone; they need to be people who are well-suited for your products and those who will actually respond to the offers you put in front of them.
To help you ensure that you never run out of new leads to work with, let’s go through some of the main reasons why sales prospecting is essential. Let’s also explore some of the most effective techniques you can employ, and look at the tools that can be helpful in the process.
What is Sales Prospecting?
Before your sales team can start moving people through your sales funnel, you need to have people to work with. Reaching out to random people would be a waste of time. So companies need a process for identifying and qualifying prospects before they can be added to the funnel and guided towards making a purchase.
And that’s where sales prospecting comes in.
It’s the process of identifying and reaching out to people who fit the description of your ideal customer. They are people similar to your current customers, which means that they are more likely to be interested if they are presented with the right offer.
Sales prospecting can be done through email, cold-calling, social media, or even SMS messages.
When you have a good sales prospecting process, your sales team doesn’t have to worry about getting each prospect to say yes. Because the prospects share consistent traits and are well-matched with the offer, it’s much easier to develop effective frameworks that can be used repeatedly.
Why is Sales Prospecting Important?
72% of companies with less than 50 new sales opportunities per month didn’t achieve their revenue goals. That’s a stark contrast with companies with more than 100 business opportunities per month, where only 4% failed to achieve their goals.
The number of opportunities you generate through sales prospecting matters. But how exactly can it make a difference for your business?
Here are a few of the top benefits it offers:
- More sales. If you develop an effective sales prospecting process, you will always have new sales opportunities that your team can work on. And that can help accelerate growth and ensure that you never run out of room for expanding your business.
- More revenue. More sales opportunities also mean more revenue—which you can then reinvest into expanding your team, improving your products, or running more marketing campaigns.
- Gain insights. As you reach out to more prospects and see how they respond, you will start noticing patterns in their behaviors. You will also improve your understanding of what your ideal customers look like, which will positively impact every aspect of your business, including marketing, branding, and product development.
- Increase customer lifetime value. As you refine your sales prospecting process, you will get better at identifying the prospects who are more likely to stay with you longer. And that can have an accumulative effect through the increase in customer lifetime value.
Sales Prospecting Techniques
Sales prospecting is a continuous process. And a lot of it comes down to the consistency and effort your team puts in day after day.
But at the same time, there are techniques that can make the process more efficient. That way, you can ensure that every time you reach out to a prospect, your team is in a position to succeed more often than not.
With that in mind, let’s go over a few effective sales prospecting techniques that can be helpful.
Map Out Your Ideal Customer
If you’re going to be successful in sales prospecting, the number one thing you need to get right is targeting the right types of prospects in the first place. The more criteria you can identify about your prospects, the easier it will be to sort through the list of potential opportunities and identify the ones that make the most sense.
Since you’re probably already making sales, you should start by looking at the customers you already have a good relationship. Try to learn as much as you can about the people that are happy to work with you, and you might discover the differentiating factors that will help you identify the type of prospect that’s the best fit with what you have to offer.
If you want to enhance your data and ensure that it’s correct, you can partner up with a B2B lead research services provider that can help you gain more insights about who your ideal prospects might be.
Developing a reliable and proven customer persona takes time, but the effort is almost always worth it. Sales prospecting becomes much easier when you know who you want to reach, what draws them to your company, and what offers will increase the likelihood of closing the sale.
Identify Ways to Connect
Knowing who you want to reach is essential, but only if you also have an effective process for reaching those leads. For B2B companies, you also need to think about how to get to the decision-maker and not just get stuck talking to the gatekeeper.
That’s why it’s equally important to figure out the best outreach methods and have a reliable process for sourcing contact information. If you use lead research services like TaskDrive, you can take advantage of our vast network and database access to find contact information that’s verified and up to date.
Whether through phone, email, or even social media, having the correct contact details of the right person can be the biggest difference-maker in how successful your sales prospecting efforts end up being.
Warm Up Your Prospects
As you probably know yourself, getting bombarded with proposals and sales pitches by people you don’t know can be frustrating. If done wrong, it can even be infuriating—causing you to immediately look for ways to permanently end the conversation.
That’s why smart sales prospecting experts know that it takes multiple contacts and a gentle approach if you want your prospects to respond to what you have to say. Many times, it will probably take multiple conversations that will gradually warm up your prospects to the idea of working with you or even hearing your pitch.
But how can you warm up your prospects and increase the chances of success?
Well, the single best approach is to seek out referrals from your current clients. If you can reach a prospect through a recommendation or a mutual connection, the chances of them responding positively are higher.
Since they trust the person who referred you, they will be less skeptical about your offer, more willing to listen to your claims, and generally more open about accepting that your product can help them.
If you want to boost the number of referrals you receive, you could create a referral program and incentivize them through rewards, discounts, and other perks for current customers.
When you can’t get a referral, create a strategy for getting multiple touchpoints with each prospect. If you have a CRM solution, set up reminders to engage on social media, through email, on the phone, and in any other way that you deem relevant. That way, you will become more familiar and can earn the trust of the person you’re trying to convert.
Make Sure You’re Consistent
Persistency and sales go hand in hand. In fact, it might even be more important than any other sales tactic you could use. And the same can be said about prospecting.
Even if you don’t have the perfect funnel, the ideal prospects, or even the best product, being persistent about communicating and following up with your leads can have incredibly powerful results, allowing you to break through resistance and overcome even the most persistent objections.
But for that to happen, you need to implement a company-wide policy about how you handle each sales prospect. Your team must know exactly how long they should pursue a prospect, how often they should reach out, what different tools and approaches they should use to win them over, and be confident that being consistent will deliver the desired results.
Whether it’s sending follow up emails, continually sharing valuable educational resources, scheduling calls, or even making the deal too good to resist, sometimes you have to go all out on sales prospecting if you want to generate interest and gain customers that might end up being the most profitable in the long run.
Utilize Automation Tools
No matter how much you improve your sales prospecting efforts, you will eventually reach a point where you can’t expand anymore. But the good news is that there are plenty of sales prospecting automation tools that can speed up or automate various tasks and give you more time to work with the prospects themselves.
Whether it’s creating high-quality content, engaging prospects on social media, or even finding contact details of the people you want to reach, automation tools can help you make the most of the time you have available and make your sales team’s job easier.
Let’s look over a few of the best sales prospecting tools that you should be using if you want to increase the number of opportunities you generate without sacrificing the quality of the prospects you work with.
Best Tools for Sales Prospecting
Even though the fundamental techniques of sales prospecting rely on understanding your audience and being persistent in communicating with them, there are tools that can make the steps towards closing the sale easier.
Here are a few of the top options you should consider:
TaskDrive. While not technically a tool and more of a service, TaskDrive can become your biggest asset as you expand your prospecting efforts and provide more sales opportunities for your team. It can supercharge your SDRs with personalized lead research, freeing up time to focus on building relationships instead of having to spend days or even weeks sorting through databases. TaskDrive can provide you with extensive and verified data about your ideal prospects, helping you reduce costs, save time, and make more sales in the process.
FollowUp.cc. If you want a simple but powerful solution for following up with your prospects, FollowUp.cc is an indispensable tool to consider. It seamlessly integrates with Gmail and provides your team with helpful reminders about when to follow up. You can even set up automated follow-ups so that the message goes out even if your team members are busy.
Outreach.io. Outreach is a powerful sales prospecting tool that can help your sales team map out their communication with customers. They’ll know exactly when to reach out, what communication method to use, and how to get the most out of each interaction with the prospect. Using the data you collect, you can optimize the processes and seamlessly integrate them with your CRM solution.
LeadIQ. If you want a way to capture prospect information from LinkedIn, LeadIQ is an excellent option, as it makes it very easy to capture prospects based on various criteria. You can customize what types of prospects you want to target, making it easy to transfer the captured data to Salesforce, Outreach, or any other tool you might be using.
Hunter.io. Hunter.io might be the simplest tool on this list, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be incredibly useful. If you’re looking for a more hands-on way to find prospect email addresses, Hunter.io can provide you with a simple and fast method for finding the key decision-makers in any company based on the domain name of their business website.
Sales prospecting takes effort and might not be as exciting as closing deals, but the amount of sales opportunities you generate will probably end up playing a more prominent role in your company’s success.
But here’s some good news. Any company can develop a highly efficient process for generating top-quality prospects, especially with a good understanding of their audience and the help of a few essential prospecting tools.