Finding new prospects can be challenging even for hardened veterans in the sales and marketing industry. If your team is finding sales prospecting to be a tall order, they are not alone. A recent study by HubSpot estimates that about 40 percent of salespeople view prospecting as the most demanding part of the entire sales process, followed by closing at 36 percent and lastly qualifying at 22 percent.
Yet, as a CEO, you know too well that in the current highly volatile business environment, the ability for your sales team to bring in new business is the only way to weather the marketplace storms. This piece provides ten trending sales prospecting tips to turn your team into a lead-generating powerhouse.
What is Sales Prospecting?
Sales prospecting is a crucial step in a sales process that involves identifying potential customers, finding them, and creating opportunities for further communication that leads to ultimate conversion to paying customers. Sales prospecting may involve cold-calling, SMS messages, emailing, referrals, directories, trade shows, and other forms of outreach for nurturing leads and turning them into potential customers.
Why is Sales Prospecting Important?
Sales prospecting is a necessity for salespeople and their companies to retain customers and grow revenue. The benefits of sales prospecting include:
- More customers: When you prospect successfully, you attract more potential customers to convert into buyers. Studies reveal a typical salesperson loses about 10 to 25 percent of their customer base annually due to gradual attrition. Consistent sales prospecting ensures you replace the existing customers and prevents your entire customer base from eroding.
- Increased revenue: More customers ultimately leads to more revenue. Each new prospect that your sales team converts into a customer has the potential of bringing more revenue. This revenue growth helps mitigate the risks of increased operational costs and inflation.
- Data gathering: Sales prospecting also provides businesses opportunities to gather customer data and conduct market research. Prospecting tools such as direct mail and web surveys provide valuable data that helps you understand your customers better to provide a customized experience.
Ten Ways to Get in Front of Ideal Prospects
As the key decision-maker in your company, here are ten tips you can share with your team to help them get in front of ideal prospects:
Create an Ideal Prospect Profile
Start by researching your database on the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). Find out your top customers, worst customers, the most profitable customers, and the least profitable customers. Create a profile for each of these groups and identify the pain points for each customer and how your product can offer a solution. Once you have generated the ICP list, implement account-based marketing so that you focus on bigger fish while leaving out the more troublesome and less promising prospects.
Identify Places to Meet Your Ideal Prospects
Find out where you met your best and most profitable customers to get ideas of ideal places to meet your next potential customer. Some of the best meet-up places with current and past customers include trade shows, seminars, referrals, and more. Knowing the exact places where you met your best customers will help you single out your most "lucrative" places to hang out at. It will also help you figure out the industry events or social events and activities where your ideal prospects are likely to attend or be active. For example, if you are a B2B business, there is a higher likelihood that most of your potential prospects are on LinkedIn. Establishing a strong presence there is a great way to position your product in front of a potential client.
Prioritize your sales prospecting process to ensure you have a level of consistency. Dedicate some amount of time each day to do your sales prospecting. Keep in mind, prospecting is never a quick fix solution, and the more you stay on it, the higher the chances of success. Studies reveal it takes an average of 18 calls to connect with a buyer.
Ensure you are prospecting throughout the day of the month, even when you do not see tangible results. The purpose of consistent sales prospecting is to establish a relationship with a potential customer-something that rarely happens with a single initial contact. The following are a few tips to help you stay consistent with your prospecting:
- Be active on social media networks such as LinkedIn. You can also join social media groups where your prospects hang out and post relevant content. Ensure you are vocal in these groups by contributing to discussions and replying to questions.
- Start a blog and transform yourself into a thought leader and an expert in a subject. You can write guest articles or publish content via syndicated sites. Consistent publishing helps you to be where the prospects are looking.
- Buy a sales navigator license from LinkedIn and use it daily to send In Mails. This tool provides excellent insights on when and why to call a specific prospect.
- Put prospecting hours on the calendar, and ensure you are religiously following your self-given appointments. Mastering the art of sales prospecting will take time, which is why you should have a structured time of prospecting for a successful sales process.
Actively Work on Your Call Lists
A recent study reveals a whopping 69 percent of current buyers started their buying journey by accepting a call from new salespeople. Start by categorizing your call list into cold, warm, and lost lead lists. Next, prioritize the prospects in each list and make a point of calling a few each day. Importantly, before you make that call, stay organized by writing down a list of open-ended questions for each of your prospect lists. A good practice is to have at least 11 to 14 questions for each lead call to enjoy a greater chance of success.
Leverage Marketing Automation Tools
Leverage automation tools to nurture prospects and share thought leadership messages across your sales channel. Automation tools designed to link content distribution, customer relationship management (CRM), and social platforms can help your sales team to pass the right message at the right time to the right prospect. You can also use the marketing tools to quickly convert stragglers into sales. The following are a few tips to get started:
- Gather all your contacts into your marketing software and segment each group using relevant sales criteria
- Automate several marketing techniques and processes to optimize the marketing-sales pipeline.
- Create marketing assets that can generate interest during every stage of the buying process.
Send Personalized Emails
Emails can be such a powerful tool for any salesperson looking to score some quick wins. A recent study by Rain Group research reveals up to 80 percent of buyers prefer being contacted by the seller through email. Replacing mass or bulk emails with personalized emails is a great way to get a higher open rate.
Start by researching each prospect's needs and draft a highly personalized email to showcase the much you know about their company or industry. The connection of the email should also address the needs of the specific prospect as much as possible. You should also ensure your email is compatible with mobile devices, as more than half of all emails are read on the go. Studies reveal optimizing your email for mobile devices guarantees higher click-through rates than emails not optimized for mobile devices.
Ask for Referrals
A happy customer is your biggest brand ambassador. Studies reveal up to 91 percent of B2B buyers are influenced by word of mouth when making their first buying decision. Ideally, the referral-based sale closing ratio now stands at between 50 to 70 percent.
Ask your customers for referrals immediately after you make a sale and when the experience is still fresh in their minds. If a connection is promising, ask for an introductory meeting to share your successes with your clients.
Build a Robust Social Media Presence
Social media platforms are where your prospects visit to find information. Having a strong presence on Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, YouTube, and others is a great way to connect with potential customers and understand their pain points. Start by identifying one social media channel that you think is integral to your work and create a professional profile. For example, if you are a B2B business, investing in a professional LinkedIn account is crucial. Essentially, up to 82 percent of B2B buyers lookup vendors on LinkedIn before deciding to reply to their outreach efforts.
Prioritize Quality Over Quantity Leads
Recent studies show up to 50 percent of your prospects are not a good fit for what you want to sell. Having a few high-quality leads is more beneficial than having a bunch that isn't going anywhere. Undoubtedly, developing quality leads takes a lot of effort and time, but its benefits are quite immense. By weeding out low-quality leads, you will succeed in reducing inefficiencies and increasing productivity. High-quality leads also guarantee a shorter time to complete sales for an improved bottom line.
Use High-Quality Content
Ideally, about 57 percent of the buying process happens before a prospect is ready to talk to a salesperson. Missing the first half of the buying process reduces the chances of successful sales prospecting.
Use valuable content to entice prospects and trigger their curiosity about your product. The content you provide for your prospects should address the specific situations and pain points of that prospect. Remember, nobody will pay attention if you are not talking about them. As such, avoid sending messages that focus on a product's features rather than on the potential customer's pain points and potential solutions.
Be Honest About Your Services
Transparency and honesty are the cornerstones of a robust client-business relationship. Being honest about both the positive and negative aspects of your product is a quick way to gain trust and credibility before the eyes of your potential customers. You should also adopt flexibility that allows you to make modifications to your product with each potential client.
Visit a Prospect in Person
You can also go old school and make a real-life visit to a potential customer in person. Let them know who you are and what you stand for. Ideally, prospects may be tempted to delete a voicemail or email even before finding out their content. But meeting them in person increases your chances of getting your foot on the door. A live meeting also presents excellent opportunities to establish a strong connection with your prospects and answer potential questions they may have.
Keep a Healthy Sales Process
A sales process refers to a set of repeatable steps that salespersons take to move a prospective buyer from the early stages of awareness to a closing. Most sales processes consist of between 5 and 7 steps:
- Handling objections
- Closing and follow up
The benefits of a sales process are immense and may include:
More accurate forecasting:
Businesses with a defined sales process can forecast bookings better than those that don't.
Having a sales process ensures your team stays organized. Defining the sales process means each department has its specific roles so that everyone reads on the same page.
When your sales team works through the same process, you gain insights into the steps that present regular challenges and provide value. You can use such information to tweak your sales process.
A well-defined sales process ultimately leads to more sales. It increases the efficiency of the overall sales by removing unnecessary sales steps and tactics for the team to focus on effective strategies that work.
Companies implementing a sales process outperform companies that don't. A study by Harvard Business Review (HBR) shows businesses implementing a standardized sales process realize up to a 28% increase in revenue compared to those that do not. If you are looking for an exceptional tool to help you stay organized with your sales process, try the Deal Flow Accelerator program.
The Prospecting Pitfalls You Need to Avoid
If you want to maximize the benefits that come with prospecting, your game needs to be top-notch. Prospecting mistakes will not only cost your company valuable time but also resources and revenue.
Here are a few most common prospecting mistakes to avoid:
Not focusing on pain points:
You need to focus on adding value to the lives of your prospects. Once you are through with your research, gauge your customer's pain points to offer them a great solution. Highlight the benefits and results of your products rather than their features.
Not being clear with your ICP:
ICP refers to an ideal customer profile. If you fail to be clear about who your prospect is, you will likely end up shooting in the dark. Having a clear ICP ensures you will not waste time chasing prospects that will lead you nowhere.
Failure to use a CRM:
In today's business environment, managing your prospecting process can be quite challenging if you don't have a CRM tool. There are several CRM tools out there designed to suit every level of organization. Pick the ideal one and use it to stay organized and track your progress.
Giving up too soon:
Unresponsive prospects can be frustrating, but sale prospecting is never an easy game. Some prospectors assume their prospects are not interested after a few unresponsive calls. Giving up too soon is a loss to your business. Just because a prospect is not responding doesn't mean you shouldn't continue to reach out. Keep reaching out to them, and before long, you will get a response.
Reaching out too often:
Reaching out too many times and too early in the relationship can be a fatal mistake. When you blast your prospects too many times in an attempt to get their attention, you come across as a bothersome or desperate salesperson. Instead of frontloading your prospects, stagger your touchpoints across a few weeks and maintain contact without being pushy.
Being too salesy:
Sending a salesy message to a prospect is one way to lose their interest quickly. On average, a prospect receives 200 emails each day, and if you are going to be emailing, it is crucial your message stands out from the crowd. Try to capture their attention by demonstrating a deep understanding of the critical happenings in their industry. Align your message with their objectives, goals, and concerns and provide a clear CTA.
Not making follow-ups:
Another common mistake that most prospectors make is to move on too quickly to their next target soon after making contact with a prospect. Once you have targeted the right leads, you have drawn their attention, and it is essential to follow your sales process up to the end. By maintaining an open line of communication, you build your reputation and earn the prospect's trust.
Find the Right Sales Training Program for You
If you work in sales, you know too well that prospecting isn't a walk in the park. However, you have to prospect consistently if your business is to survive cutthroat competitions. When done correctly, prospecting is the fastest way to increase both your conversion rates and closing rates.
Bold CEO provides a unique sales training program with the most refined and useful sales processes and hacks that accelerate deal closing. With The Deal Flow Accelerator, you can learn the top sales strategies for business growth. To see if this is a fit for your business, click here and apply today.