The What, Why, and How of Sales Prospecting
When was the last time you saw a sales pro instantly qualify a prospect?
Let’s be candid: probably never. In a perfect world, you’d quickly identify your target, qualify them, and close the deal. In reality, sales prospecting is an exhaustive undertaking. Through trial and error, salespeople learn why they simply can’t put the pedal to the metal without cutting-edge technology, diligent research, refined data, and a well-articulated strategy: despite their best efforts, sales representatives might end up chasing the wrong person while top-tier prospects slip through the cracks.
It takes a little courage and a lot of effort to gain the upper hand in sales prospecting. In this blog post, we’ll unveil the steps you can take right away to prospect smarter and keep yourself on track for long-term success.
But First, Let’s Get More Familiar with Sales Prospecting
A constant flow of clients may turn any business into a profitable company. The question is, how do you bring in the right customers—consistently?
You delve into the world of sales prospecting. This process, now ubiquitous in thriving sales plans, helps you identify new potential clients for your business. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though: by all means, successful prospecting is not a done-and-dusted fix. It’s an ongoing activity that takes time.
First and foremost, you have to zoom in on the leads that are worth pursuing and determine their quality. Once you qualify them into your best-fit prospects, move gradually towards the ultimate goal of sales prospecting: turning high-quality prospects into revenue-generating customers.
Today, most businesses employ a combination of outbound and inbound sales strategies:
➤ An outbound perspective, where you are initiating the conversation. By putting together a well-thought-out cold outreach plan, you can establish a direct connection with your audience through a thoughtful email, a relevant phone call, or a timely social media message.
➤ An inbound perspective. In this situation, your prospective customers are making the first move. In one way or another, several leads have signaled their interest. Maybe they subscribed to your newsletter or scrolled through your website for more information on a certain product/service. Properly using that information is key to developing a customized outreach strategy for your in-market audience.
Once you strike the right balance between outbound and inbound selling to set tangible goals, you will go from prospecting to qualifying and closing a lot faster.
Now That You’ve Come to Grips with the Concept of Sales Prospecting, What’s Next?
It’s time to get practical.
When it comes to prospecting your ideal customer, the fewer assumptions you have to make, the better. So avoid cutting corners—at all costs! At this point, you have to build the foundation of an effective sales process.
1. Define Your Customer Profile
What industry should you target? Should you focus on the business-to-business or business-to-consumer market? What are the job titles of your ideal clients? What’s the size of their organization? Where are they located geographically? Who is the decision-maker in your target company? What’s the annual revenue generated by this organization?
Answer these questions to build an accurate prospect list that rules out unqualified leads and improves seller efficiency. After you zoom in on your high-value targets, keep a close eye on them to collect relevant data and dive deeper into their business mission, potential bottlenecks, and interests.
When the time is right, use this data to foster deeper connections with a key decision-maker. Know your target, then make yourself known.
2. Craft a List of Top Priority Prospects
A jam-packed pipeline isn’t necessarily an indicator of quick win rates. Typically, your potential clients are in different stages of the buying cycle. While plenty of prospects might be sales-ready, you could still stumble across a few ifs, buts, and maybes. That’s why it’s crucial to rank the readiness of the prospect and prioritize your outreach accordingly.
Determine which prospects are best aligned with your current offering and prepare to engage them first. Not only will you make better use of your resources, but you’ll also improve lead routing for better sales.
3. Set Yourself Up for Success
Ten seconds—that’s how long it takes to make a good first impression on your prospective clients. Increasingly, they’re craving authentic interactions; so forget about scripted speeches and perfect your pitch while showing genuine interest in every prospect through:
➤ Traditional channels.
Is your prospect attending industry events? Add them to your agenda!
Did your prospect show any interest in a certain print publication? Keep that in mind!
➤ Digital channels.
Has your target engaged in social media discussions? Get involved!
Is your prospect drawn to a specific type of content, such as video, podcasts, or blog posts? Give them what they’re looking for!
Be patient, decide how you want your audience to perceive you, and figure out a way to add concrete customer value.
4. Make Your Move
For today’s customer, hyper-personalization reigns supreme.
You already know that not all prospects are created equal. Some prefer to be contacted by email or phone; others attend networking events and favor in-person interactions.
Adjust your outreach and tailor your message to each target. Talk about an industry-relevant topic, address a particular pain point, or bring the prospect’s future business plans into the discussion. This could be the beginning of a strategic partnership that benefits everyone, so don’t be afraid to ask—and answer—some questions. Just don’t sell. Keep it personal, be an active listener, and focus on building a strong relationship.
5. Stay Curious
Prospecting doesn’t end with an introductory outreach. Each day, take a few moments to:
➤ Analyze your prospecting performance.
➤ Determine your next step.
Don’t wait until you hear back from your prospects; keep in touch. Prospecting is a continuous process—perfect it to build trust and drive more meaningful interactions with your potential customers.
Think You Can Use a Little Help with Prospecting?
1. There’s a Tool for Building Your Prospect List
Where there’s high-quality data, there’s a way to prospect smarter.
Put that thought to the test with Infotelligent—the prospecting database you need on your quest for top-tier clients.
What’s in it for you? With Infotelligent, you gain access to accurate B2B contact data that helps you fuel your sales pipeline and reach your prospects quickly and with remarkable precision. To ensure that you break free from an endless research process and sell faster, Infotelligent arms you with:
➤ A prospecting assistant.
Use this Chrome Extension to get right in front of a key decision-maker in less time.
➤ Superior third-party behavioral data.
Zoom in on your best-fit prospects by finding out who’s actively in-market for your product/service and close more deals.
Better selling decisions start with a powerful prospecting database. So choose wisely!
2. There’s a Tool for Managing Your Prospect Relationships
You’ve gathered high-quality contact data and started a conversation with the right prospect. Now, you have to actively track and manage your interactions. Doing so manually and through time-consuming spreadsheets, however, may stunt your business growth. There has to be a better way, right?
Fortunately, there is—and it comes in the form of customer relationship management (CRM) software.
HubSpot’s CRM, for example, features several time-saving tools to help you organize your pipeline more effectively, tailor your outreach to each prospect, and focus on building strong customer relationships. With access to in-depth reports on your sales activity, you can analyze your overall prospecting performance to continuously improve your approach and follow-up with the right individuals—all in one dashboard.
When low-tech solutions limit your ability to prospect, CRM technology is a great investment.
3. There’s a Tool for Scheduling Meetings the Smart Way
Your prospects don’t like wasting time; they want answers quickly—and, to be honest, so do you.
What if you could schedule a meeting with a prospect, but without the back-and-forth emails?
As it turns out, you actually can. Calendly, an easy-to-use scheduling software, helps you connect with your best prospects in just a few clicks. It allows you to distribute meetings according to availability, priority, or equity and invites your prospects to book an appointment with you whenever it suits them most.
The best part? With intelligent time-zone detection, you’ll improve your scheduling flexibility and never miss an important meeting.
Selling is not a one-size-fits-all activity—neither is prospecting.
Turning relationships into revenue is a long-term affair that requires many tailored approaches rather than a single, go-to strategy.
Make prospecting your daily routine and aim to leave no stone unturned.
Putting maximum effort into knowing your highest-potential customer will significantly enhance your prospecting skills and optimize your sales outcomes.