Effective sales prospecting is essential in an ultra-competitive environment where highly solicited customers are becoming increasingly volatile. It is an integral part of a sales approach, which requires skills to find the right prospects and successfully convert them into a long-lasting partner.
To generate repeated customers, you need to nurture leads in order to establish a concrete bond between customer/server. In order to achieve this, a strategy is required and careful techniques must be followed for effective lead conversion. This type of prospecting efforts is very important for the overall client success experience, due to them feeling engaged with the product or service received, thus generating referencing and overall positive earned media.
So, How do you successfully prospect in sales? What techniques to follow?
What is sales prospecting exactly?
Sales prospecting is the process where the sales team seeks and identifies new leads and potential buyers, in order to convert them into real customers. The channel of outreach may vary depending on the target audience, however, the most popular ones are:
- using email templates,
- pick up the phone,
- Going through social media.
The main goal of effective sales prospecting is to successfully convert leads into customers by using the 2 types of prospecting.
Types of prospecting
Typically, sales organizations specialise in one of these methods, according to the company’s strategy and overall image:
1. Outbound Prospecting
Is the approach where sales representatives contacted leads, without an initial incentive on the lead's behalf, meaning the prospective client knew minimal to no information about the company prior to the initial approach (canvassing). During this approach, the sales representative does not have a lot of space for negotiation, due to the lead not being primarily interested in the offer and so not ready to buy yet.
Is the type of prospecting with less instant positive results, however, is the one that generates the most brand visibility, due to their initial approach allowing audiences to be introduced to the company and if positive progressing into the word of mouth (WOM) advertising.
2. Inbound Prospecting
Is the approach where leads already have an idea of the companies offer and have expressed interest in it; allowing the sales representative to have a more comfortable space and area to negotiate, very different from the outbound.
This is the type of prospecting that has more instant positive results, due to the lead already having knowledge of the product or service and showing interest in the company. It is the most organic type of lead acquiring, seeing as there was no major cause for the approaching to happen.
Companies nowadays integrate both of these methods, according to what they want to achieve and the type of client to acquire. By mixing both of these methods they’ve come to the conclusion that certain clients are more receptive to certain methods and this way they get to encompass more leads, which is the main objective.
Importance of effective sales prospecting
Even though sales prospecting is a practice that has existed for a long time, where sales representatives used to go house by house trying to sell, this practice has only become stronger and transitioned into a more digitised version of the house to house technique.
This practice allows companies to build long-lasting relationships with clients, furthermore to really understand their target audience in a way where their product is customised to their needs; enabling companies to innovate and create products that revolutionise the industry.
How to do a sales prospecting in 7 steps?
Step 1: Define your prospecting plan
The sales prospecting plan is an imperative prerequisite before starting any canvassing. Your prospecting plan is unique and must be developed specifically for your business and your current campaign.
It must clearly outline the characteristics of the prospecting campaign, determining:
- The offer: clearly describe what you want to sell.
- The target: beyond the rather classic criteria (age, geographical area, sector of activity, income, etc.)
- Definition of objectives: they must be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Acceptable, Realistic, and Time-defined).
- Which channels: your target type and your budget can determine the channels through which to contact your prospects.
- Actions to implement: determine the methods you will use on the different channels.
Step 2: Generate the prospecting file
The prospecting file lists all the leads in your target with their contact information. It must be updated regularly to make a precise targeting and to segment your contacts and companies. The objective is to identify the most relevant contacts as quickly as possible.
To do this, using prospecting assistance software or CRM software can save you time, especially by giving you access to a large volume of processed and sorted information.
Step 3: Develop your prospecting arguments
Now that you know your target, you need to define the arguments that will convince them. To do so, adapt the needs of your potential customers to the company’s offer and explain how the product or service can help them.
This allows customers to feel attached to the offer, most likely to result in a positive result and an overall engagement.
Step 4: Qualify leads
This step consists of identifying the leads interested in your solution, in order to qualify them as prospects.
To do so, you must go through three steps:
1. Analyzing lead behaviour
Whether it is on your website, during a physical meeting, or the behaviour in front of an email campaign (opening rate, click rate, etc.), the information collected allows you to build an ideal customer profile in order to know them better, and therefore know how to talk to them.
2. Segmenting leads
By properly segmenting your lead, you will be able to communicate in a personalised way to generate interest, send the right message to the right person, at the right time, and through the right channel.
3. Prioritise through lead scoring
By assigning a score to each prospect, you can identify those most likely to convert to a customer, so you can contact them first and focus your efforts where the chances of conversion are highest.
Step 5: Convert prospects into customers
Get in touch with your leads through the channels you have identified as relevant. Engage them in conversation about their issues, motivations, and doubts. Make sure your product is one of the possible solutions, and then convince them that it is the best for them.
Step 6: Analyze results
The analysis of the results of your campaign is essential to know if your prospecting is effective, in other words, if you have achieved your objectives.
If not, it will allow you to pinpoint what you need to improve (tools, methods, etc.). Determine relevant indicators, in order to make the right decisions.
Step 7: Choosing the right business development tools
Depending on the company’s size and its sales strategy, different tools are the best option for guaranteeing an effective sales prospecting result.
Platforms can help you build and maintain:
- an attractive and complete website that showcases your professionalism and the quality of your offer,
- leads to remain and get in touch with you,
- an updated prospect file,
- a process tracker for identifying opportunities etc.
Techniques & Tricks
B2B sales prospecting is not an easy job, since it involves major negotiating skills that not every representative has, which is why certain techniques are needed in order to guarantee an effective sales prospecting.
1. Stay relevant and time-efficient
People, in general, are always busy and don’t like being interrupted and pulled out of their daily lives; which is why representatives must be relevant and time-efficient to guarantee the prospect's full attention and get their valuable information across. Otherwise, the lead will get bored or feel they are wasting their time and leave.
💡 Trick: create a template of how the progression of an approaching must go and what key elements to talk about. This will allow you to be precise and focused on the value content you want to offer.
2. Friendly tone
People, in general, don’t like being addressed coldly, it immediately doesn’t make them feel connected and predisposes them to a negative reply. In order for this to not happen, it is advisable to talk in a friendly tone and immediately try to connect with them by talking about something in common.
💡 Trick: you should adapt your tone of approach depending on the type of lead. Some people like being addressed formally, while some others like it in a more casual way; it also depends on the type of product or service you are offering.
3. Develop a script
Developing a script lets sales representatives have a standard follow up of how the meeting should go and what themes to talk about. This allows for a more fluid conversation and guaranteeing to talk about the main points and not forget any important conversation.
💡 Trick: work along with your script, but not solely follow it up. This allows the conversation to be more organic and less robotic, helping you seem more approachable and engaging.
4. Build Relationships
Through this technique, representatives get to avidly engage in the prospect’s life. It is important to create a connexion with the client, in order for them to feel attached to the product or service, for a more positive approach.
💡 Trick: integrate a client follow-up tactic, it helps companies have more enduring client/server relation, while understanding areas to improve.
5. Be a Trustworthy source
Because the market is full of competition and possibilities of getting scammed, prospective clients are very weary of servers and don’t easily have a positive attitude towards an approach; which is why establishing yourself as a trustworthy and reliable source of information is one of the most important techniques.
This allows users to be more open to hearing you when they know they are not being scammed or the product or service offering is real.
💡 Trick: when first approaching a client, use all forms of validated sources like company email, LinkedIn page, etc., for the lead to know the approach is a trustworthy source. Furthermore, try connecting to leads through referrals this type of approach normally leads to a more positive result.
6. Social Media engagement
Because now most people use social media it has become the new way of connecting with prospective clients, these platforms are the best place to maintain brand visibility while allowing a safe space for finding and contacting potential clients.
💡 Trick: don’t be afraid to use jokes or funny remarks when engaging with young clients. This allows the company to feel more approachable while maintaining professionalism.
7. Understand your target
This is one of the most important techniques as it allows the representative to know of their lead before approaching and enabling them a more connected experience, where the customer will feel engaged and may lead towards a more positive result.
💡 Trick: study your target's likes, dislikes, profession, etc., in order to approach them with interesting topics or a possible solution to their problems. Leads are more likely to remain engaged when representatives approach them with a solution or an interesting topic.
8. Brand awareness
This technique, if implemented correctly, opens space for more inbound prospecting, due to this approach offering companies visibility of their product or services to a wider audience. Furthermore, it is what adds value to your business by displaying the unique qualities of your product.
💡 Trick: in order to compete in nowadays increasing market, awareness in social media is a key player for increasing leads in an international market, thus generating more prospective clients.
9. Mind your attitude
Remember to always be polite and assuring. People, in general, don’t trust anyone that sounds unsure or nervous and this can lead to negative results and an overall missed opportunity. When leads are converting to clients, prior to this, they will ask many questions about the business in order to proceed with the sale. If the representative doesn’t know the answers to their doubts or is shown nervous, the lead won’t feel safe and pull out of the offer.
💡 Trick: try doing talking exercises or mock scenarios in order to prepare yourself for future approaches, this will not only prepare you for any type of person but also for any type of question.
10. Provide quality conversation
This technique offers an added value to a general approach. People get approached every day by sales representatives: over the phone, emails, social media, etc. However, a few or none of these approaches stick to the mind of the lead, because they are not quality conversations where the clients’ needs are met.
💡 Trick: use technique #7 for understanding your client in order to provide a quality conversation where the needs are met and make them understand your product is imperative for their life.
Sales prospecting: quality more than quantity
Sales prospecting intends to find new customers by following a qualitative business development strategy. It is no longer a question of sending mass emails to win some customers, but of contacting the right prospects, at the right time, on the right channel, and providing them with a personalised proposal.
This doesn't require more time, but it does require the right software and, above all, careful consideration of a prospecting plan beforehand.
And you, what are your sales prospecting techniques?