3 Best Prospecting Methods
Sales reps often find prospecting a herculean task and the most tedious aspect of the sales process. That may be right, as prospecting requires that you devote a substantial amount of time, effort and resource materials to gain clients whose needs are tailored to your offer.
However, prospecting is less tasking only if you define the sales prospecting process and best practices, and this article will help achieve this.
Nevertheless, if you are meticulous enough with the whole process, you will get the hang of the sales prospecting techniques, and it will become easier to navigate.
So, in this article, I take you through the best practices and techniques to use in 2022 to gain prospects, convert them to leads, and keep them in your sales funnel.
Before going into the crux of this article, first, you want to know what sales prospecting is all about and its importance, so let's quickly give a run-through before delving into the sales prospecting process. Let's get started.
What is sales prospecting?
You can refer to sales prospecting as the first stage of your sales process, where you, as the salesperson/rep, search, contact potential clients, and add them to your sales pipeline. Albeit, if you are new to the sales world and are wondering how to get new clients, this next line is for you. To contact new prospects, you can use some methods such as cold emailing, cold calling, sending texts (SMS), and the most accessible of them, social media (in the sales world, it is referred to as social selling).
That being clarified, let's move on to why you need sales prospecting.
Importance of sales prospecting
As a B2B salesperson, the first reason why sales prospecting is very crucial is that it enables you to identify the most suitable audience for your business. This is because only some prospects are potential leads willing to succumb to your offer or buy what you are selling (well, that's why they are called prospects, anyway). The sooner you realize this, the better for you, as you will save your time on the not-so-important prospects or push a deal that won't cut it for your business.
Also, outbound prospecting enables SDRs and BDRs to focus their efforts on potential customers who demand and want your products. This benefits long-term business, retention, and future sales by focusing on these most suitable customers.
In addition, prospecting is important because customers appreciate it even though some may not tell you to your face. If you make the first contact with your prospects, you may be granted an opportunity to connect with them. As a sales rep or part of a sales team are proactive enough, it will be easier for you to fill your sales pipeline with potential leads.
Having known what sales prospecting is about and its importance, now it's time to examine what sales prospecting is about.
The sales prospecting process
The sales prospecting process is unique to each sales organization, so it's not a "one-size-fits-all" thing. While I can't tell you how prospecting is being done, it goes without stating that prospecting will be time-consuming and unproductive if the sales process is not defined. Below, I give a breakdown of what the sales prospecting process looks like;
**Create your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
If you have been in the sales business, you should be familiar with this term and may have probably used it countless times. However, if you are a rookie in the game, you probably would have heard your superior or leader or even a member of your sales team use this phrase.
In sales, an ideal customer profile is a fictional representation of a buyer who would benefit most from your offer. In the real sense, B2B sales experts use ICPs to determine what to look out for in a prospect, from their needs and features (for example, industry and company size) to how your offer can solve their problems. Therefore, adopting ICPs in your prospecting process will help save time and cost. Also, once you know what you are searching for in a prospect, it makes it easier to streamline your search and focus on organizing new leads as well as channelling your energy into lead generation.
**Research your prospect to find where you can add value
Most times, prospects bounce off when they realize that your offer wouldn't solve their problem or won't add any value to them. So, after you have identified your potential buyer, the next most important thing you want to do is research. It would be of great advantage if you could gather important information at this point. You can use many SDR tools to help you find out if the prospect is a good fit for your offer and narrow your prospecting process.
**Set a priority list for prospects based on their inclination to buy
In sales, you do not assume all potential leads to be the same. Some would be drawn to engage with your offer and willing to make a purchase, while others won't. So, it would be best if you sorted your prospects according to how likely they are to make a purchase.
However, for your sales prospecting to be effective, you must ensure you or your sales team are talking to the prospects who are most likely to buy. You can do this by compiling and structuring prospect lists.
To get started, you can use predictive analytics to help garner real-time insights showing buyers' inclination to buy.
**Make the first-contact plan
People get turn-off quickly when they realize they've been sent another automated email or bulk SMS. In fact, there is a 99% chance your next email will end up in their spam folder. However, you will gain your prospect's attention if your first contact is personalized, friendly, and prompt. To do this, you need to consider your prospecting method. Cold calls are a good way to start. First, you can begin by getting on a brief call. Here, rather than aiming to put your offer in their face immediately. Instead, make your call friendly and engaging using a warm and conversational tone. Then, you can gradually direct them to your emails. That way, there is a high probability that you will get a response from them.
During your research, you must have gathered important information about your prospect, which will help your personalization. You have to be strategic about personalizing. Usually, most personalization uses only the basic information and stops there, but more is needed. It would be best if you went a step further by including their pain point. And if you are asking how to get their pain point, here is how to do it: Pay attention to their content on social media. Most times, people's posts, retweets, content the buyer shared, and comments, in a way, are an indication of their pain point. There you can easily decipher what they are seeking solutions for. Also, you can interact with them on social media platforms. For instance, you can send a connection request to them on LinkedIn.
It is important to mention that effective personalization requires balancing effort and results. Although only some personalizations will work, you can use less personalization for lower-division accounts. However, if the results differ from expected, compare your effort to the predicted ROI and adjust your route as necessary.
**Take account of what worked and what didn't
Success is all about trial and error, and so is applicable in sales. The prospecting process is not going to be all rosy, so it is important that you track the whole process. You need to take into account what worked and what didn't, as it would help you gain more clarity on your prospecting methods and, in turn, boost your outputs. To do this, consider the impact of each process, on which did you get the highest response rate or otherwise. From there, you can know what technique works best for you.
Having examined the sales process, it's about time I take you through the sales prospecting techniques and best practices that will help your sales team or you as a salesperson.
3 best sales prospecting methods and best practices
Going further in your sales prospecting process, you will begin to discover what works best for you or your team. So, in this section, I've compiled the three best sales prospecting methods and best practices to help you on your prospecting journey. Of course, if you are meticulous with reading, you might find a bonus tip somewhere between the lines.
**Ditch using cold calls
Cold calls are just what they are - cold! And sure, you do not want to turn your prospects away from you or your offer. Instead, it is best to set a warmer reception by familiarizing yourself with a warm call. This will give you headway faster than you can imagine. To do this, familiarize yourself with decision-makers and your first contacts. Here, social media can be an advantage to you in knowing the prospect's pain points, as mentioned above. Leverage this to establish a connection. From here, you can introduce yourself and move the conversation. By doing this, you set the stage, and your prospect gradually becomes comfortable with you, so they wouldn't mind indulging your emails.
While many think prospecting is just about selling, this is a shabby assumption. Rather, prospecting is about building your brand and gaining credibility. No one would keep up conversations with a faceless person with an empty profile, so you've got to put a face to the brand or name.
You can do this by building a personal brand on your social media platforms. That way, it will be easier for the prospect to trust you or your business offer. And if you leave a positive impression on your customers, they may reach out to you next time, or you may be lucky to get a referral from them.
As mentioned earlier, sales are all about trial and error. Sometimes, your first contact may never transform into getting a scheduled meeting and talking more about sales with your prospect. However, that's not something you should worry about; sales will get better over time. The best practice you want to engage at this point is to use follow-ups.
This doesn't mean you should bombard them with countless messages; you would only be shooting yourself in the leg if you did this. Rather, be strategic about it by being timely. Doing this will help you come across as a persistent and trusted salesperson who is willing to nurture relationships with customers. Things you can include in your follow-up messages include a solution to your prospect's pain point (if any) or new information that can help them. If this is feeling like an arduous task, there are several automation tools available online that you can leverage.
Now that you are here, here's the bonus tip as promised:
**Leverage video in your emails
Videos are a great way to scale your success rate in sales. While warm calls, texts, emails and social media are a great way to engage your prospects, incorporating videos alongside your message is like the icing on the cake. More preferably, you refer to it in your subject line if you are sending an email or as a pre-header in the case of texts or chats.
**Final Notes **
The sales prospecting process is not a one-off thing. You will need to engage these methods to get a positive result continuously.
So, you can turn your cold prospect into a warm one by using the above-mentioned best practices of the sales prospecting process for effective sales. One method alone may not work, so you may have to combine these practices in some cases.