Here’s the bitter truth: not all leads are equal. In fact, many sales reps are spending too much time on ineffective sales prospecting techniques and working with leads who are just not ready to buy. If you truly want to see a higher volume of prospective customers, it’s high time to revamp your sales prospecting methods. Here’s how.
What is sales prospecting?
Let’s start with the basics. Every potential customer goes through certain stages of a sales funnel before he or she actually purchases anything from you. Even though the exact shape of this funnel depends on the specificity of your business, there are always several steps needed for the transaction. Once you’re aware of these stages and outline your own sales funnel well, you can assist your customers every step of the way.
What sales prospecting has to do with it, though? As already mentioned, not all leads are equal. Whenever a new lead enters the funnel, they show some interest in your product. Those who are more likely to become potential customers, though, are your very own prospects.
How to distinguish them? The easiest way is to identify your sales funnel first (which is going to serve multiple purposes anyway), along with clear qualification criteria. Surprisingly, 68% of researched B2B organisations have no sales funnel identified. If there’s no clear sales process in place, it’s extremely difficult to identify your prospects turn them into long-term customers afterwards.
What also helps is to gather as many details on your leads as possible, as it will help you determine whether they’re going to be ready to purchase anytime soon. The ones that are, will simply “deserve” more time and effort from you.
The best sales prospecting methods
Similarly to a sales funnel, sales prospecting methods should also be tailored to your business. The aim, however, stays the same: to have as many prospects from your new leads as possible, and turn them into paying customers as fast as possible. In order to make than happen, your sales team should be familiar with at least a few sales prospecting techniques.
Here are the best sales prospecting methods your team can take advantage of:
There’s been a common misconception that calling prospects is no longer effective. Interestingly enough, the numbers prove otherwise. Research shows that calling existing and past clients, in particular, have been the most effective sales prospecting methods. Cold calling has also scored high, which is why you might want to give all these methods a try.
How to make calling effective?
- Invest in a proper solution. CloudTalk is designed to handle more inbound and outbound calls, so that the sales reps have more time to close deals. Not to mention that it can integrate easily with plenty of CRM systems (and other tools, for that matter).
- Do your research on the interlocutors. Even with a little help of the Internet, you can easily find the basics about their potential needs and solutions they might’ve used.
- Make your calls warm, not cold. Once again, you can use the basic information about your interlocutors to establish a rapport with them. This can help you increase your chances of a warmer reception. What also helps immensely is to get introduced by a shared connection, or interact with them via social media beforehand (which we’re going to cover later).
- Have a script handy. Cold calling scripts are especially useful for new sales reps in the team, but they can genuinely work wonders – if you create them properly, that is. Here’s how to create the best cold calling script.
Emails are another effective way of reaching out to your prospects – especially if you personalise them first. When drafting any message, always have your prospects in mind: What are their pain points? What can convince them to make the purchase? If you’re not sure what could that be – once again, do your research. The key is to find out as much information about your prospects as possible and define what your solution could help them with in advance.
- Don’t try to sell immediately. Instead, focus on building relationships and figuring out how much time and effort might be needed to convince a certain lead to buy from you. If you start selling too quickly, you can easily discourage them from the start.
- Don’t forget to follow up. Always keep your prospects informed, every step of the way. This will help you maintain relationships with them, and seal the deal eventually.
- Use visuals, videos, and other “non-standard” elements to make your emails stand out. You can use them to add value to your email communication, simply by providing additional content or recapping what’s important or agreed on.
#3 Social media
There’s no doubt that social selling has been a trending topic over the years. Given the impact it has on sales, it’s hardly surprising. In fact, companies who use social selling practices regularly are 40% more likely to hit their revenue goals than those who don't have a social selling process in place.
While many sales reps might be looking for their leads across social networks nowadays, you can take one step further and target your prospects there. How exactly?
- It might not seem like it at first, but Facebook groups are a great place for sharing knowledge and promoting your products or services in a non-pushy manner. The only thing you have to do is to provide value to the group first before you start pitching your offer.
- Use social media monitoring to find your prospects. Identify keywords, including the name of your business, that indicates potential issues that your products or services can solve. Once you find them (which you can easily do with dedicated tools, such as BrandMentions), you should offer advice and, for example, share relevant content from your site.
- Consider hosting a webinar. Webinars (or any other lead magnets that provide value, for that matter) are great for attracting prospects. Apart from actually getting emails in exchange for the link to the webinar, you can also use polls in the meantime to see how much is your audience interested in the topic and take your sales prospecting efforts from there.
#4 Conferences, meetups, and other events
With so many “digital” methods available, you might start to underestimate the power of networking. The truth is: your sales reps can tell a lot about the “leads” they meet in person, and they can do so almost immediately. Not to mention that there are various meetups, conferences and other events organised almost every day, in plenty of cities around the world. How to make the most of them?
- Check what events your target audience attends. Ideally, there should also be a networking session planned, where you can pitch your products and services freely.
- Give out business cards, email addresses, or LinkedIn profiles. The more contacts you make, the bigger the chances of actually winning some prospects here and there.
Leverage as many sales prospecting methods as possible
There’s no single best way to find prospects and turn them into your customers – but if you give all those methods a try, you’re likely to build a solid customer base in no time. All of them can all be equally effective if you plan and execute them well, which is why you should figure out what methods make the most sense for your team and your customers - and put more time and effort into them.
At the same time, don’t forget about experimenting with other methods, especially the ones that you haven’t tried before. You might be surprised by the results proper sales prospecting can bring your business in the long run.