In the search for growth, many sales teams focus on converting leads into customers. This is where you make your money, after all. If your marketing team is performing well, it’s easy to forget the importance of prospecting in salesmanship.
But the truth is, prospecting is a key step in the sales process. If you want to improve your conversion rate or see more repeat customers, you might need to look at improving your results in this area.
In this post, we’re going to explain why prospecting matters so much, and how your team can do it better.
Whenever you reach out to people or businesses that might be interested in your product, you are prospecting.
In many cases, the people you contact will never have heard of your brand. They might not even know about the type of product or solution that you offer.
The primary purpose of prospecting is to introduce yourself, and to educate prospects about the potential benefits of your offer.
However, it pays to keep in mind that a sale is your eventual goal. Good sales people keep this point in sharp focus, and shape their interactions around how each prospect might travel through the sales funnel.
When done well, prospecting can be the lifeblood of any business.
Whereas marketing relies on people clicking on your ads or following your page, prospecting allows you to be more proactive. While your competitors wait around for their next lead, your sales team can be chasing new customers.
But that’s not the only potential benefit.
To understand the importance of good sales prospecting, it’s worth looking a bit more closely at the benefits. Here are some of the key reasons why you should be focusing on this part of the sales process:
The most obvious advantage of prospecting is that you find more potential buyers. As long as some of these individuals are credible candidates, this can only be a win, both for your company and for individual salespeople.
Good prospecting involves tracking down people who fit the criteria for your buyer personas. Targeting by hand in this way should mean you’re only contacting relevant people — individuals and businesses who have all the prerequisites for being your ideal customer.
This might seem like hard work, but there are significant rewards on offer in your sales pipeline. Instead of wasting your time on engaging with people who are completely unsuited to your offer, your salespeople should end up speaking to a line of highly qualified leads.
Of course, just because a prospect is qualified doesn’t necessarily mean they will have big money in the bank.
Salespeople who are effective prospectors know this well. So, they tend to focus on decision makers at companies that have bigger budgets.
At the sharp end of the funnel, this approach often results in conversions that have a higher contract value. And that means greater overall revenue.
Automated sales tools can be very useful. But the truth is, deals are built on human connections — particularly in B2B sales.
A good prospecting strategy should give your sales reps the opportunity to start building relationships from day one. Even if they later hand over that client to another member of the sales team, the trust is already there.
This works in almost every channel. For example, over half of salespeople who engage with prospects on various social media platforms achieve a higher ROI.
Starting a conversation with potential clients early can also inform your discussions at the bottom of the funnel. And remember, lead intelligence is really important.
Trust is not the only ongoing benefit from good sales conversations.
As you pick up more information about each potential client, you have the opportunity to shape your messaging, and your offer, to their needs and pain points.
For this reason, it’s worth thinking about prospecting as both a form of education, and a fact-finding mission.
As we have seen, effective prospecting can produce more qualified sales leads, and more high-value opportunities.
But here’s the really big selling point: if your prospecting is on point, you will spend less time and energy on acquiring and converting these clients.
This can be explained by the targeting and personalization mentioned above. It’s a strategy of working smart, rather than working overly hard.
The result of this improved productivity and efficiency is likely to be a better ROI. Plus, your sales staff should be free to pursue the next wave of possible buyers, leading to better morale.
If you only take away one thing from this list, it should be that good prospecting will improve your conversion rate.
The main reasons for this are that your new leads are better qualified, and you can provide a more personalized sales experience. Both of these factors are proven to increase the number of leads who sign the deal.
Now you understand why the sales prospecting process is important, you might be wondering how you can improve your technique.
Here are some pointers on how to upgrade your prospecting efforts, without investing extra time and money:
When you have the chance to reach out to new prospects, it’s tempting to adopt the mentality of a kid in a candy store — grab everything you can get.
But effective outreach is usually based around a more discerning mindset.
By telling your sales team to focus on prospective leads that show the most potential, you will minimize the amount of time wasted down the line. This approach should also lead to improved conversions, and high-value deals.
Cold calling and emailing are both valid ways to generate new leads. But they are not your only option for prospecting.
Many top-performing sales teams now utilize social selling. This is where reps use social media to engage with potential customers, ahead of delivering a formal pitch.
Prospecting via social media is particularly effective for B2B sales teams. In particular, LinkedIn provides access to 690 million professionals, along with a range of tools for connecting with other users.
Rather than leading with your pitch, you can first strike up a conversation by leaving a comment on a post or sending a message. By building a relationship this way initially, you have a far better chance of being heard when you deliver an offer.
We often think about prospecting in terms of breaking ground with brand new prospects. In reality, this should be your second choice option. Your number one priority when prospecting should always be referrals from existing customers.
Why? Well, there are plenty of good stats to back up this strategy.
Referrals also represent a relatively smooth road to conversions. Instead of having to build trust from scratch, your reps can start from the position of being recommended experts.
If you do your job well, some referrals will happen organically. But you might want to ask your sales professionals to deliver a nudge to happy clients. Many will be willing to put you in touch with other potential paying customers, and make the introduction.
When you have a list of referrals, it’s important to spend plenty of time and effort on these prospects. Be sure to do your research on each one, and create a bespoke offer. The returns are usually worth the effort.
Something that holds back reps at every stage of the sales cycle is admin.
Activities such as gathering customer information, managing tasks, dialing individual phone numbers, and writing follow-up emails are all important. But none of these directly contributes to your revenue, and they all take up time that your salespeople could be using for something more lucrative.
This is why automation can play a major role in your prospecting strategy. It can be as simple as introducing templates, or as sophisticated as an entire workflow.
By upgrading your sales prospecting tools, you can easily automate hours of admin every week. In turn, this will give your sales reps more time to be engaging with new customers and researching the next batch of leads.
Datanyze is a clear example. With our user-friendly Chrome extension, your reps can grab an accurate direct dial phone number and email address for any LinkedIn profile. It works on company websites, too.
This tool alone could save you 15 minutes of searching for the contact information of every single prospect.
Perhaps the most important principle for improving your prospecting is this: manage your prospects.
What does that mean in the real world? Well first, you should aim to fill your CRM (customer relationship management) system with as much information as possible about each prospect. Every time a rep finds out something new, make sure they add a note.
When it comes to making an offer and striking a deal, these details could prove invaluable.
Managing your prospects also means having a strong strategy for engagement. Prospecting is not only about the first point of contact. Set up a workflow that encourages your sales reps to check in with possible buyers on a regular basis. The stats show that the more you interact, the more likely you are to book a call and make a sale.
Better Sales Prospecting Leads to Better Results
As we have discovered, prospecting is a vital cog in the machinery of your sales pipeline. Do it well, and you can expect to see a consistent flow of qualified prospects who become high-value leads, converting into new sales with ease.
Of course, effective prospecting isn’t easy. You need to chase the right people, cultivate a business relationship, and deliver a personalized sales experience.
But with the right training and encouragement, you might be surprised how much your sales team can improve in this area.
From day one, you can improve your prospecting results by improving your sales workflow.
When it comes to researching potential prospects and building your prospect list, Datanyze can make a big difference.
With a click, our easy-to-use tool provides accurate contact information and company data for over 120 million professionals. All the data is compliant with GDPR and CCPA, and it’s stored in your online account.
No matter which prospecting methods you choose, this kind of information can be invaluable.
Want to give it a try? Sign up today for your 90-day free trial, and discover just how easy prospect research can be!