“If you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Gifted to the world by the Reverend H. K. Williams, this famous adage holds true for virtually any significant project or task. Sales is no exception.
If you’re thinking about building your own plan, we are here to help. In this guide, we’re going to take a closer look at all the components of a great sales prospecting plan.
Effective prospecting is mainly about identifying the individuals who are most likely to become hot leads, and delivering the perfect pitch. An effective sales prospecting plan is a set of instructions that guides you through the process.
Making a plan allows sales managers to think strategically. Each part of the plan should be carefully considered, and ideally backed up with data.
Managers can then hand over relevant parts of the plan to the sales reps. This means that your salespeople always have clear written guidance on all parts of the sales prospecting process.
As a consequence, you should see better alignment within your sales team — and hopefully, better results.
Much like the chapters in a book, the best sales prospecting plans can be broken down into three main sections. Let’s take a closer look at each.
Perhaps the most important part of any sales prospecting plan is creating an ideal customer profile, or ICP.
Most of the leads who become your customers probably share certain demographic characteristics and pain points. Identifying these attributes is vital for successful sales, because it allows you to create a highly targeted pitch. And as we know, targeting is a powerful tool in prospecting.
Understanding what your ideal prospect looks like can also help you shape the buyer’s journey and choose the right channels for outreach.
For instance, a decision-maker at a large enterprise is going to respond well to a different kind of messaging from someone who works in admin at a small or medium-size business.
In order to uncover the likely attributes of new prospects, you will need to analyze your current customers. That means gathering sales data, and maybe even doing some extra research (e.g. company size, approximate age, professional history). A tool like Datanyze can help here.
Once you know who you should be targeting with your prospecting efforts, the next step in creating a plan is setting some goals.
Every sales team tends to perform better when they have something to aim for. However, goals are not only for motivation.
Well-considered goals also help to guide your sales reps in terms of priorities. For instance, you could set a goal for average conversion time; this will help your reps to decide how long they should be working on each prospect.
In part, your goals will be shaped by your ICPs. The profile of your ideal customer will influence the amount of time your sales reps will need to spend on converting each lead, what conversion rate they achieve, and how large the eventual sale will be.
Data is the other key ingredient. If you are going to create KPIs for your sales team, it’s essential that you identify how you are going to measure progress.
The final, key chapter in any strong sales prospecting plan is all about actions.
Once you understand who your customers are and what you seek to achieve, it’s necessary to consider how you’re going to hit your goals.
That means everything from the messaging of your email outreach and scripts for phone calls, through to your method for sorting prospects into segments.
Some businesses choose to work on these topics outside the sales prospecting plan. Whether you decide to include them in the document or not, you will still need to draw up a list of steps for implementing your plan.
Now we know what the main pillars of a sales prospecting plan are, it’s time to dive into the details.
What exactly should you be including in your sales prospecting strategy? And what can you leave out? We recommend focusing on the topics mentioned in this list:
Part of the reason you need ideal customer profiles is because sales involves segmentation. You should be able to put people into broad groups, so that you can focus on converting prospects into highly qualified leads, and choose the right outreach strategy.
In your sales prospecting plan, try to create a list of around ten qualifying questions that can be used to sort people into segments.
How much time should your reps be spending on specific prospect groups? And what is the best time frame for sending a follow-up?
Creating a calendar can help you to be more precise about your prospecting. In addition, a calendar allows you to work to a strategy, such as prioritizing certain prospect types at important times of the year.
For instance, you could target retailers in the months when they are planning for the holiday rush.
So much of prospecting is about saying the right thing to the right person at the right time.
While crafting these sales pitches is beyond the scope of a prospecting plan, you do need to consider what kind of messaging will work for each ICP.
Just as you need to think about what kind of pitch you’re going to make, your sales prospecting plan should cover the method of delivery.
Whether it’s social media, picking up the phone, email outreach, referrals, or something else — every segment is going to respond to different channels.
Having well-defined customer profiles is really important here. When you know exactly who you are targeting, it becomes much easier to recognize where you’re likely to find customers.
To turn a prospect into a lead or customer, your salespeople need to make an offer. This could be setting up a sales meeting, signing up a prospect to a free webinar, or pitching your product directly.
Fitting the right offer to each group of prospects is essential. When constructing your plan, think carefully about how you are going to attract people in each profile group.
In B2B sales, where the sales cycle tends to be longer, prospecting is very much the precursor to lead generation. Your reps should not be thinking about making a sale; they should be trying to book a call with decision-making executives.
In contrast, B2C customers are often more open to making quick purchasing decisions. As such, it’s worth preparing offers for both lead generation and a direct sale.
As we saw earlier, one vital pillar of a sales prospecting plan is setting the bar for success.
While the specific terms of KPIs can be set outside the planning process, it’s important to look at the high-level business goals you want to reach.
For instance, you may come to the conclusion that your reps are making a good number of sales, but you would like them to be aiming higher in terms of value. With this in mind, you can build a plan and specific goals aimed more towards prospects with a bigger budget.
Of course, goals mean nothing unless you have a method for gauging progress.
As you work on your plan, consider what aspect of the prospecting process you want to measure. Make sure that the metrics you choose are relevant to the success of your sales team, and your business more generally.
Having made this decision, you can later look at how to gather the relevant data using reporting tools.
Even with a perfect strategy in place, prospecting is time-consuming work. In fact, it’s one of the most wasteful parts of the sales process. And every minute wasted by your sales team is literally money down the drain for your business.
Figuring out how to track sales leads in Excel is one way, but choosing the right tools and making upgrades can free up a surprising amount of time, allowing your reps to focus on making connections.
For this reason, automation should at least be a consideration as you put together your prospecting plan.
Choosing the right tools and making upgrades can free up a surprising amount of time, allowing your reps to focus on making connections.
Areas to examine include your CRM, your outreach tools, dedicated sales prospecting tools, and your reporting methods. Ask yourself: is there any way I can allow my salespeople to spend more time speaking with likely prospects?
One particularly time-consuming part of prospecting is the initial search for information. Even before your reps can make a call or send an email, they need to have accurate contact information — and ideally some extra details to warm up the approach.
If you would like to speed up the process, Datanyze is a tool that is worth your attention.
Through our easy-to-use Chrome extension, your sales professionals can easily find anyone’s phone number and email address for anyone on LinkedIn. The extension also works on company websites, drawing in a database of 120 million professionals.
The data is sourced according to GDPR and CCPA rules, and it includes information like company size and industry.
All the information you collect is available to your entire sales team online, and you can export prospect data with a couple of clicks. It’s a really efficient way to start finding people to populate your sales funnel.
Want to know the best part? You can try it absolutely free for 90 days. Sign up here to take Datanyze for a spin!