Sales prospecting is arguably the most important activity you can do to protect the health of your business. If you fail to do the work to bring in fresh prospects every month, it’ll only be a matter of time before your pipeline runs dry and your business folds.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean prospecting comes easy or naturally to all salespeople. Cold calling can be awkward at times, you might not know where to find the best leads, and it can take some time to really get your footing.
But with the right approach and some practice, you can improve your prospecting and win big at the lead generation game.
In this article, we’ll cover what sales prospecting entails, why it’s such an important process for your sales team to master, and proven sales prospecting tips you can apply to improve your results.
What is Sales Prospecting?
Sales prospecting is the act of finding potential customers—also known as sales prospects—and engaging them so that they will enter your sales funnel and hopefully buy from you.
The difference between a prospect and a lead is intent. Prospects include those potential buyers who are a good fit, have a strong interest in buying from you now, and can afford to do so.
Leads, on the other hand, could be a good fit in the future, but they aren’t ready to give serious consideration to your solution.
Now that we’ve covered a few important terms, let’s take a deeper look at why sales prospecting is important.
Why Should Sales Reps Prioritize Prospecting?
What are the benefits of honing your sales prospecting strategy? Whether you’re looking for new prospects, new business, or new ways to connect with your ideal customers, there are plenty of reasons to up your lead generation game.
Here are four of the best things that happen when you or your sales team become prospecting masters:
Increase Your Productivity
A solid approach to sales prospecting boosts your company’s overall productivity by making it easy to see where your efforts are paying off.
One of the best ways to measure your success is with a CRM. A good CRM will provide you with reporting tools that will help you to track leads and give them a score that indicates their readiness to engage with your company on a deeper level as a prospect.
When you create a plan for sales prospecting that includes targets for cold calling and other types of contact, you can measure your productivity based on how frequently you manage to meet or surpass your goals. This data is useful for adjusting your plan as needed.
Create an Overflowing Pipeline
Regular sales prospecting gives you the opportunity to keep your company’s product or services top of mind.
Your leads won’t always be ready to buy, but when they are, it’s more likely that they’ll give serious consideration to your offer if they’ve had regular, useful, and friendly conversations with your team. By warming up an otherwise cold prospect, the sales prospecting work you put in today has the potential to fuel tomorrow’s sales.
Sales prospecting allows you to get into the minds of your potential customers, naturally.
Through your interactions with your prospects on the phone, over email, or in person, you can learn a lot about what other solutions they’re considering, and which companies have caught their attention.
When your prospects share this information, avoid the temptation to immediately counter with all the reasons your solution and your company are superior to the competition.
Instead, listen carefully and make a note of how you can better position your offer so that your brand comes out on top in the eyes of decision-makers.
There is a lot of power in being a source of trustworthy information for your sales prospects. Take every opportunity you can to provide value in every exchange you have with your potential customers.
This is a great way to bring warmth to the prospecting experience that goes a long way towards drawing your prospective customers deeper into your funnel. People are more likely to do business with companies that make them feel important.
Is There Really a Right Way to Prospect?
Modern sales prospecting techniques include a mix of inbound and outbound methods that get the job done. So, there is no set way to do prospecting correctly because different methods are better suited to certain industries over others.
It’s worthwhile to try different techniques to test which ones your sales prospects respond to most frequently.
For example, you might discover that certain prospecting email templates work best for leads who match a particular customer profile, while other leads respond best to educational content (like a webinar or whitepaper). You can then use the feedback you receive to refine your prospecting process.
That said, there are certain sales techniques that have proven effective across several industries. If you’re not sure where to begin your sales prospecting efforts, it makes sense to start with the most popular, tried-and-true methods! We’ll examine 10 of these top sales prospecting methods below.
10 of the Best Sales Prospecting Techniques
1. Make Sales Prospecting a Habit
Effective sales prospecting doesn’t happen by chance. Establishing better sales habits requires intention, discipline, and practice. To develop your prospecting skills and become more comfortable with the process, you have to make time for it.
Schedule blocks of time for prospecting every single day. There’s always something you can do to initiate or build a relationship with your potential customers. Even 15 minutes of sending follow-up emails can go a long way.
Struggling with consistency? Make sure your daily schedule is optimized for focus by aligning it with your natural energy cycle.
If it’s a lack of motivation holding you back, look for new ways to keep things interesting. Make prospecting fun by setting targets and then challenging yourself to meet or beat them. Sweeten the deal by having a little friendly competition with your coworkers.
Always remember to track your sales leads and your results. Doing so will allow you to recognize improvements over time—and being able to visualize past successes will help you stay motivated in the long run.
2. Prioritize Building Relationships
Even though prospecting is a part of the sales process, the goal (usually) isn’t to close immediately. In fact, the bigger the potential sale, the longer the sales cycle tends to run. So, one of the best ways to approach sales prospecting (especially when targeting large accounts) is to keep the focus on relationship building.
There are lots of interesting and creative ways to build your network in person and virtually. Two platforms to explore for prospecting include Lunchclub.ai and Clubhouse.
Showing up to have casual conversations with people in these environments can lead to all sorts of positive outcomes, including referrals and the opportunity to practice your elevator pitch.
3. Leverage Networking Events
Industry events are a goldmine for building connections and finding qualified leads. The traditional sales prospecting techniques have received a serious upgrade thanks to ample opportunities to attend virtual and hybrid events in addition to in-person sessions.
Attendees at these events expect to network and learn about new opportunities. Take advantage of this openness and come prepared with business cards and conversation starters that will pique the interest of your potential customers.
4. Do Your Homework
It’s a good idea to find out as much as you can about your potential customers before you make contact with them. That means you need to do your research and understand customer pain points before conducting outreach—not the other way around. Taking the time to do research will help you to stand out from the crowd of marketers vying for your prospect’s attention.
In addition to specific information about your prospect, developing a general knowledge of buyer psychology is a smart way to become more effective at networking. Study trusted texts on human behavior books such as Influence or Made to Stick to learn more about how to make a lasting impression on your prospects.
5. Use a Script for Your Sales Calls
As a sales professional, it’s important to be familiar with your company’s brand stories, your offer’s unique selling proposition, the features and benefits of your offer, and other basic information that your prospects will want to know.
Ideally, you’ll have all this information memorized, but it’s still good practice to have a trusted, flexible sales script to use during your conversations. In general, your cold calling script should introduce the prospect to your solution, establish rapport, present an offer, and invite the prospect to take the next steps.
Of course, you don’t want to sound like a robot or a newbie who awkwardly reads the talking points word for word. But it doesn’t hurt to have an outline to guide your conversation so that you can handle it with confidence.
6. Avoid Hard Selling
Hard selling is a turn-off for your potential customers when they have little experience with your brand. Warm up the relationship by approaching it as a mentor or an educator.
Share your knowledge generously with your prospects so that they begin to recognize your subject matter expertise.
Spread your ideas through content such as blog posts, keynote speeches, eBooks, and social media. This is a great way to increase your inbound leads as people take notice of your visibility and make the decision to find out more.
7. Join the Conversation
An easy way to build your thought leadership online is to go where the conversations are already happening.
Find a relevant Twitter chat and join in on a weekly basis to share your insights. Answer questions on Q&A forums such as Quora or even Reddit to raise awareness of your brand or solution. Post content and respond to relevant threads on LinkedIn to boost engagement and showcase your expertise.
This type of social selling allows you to get your name out there and connect with prospects at various stages of the buying cycle. By establishing yourself as a thought leader and trusted expert in your industry, you’re laying the groundwork and building trust with new leads who may one day enter your sales pipeline.
One note of caution: Avoid spamming these forums with information about your company. You don’t want to be labeled as a troll. Find natural opportunities to share useful information, and you will attract the attention of potential customers without leaving a poor taste in their mouths.
8. Follow Up More Often
Get more mileage out of your sales prospecting efforts by following up regularly, and more than once! Busy people sometimes need gentle reminders to engage with the information you’d like to share with them.
In fact, the average lead requires at least five follow-ups to convert. So, the more you follow up, the greater your odds of making that sale.
Just be sure to pace your follow-up emails appropriately (every 3 days or so is a good general rule to follow) to avoid overwhelming your prospects.
Some other tips to optimize your follow-ups? Grab the prospect’s attention with a click-worthy subject line, a personalized video, or a valuable resource. You don’t have to use high-pressure language in your emails to get a response. Remain friendly and make it clear that you’re interested in making yourself available to answer any questions they may have.
9. Ask for Referrals
One of the simplest ways to find more leads is to ask your network if they can send referrals your way. The wonderful thing about a referral is people are more likely to trust the recommendation of a friend or a peer because it is instant social proof.
Remember that every new contact you meet represents the possibility to meet even more people who could benefit from your offer. All you have to do is ask for an introduction.
10. Be Relevant at Every Touchpoint
Your potential customers are busy people who are doing their best to filter out anything and anyone who could be a potential drain on their time.
One of the best ways to ensure your prospecting outreach is relevant to the recipient? Customizing your message to speak to their unique needs and pain points. When you do make your initial call or send a cold email, lead with the information that is most useful to your potential customer so that the conversation isn’t cut short before you have a chance to make an impact.
Even better, ensure that you’re only pursuing high-quality leads who align with your ideal customer profile. Wasting time on a poor-fit lead is frustrating for everyone involved, so make sure you’re targeting people who are likely to benefit from your offer.
B2B Sales is All About the Long Game (And Having the Right Tools for the Job!)
Sales prospecting is an ongoing process that is directly related to the strength of your business. But it can be grueling if you always use the same methods.
Mix and match the techniques in this article to keep your sales prospecting efforts fresh and fun. Remember to make time for prospecting regularly on a daily or weekly basis so that it becomes a natural part of your sales routine.
If you’re looking for another way to simplify your prospecting process, consider the power of software automation. A lead gen tool like Datanyze can help you find and connect with prospects faster than ever.
By providing you with accurate contact details (including emails and phone numbers), the Datanyze Chrome extension takes care of an important step in your prospecting process, freeing you up to focus on connecting with high-quality leads and converting prospects into customers.
Want to see how easy sales prospecting can be when you have access to the best data? Sign up to try Datanyze for free today!