Sales is changing — quickly. As sales conversations grow even more buyer-focused, sales reps have begun developing their own hacks, techniques, and processes for prospecting.
That’s where this blog comes in. In this growing sales landscape, we’ll outline some key strategies for prospecting — the phase of selling that often consumes the most time and energy (and is the most crucial to get right).
Understanding the fundamentals
Prospecting is the process of searching for potential customers, clients, or buyers to develop new business. The end goal is to move prospects through the sales funnel until they eventually convert into revenue-generating customers.
What’s a Lead vs. a Prospect?
Leads: Potential customers who have expressed interest in our company or services through behaviours like visiting our website, subscribing to a blog, or downloading an ebook.
Prospects: Leads become prospects if they are qualified as potential customers, meaning that they align with the persona of our target buyer. A prospect may also be classified as a potential customer who has limited or no interaction with our company, but they would not be considered a lead.
50% of sales time is wasted on unproductive prospecting. We don’t want you to fall into that sales statistic. That’s why we recommend the inbound way and put together a basic framework that applies to all sales processes. But with a twist.
We understand that everyone has their own approach. So we’ve also weaved in personal prospecting tips and tricks from the best salespeople we know. Pick and play with whatever works best for your own sales hustle.
Tip 1: Research
This is by far the most important aspect of prospecting. You must make sure that you’re qualifying your prospects to improve chances of providing value to them or their business.
There are two types of people involved on the other end of the sales process: Decision-makers and influencers.
Influencers may not have the power to buy, but they’re often the ones that will be using the product and thus can become your biggest internal advocates. If you get them to rally around your offering, they can make a compelling case to decision-makers before you even speak with them.
Keep a working list of influencers and buyers, perhaps mapped out by the organizational structure of the organization. You can use this list later when you’re in the outreach phase of prospecting.
Tip 2: Prioritize
Prioritizing prospects can save time and make sure you’re dedicating your strongest efforts to prospects that are most likely to become customers.
Levels of prioritization will vary between each type of sales organization and each individual salesperson, but the main idea is to create a few buckets of prospects based on their likelihood to buy and focus on one bucket at a time.
Tip 3: The first touch
Whether calling or emailing, outreach should be highly tailored to your prospect’s particular business, goal, industry.
Keep these general tips in mind when contacting a prospect, whether on the phone or through email:
- Personalize. Reference a specific problem that the prospect is encountering with a specific solution.
- Stay relevant and timely. Make sure the issue a prospect is trying to solve is still relevant to him or her and their team.
- Be human. No one likes to communicate with a professional robot. Adding in details like wishing someone a happy holiday weekend or by conveying how awesome their company’s product is are real touches that allow us to make a connection on a deeper level.
- Help, don’t sell. Give value and ask for nothing in return. This process isn’t about us, it’s about THEM. For example, instead of scheduling a follow-up meeting, you could offer to conduct an audit on their digital media presence and get back to them with our findings in a week.
- Keep it casual. Remember that this is just a conversation. Stay natural and as non-salesy as possible. The key to prospecting, and sales, is that we’re never selling. We’re simply determining if both parties could mutually benefit from a relationship.