You’re are working hard, trying to build the best product.
Your developers, marketers, and business people are doing their best to make the company thrive. Yet, there is no sign of new customers willing to give your company a try…
No matter how daunting that must be, there is a way to get crowds eager to make use of your offer and even refer it further outside! The answer is prospecting.
And in this article, you’ll discover what is prospecting in sales and who the prospects are. Also, you’ll find out what sales prospecting methods will help you turn prospects into paying customers. Plus, the best techniques to utilize these methods!
Let’s not make this intro tl;dr and just straight to the main content!
Table of Contents:
- What is prospecting?
- The original meaning of prospecting
- Prospecting methods
- Sales prospecting process
- Cold and hot prospecting
- Best prospecting techniques
What is prospecting?
When new leads enter the sales pipeline (a flow of prospects through a sale), they land at its first stage where they encounter the product for the first time. Those who demonstrate their interest and willingness to move toward the next stages of the pipeline are known as prospects.
Prospect is a lead that is more likely to become a potential customer.
Usually, there are around 4-5 stages in the sales pipeline. It begins with a qualification (awareness) stage, goes through the discovery and consideration stages, rounding up at the closing or the purchase stage.
Hand drawing sales funnel business concept with black marker on transparent glass board.
Although sales prospecting techniques are individual for each business, the final cause of sales prospecting is identical for everyone: to turn as many prospects from new leads to paying clients as possible.
Thus, we can summarize that sales prospecting is a process of creating an opportunity to make a sale. Most often it is done by inside sales reps who contact the leads via phone call or email in order to turn them into a prospect (future possible customers).
Did you know the original meaning of prospecting?
The original meaning of prospecting is the search for mineral deposits or gold mining. In this case, prospectors are people who search for gold, identifying places where it can be found. Once discovered, they sit by the river and check mounds of dirt for just a few specks of gold.
Just like prospectors of its original meaning, sales prospectors are trying to identify their “golden” prospects: those who fit the ideal customer profile the most.
DEFINE BUYER PERSONA
Prior sales prospecting, define your ideal customer and create a buyer persona profile.
Sales prospecting requires strong research and analytical skills. Motivate and assist your sales reps to develop those two.
After you’ve discovered what is prospecting in sales and know your ideal customer, come to action without a delay.
It’s assumed that a buyer’s journey is usually complete before sellers even talk to a prospect. Cold calling is “dead” and with all the information on the Internet buyers simply don’t need sales reps anymore. However, the numbers prove it different.
According to the white paper by Rain Groups, the following has been revealed.
These have been the most effective sales prospecting methods according to 489 sellers:
- Calling existing clients – 51%
- Calling past clients – 37%
- Cold calling – 27%
- Reaching out at events – 32%
- Sending “warm” emails – 31%
According to 49% out of 488 buyers, a phone is the second most preferred way of contact after email. So let’s check what are those sales prospecting methods that work so well.
1. Traditional means
There’s no doubt that phone calls play an important role in sales prospecting.
Cold calling is probably one the most popular and effective sales prospecting methods of reaching out to your prospects. Also, you can easily turn your cold call intention into the warm one if you use the “Go Online” prospecting method effectively.
You cold call people to pitch your product as they’ve never heard of it before. You warm call buyers when they have an idea of what you sell.
Another crucial element of warm calling is doing research on your prospect. With the use of the Internet, you can find all the basic info: where they work, what solution they potentially need and what pain points it can help them with.
So as you see it’s not so difficult to make your calls initially warm.
Email, especially cold email is another effective method of reaching to your prospects.
When drafting a cold email have an ideal prospect on your mind and try to find his or her pain points. Later simply send them an email, a pitch of how your product could solve all their issues.
As with cold calls, always try “to warm them up”. Find out as much information about your prospects as possible and what your solution could help them within advance.
2. Go Online
Nearly all B2B sector is using LinkedIn now.
LinkedIn groups are good for raising brand awareness, establishing oneself as an industry expert and applying sales prospecting methods to get new clients.
What you should do is to engage with members of the groups. Comment, answer and ask questions, and share useful information with your potential prospects.
You couldn’t have expected but Facebook groups are perfect for spreading the word about your product.
While everybody else is looking for prospects on LinkedIn, you’ll be targeting yours here.
Also, it may be a little bit trickier than you think. Most of “professional” groups on Facebook are closed ones. They’ll accept you only after you answer several questions that will prove your ability to bring value to the group.
Reddit. Screen with Reddit turned on
Quora, Reddit, ProductHunt
Those are forum-like websites, where you can answer questions and provide your expertise to people who are interested in services similar to yours.
If you give good and helpful answers to the readers, they may easily turn into your prospects and possibly even clients in no time.
3. Go Outdoor
Conferences, meetups, trades and promotional events
Nowadays there are meetups organized every day, almost in every city, on every topic, taste, and interest. You have a choice of free and paid events and conferences.
Find out where your target audience is hanging out. Attend the events and use the networking part to listen to others and pitch your product.
Get to know what other attendees do and how your solution may be helpful for them.
If it’s appropriate, make a pitch right here and now. Otherwise, give them your business card, exchange your email addresses or LinkedIn profiles.
The more pitches you do and contacts collect, the bigger your chances are to win more prospects. Also don’t just focus on pitching your product or giving your business card, make sure you listen to people too.
“You don’t have to be the center of attention. Many people simply appreciate having someone that is willing to listen.” – Ryan Kh
Such events are good not only for having a chance to bring in some sales prospecting techniques but also to make new partnerships and share knowledge. Simply look up for events on Facebook or check the platform Meetup.com.
Sales prospecting process
Some businesses create the whole new process that entirely focuses on sales prospecting techniques and methods. The inside sales reps who focus solely on sales prospecting play a crucial role in sales and marketing. They are called Sales Development Representatives (SDRs).
Separating the sales organization into specific roles makes the entire sales process more effective. A higher volume of prospects brings a business closer to obtaining more paying customers.
Plus, it frees up more time for Business Sales Representative (BSR) that can pay more attention to inbound leads.
Cold and hot prospecting
Cold prospects are those that are not aware of your company, product or service yet. Reach out to them using one of the prospecting tools and methods.
The aim of sales prospecting at this stage is not to sell the solution but attract potential buyer’s interest in the product. Once it’s done, they can be qualified as warm prospects.
Hot prospects are those who went through both cold and warm stages. At this point, they are located close to the bottom of the sales funnel. Try to do both here: help a prospect to make the best decision and do all possible to close the deal successfully.
Best Prospecting Techniques
Now you know the exact definition of prospecting, as well as, the best methods to prospect and get new clients.
Thus, now, we’re going to briefly go through four best prospecting techniques, so you get a good idea of how to execute those methods that you got to know earlier.
Use a script
While it’s not necessary, using a script will be a great idea for every new salesperson and new hires.
Seasoned salespeople tend to drop the call script in favor of a more natural conversation. Yet, the sole fact of using the script doesn’t have to make the conversation feel scripted. The main reason why you should use the script is that you gather, as well as, communicate all of the necessary information.
Also, the script doesn’t mean that you have to 100% stick to it. On the other hand, it will help you follow the structure that you set for the call. If you want to book a meeting, do your best to convert the call to a meeting, the same with a sale.
While it might sound counterintuitive for some, you should never opt to sell anything while prospecting.
Prospecting itself is the first step to making a sale, yet, it shouldn’t consist of selling. The thing is that sale is the final step in a relationship between you and your lead, thus you can’t build a relationship starting from the end.
Anytime you’re prospecting, focus on making a good impression, make yourself and your brand easy-to-memorize and do what you can to make your leads feel like you and they are a good match.
All in all, even though it might seem tempting, reserve yourself from selling and focus
Make your outreach enticing
You have to be aware of the fact that you’re not the only one who decides on prospecting.
Most likely, all of your leads are bombarded with various emails, invitations, and discounts. Thus, to break through the dust, you have to make your outreach stand out.
How to do that?
As you can probably guess, there is no golden rule. Yet, the best way is to put some work into your prospecting.
Because most of your competition won’t bother doing more than the bare minimum. Assuming that’s true, then putting some more effort will change the way your message looks compared to one sent by your competitor.
For example, you could create a personalized video and send it to your lead. Or, do some research, find a hobby or similar interests and drop some interesting fact or hint when writing an email.
Basically, show that you care and that you don’t copy and paste what everyone else is doing.
Make prospecting a habit
Let’s be honest. Prospecting isn’t easy. It can quickly get intimidating, dull, and stressful.
Yet, while it can get so tough, it is also the most important process of sales, as it is where everything starts. Thus, the best way to get new customers and never drop the process of prospecting is to turn it into a habit.
To achieve that, the best technique would be to separate a specific block of time, let’s say 2 hours, every day from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and devote that time solely on prospecting.
This way, prospecting won’t be just another task you want to tick off your to-do list but will become a routine that you’ll naturally follow.
To stick with such a routine, measure your progress as you continue to do prospecting every day. See how many new leads and customers you’ve managed to get. Try out new methods and optimize your time so your win rate goes from zero to hero!
It’s prospecting time!
The primary goal of sales prospecting is to reach a recipient that is potentially interested in what you sell.
When searching for potential prospects, use sales prospecting methods to target places where most of your leads are. Demonstrate how your solution can help them solve their issues instantly.
A sales pipeline is a set of operations that sales reps perform in order to reach the final cause. Using sales prospecting techniques bring your prospects closer to becoming paying customers faster.