Sales prospecting is what keeps us going. After all, how could we stay in business if we closed all our sales and simply called it a day? Sure, we’d go home feeling like rock stars but come morning, we’d be out of a job.
What is Sales Prospecting?
Closing deals feels awesome, sales prospecting can be just as fulfilling.
Typically top closers will do anything to get out of this part of the sales process.
Well, it can be tedious and you don’t always get that instant adrenaline rush….and let’s face it, sales prospecting doesn’t result in an instant commission check.
When it comes down to it, acquiring leads is relatively easy…acquiring relevant, quality leads on the other hand is a bit harder.
If you don’t have a plan, you are going to be wasting your time. Creating your own best practices guide for prospecting will help set you and your team up for future success.Creating your own best practices guide for prospecting will help set your team up for future success. Click To Tweet
I had a chance to interview Dan Waldschmidt on the topic, he is known for his creative outbound sales prospecting techniques and methods. You can listen to the interview right here:
In addition, Colleen Francis has written a new book, Nonstop Sales Boom. She has a formula to calculate exactly how much sales prospecting you should be doing to hit your sales goals. You can hear that interview right here:
Mark Hunter is the author of High-Profit Selling & High-Profit Prospecting. I had a chance to talk with him about the prospecting industry right now, especially how and where outbound sales prospecting fits into the mix. You can listen right here:
Sales Prospecting Definition: Know Your Target Market
Knowing your target market is the very first step in prospecting and really, the most important.
So how do you find your target market?
Sales Prospecting Process: Know product market fit
Sounds simple, right? Make sure everyone in your agency is fully versed in your products and knowledgeable. Sure, this is sales 101 but how can you expect sales reps to find the right target if they aren’t exactly sure who your products benefit?
You can break down your product market fit into three main categories like Will Caldwell, the CEO and Founder at Dizzle, explained in this Entrepreneur post
Step 1: Know your current customer needs and attempt to foresee those that may arise in the future.
Step 2: Focus in on just one main value proposition.
Step 3: Build credibility by sharing your brand’s story.
Sales Prospecting Methods: Find prospects who are already spending money
Typical email prospecting goes something like this – search for relevant industry professionals, reach out and then reach out again. That’s all fine and good but how do you know if the company has the money to pay for your to accommodate their needs?
Take a look at sales prospects who are spending money in other areas of company improvement. Are they serious about doing what it take to grow and increase their capital?
These are the most likely prospects to invest in what you are selling.
- A great tool to download your competitors’ profitable keywords – both organic and paid is spyfu.
- And to see which ads are working and where, check out this.
Sales Prospecting Plan: Understand buyer psychology
Every agency has that one prospecting rock star and you know what their secret is? They understand buyer psychology.
One of my favorite posts about this aspects comes from the people over at Kissmetrics where they explain 15 triggers that turn prospects into customers. I’ve selected some of the most fascinating to share with you.
People are motivated by pain and pleasure – find out what your customer views as the driving force between both of these and play them up.People are motivated by pain and pleasure. Click To Tweet
Appeal to the sense of novelty – Ever notice that one year’s model of a vehicle isn’t all that different than the next and yet people can’t wait to upgrade? Buyers are motivated by novelty.
Buyers need to know why – If you tell them you are going to do something, they want to know what is motivating you, what’s the catch. Cited in the Kissmetrics post is the Xerox experiment conducted by Dr. Michael Gazzaniga, a psychology professor at the University of California.
Essentially it was proven people will agree to do more when they are given a reason. In this instance, people standing in line waiting to use the photocopier were 34% more likely to allow someone to cut in line if they offered a reason, even if only a basic one.
Storytelling motivates buyers – when we tell stories to our sales prospects, we are bringing more senses into the decision making process, something that more readily motivates the sale.
Inspire curiosity – Once your sales prospects become curious about you, they will more likely open emails, answer calls from you and ultimately become a customer.
Utilize social proof – Markers and salespeople have taken social proof to a whole new level. No longer do our prospects listen to us, but they listen to what their peers say about us. Use social proof in your email prospecting whenever possible.
Sales Prospecting Tips: Know your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Thinking once again about buyer psychology, your buyer will of course want the question “what’s in it for me?” to be answered first and foremost.
This is why your unique selling proposition (USP) is one of the most vital tools you can use in an effective prospecting email.
If you’ve been working with your company for any length of time, you probably already have a pretty good grasp on your USP, but how are you communicating this to your prospects?
Our recent post Sales Hooks – How to Develop the Ultimate USP for your Product is a great place to start if you feel yours needs improvement.
Some essentials to keep in mind when prospecting:
Sales Prospecting Process: Qualifying the Prospect
Qualifying is important for determining if a prospect is worth your time. There are a number of issues that can arise if you neglect this important step.
- You’ll close “bad” deals down the road – “How can a closed deal ever be bad?” you ask. Selling the wrong product to the wrong person will come back to haunt you down the line.
- Lost opportunities to spend time on top prospects – Your best prospects are those that you should be nurturing and spending the most time with. If you have no system of rating your prospects, you will have no idea who your best ones are.
- You won’t know how to sell to them specifically – If you don’t take the time to research the prospect, you won’t know if your USP is a good fit for them or be able to provide solutions to any of their pain points.
- You’ll waste your time – Time is money, sure it’s cliche but it’s true!
So how do you qualify your prospect?
- Compare them to your target/ideal prospect – There are many ways to scout out a prospect before making the initial contact. Take a look at their LinkedIn profiles or information and ask yourself, “Is this really our ideal customer?”
- Make sure you are targeting the decision maker – If your prospecting emails are hitting the inboxes of non-decision makers, you are targeting non-qualified leads. These people can be totally in love with your products but they don’t hold the company wallet in their hands.
- Feel out their budget – Knowing what your ideal customer’s financial profile looks like will help you spot red flag issues that will trigger you to move on.
Sales Prospecting Tools: Acquiring Lead Sources
Know that you know what good and bad prospects look like, you have to decide where you are going to get your lead sources from.
There are two main ways that most agencies acquire leads – purchasing or building their own lists.
List purchasing pros:
- Legitimate lead providers do exist, they are quick and easy
- Save time
- Fixed lead cost
List purchasing cons:
- The leads may have also been sold to other companies
- You don’t know where these leads were acquired or how they were qualified
- These leads have no connection to you so you are going in cold
- Buying leads can be costly
- Annual turnover rates from 7% to 29% means your list can be out of date quick
List building pros:
- You are 100% in control of the process
- Building your own list saves you money
- You’ll know the quality of each prospect since you selected them yourself
List building cons:
- List building takes more time and energy than buying leads
- Your lead acquisition cost won’t be fixed so it’s harder to measure
Sales Prospecting Methods: Target Executives
Prospecting comes down to targeting the right people.
If you aren’t targeting decision makers, you are getting no closer to closing the sale. Okay, this is something you probably already know, but have you mastered your technique for actually finding and developing a relationship with executives?
Try these tips –
- Persistence pays off- reaching those top level executives isn’t easy. That’s because when you are the important decision maker, you are busy. Persistence is the key.
Yes, 9 times out of 10 you may reach his/her secretary but remember, the squeaky wheel gets the oil..Keep in mind that according to the National Sales Executive Association, 80% of sales take place between the fifth through twelfth contact and 20% of sales occur between the first through the fourth contact. Moral of the story? Persistence pays off.
- Be relevant – executives are busy. First and foremost, how is what you are selling relevant to their business? Get that out in the open right away in order to get your foot in the door. You have about 10 seconds to gain interest, know what your selling point is and exactly how you will deliver it. Be sure you are effectively solving a problem for them.Use Current Tools for Increasing Productivity (linkedin etc)
Targeting becomes a whole lot easier now that keeping tabs on your prospects is as easy as developing a connection through social media. Linkedin is one of the most underutilized tools among sales teams.
With today’s social media channel explosion you can learn anything about anyone at any time.. Before you make your next prospecting call take the time to research the company, explore their current happenings and engage with them.
With social media at your fingertips, your prospecting productivity can easily skyrocket. In addition to Linked, look for your prospects on Twitter and Facebook.
Sales Prospecting Ideas: Establish Alliances with Non-Competing Competitors
This one may have you scratching your head but by collaborating with competitors (who aren’t directly competing with you) you can branch out your potential prospects.
If your business is largely limited to a local market, try creating events and promotions with those just outside of your normal customer based.
Also, keep this in mind. When was the last time your enemies sent you business? Never, right?
Keeping other similar businesses friendly with you greatly increases your chance of referrals. If you are offering slightly different products or services, teaming up can actually greatly increase your customer base. It may not work for your company, but it is certainly a prospecting technique to keep in your toolbox.
Sales Prospecting Methods: Coach Rather Than Sell
Today’s sales and marketing community revolves largely around providing knowledge, not just trying to make a sale. This is a great chance to partner up with your marketing team. Try writing a blog post that will educate your prospects.
Additionally, you can establish relevance when you call a lead that you can problem solve with. Once you see the opportunity to improve their situation, you look more like a hero and less like a salesperson.
Motivate yourself to coach and problem solve for prospects and you will not only gain their business, but you will also gain referrals in the process.
Sales Prospecting Process: Observe Your Competition
You can learn a ton about the shortcomings of you own prospecting and lead generation process by taking a look at your competition.
How are they handling their social accounts? What information are they providing their clients with. In order to remain relative and competitive in your market, you need to look to your competition and trump their initiatives.
Sales Prospecting Tools: Personalize All Conversations
This goes along with warming up your cold calling. In today’s marketplace, you can learn so much by simply doing a quick search of your prospects. Use this information to personalize each and every conversation you have with your prospects.
If it sounds like spam, it’s going to be treated like spam. Add relevance and personalization and then you will be able to get your foot in the door.
Sales Prospecting Quotes: Record Yourself on Your Next Sales Call
This is a great way to improve your prospecting. If you don’t know why you are getting poor results, try recording your cold calls and see how you can improve your sales pitch.Try recording your cold calls and see how you can improve your sales pitch. Click To Tweet
Try playing it back and even getting feedback from your sales team.
Creating a script is a great way to improve upon your prospecting. It’s easy to get stuck when you don’t have a road map to rely on.
Sales Prospecting Ideas: Warm Up Your Cold Calls
There is a lot of talk in the sales world that cold calling is dead – do not believe it for a second. The key is warming up your cold call. Basically this entails doing your research before ever picking up the phone. Of course social media can greatly help you learn valuable intel on the company you are calling but other outlets, like Google News for example can be very helpful.
Basically, if you don’t do your research, be prepared to be destroyed.
Our Goal is to Create the Ultimate Sales Prospecting Tool
LeadFuze CEO and Founder Justin McGill started a marketing agency in 2008 but had one serious problem…he hated cold calling.
This is not an uncommon sentiment in the sales world. Chances are, you are probably nodding your head in agreement at this very moment.
He found that email prospecting was a great way to reach out to warm up leads and developed a process for building his own lists doing mainly the following:
- Scanning business directories and search results
- Searching websites for contact information
- Checking Who.is for contact information if not listed on the company site
- Playing around with different cold email templates
- Creating reminders so he could be sure to follow-up
- Cold emailing and then calling – this made a “warm” call easier than a completely cold one
This process worked well for him but you can likely spot the issue right away…this was far too time consuming to be effective in the long term.
As with any monotonous process, there is usually a way to automate it, and that’s essentially how Leadfuze was born.
Through his work with the agency, Justin knew some developers and started brainstorming and listing the pain points of traditional lead acquisition and the benefits of automating the system.
What began as simply creating an automated process for his own use grew into something more and today, Leadfuze helps scrape information for other agencies, allowing them to get all the benefits of list building but without the headaches associated with it. (Read the full story on our blog.)
This is exactly how he created a 7 figure agency:
3 goals –
- Make it easy to find the (correct) contact info for your specific target market
- Make it easy to send one-to-one email outreach messages to your prospects
- Integrate them both together in the same app, so you can spend more time talking to real prospects who actually want to talk with you!
As you can see, there is no one way to prospect. In fact, often you have to try many different ways to identify the best method.
What are your go-to sales prospecting tips?