With sales conversions becoming more buyer-focused, you’ve got to get more creative when it comes to prospecting.
All About Sales Prospecting
It’s no secret that prospecting is one of the biggest challenges that marketers face today. More than 40% of marketers say this is the most challenging part of the sales process, followed by closing (36%) and qualifying (22%)
As much as you’d like to believe that your product is top-notch and new customers will magically flow into the pipeline, it’s true that prospecting requires some extra efforts and investments in the right processes, activities, and skills.
So, let’s get started.
What is Sales Prospecting?
Sales prospecting is all about identifying potential customers for your business. But how is this different from marketing, you ask?
The main difference between prospecting and marketing is the one-to-one as opposed to the one-to-many approach.
Most marketing activities are like fishing- you put your bait out, and you wait for interested folks to come to you.
Sales prospectors, on the other hand, are hunters. They don’t wait for the magic to happen; they chase after it.
Sales Prospecting is particularly important during the early stages of your business. You’re the new kid on the block. No one has ever heard of you. It’s up to you to go out of your way and make an effort to get people to know you and convince them to give you a chance.
Leads vs Prospects
Leads come first, sale prospects second.
Simply put, a prospect is a qualified lead.
A lead is like raw, unprocessed data. It represents every visitor who ever showed the slightest interest in your business. They might have just come across your website and visited a few pages. They’re not stable prospects yet.
A prospect, on the other hand, is a lead that has qualified as a potential customer. They align with your targeted buyer persona. Prospects are the leads you should spend your time nurturing. They have higher chances of making a purchase and recommending you to others.
Prospecting techniques to boost your performance
At first glance, it may seem like a simple three-step process:
- Search for prospects
- Reach out to them in multiple appropriate ways
- Lastly, nurture them till you’ve convinced them to close the deal
But, when you look at these steps closely, you realize it’s not as simple.
Not all prospecting activities lead to a jackpot. Some will require you to invest a lot of time, money and energy and still leave you with an empty sales funnel.
So, when old ways of doing things no longer move the needle, it’s time to embrace the new!
So what are the rules of the game?
Define a buyer persona
Identifying your customer persona is the ideal way to begin. Once you have a list of traits that you want your target audience to possess, it’s easier to identify & pursue leads.
You can start identifying prospects by prioritizing traits based on:
- the size of the company you’d like to target.
- the pain points your product can solve.
- the industry that needs these issues solved.
- the designation of the decision-maker that you’d like to get in touch with.
- the company location etc.
Most often marketers waste a lot of time chasing unqualified leads. Thus, it is essential to build an ideal buyer persona as this will help give direction to your prospecting activities.
Get social (pays to be friendly)
More than 90% of executives admit they won’t even respond to cold calls, according to research by Hubspot. But, 78% of them make buying decisions through social media.
You want to be where trigger- ready prospects are present.
Leverage social media to build meaningful and transparent relationships with potential customers. Refrain from hard selling. Instead, build a presence that engages followers with stories that intrigue and provide value.
Make Marketing Automation your best friend
Marketing automation is the answer to the new buyer’s journey. Without it, you’re shooting aimlessly.
Automation tools that link social, content distribution, email campaigns and customer relationship management (CRM) are important in getting the right message to the right people, at the right time.
It allows marketers to implement an integrated approach to generating, nurturing and converting leads into prospects and finally into customers by automating different marketing activities to optimize the sales funnel.
Overlook Personalization in Emails
Don’t assume that email, as a sales tool, is dead.
Quite the opposite. It’s alive and kicking. Email, even today, is regarded as the most effective means of communication by most of the top marketing professionals.
But, there’s one thing that’s hard to find – Personalization in emails.
Knowing your audience is important when it comes to sending emails to prospective customers. Generic emails are doomed to user’s spam folders. Personalized ones, however, improve click-through rates and have a higher chance of driving a user to take action.
It’s tempting to send out a list of your products best features, but a unique email that matches each prospect’s needs gives you a much better chance of standing out.
Make prospecting a one-off event
If you negotiate on daily prospecting activities, closing deals will turn into a one-off event and that’s not what you want.
It needs to be a priority. On average, salespeople make far more calls in the last month of the quarter than the first two. And the success rate of those “eleventh-hour” calls are usually lower than any other month.
Be consistent, set aside time each day for prospecting and stick to it. Prospecting then becomes “structured” time versus something you do when you get around to it.
Prospecting doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, it can be a positive experience for both marketers and prospects. Adopt the above strategies with different tools and techniques to see what works best for your team and get the most out of your prospecting time.