Revenue, as we all know, is the fresh breath of air that keeps organizations functional. Crushing the numbers and making more time for achieving great revenue figures is what sales is all about. You need to be efficient, productive and must drive the moolah to your company! Sales is going through various changes and becoming more buyer-centric. And successful sales prospecting can contribute to revenue generation in a grand manner.

sales prospecting buyer-centric

The sales cycle mentioned above is an integral part of a sales professional’s life that never changes.

You start your first week of the day of every month with the thought of achieving your set quota because that is what generates the revenue.

As a sales professional, you must be aware that you and your team members are always racing against the clock to make the quota.

However, your hard work will only reap benefits if you have a set of tips, techniques, and tools for successful sales prospecting.

This guide is going to assist you in this particular area. Let’s begin with a course refresh!

What is sales prospecting?

Prospecting is defined as the process where a business search for their potential customers in order to scale their growth in the market.

The goal of prospecting is to nurture prospects through the various stages of the sales funnel and convert them into paying customers.

Leads vs Prospects: The difference

Leads and prospects often get mixed up in the war of terminologies.

Leads

The potential buyers who express interest in the offering of your business.

They are someone who has visited your website or have interacted with certain sections on the website.

They might have also subscribed to your blogs or downloaded eBooks from your official website.

Prospects

Your leads become prospects when they align with the buyer persona you created for your target audience.

A prospect may be classified as a potential customer; however, he is not to be mistaken for a lead.

difference leads vs prospects

The successful sales prospecting techniques for modern businesses

With the dynamic growth of sales, there is a constant shift in the methodology of prospecting.

Sales reps must understand how they can use both inbound or outbound prospecting for deriving a better closing ratio.

Difference between the two methodologies

let us help you differentiate between the two methodologies.

Outbound prospecting

Cold calls:

Unprompted calls made to prospects for the purpose of selling your product or service.

Social spams:

Unprompted social media messages to prospects for selling your product or service.

The Process:

Researching leads in this area takes longer as both reps and leads are new to each other.

There is not much context for the reps to create a dialogue and move the conversation ahead in a smooth manner. 

Outbound prospecting example:

“Hi Brian, I am reaching out to you as we’ve worked with similar businesses and they are happy with our solution.”

Inbound prospecting

Warm emails:

Email communication that helps explore a relationship with your new prospect who expressed interest in your product or service

Social selling:

The use of social media for creating a relationship with your prospect.

Sales reps can provide value to these leads by answering questions regarding the offerings. 

They can also teach the prospect about your offering by providing the required information.

The Process:

A comparatively shorter process as the reps have information on the prospects from previous interactions.

Easy to get the context of the prospect’s interests and develop a personalized approach.

Inbound prospecting example:

“Hi Dave, the reason I am reaching out is that I noticed you subscribed to our e-book ‘Improve your sales productivity with these techniques.”

difference outbound prospecting vs inbound prospecting

Pro recommendation: Inbound Prospecting

Businesses must take a balanced and responsible approach to inbound prospecting. 

The reason for our recommendation? 

You must know one fact, not every lead you hunt will be open to the idea of making a purchase from you.

The lead you are following up with might be engaged in communication with your competitors itself. 

Or he might have researched about you more thoroughly then you!

inbound prospecting recommendation

One more fact to be taken into account is that prospects are 57% through the sales process even before a sales rep makes the first contact.

The problem occurs when sales reps contact prospects with the thinking that they are not aware of your business and its offerings.

On average, an experienced sales rep may be expected to spend 7.5 hours of cold calling in order to get a single qualified appointment.

With the changes happening throughout the sales scenario, the business owners and sales reps must understand the context of the prospects’ needs.

And they must start paying attention to the buyers’ online activities. 

If as a business, you start using inbound and outbound prospecting in a responsible manner, you will be well-positioned in front of your buyers.

IBM successfully increased its sales by 400% because of a smart inbound prospecting program. 

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A few useful prospecting tips in 2020

We have presented our case in front of you and we have shared the statistics too!

In this part, we will be talking about the techniques that a business must adopt with an inbound approach to prospecting.

50% of overall sales time goes into unproductive prospecting.

And we are sure that you would not want your business to be in that 50%.

So, use the inbound way with a basic framework that applies to all sales processes.

We know that every sales process is unique to its industry and must not adopt everything that comes across on the internet.

However, we must ask you to tweak the points that we are mentioning in this article for maximizing the results of your daily hustle.

Step 1: Do a thorough prospect research

Researching your prospects is the most crucial part of sales prospecting. Businesses must ensure they qualify prospects in order to improve the value they are providing or intend to provide!

Let’s set some goals that must be accomplished by businesses in this stage.

  • You must determine if you can work with the prospect
  • You must prioritize and qualify your prospects in this stage

Create or look for the opportunities that will assist you in developing a worthy connection with the prospects via personalization, building rapport, and development of trust.

We are listing down some important prospect qualifying dimensions to help you evaluate your prospect:

Does your prospect’s business fit your solution requirements?

Such qualification is generally based on customer demographics.

Finding answers to these questions is a must at this stage.

  • Does your prospect fall within your industry?
  • Does your offering fit the buyer persona set by you?

For instance.

Your target market is small to medium-sized businesses.

These businesses have around 1,000 employees. Start eliminating prospects who

  • Are not small and mid-size businesses
  • Have more than 1000 employees

Let’s dive a little deeper.

Your offering naturally provides higher value to the customer profile that belongs to the set criteria.

For instance.

Mid-sized businesses consist of a larger team.

These businesses will upgrade to a higher tier of your offering.

This can be calculated as the lifetime value of these customers.

Key takeaway:

Business owners must prioritize your customers based on the size of particular opportunities.

They can also extract the potential lifetime value of such customers for filtering them as your customers.

Have the key stakeholders been identified?

On the other end of every sales process, there are two crucial people:

  • The decision-makers
  • The influencers

The influencers are not the ones that have purchasing power, however, influencers are the end-users of your product.

This is the reason they become the potential internal advocates for your offerings.

Keeping the influencers happy and closer to your offerings allows you to make an impact on the decision-makers before your sales reps reach out to them.

The decision-makers have the ultimate power of approving or rejecting your product.

Businesses must find answers to this important question for determining the decision-making process.

Is there more than one person involved in the decision-making process?

Key takeaway:

Prepare a working list of influencers and buyers with yourself.

Try to be as detailed as possible.

Like mapping out by that list as per the organizational structure.

Take note as this detail will come in handy while you start your outreach phase.

Are the prospect’s limitations looking like a deal breaker?

Your prospects will come up with many reasons for not accepting your offerings.

Some of them are time constraints, budget limitations, downtime issues, etc.

Time and budget are always the biggest constraints that the prospects will keep in front of you.

Before you decide on probing the prospect over this constraint over a call or you call the prospect and hear about this objection later, do background research on the prospect.

This will help filter out the prospects who are ready to consider your offering or will reject it.

Key takeaway:

After having a detailed conversation with your prospects, you might be well aware of their marketing and sales woes.

Small and mid-size businesses generally do not run sales and marketing campaigns together due to many reasons.

Find out the same thing about your prospect and approach them at a later time interval.

Are you familiar with the market?

Being in the business, you might have made your fair share of research into the types of businesses and the dynamic nature of your target audience.

Also, researching the competition goes without saying.

As you are more familiar with a market, having refined your sales pitch to suit them, prioritize these prospects first.

Key takeaway:

You must group your prospects based on their service offering, the market they are, the industry they belong to.

Once done, see how familiar you are with the major ones and then prioritize your prospects.

Do the prospects know your company?

As mentioned above, some prospects are one step ahead of the businesses that approach them with the intent of selling a product or service.

With more awareness about your offerings, the probability of them making a purchase from you increases.

For instance,

You have grouped your prospects based on the criteria that they have 

  • already visited your website more than once
  • downloaded eBook or white papers from your website
  • have subscribed to your blog
  • have posted about you or your offering on social media

Such prospects are more aware of you and are readily going to make a purchase from you. You can also push for easy referrals from these prospects once they become your paying customers.

Key takeaway:

Filter your prospects based on their awareness of your offering. This helps in moving them quickly along your sales process and convert them into paying customers.

We hope this segment of the article helped you curate your sales prospect filtration and will save more selling time.

That being said, you now have a list of highly researched prospects.

Fine-tune your target customer profile further and make sure you never fail to match the criteria mentioned above while filtering prospects in the future.

By using a tool like ProDataLabs in your research phase you can acquire your sales leads, expand customer base and increase your brand reach.

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Step 2: Prioritizing sales prospects

Prioritizing the prospects will definitely save you more selling time.

In this segment, we will be explaining why and how you must push your efforts towards the prospects that most likely will become paying customers.

The level at which you decide to prioritize your prospects will be defined as the type of sales organization and individual sales professionals.

The basic idea that derives prospect prioritization is to focus on a bunch of prospects at a particular time and without wasting valuable resources.

So, here it goes!

First of all, create a list of prospects and divide them into percentages between 1% and 100% depending on how important they are for your sales process.

For instance,

For your business, the size of the deal is more important than the time it takes to close a deal.

So, let’s say, we assign 80% to the size of the deal and 10% to closure time.

Once you have done that, assign a value between 1 and 100 to each dimension for all the prospects in your list.

Once you are through with this step, multiply each prospect’s value by the percentage weight you have assigned to them.

Add these dimension scores until you get a total score.

Doing so will give you a highly prioritized list.

prioritize your prospects

The high priority prospects

  • A prospect that matches the customer persona criteria
  • Prospects that are facing challenges that our product will solve
  • If you are able to connect with a decision-maker
  • The prospect has a high level of interaction with your online content

The medium-priority prospects

  • Those who match 50% of the customer persona criteria
  • They are facing the challenge your offering will solve
  • Your team is able to connect with an influencer
  • Has had a few interactions with your online content

The low priority prospects

  • The prospects do not match your customer persona
  • They do not have any clear business challenge yet
  • You team is not connected to either with an influencer or decision-maker
  • There is a limited interaction between them and your online content

Step 3: An in-depth outreach strategy

The motive of this step is to help you gather in-depth information regarding your prospects.

Doing so will help you curate your sales pitch and personalize our sales outreach.

To go ahead in this step, you will need to understand what your prospect cares more about.

You can find out about your prospect’s requirement by

  • Finding out if they blog
    This will allow you to understand what they write more about!
  • Finding out their online presence
    This helps you calculate and target the mode of communication they are most active on. This research increases the chances of getting as revert than a standard call or email.
  • Finding if they have a company website
    A prospect can be an individual or a business.

Many times the solution to rate your prospect lies in their “About us” page.

Once you have enough information on your prospect rank them as per their business volume and their role in their organization.

You see, finding the influencer and decision-maker is crucial in every step of your sales prospecting process.

Now that you have all the necessary information with you, it is time to make a connection with them. 

Find out if you have any mutual connections.

See if there have been any trigger events that have made them aware of you.

Are they visiting your website or social media pages?

If they have indeed visited your website, try to get the information about the particular sections or pages they visited.

Business owners and sales managers can also build-up a decision map that will help in outlining your prospect’s options and end-goals.

So, when your sales reps face any objections, or a sales pitch requires personalization, your reply resonates that you “understand” their requirements.

Step 4: The first communication

Whether you choose cold calling your emailing as your communication tool, make sure that the content is highly tailored.

Base it on the research you have done regarding the prospects’ business goals and industry requirements.

Here are some basic tips to be remembered while contacting your prospect:

  • Personalize your approach
    Refer to a specific problem your prospect is encountering. Match your solution to it.
  • Keep the conversation relevant
    Make sure the prospect still needs a solution to the problem.
  • Act as a human
    Don’t converse like a professional robot. Add details to your conversation and make the conversation lively. This will help establish a deeper connection with the prospect.
  • You must help before you sell
    You are not pitching your solution to them in the first touch.
    Don’t jump on the point of booking an appointment. Ask them if they are open let you audit their sales process and see if your solution will help them out.
  • Don’t be overly professional
    This is a small conversation initiator. Keep your tone natural and get rid of the sales rep inside you for some time.

This first touch is being done to determine the lifetime value of the prospect for your business.

Every business has to decide the mode of communication they want to use for establishing the first contact.

We will help you out in this department as timely communication accelerates deal closures.

Warm email

Every business that is planning to reach out to the customer base they are targeting to get their emails opened. Let’s explain the warm email technique that will help increase the open rate.

Engaging subject lines:

You must create a subject line that attracts the prospect’s interest.

Personalized opening line:

Always begin your email content mentioning them, not explaining about your business.

The mail must speak to the prospect and your email must be addressed on finding the pain points. Mention how your service will add value to their business process later.

Creating a connection:

Once you give an attractive opening to your email, it is time to make them care about what your business offers.

Clear CTA (call to action):

Trying some close-ended questions like: “Is it okay if I book an appointment between 9-11 a.m. to go through your business process?”

Prospecting call

If your mode of communication is a telephonic conversation, before or after an email, we can suggest a basic structure for the same.

You must create a rapport:

Most of the time sales reps hesitate to make the conversation a tad bit personal.

Try asking your prospects about their weekend or if there is a game coming up ask them who they’re rooting for!

Such icebreaker comfort the prospect and helps sales reps in developing relationships with prospects

Leverage the pain points:

Find out and discuss the pain-points.

Once you are done with the calls, you must be aware of the major business challenges your prospect is facing.

Finding the pain points also helps in positioning your offering as the apt solution in front of the prospect.

Create some curiosity:

Keep asking questions in a sublime manner and keep the customer curious about the questions.

Your call is all about understanding problems. Sales reps must not speak more than the prospect.

Wrap it up:

Sales reps must remember this point! Never book a follow-up that spans more than 48 hours from the initial contact.

Ask them if they are available for a follow-up call where your expert will join the meeting to further assist them.

Also, hint at the open calendar slot you have for the next two days and ask them to connect at their comfortable time.

Step 5: Iterate

Taking notes throughout the above-mentioned process is important.

Doing so allows you to understand which of the activities done by you generated more value to the prospecting process in a lesser time interval.

Ask your sales reps to assess the point after each prospect outreach:

  • How well did we uncover the challenges the prospect is facing?
  • Did we help them create well-defined goals?
  • Did we confirm their budget?
  • Were we able to find out the decision-making process?
  • Were we able to determine the consequences of inaction?
  • Did we identify the potential results of success?

Doing this helps your sales team to improve their sales calling techniques for the future. Learn more about sales call techniques.

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What should your sales funnel be like?

The reason a sales funnel exists is to help businesses understand the buyer journey and their behavior towards your outreach programs.

Sales funnel gives you a brief idea about the impact your strategies and techniques are having on the prospects.

It also helps you distribute your sales resources on the prospects based on the stages they are in the sales funnel.

A general sales funnel

Let us see what your sales funnel is like.

1. Research

The goal?

Determine the lead quality

Rules of qualifications:

Set of criteria that help businesses qualify their prospects as future customers.

Tip:

Use Customer relationship management (CRM) software for tracking the potential and existing customers and the various stages they are currently positioned in the sales cycle.

2. Prospect

The goal?

Connect with leads

The keeper:

An individual who is assigned with the task of relaying the information to decision-makers or blocking the information from reaching them.

Decision-maker:

An individual who has the final say on the decisions pertaining to sale.

Tip:

Sales reps usually have to go through the keepers before reaching the decision-makers.

3. Connect

The goal?

Book a meeting with the leads

The first call:

The mode of first contact sales reps use for meeting and decoding the qualification criteria of the prospect.

4. Educate and evaluate

The goal?

Evaluate the leads for further qualification

The pain point of the prospect:

Does the need for your prospect meet your offering?

Sales reps must find an answer to the question in this stage.

This way they can provide value to the prospect and move them further in the sales cycle.

Objections made by the prospects:

Every prospect will question or challenge your service or product efficiency.

Tip:

Make sure you listen to them! Never interrupt the prospect in the middle of their explanations or questions.

Understand their pain points and take the conversation ahead based on your observation.

5. Closure

The goal?

Find prospects and convert them into customers

Closure-won:

The prospect has been converted into a paying customer.

Closure-lost:

The prospect didn’t agree with your solution and has not made any purchase.

Closing ratio:

The rate at which sales reps win or lose a customer.

Recommended reading: How to handle sales objections like a pro!

Conclusion

The above article aimed at simplifying the process of prospecting for the businesses, so they can smartly allocate their resources and make time for more selling.

The revenue generation cycle of every business depends on the smooth flow at which leads get converted to paying customers.

We hope that the tips, techniques, and tools shared by us in this article come in handy for you and your sales team.

We keep sharing various sales tips on our resources page.

So, if you ever feel the requirement to know more about successful sales or the features Salesmate CRM has to offer, get in touch with us.

We will be glad to interact with you and help you out.

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A writer with an uncommon funny bone and a knack for perfection, Saptarshi loves to write about anything that can be of help to businesses, people, and dogs! A true human at heart, he likes to spend most of his time researching the internet to find ways technology is influencing our daily life (positively).

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