Every great outbound sales program has to start with a prospecting strategy. Without strategic prospecting, you risk chasing leads that will add little to no value to your ROI. This can result in a significant amount of wasted time, money, and resources.
Throughout this blog, we’ll cover the best prospecting tips for your sales strategy, including:
There are many ways to find potential customers, but it’s essential to develop a B2B prospecting strategy that aligns with your target market’s buyer persona. Here are some different ways your outbound sales team can prospect and connect with new clients:
Recent studies show that 69% of buyers accept cold calls from salespeople, and 27% of them say it’s been successful. While many businesses have the misconception that cold calling is dead, we’re here to tell you that it’s very much alive and continuously evolving.
Cold calling is one of the best ways for sales teams to connect with prospects because they’re able to have a one-on-one conversation with key decision-makers (KDMs), learn about their current B2B solution, and discover how their company could be a good fit for them. Even if prospects decline to meet for a sales appointment, sales development representatives (SDRs) have the opportunity to gather crucial market research data to learn what’s important to companies in the region they’re pitching. This could enable them to adjust their pitch accordingly to align with the wants and needs of a target market.
Many B2B companies outsource their cold calling efforts because it frees up the internal sales team’s time to focus on more pressing tasks, like crafting the perfect sales presentation, submitting proposals, and closing deals.
Unsure if sales outsourcing is right for your business? Read our blog for a list of questions to consider before you decide to outsource your sales efforts.
KDMs are busy people who typically wear a lot of hats. If they’re not easily reachable by phone, consider entering them into an email marketing campaign. When personalized for the prospect, email marketing is incredibly effective and provides top-of-mind awareness. Sales tools like email marketing automation make emailing prospect lists seamless and ensure that the right email is sent at the right time.
Social media is a powerful tool for like-minded people to connect. In addition to distributing relevant and engaging content, your sales team has the opportunity to send personalized LinkedIn InMail messages to prospects in the sales pipeline.
LinkedIn is a great platform for sales reps to connect with prospects because that’s what it’s built for—to make connections with other business professionals. Like email, this lead-generating tool allows you to send personalized messages to prospects to further the relationship and better understand their buying process.
Research shows that 91% of buyers are influenced to purchase a product or service if it’s referred to them by people they trust. When current customers are happy with your company’s product or service, they’re much more likely to refer you to other businesses in their network.
As you and your team engage with long-term customers, consider asking them if they’d be willing to refer your company’s product or service to others. While this is a free and easy way to promote your business, only 40% of salespeople actually do this.
Interacting with the public on social media platforms is a great way to build trust with ongoing and new clients. If you actively engage with your target audience online, people are more likely to refer your business to people in their network.
Before asking customers for referrals, make sure that you have a positive relationship with them and communicate on a regular basis. Routine communication with a customer increases the likelihood of them agreeing to refer your business.
Attending networking events is a great prospecting solution for face-to-face interaction with other local businesses. At networking events, you can bring business cards and other forms of marketing collateral like brochures and sell sheets to give to other business owners and key decision-makers.
Networking events are ideal for B2B businesses that want to work with other companies in their region. However, if you’re looking for prospects in different markets or across the country, cold calling, emailing, and social media prospecting efforts may be your most effective lead-generating solution.
Hosting webinars is a great way to present your expertise and identify your company as a thought leader in the industry. Simply ask prospects to fill out a submission form on your website to attend it. This automatically integrates them into the sales pipeline and gives SDRs the valuable contact information they need to move the prospect through the sales cycle.
For example, suppose you’re a software company that wants to present a more efficient way to complete day-to-day tasks. In that case, you can host a webinar that shows attendees how your company’s software solution can free up more time in their day and streamline communications from one department to the next. This could show prospects that they risk wasting a significant amount of time and money doing tedious tasks without your software platform. After the webinar, SDRs can reach out to attendees to discuss what they thought of the event and schedule a demo of how your company can help their business.
B2B prospecting is a challenging task that many salespeople struggle with. By following these best practices in sales prospecting, you have the opportunity to build relationships and convert prospects into high-quality sales leads:
With all the different industries and KDMs in the world, how do you know where to start? Before you begin your prospecting efforts, you and your team must have the same perspective of what your ideal customer looks like.
Envisioning your ideal customer ensures that you secure the sales appointments and business deals you want. While this may initially minimize the number of sales meetings you have, it increases the likelihood of closing significant deals and reduces your risk of wasting time on leads that have little to no impact on your ROI.
When you think about setting your ideal customer criteria, consider the industries you want to target, the number of full-time employees, the square footage of the commercial building, and the number of workstations (specifically for MSP). This ensures that each appointment set by a sales development rep has the potential to land you a business deal.
While a prospective business may meet your ideal customer profile, it’s important to envision the type of business you want with them. For example, if you’re an MSP who wants to focus on ongoing IT services for a business, it wouldn’t be beneficial to schedule a sales appointment with a qualified prospect that has an in-house IT team and has never considered outsourcing any of their IT services. Even though a prospect in the sales pipeline meets your size qualifications, it doesn’t mean they meet your product or service qualifications.
Before you start your prospecting sales process, think about how you’ve generated most of the business you currently have. Did most of it come from cold calls? Cold emails? Networking events? Referrals? By understanding the best way to reach your ideal customer, your sales reps have a greater opportunity to get in contact with them, pitch them your company’s products and services, and set sales appointments.
Once you’ve identified the best way to reach prospects, have your sales reps gather market research about their digital presence and how they engage with other businesses in their network. Do they engage with their network on social media? Do they interact with users on their website? By understanding how prospects digitally interact, you have another platform to contact them and further build the relationship.
As mentioned previously, while it’s important for a prospect to meet your size qualifications, it’s just as important that they meet your ideal partnership criteria. One of the best sales prospecting tips to determine if a prospect meets your criteria is gathering new information and consistently asking open-ended questions. Asking prospects open-ended questions is a crucial part of the sales process because it enables your sales reps to learn about their company and what they’d be looking for in a B2B partnership.
Here are some open-ended questions you and your sales team can use to gather new information from prospects:
- What do you currently have in place when it comes to XYZ products or services?
- What do you typically look for in a B2B service provider?
- What are you enjoying about your current solution?
- What is something you’d like to change about your current solution?
In addition to gathering new information, asking open-ended questions builds trust and guides a prospect further down the sales funnel. By asking these questions, you can take note of their responses and use these answers to provide value for future conversations.
Even with all the digital marketing platforms in the world today, email marketing still reigns as the most effective digital marketing channel, bringing in $42 for every email sent. However, while email marketing itself is alive and thriving, there’s one thing that is dying: mass email distribution. Personalized emails are the name of the game when it comes to an effective email marketing strategy.
Research shows that personalized emails have a 26% higher open rate than emails sent in bulk. This is because customized emails specifically address the wants and the needs of a prospect in the sales pipeline. They allow prospects to feel heard and more connected with your business and build their trust until they’re ready to make a purchase.
If you’re targeting a specific industry, it’s important that you know all essential details about that industry to provide a well-thought-out pitch. Being a know-it-all for the industry you’re targeting helps position your company as a thought leader in the sector.
For example, if you’re an HVAC provider that wants to target manufacturing plants, you must know how energy systems work within the facility. Since manufacturing plants operate with many high-energy applications, they must be approached differently from a standard office building.
To present your company as a thought leader in the industry, it’s also essential that you and your sales team understand the industry’s key decision-makers and how your product aligns with their wants, needs, and goals. By understanding who the KDMs are, you have the opportunity to pitch the best products and services to the right person. In addition, knowing how your product or service aligns with their needs enables you to present a more value- and intent-based pitch that guides them toward the end of the sales cycle.
Social media is a great platform to boost brand awareness and engage with potential and ongoing customers. Today, more than 91% of B2B buyers are active on social media, making it a great medium to post thought leadership content, guide users to your website, and respond to any questions, comments, or concerns that your target audience may have.
Before you start building your social media presence, it’s essential that you only use social media platforms that make the most sense for your business and target market. For example, LinkedIn is the ideal platform for B2B businesses to engage with prospects because it’s a network-focused social media platform. Therefore, connecting and messaging B2B buyers on LinkedIn is more organic than sending them a message through Facebook Messenger.
With B2B selling, relevance is everything. If your sales team doesn’t pitch products or services that prospects said they’re interested in, you’re more than likely going to lose a potential buyer.
By pitching and distributing relevant information, your sales reps show prospects that they’re actively listening to their wants, needs, and concerns. Before you make a warm call or send an email, make sure that you’re prepared to give the prospect content that’s valuable to them and their business.
Email and social media are also great distribution channels because you can provide prospects with content that’s relevant to their needs. Through email and social media, you can send them marketing collateral or direct them to your website to help guide them through the sales funnel.
Marketing collateral—also known as sales enablement materials—is a significant component of any lead generation strategy. Using engaging marketing collateral in the prospecting stage gives your sales and marketing team the opportunity to catch the creative eye of potential customers.
Here are some of the best types of sales enablement materials for the prospecting (or the awareness) stage of the buyer’s journey:
- Brochures: Present a visual overview of your company and the products or services you offer
- Sell sheets: Expand on complex products, services, or concepts
- Social media graphics: Catch a prospect’s attention on social media
- Landing pages: Conduct pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns online
- Guides: Go into detail about in-depth industry products, services, or concepts
- E-books: Collections of similar guides that cover broader concepts and are much lengthier than a single guide
Without routinely following up and nurturing relationships with prospects, you risk an unsustainable sales pipeline. If every sales rep threw a prospect out of the sales pipeline when they said they’re not interested, there wouldn’t be any more prospects in the funnel.
When a prospect meets all of your company’s lead qualifications but says they aren’t interested in making moves at this time, respect their boundaries, don’t call them for a few months, and enter them into a lead nurturing email campaign. Lead nurturing email campaigns create top-of-mind awareness of your company. If something goes wrong with the prospect’s current B2B solution, your company will be the first one that comes to mind. This allows them to take their time to focus on day-to-day operations and follow up when timing makes the most sense for them.
So, how do you know which prospecting tools are best for your outbound sales program? While there are an unlimited number of prospecting databases to choose from, here are some of the most efficient B2B prospecting tools on the market:
ZoomInfo is a database engineered to help companies find profitable growth opportunities. This program allows sales and marketing professionals to identify, connect, and engage with qualified prospects to build a sustainable sales pipeline, set appointments, and close business deals.
With ZoomInfo, your sales and marketing teams have a 360-degree overview of potential customers. From this platform, you can find:
- Job titles
- Email addresses
- Office phone numbers
- Direct phone lines
- Company size
- Company codes
D&B Hoovers provides sales and marketing teams with a deep dive into company profiles. This platform contains over 170 million business records to help your business identify prospects and generate predictable growth opportunities. D&B Hoovers takes sales prospecting to the next level because it minimizes the amount of time it takes for SDRs to research a prospect, giving them more time to pitch and set sales appointments.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a social selling solution that allows Professional subscription members to:
- Send 20 InMail messages a month
- Save 1,500 leads
- Customize prospecting lists
- Receive lead and account alerts
LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a key prospecting tool that helps sales teams discover high-quality leads and build relationships with them over time.
Strategic prospecting isn’t easy—that’s why it’s crucial to make a game plan for how you’re going to prospect new clients, determine what best practices you’re going to follow, and choose which prospecting tools you’re going to use to find new potential clients.
At Abstrakt Marketing Group, our outbound sales team members are experts at everything you need to run a successful prospecting strategy. Many B2B companies turn to us when they need an extra hand finding leads, nurturing relationships, and setting high-quality sales appointments.
When you’re ready to take your sales and prospecting strategy to the next level, contact the sales reps at Abstrakt Marketing Group to schedule a free demonstration of our services!