Prospecting 101: The 10 Best Strategies for Generating New Business for Sales Professionals

Prospecting is one of, if not the most crucial, stage of the sales process.

Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most difficult.

report from HubSpot showed 42% of sales representatives named prospecting as the most challenging part of the sales process.

But why is it so difficult?

Without a pipeline full of good-quality leads, no new deals are going to drop. That’s why it’s so crucial to understand that prospecting kick-starts the entire sale and determines, in many ways, whether or not the deal will go through.

It’s simple maths, the more prospects and leads you generate, the more chances you have to close a deal.

Salespeople have to embrace prospecting and generating leads.

The C-Word Vital to Prospecting:

Commitment.

Leads won’t just land in your lap; you’ve got to take action and stick with it.

Just like going to the gym once won’t give you’re your ideal body, prospecting once isn’t going to fill your sales pipeline.

You need to work at it every day consistently, put time aside every day in your calendar for lead generating, and it will pay dividends in weeks and months to come.

Research has recently demonstrated that almost 82% of top-performing salespeople spend four or more hours per day on sales-related activities.

Prospecting isn’t always the most engaging of activities, so booking time in will help to ensure you’re sticking to it on a regular basis.

The benefits of maintaining this discipline: a sales pipeline full of leads, higher conversion and win rates!

The 10 Ultimate Prospecting Tips:

Although one of the most time-consuming and challenging parts of the sales process, done correctly, prospecting can be an exciting activity that hones your sales skills and allows you to find the right clients that are the perfect fit for your company.

Create an ideal prospect persona.

Take some time to identify the profile of your ideal client.

Starting within your own database. Who are your most profitable clients? Who are your worst? Which are the least profitable? Create a profile around each of these criteria.

However, please don’t assume that they’re a good fit for you because they’re in your system. Ironically, studies have shown that potentially 50% of your prospects aren’t a good fit.

You also need to think in terms of solutions – what pain points do your ideal customers have, and how does your product or service solve them?

Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to use these profiles to find businesses well matched to your company’s services.

Get in front of your ideal prospects.

Start off by identifying where you ‘met’ your best customers. Was it through networking at an event? Was it a referral? This will help you to identify your most lucrative prospecting channels.

Another good place to start is identifying their digital presence: what social media channels or publications do they frequent?

For example, if you’re working in B2B sales, the likelihood is that your prospects are on LinkedIn. That means you need to have a strong presence there too. LinkedIn allows you to warm up your approach by connecting on the platform first and finding out a lot of information about them and their company.

All this information allows you to map out where you need to show up to meet your ideal clients.

Actively work the phones.

Never underestimate the power of a phone call! 82% of buyers accept meetings with salespeople that reach out to them, and 27% of salespeople say that making phone calls to new prospects is very or extremely effective.

You’ve got your cold lists, your warm lists, your hotlists.. take time each day to call these people and start or build on those relationships!

Another great tip is to have a list of open-ended questions relevant to each list.

Did you know? Asking between 11-14 questions during a lead call will translate into a 74% greater success rate? 

You don’t need to focus so heavily on your sales pitch, but encourage a dialogue where you can learn their pain-points, goals, and most importantly, where they are in their decision-making process. If you can maintain an engaging, client-centric conversation, your lead qualification becomes much easier.

What solution are they looking for? Do they have enough information from you? Is there anything you could send over to make their decision making easier?

Focus on these questions and not about ‘making a sale’, and you’ll be turning lukewarm contacts into hot leads in no time at all!

Personalise everything.

Email, when done correctly, is alive and kicking! In fact, 80% of buyers say they prefer to be contacted by salespeople via email.

Although there is one form of email that is well and truly dead – mass or bulk emails!

Personalised emails are now running the show, leaving their archaic predecessor in the dust.

Firstly, you need to make sure that your content is personalised to each of your prospect’s needs. Your job is to impress them with how much you know about their industry or company. Make sure your emails are specific and address the needs of your prospective client.

Second, in order for your leads to open and read your email, make sure that they look great on mobile devices too, as more than half of all emails are read on the go. Emails optimised for mobile generate around 15% higher clickthrough rates than those that are not optimised.

Lastly, for your emails to hit the mark, you need to know how to write well and what to say. To help you, we’ve put together this guide full of great messaging tips and tricks.

Ask for referrals.

If it seems simple, that’s because it is!

Nothing is a better advertisement for your company than a happy customer.

91% of B2B buyers are influenced by social proof when making their buying decisions, pair this with a referral-based closing ratio of 50-70%, and you’ve got a highly effective source of quality leads.

This is an entirely free opportunity you simply don’t want to miss out on – ask your existing clients for referrals!

The ideal time to do this is just after the deal has closed; the sales experience is still fresh in their mind. A massive 83% of clients would happily provide a referral if their experience with a company is positive.

With your existing clients, make sure you’re providing a top-quality service to them too! Invite them to events, send them relevant content your teams are creating or set up a check-in meeting to ensure they’re completely thrilled with the service you’re providing.

Keeping you at the top of your clients’ mind will ensure they know exactly who to recommend when asked!

Become a real know-it-all.

To keep those referrals heading your way, you need to become more than just a supplier or service provider. You need to be a trusted partner and provider of solutions.

This means being a champion of knowledge in:

Your target industries: Recent research showed 51% of top-performing salespeople are regarded as an ‘expert in their field’.

Your prospects: Everyone likes positive attention and feeling understood. That’s why you need to know not only about your prospects needs but also their achievements. By thoroughly researching your prospects, you can use that knowledge to reinforce your value proposition.

Your own product: 54% of prospects want to find out how a product or service works on the first call. With that in mind, you need to be ready to discuss your product or service’s functionality, answer implementation questions, and give examples that show the value of your services.

Build your socials.

LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are all channels that your prospects will use to find information when they are looking to buy. So if you’re not on there, someone else will be!

Some key social selling statistics (source):

  • 91% of B2B buyers are now active on social media
  • 84% of senior executives use social media to support purchasing decisions
  • Using social selling can increase deal sizes by 35%

The takeaway?

Social selling works!

Start small and create a profile on one of the social media channels where your prospects spend their time.

For B2B sales, LinkedIn can be particularly powerful. Investing time into your LinkedIn profile is so important as 82% of buyers look up companies on LinkedIn before replying to their outreach efforts.

Add value with content.

We know that content delivered to prospects at the right time in the right way helps to move prospects down the sales funnel quicker.

The best way to figure out what will work best and when you need to answer this question: What are you trying to achieve during this particular prospecting stage?

You want your prospective client to either pay attention and give you the opportunity for a meeting or move to the next stage at least.

This means that the content you send needs to address specific situations and pain points of your prospects.

Most companies’ content focuses solely on their own services, features or products – rather than focusing on their customers’ pain points!

69% of buyers want content relevant to their business area, and 89% favour content that ‘demonstrates ROI‘, so give your prospects what they want and provide solutions and insights with your content.

Demonstrate your skills through video.

People buy from people – So, show them the real you!

We’re not talking hyper-professional, corporate demos with model businesspeople shaking hands and unnatural smiles.

We’re talking about you, as an SDR, showing your face and offering information. Quote your numbers and give your best pitch. Everything you’re used to doing over the phone, just in a slightly different format.

All you need is your smartphone!

96% of buyers find videos helpful when making purchasing decisions, and prospects who view a product or service video are 85% more likely to buy.

Take full advantage of this trend – in your email marketing, your prospecting and your social selling.

Follow up, follow up, follow up!

It’s extremely rare for a sale to happen after the first contact. Moving a prospect through your sales funnel requires work. This means follow-up emails, calls, sharing content and more!

Following up is a reliable way to build relationships with your prospects and demonstrate your determination. Anything from an email thanking them for their time after a recent call, sending proposals and requested information on time – it all goes a long way in increasing your trustworthiness and your chances of making a sale.

Research has shown that if you haven’t had a response to an email within 24 hours, it’s essential that you follow up. That’s because you have a 21% chance of getting a reply to your second email if your first goes unanswered!

So that’s Prospecting 101!

Prospecting, lead generating, business development, whatever you call it, is essential to all businesses. It’s also hard work and requires a deep understanding and plenty of time and resources to get the results you want. But there is another way.

A partnership with Intelligent Talk.

We’re not your average appointment setters or telemarketers. We are business development consultants who are excellent at what we do and are unique in our approach.

What we do is bespoke to each client, supporting a multitude of sales channels dependant on requirement. We find you genuine opportunities with the right decision-makers currently looking and in the market for what you offer, and if they are not, we put them in your future pipeline.

At Intelligent Talk, we pride ourselves on helping our partners to thrive. Serving as an extension to internal sales teams or as a wholly outsourced division, we care just as much as you do. We are respectful, honest, collaborative and always have our client’s best interests at heart.

If you think a partnership like this could work for you, why not drop Darren or Emma a message? We’d love to hear from you!

Published: 22nd March 2021

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