While moving through the sales cycle, sales prospecting comes as its first step and is considered as an essential part.
From the famous quote “Sales prospecting is where the salesperson makes their money.”, you can easily understand how essential it is for any salesperson to learn the best sales prospecting techniques.
Every salesperson knows the importance of sales prospecting, but many lack some of the essential skills to succeed. Around 40% of the sales professionals say prospecting is the most challenging part of a sales process followed by closure and conversions.
In this guide, we will be explaining all the tips, techniques, and procedures of how to prospect for sales. This guide will help you gain the most productive skills and make smooth transitions is the sales pipeline.
What is sales prospecting?
Sales prospecting is the technique of initiating a business relationship with a potential client (prospect). The purpose of sales prospecting is to move the prospect into the sales funnel and eventually generate revenue for the company by selling the product or service.
Prospecting in sales is the process of identifying new prospects with proper research, starting a conversation with them, and solving their problems by providing valuable solutions.
Sales prospecting is not a process of sales outreach that is done with a tailor-made contact list from yellow pages or any other contact sources. It strictly follows the methodology of prospect research followed by a sales outreach according to the research’s result.
Sales Prospecting is done in a detailed step by step method to get better results. Now we will be sharing the complete methodology of a successful sales prospecting technique.
Detailed guide on sales prospecting process
The sales prospecting process starts with building the ideal customer profile and ends with building a relationship with the prospect. This process goes through 8 vital steps as described below.
1. Ideal lead prospecting
The process of prospecting starts with proper research about your ideal prospects. While you are ready to sell your product, you must know which segment of buyers is ideal for your product and services.
Proper prospect research will help you identify the potential prospects from your group of leads. These resources can be gained by doing market research of your product, gathering your competitor’s ICP (ideal customer profile) records, and checking other resources like survey studies or case studies.
These studies will help you in extracting your prospects from a bunch of leads and help you in focussing further.
2. Prioritizing your prospects
Everyone in your prospect list is not going to be your customer. There are various factors associated with your prospects of becoming your customers. Those are the prospect’s needs at a particular time, purchase ability and their own buying persona.
In this scenario, if you focus on every prospect, you will lose a lot of time and effort.
Prioritizing your prospects solves this issue. You can get a behavioral analysis of your existing customers and build an ideal customer profile for your product. In this way, you can differentiate between effective and ineffective prospects.
3. Finding the right decision maker
There is a myth, one who needs a product, buys the product.
Well, this is not always right, the user might be different from the buyer. You need to find the decision-maker who is going to make the buying decision.
For better understanding, baby food is consumed by a baby, but the decision-maker is not the baby, but their parents. Similarly, a software product might be useful for a particular department, but the right decision-maker could be different.
If you can get in touch with the right decision-maker among your prospects, your sales prospecting process moves one step ahead towards building a healthy relationship.
4. Executing sales outreach
After finding the right decision-maker, it is time to make your first pitch. You can do it by a cold call, a cold email, or social media approach whichever is best applicable for you.
Make your first sales approach solution-driven which can hit the pain point of your prospects. It should not be a salesy pitch to sell your product at the first attempt, rather it should be an interactive session for building relationships.
5. Following-up with prospects
According to a recent report, 46% of leads require 3-5 touchpoints before getting qualified as a prospect. You need to follow-up with your prospects multiple times until you get a response.
Follow-up should not be restricted only to remind them about the previous pitch. It should also contain some additional data, research findings or solutions which will be beneficial to the prospect.
On doing this, the prospect can gain trust in you and respond back.
6. Converting prospects to opportunities
When you start getting responses from your prospects, it symbolizes that your prospects have started trusting you and can share their problems with you. It’s the time of nurturing and making the prospect believe in you and your product.
Engage your prospect continuously by helping him in providing the best solution you have. In software companies, the sales professionals provide their prospects with free trials and likewise, FMCG companies distribute samples to their prospects.
7. Scheduling a meeting
Scheduling a meeting or a sales call is considered an important touchpoint of any sales prospecting process. At this point, the prospect is satisfied enough with the solution and has made a plan to take a step forward.
Before making the sales call, prepare a list of all the topics you are going to cover, and also get ready for the pricing discussion.
The meeting should be brief and directly approaching the prospect’s problem. The salesperson should not describe the features, instead explain how the features will be beneficial for the prospect.
Lastly, the meeting should be an interactive session, and the sales professional should not waste much time in unnecessary discussions. The salesperson should also ask for a tentative date of purchase from the prospect.
8. Tracking the results and improvements
There is nothing known as a perfect method. Everything changes with time, and you need to change accordingly to stay updated according to the business standards and get better results. It is suggested to keep track of all your activities and analyze its performance. You can review your email templates, cold call scripts, sales collateral, and other essential activities if they are facing any bottlenecks.
You can also use more than one method simultaneously to conduct an A/B testing for better analysis.
These analyses are a part of a continuous process and should be done to reduce your sales cycle.
Starting a good sales prospecting method in your organization is very essential for reducing your sales cycle. Still, it’s equally important to follow the best practices to stay away from common mistakes and get your prospecting done without getting choked in the sales cycle.
Now let’s check some of the best practices and sales prospecting tips that will be helpful in scaling up your sales process.
Sales Prospecting Best Practices
1. Create an ideal prospect profile
You are always ready to sell your products to anyone who wishes to buy it, but everyone is not your ideal prospect. Also, you need to check which category of prospects can be your customers.
You can find your ideal customers by doing research on your current customer base and check who is most compatible with your product. Your product might be having many use cases, but your ideal prospects will be only some of them.
Creating an ideal prospect profile helps you make your prospect list small and healthy. Ultimately it helps you by:
- Improving the conversion rate
- Increasing the sales speed
- Decreasing the sales funnel leakage
The bigger your market, the greater the likelihood you’re wasting your time with undesirable prospects.Ryan Silverstein (entrepreneur.com)
2. Maintain a clear prospect database
Sorting and Filtering always keep your work and neat and easy to understand. While maintaining your prospect database, you should always sort them in categories suitable for you.
We have seen our users, sorting their prospect files according to the organization category (large-scaled, medium-scaled, small-scaled) or according to their use cases (marketing firm, financial firm, etc.). These sorting techniques have helped them in gaining huge success by using their time effectively and approaching their right prospect in the right way.
3. Make your emails personalized
Personalization is one of the key features that will help you grab success when you are doing a proper prospecting. While you complete research on any lead and convert them into a prospect, you already know many things about your prospect.
So adding some of the research and details about the prospect in your emails can increase your ROI by 59%.
Personalizing each and every email is also difficult. To solve this problem, you can use a sales engagement tool like SalesHandy to schedule all your prospecting emails with personalization automatically.
4. Provide sufficient content in follow-ups
Every sale requires follow-ups for getting your prospects towards the bottom of the funnel. It might be a follow-up on a call, email or any other medium. The most important factor to be focused on, while doing a follow-up is to provide benefits to your prospect and make the relationship stronger.
You can guide your prospect with some solution over a call or help them in scheduling a meeting with the experts. Apparently, you can also share some good research, case studies, or articles that will help your prospect in getting his problem solved.
This will create a strong bonding between you and your prospect, which will help close the deals easily. According to Marketingdonut research, 80% of sales require 5 follow-ups, but 44% give up after the first follow up itself. Having said that, never restrict yourself from providing valuable solutions to your prospects.
5. Make a habit of prospecting continuously
Sales Professionals usually stay busy with nurturing and closing the deals continuously. In this busy schedule, they usually forget to prospect new leads and keep the pipeline full. In the future, there will be no new leads in the pipeline, which will pause the company’s revenue for some duration.
The sales professionals must give equal importance to prospecting new leads and do it regularly. They must understand prospecting is as essential as nurturing or closure.
When you start making a habit of prospecting on a regular basis, you can make your regular work optimized and keep your funnel lubricated.
6. Focus on Quality over Quantity
The ultimate goal of your sales prospecting, nurturing and other processes of the sales cycle is to generate revenue. For overall great results on a continuous basis, the sales professionals should focus on getting ideal prospects rather than anyone who might drop back after some time.
Quality prospects are assets for the company as they trust the product and stay with the company in the long run. Similarly, when you focus on getting more users aggressively without checking if they are the right prospect, you might end up with more drop rates in the future.
7. Don’t sell, build relationships
The keynote for every sales professional is to build relationships with their prospects. Sales Professionals are usually the key point of contact for any prospect towards the company, whenever they require any solution.
According to a research report by SalesForce, 51% of the sales leaders are focussing on building client relationships. This helps them in maintaining long-standing customers and an increase in retention rate.
When you build a good relationship with your prospect, you become the personal counselor for your prospect. They can ask you to solve their issues or ask for some suggestions.
If you don’t have a good relationship with your prospect, then he might search for solutions somewhere else and any of your competitors might grab the opportunity.
8. Maintain time gap between the engagement phases
While you initiate an engagement with your prospect, you need to provide some time duration before scheduling the next engagement or follow-up. This time duration is usually maintained, assuming your prospect might be having a tight schedule or he needs some time to do research regarding your product.
If you are continuously sending emails, making calls without providing any time to your prospect, It to lead to discouraging further conversation. Eventually, you can’t convert the prospects into opportunities in any manner.
One of the best methods of maintaining a time frame is as followed:
- Day 1: Primary outreach
- Day 3: First follow-up
- Day 7: Second follow-up
- Day 15: Third follow-up
- Day 30: Fourth follow-up
- Day 60: Fifth follow-up
(Again it should be followed-up in every quarter)
While scheduling your follow-up emails after a particular time gap, you should also think about which day of the week provides you with better results. According to a study by Campaign Monitor, Tuesdays and Thursdays have proven to have better email open rates.
9. Use technology over manual work
Once Theophrastus said, “Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.” It is very important to spend your time on valuable resources that can provide benefits to you.
Some of the sales prospecting tasks like lead finding, outreaching and nurturing activities take a lot of time which can be easily done by using a tool. Along with that, using a tool can help you by provisioning multiple benefits like:
- Not missing out any of the leads in the pipeline
- The tool will remind the sales representative to make follow-ups at the right time
- Analyzing your sales engagement performance
- Managing huge amounts of data in a centralized platform and sharing with your team members
- Track and fix the leakage in the pipeline
With the technological advancements in sales software tools, sales processes can be easily automated, and tasks could be managed easily. This simplifies the daily routine of sales professionals and allows them to focus more on valuable tasks.
10. Always ask for referrals
According to a study by marcwayshak.com, about 47% of top performers ask for referrals consistently vs. 26% of the non performers. While people refer your brand to their friends, relatives or colleagues, it becomes a trustworthy brand for the new prospect and the sales cycle decreases rapidly.
It is very essential for any company to satisfy their customer and ask them to refer to their connections for mutual benefits.
Further let the check various sales prospecting techniques to know which method is best suitable for you.
Sales prospecting techniques
There are two widely used sales prospecting techniques practiced everywhere: inbound and outbound prospecting. In this section, we will check different inbound and outbound prospecting tactics and how to use them effectively.
1. Inbound prospecting techniques
In inbound sales prospecting method, the marketers build strategies to reach their target audience through different mediums. These strategies usually combine solution landing pages, articles, case studies or other useful resources that a potential buyer usually search for.
When a potential buyer searches for the solution, he shares his contact details with the company and expects an initial engagement from you. These are easier to close as they are already in the prospect phase.
Usually, there are 4 types of inbound prospecting techniques that provide you with high-quality prospects.
1.1. Website landing pages
The Internet has been a primary source of solution for most business professionals. Only 29% of people want to talk to a salesperson to learn more about a product, while 62% consult a search engine.
Various search engines show multiple results and make the user land on the solution page of various websites. Those pages are known as website landing pages.
When the website landing pages are well optimized, the user can visit the page, get the solution and won’t even mind sharing his contact details over there. This is one of the best ways of email list building and lead prospecting.
1.2. Content marketing
Content Marketing is another method of solution-driven approach. Many organizations write long-form or short articles regarding a particular solution. Organizations also create comprehensive guides (like this one) for helping their readers with the detailed solution of their queries.
These techniques also help the sales professionals to get leads from the pages.
According to a report by Demandmetric, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and helps in generating 3x more leads. Various firms widely use this technique for getting organic leads and improving brand value.
Content marketing also covers the traffic and conversion part which makes sure the sales professionals get ample amounts of leads from the content platform.
1.3. Social media prospecting
Social presence has been an essential part of business for managing multiple tasks like product promotions, job opportunities and building a brand value. All these tasks are accomplished through social media.
Social media has been the best way to reach multiple people globally and showcase your solution to a huge audience. Focus to create powerful connections and provide useful content to your followers.
These connections will help you in sharing and promoting your product. They will also help you in creating social engagement which will ultimately increase your brand authority.
2. Outbound prospecting techniques
Outbound sales prospecting method is the process where the sales representatives follow detailed research for building an ideal customer profile, reach them through various sources and nurture them.
The outbound approach is different from inbound prospecting as in this case the sales professionals have to reach out to their prospects and start building a relationship.
Here are the most effective outbound prospecting techniques
2.1. Cold emails
A cold email is an initial email that is sent to a receiver in order to gain a benefit in terms of favor, sales, opportunity or any other dual-sided gain. Sales professionals use this method to reach their prospects after doing proper research. Cold email is also the first product pitch done by the salespeople.
Cold email is considered as one of the best ways for lead generation and prospecting purposes. They just need to build an email list, use an email automation tool like SalesHandy to draft the emails and schedule it. These tools also have an inbuilt feature of mail merge personalization which helps them in getting more productive with their cold emails.
2.2. Cold calls
Cold call is an unsolicited call to any lead with some basic research and pitching them about the product. These methods are solely conducted by sales professionals.
If the prospect has an interest in your product, he will continue the conversation to know more about the product.
This method is followed by various follow-ups which ends with closure.
Cold calls should be performed after doing an initial research about the prospect and it’s even better if followed after a cold email. The best way to do a cold call is always followed by a cold email.
2.3. Social outreach
Sales professionals also tend to reach out for prospecting through various social media platforms like twitter, linkedin and Facebook. Social media is even more than just creating connections and making friends. You can also use it to find behavioural analysis, pitch your solution directly and invite them to a call.
Most importantly emails are used as the most important way for connecting with their prospects. Now we will share some email templates which can be used directly for getting best results.
Best sales prospecting email templates
Sample 1: Creating an engagement from your prospect’s content
If you have subscribed to your prospects newsletters, content or any other resources, you can find some interesting pointers to start an engagement. In the sample below, its sender is reaching out to the prospect with a solution of promoting his articles.
Subject [First Name], Let's share your article together Body Hi [First Name], I got an opportunity to read your article on [Article Name]. It was a great piece of [Article key features]. As a digital marketing professional, I understand how important it is for you to have a robust solution to reach out to the maximum audience and spread awareness. How are you currently managing to reach out to your target audience? [Your Product] is one of the leading tools in the [Product USP]. We have a team of outreach experts that help fast-growing teams from companies like [Your Client 1], [Your Client 2], and others get the best results. I would love to connect with you to help you outreach more effectively in the next quarter. Please feel free to book my calendar<calendar link> as per your schedule. Looking forward to working with you. Regards,
Sample 2: Providing helpful tips to your prospect.
Everyone loves to know more hacks and tips to grow their business. Once you catch the pain point of your prospect and curate some of its solution, you can start the game.
Send an email with some quick solutions and tips. This will have a higher chance of building a great relationship.
The below template provides some growth tips to the prospect along with a call to action to start engagement.
Subject [X] Growth Hacks for [Recipient’s Product] Body Hi [First Name], I am [Your First Name] and I work for [Company Name]. We work with various multinational companies like [Recipient’s Competitors]. As [Recipient’s Company Name] is also a similar type of organization, you might be facing issues with [Recipient’s problems]. We continuously evaluate various key strategies with different companies and help them in providing the best results. I am listing some of the key growth hacks which companies like [Recipient’s Competitor Name] have adopted to get surefire success. Growth Hack #1: Growth Hack #2: Growth Hack #3: I would love to help you out with any queries related to [Recipient’s problems]. Feel free to book my calendar for a short 30 minutes discussion. Best Wishes,
Sample 3: Take help from a mutual connection
Mutual connections and referrals have always proven to provide better results than a normal prospecting email. If you come to know about your prospect’s issue from any reference, don’t hesitate to use his name in your emails. This will give you better results.
Subject [Mutual connection] recommended me to get in touch with you Body Heya [First Name], I am [Your First Name] and I work as a [Your designation] in [Company Name]. I am connected with [Mutual Connection] for a long time and doing a great business together. In our last meeting about [Recipients point of interest], Mr. [Mutual Connection] asked me if I could help you out with [Recipient’s problem]. We at [Company Name], have helped many organizations like yours in getting the [Recipient’s problem] problem solved. Are you available for a 10-minute call at [time and date] where we can discuss more about [Recipient’s problem]. Waiting for your reply Cheers,
Sample 4: Check some similarities between you and your prospect
People love to interact with other people with the same taste and choice. This also helps in doing good sales. If you have something in common with your prospect and you feel that can be a great way to start a conversation, you should move on it.
The below example describes how to start a conversation with someone sharing a same social group.
Subject Line:We both are members of [Social group]. Can we connect? Body Hi [First Name], I just read your post on [Post topic] in the Facebook Group [Group Name]. We both are members of the same group for a long time and I usually follow your posts about [Post Type]. In your last post on [date], you described your requirements of [Product Name]. It is a very essential requirement for [Product USP]. We also have a similar product [Product name], with more features like [features and benefits]. We are also quite cost effective and have a huge customer base including [Top client’s names]. How would it be if we get into a quick call? You can book my calendar<calendar link> according to your desired time. I can help you with a detailed explanation and can also arrange a live demonstration of our product. Regards,
We hope these templates would have helped you in making your prospecting easier. If you wish to check more email templates for your prospecting need, check here —10 Sales Prospecting Email Templates to Win More Leads
Further, to make your work easier, there are various automation tools available across the internet which helps you in getting better results. Below we are listing some of the best tools which can skyrocket your sales prospecting.
The best sales prospecting tools
Using these tools can help you automate all your tedious tasks. This will help you focus on critical tasks that require your attention and help you generate more revenue.
SalesHandy is an efficient sales engagement tool that can help you automate all your prospecting emails in just a few clicks.
Various sales professionals use SalesHandy for scheduling all their cold email campaigns with personalization, automating follow-up stages, and evaluating the campaign performance.
The key features of SalesHandy are:
1. Schedule personalized email campaigns: With SalesHandy you can schedule your cold email campaigns up to 5000 recipients in a day. You can also add mail merge tags to personalize each email for better email productivity. Along with all the basic email campaigning features, it provides email deliverability tips, email unsubscribe links, and a human-like email sending feature which is very essential for sales professionals.
2. Automate follow-up stages: Cold email campaigns are incomplete without follow-up stages. You can add up to 9 follow-up stages with different automation conditions in SalesHandy. You can choose the automation conditions between “Not Opened”, “Not Replied” and “Been Sent”.
With SalesHandy’s auto follow-up feature you can schedule your follow-up messages according to your suitable date and time.
3. Advanced campaign analytics: Sales Professionals need to evaluate their email campaigns to improve it on a regular basis. SalesHandy provides a detailed analysis of each campaign report. The analytics report is also available for individual stages of campaign better email productivity. You can also download the email campaign report and share it with your team.
4. Template management: Sales Professionals use a variety of sales email templates on a daily basis. SalesHandy has a handy template management system where the sales team can store the email templates, use it directly with shortcuts, and share it among your team members. You can also check the performance of each email template and improve it accordingly.
Check out the complete list of top sales prospecting tools for your business.
LinkedIn has proven itself to be one of the best platforms for dedicated prospect research and social outreach. With over a database of 30 million companies and its employees, LinkedIn has helped the sales professionals in finding the right prospect and the decision makers in any industry.
In the premium feature, LinkedIn provides a sales navigator functionality which helps the sales professionals in setting up powerful search capabilities, extended network search and LinkedIn outreach. You can also get the analytics of your prospecting to improve your results.
Clearbit is one of the best b2b prospecting tools which can be easily integrated with Gmail. The user interface of clearbit is so simple, just type down the company’s name and you will get the contact list of almost every member.
Clearbit is widely used by sales professionals for finding email addresses for cold emails and getting in touch with the right decision maker of the company. It has many major integrations with Salesforce, Marketo, Slack, etc.
VanillaSoft is another sales engagement solution that allows you to make a complete outbound sales engagement at one place. This tool is power packed with leads and sales tracking, emailing, cold calling, appointment schedulers and many more.
VanillaSoft comes with various add-on features like auto dialler, call recording, VoIP and Smart Caller id which makes the tool an efficient cold calling software.
Aircall is another great cold calling software dedicated for the sales team. It has a powerful dialer, CRM and Helpdesk integration, call recording and skill based routing features which makes the product stand differently. Along with these features, Aircall also has a call whispering feature where the teammates can discuss the problem secretly during an active call.
Aircall is well known for its cold call productivity feature where you can automate your call logs without any manual data entry. Advanced call analytics is another top feature which makes it a great b2b prospecting tool.
The key secret of prospecting is to find the right prospect, get in touch with him at the right time and pitch the right product. Although the process of prospecting in sales is a bit difficult and tedious, using a good tool and an excellent strategy can make the job easier.
Further, sales prospecting should always be a continuous process and the salesperson should keep in mind to keep the pipeline full. You should also experiment on various strategies and evaluate the results.