We’ve got a new year ahead of us, so what better time to explore new sales prospecting techniques to add to your or your sales reps’ repertoire?
In this article, we’ll take a close look at sales prospecting, what it involves, and the most effective techniques that you can use to stay ahead of the competition.
What Is Sales Prospecting?
Finding new prospects is one of the biggest pain points that sales reps all over the world have. What is it exactly and why is it so important?
In a general sense, sales prospecting is the process of finding and contacting potential customers in an effort to generate new business.
It’s at the very beginning of the sales journey, where viable leads are first created and the basis for other steps is laid.
The ultimate goal of sales prospecting is to develop a large pool of candidates who match your ideal customer profile, are likely to buy from your business and initiate the interactions responsible for moving them further into the funnel.
Prospecting is an essential practice for any business looking to grow and scale. It is the foundation for any sales process and an important part of building customer relationships by sales professionals.
What are Sales Prospecting Techniques?
Now that we’re clear on what sales prospecting is, let’s dive a little bit deeper into how it’s done.
While it involves the same goal – finding and contacting potential buyers – the process of sales prospecting itself can take many different forms.
It may include activities such as:
- Researching prospects online and offline
- Identifying the best leads for your business
- Generating leads through your website
- Networking and attending events
- Cold calling potential customers
- Sending emails to a targeted list of prospects
From cold-calling to networking, there are a variety of tools and techniques used in sales prospecting.
Some businesses choose to employ a single approach, while others use a combination of multiple tactics to improve their prospecting efforts.
The most effective sales prospecting techniques account for a company’s individual strengths, tools, and circumstances.
Are Sales Prospecting Methods the Same Thing as Sales Prospecting Techniques?
If you’ve been browsing the internet long enough, the chances are that you’ve come across both the terms ‘sales prospecting techniques’ and ‘sales prospecting methods’.
Before going any further, let us simplify things for you by saying that these two phrases refer to the same thing.
The words ‘techniques’ and ‘methods’ are often used interchangeably by salespeople to describe the strategies they employ to find and contact potential customers.
What’s the Difference Between a Lead and Sales Prospect?
You may also be wondering – what’s the difference between a sales prospect and sales lead?
Unlike the relationship between ‘methods’ and ‘techniques’, sales prospects and leads are two entirely different things.
Leads come into the picture first via channels like web forms, networking events, etc. They are potential customers with an inclination towards a brand – however, they have not yet undergone lead qualification to become sales prospects.
Sales prospects, on the other hand, are leads that have been evaluated and qualified to determine their likelihood of becoming a customer (he or she is your ideal customer).
To qualify a lead, salespeople generally review information such as the person’s job title and role within their company, their buying history with similar products or services, and their current needs and interests.
Once qualified, they become sales prospects and can then be nurtured through the sales process until they make a purchase.
The Top 17 Sales Prospecting Techniques to Use
It’s important to understand the different prospecting techniques for sales out there and know how to apply them effectively in order to scale the sales pipeline.
If you’re wondering how to tackle prospecting in 2023, below we share some of the top prospecting methods and sales tips to consider using this year and why they can be beneficial for your business:
1. Creating In-Depth Personas and Profiles
Successful sales prospecting, or any successful sales endeavor for that matter, requires an idea of who your ideal customer is.
You could treat every lead that comes into your pool the same, but that would amount to a lot of wasted time and effort.
Some people are simply better suited to buy certain products and services, and it’s important to identify them in the early stages of your outreach process.
Creating ideal customer profiles can help you be more efficient in reaching out to qualified leads and increase your chances of closing deals.
The process can be undertaken in a number of ways, but always involves researching the demographic, psychographic, and behavioral characteristics of your target audience.
2. Doing the Research
Beyond simply knowing the persona you’re looking to interact with, effective sales prospecting depends on whether you also take the time to get an in-depth understanding of the people you prospect.
Sure, they may be the key decision makers in 1-10 companies in the finance industry. But what were their recent shares or blog posts? Have they taken part in an industry event in recent months? What are their customers? Have they interacted with companies like yours in the past?
While not directly covered by a persona, these extra pieces of information can be invaluable to have when it comes to effectively connecting with prospects. In today’s day and age, everyone has gone numb to the same old spiel and personalization is key.
By taking the time to identify key points of interest and relevance for leads, you can ensure that your pitch stands out among the rest.
3. Leveraging the Power of Social Media
Going forward, social media will play a pivotal role in the sales prospecting process.
Social media has evolved from being a place to check in on old friends and post pictures – it’s now one of the best sales prospecting methods available.
Social media provides unprecedented access to leads, allowing you to quickly and easily connect with them in an engaging and personal way.
Sending a direct message or tagging someone in an industry-related post can be enough to start the conversation and make an impression.
Additionally, using social media to research prospects can often give you a better understanding of who they are and what their interests are.
4. Focusing On Warm Calls
Warm calls refer to calls made to leads that have been previously identified and approached in some way.
For instance, these may be people who have visited your website, signed up for a newsletter, or connected with you over social media.
Rather than blindly calling random leads, warm calls have a much higher chance of success as the prospect is already familiar with your company and what it has to offer.
Instead of introducing your business, during such phone calls you can jump right into discussing its features and benefits, as well as how they can be used to meet the prospect’s needs.
5. Keeping Cold Calls In the Picture
While this may seem a little contradictory, it’s also worth noting the importance of cold calling and why it shouldn’t be neglected altogether.
A cold call can be a great way to expand your reach and increase the amount of leads in your pool.
Sure, it will take more time for cold leads to warm up and become customers, but it’s still an important part of any sales strategy.
By solely focusing on warm phone calls as a means to generate prospects this year, you’ll likely work through a limited pool of resources quickly and without the necessary diversity to generate long-term success.
This is why you should add a cold call to your next sales to-do list!
6. Sending Engaging and Personalized Emails
Email has evolved a lot since the nineties, and despite its competition from newer means of connecting, remains a great place to prospect leads.
Today’s platforms are incredibly sophisticated, allowing sales and marketing teams to send highly personalized messages with ease.
In a sales world where the value of one-to-one connection is more important than ever, individualized email is an essential tool for effectively engaging prospects online.
Through the use of dynamic content and automated prospecting tools, businesses can quickly send out hundreds of customized emails in a matter of minutes.
7. Reevaluating Tone
By now, most people are familiar with – and tired of – the conventional sales pitch.
They’ve been on the ride a thousand times before and can identify one from a mile away. In many cases, sales-y pitches today have become counterproductive to their original goal, effectively disengaging prospects from what you have to say from the get-go.
As we head into the new year, businesses have an opportunity to adapt and reevaluate the tone of their pitch.
Embracing a more conversational and humanized approach can help you connect with leads on a much deeper level and break through any pre-existing sales fatigue.
8. Attending In-Person Opportunities
While the value of digital tools is a focus for sales prospecting methods, real-world strategies have the potential to generate just as much success.
This is especially true considering the multi-year storm of COVID-19 restrictions that we’ve *hopefully* just concluded.
People are tired of being indoors and restricted to online-only ways of connecting. They want in-person interaction and face-to-face conversations, which is why attending real-world events and conferences are more important than ever.
9. Targeting Prospects via LinkedIn
The next prospecting technique addresses the topic of social selling.
After all, the world of B2B social networking has certainly changed over the past few years, and LinkedIn remains one of the most valuable platforms for sales prospecting.
Why is LinkedIn a great place for social selling? The platform enables you to connect with leads and build strong relationships with prospects who you may not have been able to reach otherwise.
You can use LinkedIn to find prospects that match your criteria, as well as create targeted campaigns with specialized messaging and content.
You can also use the platform to build relationships with industry professionals and stay up-to-date on the latest trends in your field.
10. Using a Multi-Channel Approach
As mentioned in the opening, businesses can choose to take a single or multifaceted approach to the way they handle prospecting. It’s up to them.
But as we head into the new year, the consensus among industry professionals is that taking a multi-channel approach is the way to go.
Multi-channel prospecting allows teams to experiment, see what works, and create a targeted strategy that fits their business.
It also allows them to cover more ground in less time – something that every sales team can appreciate.
11. Making Use of Data
With the high availability and use of digital sales prospecting tools comes an opportunity to understand the process better than ever before.
Today’s outbound sales platforms allow businesses to track and monitor the performance of their campaigns in near real-time, making it easier to identify trends and determine which strategies are most effective.
Knowing what works and what doesn’t is key to success when it comes to sales prospecting methods. This is why businesses and sales teams in particular should make use of all the data they have at their disposal this year.
It can make the difference between valuable and wasted spend, and ultimately lead to improved ROI.
12. Asking for Referrals
Effective sales prospecting can be also achieved with referrals. By leveraging the networks of your existing customers, referrals provide a gateway to untapped prospecting opportunities.
However, it’s not enough to solely rely on referrals; you must actively cultivate strong relationships with your customers and proactively ask for referrals when the timing is appropriate. This personalized approach not only strengthens your bond with existing customers but also opens doors to potential new leads within their networks.
You can also use referral campaigns as a way to incentivize customers for recommending your product or services.
A well-crafted referral program can help you motivate your sales reps and boost sales, reach more prospects to turn into new leads, and gain valuable feedback from those who are already using your product.
13. Seeking Partnerships for Co-selling
Co-selling is a great way to leverage the power of partnerships and build relationships with prospects.
Partnering with another business in your industry can help you access their customers, as well as open up new possibilities for your own customer base.
Getting started with co-selling can be tricky, but it’s likely to pay off in the long run.
It’s important to do your research and ensure that the partner you’re working with is a good fit for your business.
They should not only be a good fit in terms of product or services, but also have an audience that is likely to benefit from your offerings.
It’s usually best to start with smaller partnerships and work towards bigger ones as you get more comfortable with the process.
Taking the time to form strong relationships with potential partners can help you create a valuable partnership that will last for years to come.
14. Planning Discussions and Calls
Is your sales team still ad-libbing its prospecting calls?
If so, then this year should be the year you reconsider that style.
Uncoordinated interactions with leads are never a good thing – not only do they leave you looking unorganized and unprofessional, but they’re also an easy way to miss out on effectively engaging with potential customers.
Instead, consider planning out conversations and calls with leads in advance.
A well-thought-out strategy can make all the difference in how prospects view your business, and greatly improve your chances of success.
Of course, don’t read a script word-for-word. People recognize canned pitches when they see them, and usually aren’t interested in being sold to in such a robotic manner.
Use a script, but as a guideline to ensure that you cover all the points you need to make.
By doing so, you can improve your chances of success when e.g. making a cold call, and as a result, your prospecting activities will be more effective.
15. Offering Incentives
A large portion of sales in the business world aren’t derived from conscious need.
They’re evoked through engagement, enticement, and value-adds. Those can come in the form of free consultations, discounts, and unique offers.
Offering incentives to prospects is a great way to boost the chances of them purchasing your product or service.
It can also help to differentiate you from competitors and show prospects that you genuinely care about their experience.
And incentivizing prospects doesn’t have to cost a lot of, or any, money.
There are tons of things your business can offer prospects that don’t involve money, such as free consultations, exclusive access to content or services, and more.
16. Building Out a Process - And Repeating It
No matter how great your sales team is, they won’t be able to achieve success if they don’t have a process.
As things get all the more competitive, it will be essential to have a streamlined, repeatable framework for selling your product or service.
The process should be tailored to the particular needs of each customer and should take into account any feedback received from prospects.
It’s important to keep the process as simple and straightforward as possible, but be sure to include essential steps such as customer onboarding, product demonstrations, and identifying new opportunities for growth.
Finally, don’t forget to review the process regularly.
As customer needs change and technology advances, you may need to tweak or adjust the process periodically. Doing so will ensure that it remains effective and efficient.
17. Setting up the follow up process
Including a follow up process to nudge your prospects to reply to you is another one of the prospecting strategies that you should master this year.
Following up plays a pivotal role in maximizing your chances of success, complementing the effectiveness of your personalized email campaigns. Even the most carefully crafted initial email can get lost in the prospect’s inbox or simply slip their mind. This is why including a series of well-timed follow-ups in your outreach strategy is essential.
To start, a straightforward first follow-up email, such as a casual “Any thoughts?”, can serve as a good nudge for a response. As you progress with subsequent follow-ups, it is wise to diversify your messaging approach.
For example, you can showcase a new angle of your product or highlight another pain point that resonates with the prospect. Another effective approach is reminding recipients of your previous messages by acknowledging that your email might have gone unnoticed. You can also test teasing the prospect by providing a glimpse of how your solution can address their needs and delivering potential value, such as offering a free trial account.
Your final email in the series should serve as a respectful break-up message, allowing the recipient to choose between expressing interest or declining your offer, with the understanding that you will cease further correspondence accordingly on the recipient’s decision.
If you find yourself managing a high volume of cold emails, employing an outreach automation tool can be advantageous. Not only does it ensure the systematic delivery of follow-up emails to your prospects, but it also automatically halts the sequence upon receiving a response. Other areas your outbound sales can benefit from outbound sales automation include lead management and product demonstrations.
Wrapping Things Up
This year is sure to be an exciting time for prospecting techniques in sales, and it’s important for your business to stay ahead of the curve.
By taking advantage of some of the trends and effective sales prospecting methods outlined above, you can help ensure that your sales team is able to optimize their efforts and reach new heights in this upcoming year and all those that follow.