February 2, 2024
Regardless of how skilled we are in selling, our other talents might not shine through if our prospecting efforts aren't up to par.
Prospecting is a mix of numbers and skills, sprinkled with a bit of art and luck. It's no surprise that 42% of salespeople agree that prospecting can be the most convoluted aspect of the sales journey. So much so that many salespeople admit defeat after four to six attempts to reach a prospect. When, in reality, it often takes about nine tries to truly connect with someone.
No amount of pep talk can erase the hesitation before dialing or hitting send. But there are a few steps you can take to improve your prospecting efforts, little by little. Here are a few I love using!
First, Choose Your Prospecting Strategy Wisely
Let's not pretend we can master every prospecting approach in the book. You might be great at closing deals online, but when it comes to selling to prospects face-to-face, your legs turn to jello.
It happens to the best of us.
Find that sweet spot where your strengths meet the outskirts of your comfort zone.
Ideally, you should carve out a chunk of time every day to work on your prospecting skills and expand your contact list by trying the following:
Referrals and Networking
Referral sales are like fuzzy socks from Walmart. They're inexpensive and warm.
The only problem with referrals is, you need to strike the right chord at the right time.
Say you've successfully closed a deal, and the atmosphere is positive – your client is pleased. So, a few days later you try asking for a referral. And you go...
"Got a quick question for you – are there others in your network who might benefit from what we offer? Maybe colleagues in your industry?"
"Hmm, no one comes to mind. Can I circle back to you?"
"Sure thing! Looking forward to hearing from you!"
And then...crickets. What went wrong?
You should aim for that referral immediately after closing the deal. You've already gotten a significant commitment – the "yes.”
Asking for a referral seems like a small (and achievable!) request in comparison.
Prospecting Through Digital and In-Person Events
When it comes to events, be they digital or in-person, your goal should be setting up a follow-up meeting with a prospect. If you're interested in someone you met at an event, it can be as easy as starting a conversation like this:
"You did mention you're in (industry)! You know, I actually work closely with (industry), and I've love to sit down and have a chat with you sometime. If you're free this week, let's grab lunch or a coffee."
If they say "yes,” awesome.
If they don't, don't be pushy. Invite them to connect on LinkedIn, so you can nurture that relationship. No matter if you're in the digital space or face-to-face, the key is to build relationships – but only with those who are qualified.
And interest is a qualification criterion.
"Mend your garden, and the butterflies will come." (Mario Quintana)
This quote captures the essence of using social media content as a prospecting tactic.
By consistently sharing valuable insights with your network, you can position your company as a thought leader in your industry. This is huge since 47% of respondents to a recent survey engage with 3 to 5 pieces of content before talking to a salesperson.
Take a moment to genuinely explore and understand your prospects' content, as well.
When you drop a comment, let your approach be real, connecting what you've gathered from their posts with unique industry insights.
Cold Calling or Emailing
Reaching out to people through cold calls can feel nerve-wracking, especially if you're more comfortable with face-to-face conversations. It's common to worry about sounding "fake" or getting rejected when using pre-written scripts.
To some salespeople, the best advice is the simplest: Just dial. Don't worry about how the call might go.
Assuming that you know your product, your prospects, and their most common objections, overthinking will only derail what could be a successful call. Once you reach that bridge, you’ll see farther.
As for the emails, here's the best advice I can give you: introduce yourself not as a company, but as a person. It's simple but effective. A pragmatic approach and a friendly tone can get you a win. Plus, consider proposing a call to discuss your strategies – and always include a signature at the end!
These methods also help you cast a wider net. Not everyone you want to reach is just around the corner, and cold outreach lets you connect with people no matter where they are.
Start with Qualified Prospects
"[In] lead generation, quality wins over quantity every time. Too many unqualified leads clog up the pipeline and waste sales resources. Those leads are fluff, not reliable, and can disappear in a nanosecond." (Abdel Camara)
Write that down.
Qualified leads are the ones who've already shown a real interest in what you're offering, and they're more likely to have both the budget and the say-so to close with you. When you focus on these leads, you're putting your time and resources where they'll likely pay off the most.
Breathe the Product You're Selling
By becoming an expert on your product, you'll be able to identify the right audiences and industries to target. Understand not only the strengths but also the weaknesses or drawbacks of your product. Be ready with responses to potential objections. Keep a handy cheat sheet if necessary.
Here's a golden tip: participate in as many product demos and interviews as possible. Pore over transcripts and recordings, and take detailed notes.
Perhaps most importantly, believe in the product you're selling. Your genuine belief in its value will naturally resonate with your customers.
Do Your Best to Reach Key Decision-Makers
Getting a decision-maker on a call is like pulling teeth. It adds an extra layer of trouble to the closing process because, essentially, it feels like the gatekeepers (like procurement managers or department heads) have to do some of the selling for you.
But don't overlook the gatekeepers either – they're the unsung heroes when the CEO is unreachable.
Take charge and directly inquire about the decision-making lineup. A simple, "Who else is involved in the decision-making process? Could you connect me with them?" is often all it takes.
When possible, understand the gatekeepers’ challenges, so you can explain how your product would indirectly help them, too.
Centralize Your Data
Three letters: CRM.
You'll need quality customer relationship management software if you want to do your job well.
Whether you're using Salesforce, Hubspot, or something else, CRMs will help you sort and target prospects based on who they are and what they're after. You’ll be able to cater to each prospect's unique profile, behavior, and needs, making your approach surprisingly personal.
Always Be Closing
If you've watched the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, you're familiar with that line. But that's easier said than done, Alec Baldwin.
Closing can be a struggle in B2B, particularly because it's hard to get anyone to listen to you.
In B2B, being heard isn't about shouting the loudest but rather about...
1) Crafting a message that resonates with each stakeholder's specific needs,
2) Keeping a single source of information for everyone involved.
Each stakeholder brings a unique set of priorities and concerns to the table. So how do you make sure each of them is well-fed with the info they need?
Digital. Sales. Rooms.
Platforms like Journey give sales teams a helpful alternative to haphazard B2B sales. With digital sales rooms, you're in charge of communication.
By bringing every piece of sales collateral together, stakeholders are that much closer to accepting your offer.
When we spoke to Cristina Reuland, sales team @ Insightly, about the way she and her team use Journey, she shared a quick list:
I can connect with multiple stakeholders in my sales process to share pertinent information and make sure nothing gets left out
I have a platform to stay connected and make sure each stakeholder has access to all the information, not only the few things that my main contact has chosen to share
"My prospects love how everything is in one central location. They can easily go back to reference something instead of filtering through all our email communication." (Cristina Reuland)
Maybe, just maybe, a tool like Journey is all you need to get better results, like driving 75x ROI.
Especially if the closing is where you need a boost.
(And let’s be real, when don’t we all need a boost?)
“It’s Called Prospecting, Not Alchemy, for a Reason…”
...You can't turn everything into gold.
It may take far more than nine tries to connect with a prospect. But even if your prospect doesn't progress down the pipeline immediately, your efforts are far from wasted.
That initial interaction, which might seem like a "miss," could be so memorable that they remember you when the time comes for a product like yours.
Do it in a stylish way, and you’ll be their first call once the need appears.
Give yourself a headstart. Build your first Journey for free.