Sales Prospecting: Tips, Techniques, & Tools to Succeed

Sales Prospecting: Tips, Techniques, & Tools to Succeed
Vlad Kovalskiy
November 18, 2021
Last updated: November 18, 2021

To efficiently sell your goods or services, you should master the art of prospecting. You should conduct systematic training for your reps to let them know the best techniques and practices of the sphere. Hopefully, this article will help you better understand the specifics of the sales prospecting process. 

What Is Prospecting?

The essence of the sales prospecting process consists in detecting consumers who would be potentially interested in purchasing your goods or services and communicating to them. The ultimate mission of the dialogue is to convince them to order your product and transfer funds to you. To achieve this goal, you should target your efforts at people with the relevant tastes, needs and buying opportunities.

There is a difference between the lead and prospect definition. The former is an individual who appreciates your product — and the latter is someone who can afford to order it. For instance, a teenager is interested in sports cars that you manufacture. He follows you on socnets and shares the photos of the vehicles — but he will be able to buy one of your autos in ten years, at best. That is a lead. An entrepreneur who also likes your cars but earns enough to purchase one and has already talked to your sales reps is a prospect.

How to Prospect

Here are a few ideas that should help you improve your vision of sales prospecting:

  • Dedicate time to prospecting. You shouldn't do it occasionally, whenever you have a spare minute. Instead, you should plan your sessions and let your colleagues know that you're busy at this time. Make sure your prospects are available during these intervals and eager to talk to you.

  • Rely on your network. Don't hesitate to ask for referrals — they might considerably increase your conversion rate.

  • Listen to people's needs. Many of your potential clients might be turned off by conventional sales prospecting techniques. But they would be glad if you could listen to their pains and offer solutions to them.

  • Make the most of events. At any live event, you will find dozens or hundreds of people who share similar interests. Detect the ones with the highest proportion of prospects, decide which sessions and network meetups you would like to attend and find a reason for visiting the event. Choose whether you would like to come there as a speaker or guest. Find ways of standing out from the crowd.

  • Help people on Q&A forums. There, you should avoid direct sales prospecting. Instead, you should answer people's questions and prove that you have impressive expertise in your sphere. You shouldn't promote your brand or products directly. It would be enough to place your company's logo on your avatar and briefly speak about yourself in your profile description.

Now, let's look at how to make the most of prospecting.

Sales Prospecting Tips

High-performing sales prospecting experts tend to stick to the following rules in their daily workflows.

  • Inspect your prospects' career pages. Detect departments that are growing and hiring — this should help you guess about the company's key challenges and goals. Check annual financial reports of public companies to find the correlation between your product offering and their stated business challenges.

  • Use ratings to categorize your prospects. The ones with a high rating fully match your criteria for customer persona, can connect with a decision-maker and frequently interact with you through the website or socnets. You have common interests or mutual connections with them and your products can satisfy their pains. Prospects with a medium rating match only a few of your criteria for customer persona, can connect with an influencer and interact with you online from time to time. The ones with a low rating have unclear business challenges and would fail to connect with an influencer or decision-maker. They hardly match with your customer persona and rarely interact with you on the Internet. The higher the rating of the prospect, the more often you should get in touch with them.

  • Read, watch and listen to your prospects' blogs. It should be enough to skim the most important posts to maintain highly personalized communication with people whom you're prospecting and better understand their needs.

  • Batch prospecting sessions. Set timers to control the duration of each call. Let each session last two-three hours. Take a five-minute break after each call. Give yourself five more minutes for the follow-up, five minutes for updating your notes on the prospect and five minutes for preparing for the next call.

  • Follow up after closed-lost deals. Imagine that you put a lot of time and effort into prospecting — but got a negative response from your potential client. You shouldn't try to make them change your mind. But it would be wise to send them a short follow-up email, asking why they said "no". You can directly ask the prospect: "Did I do something wrong?" or "Did you dislike anything that I said?". Collect the responses and classify your prospects according to their willingness to resume the conversation some time later.

Now, let's focus on the importance of phone calls and emails for sales prospecting. Both types of communication can deliver excellent results and you should alternate them when talking to each person.

Emails are visual and your potential clients can open them when they have time. After the recipient reads your message, they have time to search for additional information about your business and products, which makes them better prepared for your upcoming dialogs. People can easily forward your emails to decision-makers and stakeholders.

On the flipside, prospects will be likely to forget emails quicker than calls. They might occasionally delete your messages. You'll need to compete for the recipient's attention against dozens of other emails that they get every day. You might need to follow up with the person many times before they reply.

As for the phone calls, some sales prospecting experts might say that they have become obsolete and you should discard them completely because it's impolite to take away people's precious time. It's true that the ratio of voice calls in modern communication processes is shrinking, especially if we mean cold calling. But some prospects don't mind talking to reps over the phone. You might grab their attention from the first second and they might be more eager to make impulsive purchases if you use this communication channel. The trickiest aspect of calling is to detect the optimal time when the client can pick up the phone. If they are currently busy, you might prefer to call them back later rather than leave a voicemail — there might be too many messages there and the recipient might feel a bit too lazy to call you back.

When calling a prospect, you might want to stick to the following scheme:

  • Build rapport. Feel free to ask the client how their weekend was or some other personal question. That should help you set the friendly tone for your conversation and increase your odds of getting a positive reply to your offer.

  • Leverage pain points. Before calling the client, you should do some research to get to know their needs and preferences. During the conversation, you should get to know more details about your prospect's pains.

  • Make the client feel curious. The best trick would be to ask more than tell. The person should tell you everything about themselves — but the less they know about you, the better. They should realize who you are and which industry you belong to — but you shouldn't focus on your competitive edges yet.

  • Schedule a meeting within the next two days. Ask the client whether they would like to see you. Let them know that some colleague of yours is an expert in the field and can help them fix their pains.

It might seem weird that you don't talk about your product at all during a warm call. But this method has proved its efficiency and you can safely rely on it.

Here is an optimal structure of a high-quality warm email that can serve as your first touchpoint with the prospect:

  • Engaging subject line. It should be informative and sound a bit unusual.

  • Personal opening line. Start talking about the recipient and not about yourself. Let the client understand that you know who they are and what they might need.

  • Establish a connection. Try to explain to the client why they might be interested in your business and products.

  • Call-to-action. For instance, you may ask the recipient whether they will have fifteen minutes to talk to you at a certain time tomorrow.

Instead of an email, you might try sending a calendar invite. You'll be able to add a short personalized message in the description section.

Sales Prospecting Tools

Bitrix24

This software features very diverse functionality. It can store a database with an unlimited number of contacts, it offers excellent document and task management tools and smoothly integrates with third-party solutions, such as DropBox or Google Drive. Each time you interact with a prospect, Bitrix24 will automatically save all the details of your communication. You'll be able to call your clients and send emails to them right from the product's CRM. Thanks to the Bitrix24 omnichannel contact center, you can search for new potential customers on social networks, landing pages, web forms and many other sources. By the way, this system is perfect for internal communications as well. You can discuss your workflows with your team using the in-built tools that include chats, calls and videoconferencing. Calendars and notifications will keep your staff informed about important updates.

Bitrix24 is indispensable for email- and telemarketing. It allows you to sort your customer and products by parameters and distribute access rights among your sales reps. The system can generate insightful reports that you can turn into actionable knowledge. You can either use ready-made report templates or create custom ones. You'll be able to analyze activity and sales by agent, leads by stages, sales funnels and channels and many other metrics. The system will let you access quotes and invoices in print, email or PDF formats.

At first sight, Bitrix24 might seem like a rather complex solution. But its interface is highly intuitive and your staff should get quickly accustomed to it. You'll appreciate the well-structured knowledge database of Bitrix24 and its informative YouTube videos. The team of the product will be glad to conduct trainings for you and support managers will be ready to attend to you at any moment when you might have a question.

HubSpot

It enables you to source new prospects and keep track of sales activities. The HubSpot CRM can automatically log all the actions of your salespeople, manage your sales pipeline and store your contact database in a well-structured format. Right through the CRM, you can detect warm prospects who have already visited your site. Using the dedicated prospects tool, you can monitor all visits to your site in real-time and then follow-up with them. You'll be able to send personalized email sequences to your clients and estimate the efficiency of your email templates right in the CRM. Plus, HubSpot allows you to customize email notifications for your staffers. They can sort prospects by parameters and get regular notifications about the high-priority clients.

Kixie

This solution employs AI. It features a full-voice and SMS enterprise phone platform where you can create a virtual receptionist. Kixie can transfer calls and help you with voicemails. If necessary, you can integrate it with third-party software.

SalesHandy

Feel free to use it to schedule outreach emails and automate your lead nurturing sequence. SalesHandy is very efficient at following up with individuals who failed to respond to your initial emails or neglected them at all. You'll get to know how quickly and how often people check your emails — and you'll be able to use this information to improve your prospecting.

SalesHub

In-built tracking tools will let you see whether your clients open your emails, follow the links you offer them and check attached files. Plus, you'll be aware of when exactly they do that. You can conveniently schedule your emails so that the recipients will be eager to read them. Sometimes, a person might open the message that you sent to them a while ago. In this case, SalesHub will enable you to follow-up them with the information that is relevant to the facts that they got to know from your old email.

Sales Prospecting Process

Sales prospecting consists of the following steps:

  1. Research your prospects, their needs and values. Strive to establish rapport with them by personalizing your communication.
  2. Prioritize your prospects based on how likely they are to purchase your products. Target most of your efforts at those who might be ready to pay immediately.
  3. Compile a pitch for each prospect. Check your prospects' sites, blogs and socnet accounts to get to know what they are currently busy with. Try to identify connection points, such as trigger events, mutual contacts or the fact that they have visited your websites and searched for something there. Draft a decision map to understand the prospect's goals. Think of how you could position your goods to overcome the prospect's objection.
  4. When getting in touch with the person for the first time, avoid trying to sell anything to them — instead, offer them your help. Offer a solution to a problem that the prospect has (you need to make sure in advance that this issue is still relevant to them). Show some human emotions and add a personal touch to your dialogue. Ask nothing in return for the value that you provide.
  5. Strive to stay natural and casual at all the stages of prospecting. Avoid turning into a sales robot — instead, you should establish a friendly relationship with your prospect.
  6. Keep notes during the conversation to understand which phrases and ideas strike a chord with your interlocutor.

Once the sales prospecting session is over, you should devote some time to self-reflection. Which challenges have you uncovered? Did the conversation enable you to set well-defined goals? Have the prospect confirmed that they have the budget available? How enthusiastic is the customer about your products? These questions should help you draft your next prospecting sessions.

Final Thoughts

A prospect is a person who needs your goods or services and can afford to order them. All you need to do is to motivate them for the purchase. People rarely appreciate straightforward prospecting techniques — so instead of trying to sell something, you should listen to your clients' stories about their problems and offer solutions for them. You should rely on the combination of phone calls and emails, batch your sales prospecting sessions and use software that helps you automate processes, such as Bitrix24.

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Sales Prospecting: Tips, Techniques, & Tools to Succeed