Sales Prospects: What is It & Why It's Important

Vlad Kovalskiy
April 29, 2021
Last updated: April 30, 2021

Sales Prospects
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The noun "lead" is not synonymous with "prospect". The latter has the same root as the adjective "prospective": it denotes people who are likely to purchase your product. They have already developed a positive attitude towards your goods or services and prefer them over the alternatives that your rivals offer. You just need to give them a little push and they will purchase your goods or services.

Leads are also aware of the characteristics of your goods and think that they might want them. However, they are not sure about anything yet. You do not know these people well and your communication is not personalized.
They might check your updates and open your emails but they do not respond. Since you have not yet initiated a dialog, you will need to put more effort to convince them to place an order.
The task of a sales manager consists of converting leads into sales prospects and earning money on them. To achieve this goal, you can use an ample range of tools.

Below, you will find a table with the impartial strong and weak sides of each of the most efficient communication instruments.

Instrument

Essence

Pros

Cons

Mail and email

Write and send out personalized emails or conventional letters on paper.

You can carefully prepare and structure your data. The client does not take you by surprise with unexpected questions.

With conventional mail, it is hardly possible to check how many people read your message. As for emails, new customers rarely reply to them (while the loyal ones often do).

Networking

You visit online and offline networking events (conferences, workshops, trade shows and so on).

You can establish personalized connections.

It might be challenging to reach out to a large audience unless you are a speaker.

Phone

Call your potential clients.

This technique used to be efficient in the past, but today people consider it impolite to disturb others with phone calls.

You will succeed only if you catch your customer at a good moment.

Prospecting software

Use diverse systems and applications to reach your audience.

Many systems have in-built tools to store and analyze the data. They can provide informative insights.

Staffers need training to learn how to use the software.

Referrals

Invite people to spread the word about you in exchange for the reward.

This efficient promotional tool will not cost you much.

In case you do something wrong (for instance, promise someone a present but fail to send it), people can just as easily spread negative information.

Social media

You post information on your brand and assortment on different social platforms.

Your audience will not consider it as an invasion of their private space.

Newbies might get discouraged with the customers' low engagement rate, but this is the norm today.

Website

Regularly update your site and share your news there. Install a live customer support chat. Encourage visitors to join your mailing list.

Every person who visits your website is more likely to buy your product.

The monthly audience of corporate sites is rather small.



Get Acquainted with Your Prospects
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To become a potential client, an individual must meet at least one of these criteria:

  1. Your goods or services meet their needs.

  2. Your pricing policy seems affordable to them.

  3.  Your sales cycle coincides with their purchasing behavior.

Single out the traits your typical customers share and look for people with similar characteristics. You will not need to order research in a marketing agency — just hold a meeting and conduct a brainstorm relying on the data that you have already gathered about your audience.

Discuss the following questions with your sales department:

  1. How influential is the decision-maker for the organizations that you target your product at? In case you target private customers, think about social media influencers or other individuals who your audience perceives as their role models.

  2.  Which industry can benefit from your goods or services?

  3. What size do organizations tend to order your products most often? How many staff members do they have? Who is their target audience?
    How much funds can they afford to spend on your products? Which channels of communication do they prefer?

  4.  What is your USP?

  5. How regularly do your most affluent clients purchase your products?

  6. What buying decisions do your best clients make?

This time, your goal will be to outline the basis of your future communications.

  1. Which problems are most industry players are facing right now?

  2. Which networking platforms and other forms of interaction are most popular among your customers?

  3. Which media and which format of information do they trust?

  4.  Who are their partners and who are their rivals?

This should be more or less enough to compile a comprehensive portrait of your ideal sales prospects.
When processing this data, try to automate as many procedures as possible: from the initial data input to analyzing the final results. A CRM is indispensable to complete these tasks.


The Secrets of Turning Leads into Prospects

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This procedure is known as "qualifying". You should standardize it to save time and effort for your staff. 

To attain your goals rapidly and efficiently, concentrate on reaching out to your leads and compiling a targeted list of sales prospects.

Reach Out to Your Leads

Let us imagine that someone has displayed an interest in your goods or services. They were referred to you by a colleague, they visited your showroom, or they downloaded your samples.
Now, you should contact them to get to know them better. This recommendation is valid not for any type of business and there is no 100% guarantee that it will be effective.
Yet in many cases, it might facilitate the process of qualifying the lead.

If the client is not ready to talk to you right now, keep nurturing this contact. You might try to reach them later and try other channels of communication.

It would be wise to follow up the call with an email. Prepare a collection of templates and make sure to personalize each one before sending it.

Most likely, people will become less and less eager to answer voice calls in the next few years unless it is someone who they already know. This trend will be relevant not only for sales but for all spheres of life, so it will not make sense to contradict it.
If your resources permit, you can start preparing your team for a future that will be void of voice calls right now. Segment your staff into four large groups. The first group would comprise 70% of your staffers and the smaller ones would consist of 10% each.
The largest group will keep on working according to those patterns that have already proved to be successful.
Each of the smaller groups will be experimenting with a new format of communication where less emphasis is put on spoken words and more on written messages.
So when the efficiency of voice conversations drops, your staff will be better prepared for the new standards of communication than your competitors.

Compile a Targeted List of Prospects

Sales departments of large organizations need to handle hundreds of leads each month. Their detailed profiles should be stored in the CRM. Yet apart from the profiles, it is vital to have a list that you can glance through very quickly.

The list should contain only those people who are likely to order your product. If your team has to deal with cold leads too often, it might discourage them. Professionals need to see that their efforts deliver results. Such lists will increase not only the self-esteem of your staff but also their performance and your sales.

Before including an individual on the list, ask yourself:

  1. Do they share many traits in common with the profile of your ideal customer?

  2. Do they belong to the industry that finds your products helpful?

  3. How large is their organization? How old is it?
  4. Can they afford the full version of the product? Would they prefer to start with a free trial or a more basic version of your product?

  5. How do they influence the behavior of other players in the sector?

  6. Might they have bought a product of a certain brand first but then switched to another one? If yes, why did this happen?

The most vital question from this list is the one about the purchasing capacity. If the organization or individual cannot afford your goods or services, it does not make sense to call or text them.

Yet you should keep them in your database anyway and keep an eye on their evolution. Ideally, you should convince them to order your product as soon as their financial situation improves.


8 Advanced Techniques Every Professional Can Trust

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Focus on Social Media

People are more likely to buy things that they have seen or heard of before than something that is completely new to them.
This is the same psychological effect that explains why so many fashion-savvy individuals might wear an identical accessory: they saw that many other people sport it, so they decide it is a desirable item.
The exact choice of media depends on the sphere of your business. For a fashion accessory, the most obvious options are Instagram and TikTok. You should not only share photos of your accessory on these platforms.
It is essential to show how it looks on people with different skin colors, ages and types of appearance. Your target audience should not only perceive the object as it is but also feel the urge to try it on.
In addition to the picture, you should share valuable information about your product. Where can people buy it? What is its price? Are there any discounts available? What can they pair it with? And so on.
Of course, you can rely on testimonials. You might ask your loyal customers to spread the word about your product in exchange for a reward.
Otherwise, you can organize a lottery with a valuable prize among those who comment on your post.
There is nothing new in this technique. Sales professionals developed it almost as soon as social media became a part of our daily life, and it has remained relevant ever since.

Join Networking Platforms

These are different from social media because they are specialized. This might be a closed forum for medical professionals, or a Telegram chat for website developers, or a member-only app for food tech experts. Reddit, Quora, and profile forums will do as well.

You should take part in discussions and share precious information with others. People should start to trust you and consider you an expert. 

Avoid persuading your interlocutors to purchase your product. Instead, you might say "In relation to the subject of this discussion, we carried out an independent test using the equipment that we built ourselves. The results turned out to be different from what we expected. 

We believe that our measurements were more precise because our equipment enabled us to fine-tune this and that parameter…". Each sentence that you say should be useful for your community. Sensationalism and conflicts are detrimental to this strategy. Do not aim to hone your oratory skills, but appeal on a point of fact instead.

To promote your brand, you should mention its name (and maybe also links to its website and social media) in your profile on the networking platform. But this should be done only in case everyone else is also doing so. If other users do not mention the names of the companies they work for, you might seem too intrusive if you do so. 

Also, you should never place any calls-to-action in your profile. It is ok to write "CEO in ABC company", but never "CEO in ABC company. Buy our product today and get a 10% discount!".

Become an Expert

It would be wise to share your knowledge outside networking platforms too. Try to become an expert not only in your company's product range but on the industry in general. For instance, you sell robots that can replace live pets.
Usually, the representative of the company should be able to tell their customers how these robots function, how to charge them, how to upgrade them and so on. But you can try to dig a little bit deeper.
Expand your knowledge on human psychology: why do people buy pets? Which problems do pets help to solve? How do they improve people's sleep, blood pressure and the relations between spouses?
Even though this information is relevant for biological cats and dogs, the owners of robotic pets will be likely to experience similar benefits.

When people have a question about not just your product but your sphere in general, they should immediately think about you as an unbiased expert.
This is why many companies run blogs where they share expert insights. Some might think that it is enough to publish insights on their social network, but the information gets lost too easily there.

Enjoy the Benefits of the Autopilot

Most CRMs have this feature. They store the records of all your past activities and the detailed profiles of your customers.
The system can rank your customers according to their willingness to purchase your product.

You should set an automated mailing system in the CRM. How can the system know when to contact people? It has in-built analytical instruments that calculate the success rate of your marketing campaigns.
If you have sent out emails before, the CRM has analyzed their patterns and now it knows how to target new campaigns.

All you need to do is to compile the content of the message and create the task for the CRM. Your team, meanwhile, will save a lot of precious time that it can dedicate to high-priority tasks.

Analyze the Incoming Signals

First, let us understand what a buying signal is. If a person has ordered a free trial version of your product, that is a signal. If they came up to your stand at an industry exhibition or liked your content on Facebook, these are signals too.

The most convenient way to track these signals is to install the corresponding software and integrate it with your CRM. Once the person makes a signal, the system will add it to its database.
If you wish, it will send you an immediate notification about it. You can promptly approach the person, offering them a solution to their products.

Establish Good Connections with the Decision-Makers

If you cater to corporate clients, do not try to reach them through the general email of their organization. Find the contacts of the professional who is responsible for buying new products.
Their email might be mentioned on the corporate website. Otherwise, you might try to find it on LinkedIn — there, you should be able to discover plenty of other information to personalize your message.

Attention: gatekeepers are not synonymous with decision-makers. Avoid the former because you would only waste your time.

When dealing with private customers, you can try to establish connections with their role models, such as social media influencers.

Productive relationships with decision-makers can become a game-changer. Let us imagine that you hold a presentation in front of a large audience. Some people might like your product and others might start to criticize it.
If you try to argue with each critic individually, you risk losing the battle. Instead of confronting the opponents yourself, let the decision-maker do this job.

Always Follow Up

This might seem like an obvious recommendation, yet too many companies tend to underestimate its importance. Let the clients know that you remember their pain points and can offer worthy solutions for them.
Share case studies with your recipient, useful insights and checklists.

Make your recipients curious. They should not feel as if you were insisting on the purchase.
On the contrary, they should become eager to explore the product themselves.


Make Promotional Content

No, we are not talking about state-of-the-art advertising that requires nearly as much funds as a Hollywood movie.
Today, people tend to trust home-made videos the most. However, it does not mean that you really should film and edit it yourself, using your personal smartphone.
It would be more reasonable to hire a professional team, but the end result should not appear to have been created by seasoned specialists.

This might be a video instruction on how to assemble or use your product. It might be an action-packed story of an individual who got into trouble, and your product helped them to find a way out. 

There should be a plot, an intrigue, a culmination and a happy end. The protagonists must be good-looking, friendly and expressive.

This recommendation overlaps to a certain degree with the advice on how to increase your presence on social media. But you can also negotiate guest posts with bloggers and profile media. 

You can offer your content to other YouTube, Instagram or TikTok channels. The distribution of your videos should not be limited to your own accounts.

While the popularity of voice is shrinking, short videos are becoming the most popular viral content. Make your videos colorful and funny so that people would want to share them with their friends. It is not enough to make informative content — it should be dynamic and emotional too. And do not forget about a catchy soundtrack, coupled with immersive sound effects!

Exercise Your Creativity

The eight techniques described above might inspire you to compile your own ones, based on the key metrics that you use to estimate your performance.
Be flexible and ready for reasonable experiments but avoid imposing your vision on all the team. If you come up with a brilliant new strategy, arrange a meeting and discuss it with the whole team.
It makes sense to try out the new approach only if it seems reasonable to all your staff and no one finds it too radical.
To test the most experimental solutions, ask a marketing agency to conduct research not on your customers but on a focus group with similar characteristics. In this case, even if people fail to appreciate your innovative approach, you will not lose a single client.

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