Many salespeople hate prospecting, and with good reason. It’s a daunting task with no one method that guarantees an instant sale.
Worse, the B2B sales process is complex. It has several moving parts, making prospecting incredibly challenging for even the most experienced sales teams. From traditional sales prospecting techniques like cold calling to modern ones like social media outreach, sales prospecting is a game of patience.
In this article, we dig into six sales prospecting techniques for your business.
Why You Need a Sales Prospecting Team
Sales prospecting is necessary because not all leads are equal.
Typically, marketers help sales teams to qualify leads using organic and paid marketing channels. The issue with that is two-fold.
- Depending on a marketing team that has other things to do is risky, especially if you have goals to smash.
- Marketing-qualified leads are great, but sales-qualified ones are even better. Let’s face it, both teams see things from different angles. Looking for your own sales prospects helps you skip the marketing part and puts you in control of the lead qualification process.
The goal is always to have new opportunities, shorten the sales cycle, and close more deals. You can do all these with your own sales prospecting team, who has greater ownership and probably a deeper understanding of the sales process.
6 Sales Prospecting Techniques
Identifying your ideal customer is the first step in sales prospecting. Many salespeople ignore this fundamental step, so their prospecting efforts are dead on arrival.
To avoid this, create a data-driven ideal customer profile (ICP) for your team using Breadcrumbs Reveal. It analyzes firmographic data such as industry, organizational size, total sales and revenue, and other information that impact your lead’s likelihood to convert.
You can then use these insights to create laser-focused scoring models to jumpstart your prospecting efforts. Once clear with this step, use the following effective sales prospecting strategies to generate leads.
1. Cold Calling
One out of two B2B sales reps prefer not to make cold calls. Why? According to research, fear seems to be the most likely reason.
When you think about it, it makes sense. Cold calls can be intrusive, robotic, and prone to rejections. In fact, over 50 percent of sales professionals give up easily when cold calling.
But here’s the thing: with the necessary skills and resources at your disposal, cold phone calls can work.
The trick to succeed is in the opener used in the first few seconds. You must show you did your research, speak with conviction and confidence, and ask for permission.
But sometimes, even permission-based openers fail. When that happens, be succinct.
Cold phone calls are that outbound prospecting technique that can help you create demand for your product when used correctly.
Not to make a case against warm calls, but if you always wait until there’s an existing demand for your product (like when a cold prospect downloads your ebook, white paper, or clicks through your ad), you’re losing out on the majority of the market that isn’t actively buying.
Once this existing demand maxes out without an outbound sales prospecting system to fill your pipeline–you’ve lost.
Also, cold calling can work really well alongside other approaches like email outreach and social media prospecting. You can combine these techniques to run account-based marketing campaigns, which are especially vital when targeting enterprise B2B customers.
2. Email Outreach
Cold email is another effective way to reach out to your prospects. Many people don’t appreciate being forced to decide on the spot, so email allows them to process your content at their own pace.
Like outbound calls, the key to success is in the opener, i.e., the subject and preview lines. Avoid common email marketing mistakes like using a generic subject line that’s likely to land your email in the trash. Your subject line should be clear, concise, and, if possible, personalized along with the body of your email.
Avoid dull email openers like these—they’re roundabout.
B2B decision-makers are busy people. Have your sales team craft a superb cold email like they were baking a cake to get their attention. Creating a memorable one will require patience, effort, and skill.
Here’s a sales prospecting email template you can follow.
The above template does several things right.
- Short personalized subject line.
- Personalized message that’s relevant to their challenges.
- Confirms challenges they might have with one question only.
- Offers a (better) solution and social proof.
- Low-pressure call to action.
To sum it up nicely, here’s what Ben Sailer, Director of Inbound Marketing at WordPress.com, says:
Some might argue that cold email outreach is more or less a numbers game. But quality emails with the above elements put you far ahead of boring emails in your prospect’s inbox.
3. Social Media Prospecting
Social media can help you look for prospective customers, too. In this sales prospecting strategy, your company and employees use their social profiles to attract potential customers organically.
Consistently create relevant content that strategically positions your product as a go-to for common challenges in your industry. Also, post thought leadership content to gain prospects’ mind share and demonstrate your expertise.
Don’t worry if you don’t get to create a viral post. Mary Keough, Head of Marketing at Map my Customers, observed that her followers actively consumed her company’s LinkedIn content even if they didn’t leave a comment or like it.
This shows that these prospects can still be receptive to an email from her or a sales rep from the company they perceive as an authority in silence.
But which social media should you choose? Look for where prospective customers are. For B2B, that’s usually LinkedIn.
You can find your next sales prospects on LinkedIn using LinkedIn Sales Navigator. The tool helps your team discover new insights and make better connections unavailable on a standard LinkedIn account.
With LinkedIn Sales Navigator, you get;
- Advanced search filters: This allows you to search for potential customers by company, title, location, skills, and more.
- Recommendations: LinkedIn will suggest companies based on your search criteria and network.
- InMail credits: You get up to 150 InMail credits to send messages to people outside your network, widening your prospecting pool.
- Sales Spotlights: These are curated lists likely to be interested in what you offer.
Note: While you might be able to do some prospecting on Premium Business, it only elevates the LinkedIn experience for one Individual. Sales Navigator, on the other hand, allows you to track your prospecting efforts as a team, making it an excellent tool for businesses.
Join Relevant Professional Groups on LinkedIn and Slack
Professional social media groups give you an avenue to instantly connect with people in your industry.
This is especially important if you want to share helpful information, answer questions that demonstrate your expertise, and build connections in a “safe” space. That way, your outreach efforts become natural.
You can find relevant groups in your target market on LinkedIn by typing in the keywords in the search bar and filtering to “Groups.” Thus, if your company sells marketing automation software to other marketers — think, SEO or content marketers, performance, and digital marketers — you may search for a keyword like “content marketing automation” and tweak it based on your results.
Unless you get in by referral, you’ll need a more roundabout approach for Slack. Search for relevant keywords on Google, but add “Slack” to it. You’ll see results with more information on relevant Slack groups you can join.
4. Networking Events
If there’s anything the pandemic showed us, people still crave social connections. That’s why people made do with virtual events like webinars, online conferences, and virtual trade shows.
In-person events such as seminars, exhibitions, conferences, and workshops provide the perfect opportunity to know your future customers and partners while making casual conversations.
Be approachable, warm, and professional to leave a positive and lasting impression on potential customers. Offer to keep in touch so you remain top of mind. Ditch the paper business card and go digital to make it easy to remember you.
Here’s a resource for top digital business card solutions. Include your contact details and a free trial or product demo link in the digital card and share it with potential customers. You can also obtain potential prospects’ contact information to initiate and build your network. This calling card won’t just impress event attendees and make them remember you. It will also empower you to qualify leads and move them along the sales funnel.
Do you know what they say about “word-of-mouth”? It’s the ultimate form of trust.
In this context, word of mouth refers to sales referrals from friends or other professionals in your field. Asking for sales referrals is somewhat underrated because some salespeople think they’ll come off as desperate.
But here’s the thing: 69% of customers who had a positive experience with a company would recommend the brand to other people. So, when you successfully close a business deal, you can easily ask for referrals from satisfied customers.
For example, you can send this follow-up email to a newly onboarded customer:
“It’s great to hear you’re already finding value in Ethermail! Can you recommend anyone in your professional network who might also benefit from our services?”
The above snippet is concise, polite, and encourages a response. According to research, referrals have a higher customer lifetime value (16%) than non-referred customers.
New customers aside, asking existing customers is another great way to generate prospects. They’ve already done business with you and are qualified so they are likely to send referrals your way.
6. Partnerships and Alliances
Strategic partnerships are a bit similar to referrals. You recommend your partner’s services to your customers. Because they love and trust your company, customers extend the goodwill to your partner company. Of course, your partner company does all this for you, too.
We often see this strategy with B2C and D2C brands, but B2B businesses are also crushing their sales game with strategic partnerships and alliances.
In 2017, Hubspot and Chatfuel teamed up to create a free ebook on how to build a chatbot.
A Facebook Messenger bot captured users’ contact information, including their name, email address, company size, and name, in exchange for downloading the ebook. Each brand was able to showcase its expertise. But most importantly, they scored some prospects from each other’s target audience.
Another way to leverage partnerships is to co-host a webinar with another company on a mutually beneficial topic. Then, after the webinar, run a poll to find out who is ready to learn more about your services and products and follow up with them.
Importance of Sales Automation Tools
Sales prospecting techniques shouldn’t be done fully manually because they’re intentional and time-consuming. To succeed, your team needs all the support they can get to communicate effectively with prospects.
Lead generation and sales prospecting tools streamline the sales prospecting process by automating certain workflows, such as finding and verifying emails, outreach, and sales automation.
To choose the right sales prospecting tool, clearly define your ideal customer profile and map out a process for communicating with them. Then, integrate tools that automate a process each step of the way.
This way, your team will be able to respond to prospects’ needs more quickly, leading to a better customer experience and a higher sales conversion rate.
Don’t stick to a legacy playbook when it comes to sales prospecting techniques. Instead, leverage different prospecting techniques to support your efforts and sales goals.
Some of these effective sales prospecting methods might work better for you, depending on the size of your business and your target audience preferences. All you need to do is experiment and implement multiple methods during a campaign until you find the right fit, but be sure you are following all local laws and regulations.
Use sales automation tools, too, and you’ll see those leads coming in.