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Sales Prospecting Strategies
Blog / Sales Management / Aug 2, 2018 / Posted by John Golden / 3424 

Sales Prospecting Strategies

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Prospecting strategies can be difficult for many individuals in a sales organization. It makes salespeople break out into an immediate sweat, and perplexes sales managers, marketers, and upper-level management alike. This article will help you learn actionable insights into how to improve your prospecting.

Defining Prospecting:

Prospecting, put simply, is the opportunity to identify and qualify potential buyers for your product. It can be that straightforward, or a little more complex, but at its most basic level, it involves those two steps. In identification, you have to come up with a list of potential prospects, and in qualification, you have to engage with them in order to actually begin the sales cycle.

  • It’s an art form to be able to identify the people who are the best fit for the organization and connect with them in meaningful ways and requires intentional practice in order to master it.

Dislike of Prospecting:

One of the reasons why people dislike prospecting so intensely is because it’s inefficient. No one likes to put work into something that doesn’t produce meaningful results. It requires a lot of work and effort, and the return on investment is usually a minimal percentage. Another reason why people dislike prospecting is that people don’t know how to do it effectively, and aren’t as successful as they could be. If a salesperson is really good at closing a deal, the time it takes to build the front end part of the funnel or get opportunities in place requires more effort than other parts of the sales process. Finally, most of the time when you’re prospecting or identifying and qualifying people, they don’t know you yet. It can be uncomfortable and lead to a lot of rejection.

  • Diversify some of the roles by having clearly defined rules of engagement, and allowing the people who are good at prospecting to focus on prospecting.
  • The more strategies that you can create to make prospecting more efficient, the better.

Changes in Prospecting:

In prospecting, as with many things in sales, methods have changed over time. The days of going into an office and receiving a list of phone numbers from a sales manager to cold call have gone by the wayside. One of the biggest trends is this focus on creating relationships and having meaningful conversations. The addition of the internet has also changed the dynamic. Salespeople used to be a provider and keeper of information. Now, buyers are in control because they have access to information on products and research through the internet. Because the buyers have changed so dramatically, prospecting has had to shift and adapt to that.

  • Buyers don’t want the pitch, but if you can bring strategic value to them, and demonstrate that you have the kind of qualities that help them solve the business problems that they have and need to solve, that’s how you get an opportunity to move forward to a real sales conversation.
  • It’s not just the approach, it’s the message, and how well you’re communicating value to the buyers. Successful prospecting requires this focus on value and problem-solving.
  • Prospecting has to become digital. If you want to keep up with the changes and trends, it has to change in order to keep up with how people buy things.

Underutilized Prospecting Techniques:

Referrals are one of the most underutilized prospecting techniques, partially with things like LinkedIn showing you common connections to a prospect making it easier than ever to prospect through referrals.

  • Communicate with peers in order to create more referrals.
  • Another underutilized prospecting technique involves mining social media. For example, if you go to LinkedIn and search for a topic like CRM, or marketing automation, or leadership development, it will show you all of the posts about that topic. You can scan it, and look for the posts getting lots of traction, and then communicate with the people who are liking and commenting on that topic.
  • Another technique is to speak at events, such as business associations, local conferences, and other ways to demonstrate your expertise. It allows you to meet new people, present yourself as an expert, and prospect for new clients.

Techniques to Avoid:

The true cold call, where you’re taking a list and calling people, is inefficient. Rather, use the warm call.

  • There are two ways to take a call from cold to warm. The first is where you where you do research on the person before you reach out to them, and use the information that you find in order to make more real connections with the people you are calling.
  • The second way is to name drop with a common connection.
  • Avoid is the scripted, ungenuine emails that don’t have a personal touch. Create a more unique email that is personalized to the buyer instead of sending a generalized email.

Assess your Efforts:

It’s important to be able to assess the success of your prospecting efforts in order to understand if what you are doing is working or not. There is the tendency for the sales managers to say, ‘do more, make more calls, send more emails.’ However, this doesn’t always mean that this creates quality. More calls does not make a difference if they don’t actually make a difference or generate more prospects.

  • Look across the team and survey colleagues, and see who is having success with prospecting. See what models they are using in order to track their prospecting efforts, and take tips from them to track your own efforts.
  • Quality needs to be a focus over quantity. Another proponent of assessing efforts involves the sales manager helping to coach their sales team and work one on one to help people tap into their skills and capabilities, and then track based on these capabilities.

Turbocharge Prospecting:

There are several things that you can do in order to turbocharge your prospecting.

  • Changing your attitude about prospecting is the first step to being more successful. It’s the lifeblood of selling, and the resistance towards it needs to be minimized. Simply get out there, and do it.
  • Set your target list, stick to it, get in and do the work. Produce quality messaging and content, and decide if they are generating enough sales conversations. If you aren’t, seek help.
  • Use the tools available to you to help jump start how you prospect. Social media and prospecting software can be helpful to turbocharge your prospecting methods.

Source for this article comes from our Panel Discussion: Prospecting Strategies, hosted by John Golden, featuring the expert opinions of Barbara Giamanco, Kurt Shaver & Donald Kelly.

    About Author

    John is the Amazon bestselling author of Winning the Battle for Sales: Lessons on Closing Every Deal from the World's Greatest Military Victories and Social Upheaval: How to Win at Social Selling. A globally acknowledged Sales & Marketing thought leader, speaker, and strategist. He is CSMO at Pipeliner CRM. In his spare time, John is an avid Martial Artist.

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