SALES PROSPECTING: Definition, Method & Template

sales prospecting
Image credit: KLA group

Prospecting is a difficult task. Long hours are spent identifying prospects, sending emails, and dialing numbers; most of it is thankless. It’s no surprise that two-fifths of sales reps think prospecting is the most difficult element of the job (compared to a third who says closing and a fifth who says qualifying leads). Prospecting under duress is one of the most difficult things to do. In most circumstances, the stakes are extremely high. Three out of every four businesses that generate fewer than 50 new possibilities per month fail to meet their revenue targets, compared to one out of every 25 businesses that generate 101 to 200 new possibilities each month. Well, read further to know all you need about sales prospecting, methods, templates, and everything else you need to know.

What Does Prospecting Mean

Inside sales reps make outbound calls or send outbound emails to leads with the aim of generating prospects for account executives, which is what sales prospecting is defined as. Cold-calling, email, SMS messages, and other types of outreach can be used to nurture leads that have gone cold or to reach out to whole new persons who are possible purchasers. Hiring dedicated sales prospectors have proven to be an effective strategy for many inside sales businesses.

Prospectors, also known as sales development reps (SDRs) or business development reps (BDRs), can assist in achieving predictable ROI by providing account executives with a consistent stream of opportunities. These changes add to the sales pipeline, giving the sales team more fuel to work with. This can be quite effective because it eliminates the need for account executives to prospect for their own leads. Instead, they can focus on selling to sales-ready prospects who have been qualified by sales development representatives.

What’s the Definition of Sales Prospecting?

By definition, sales prospecting is the process of identifying potential customers or clients also known as prospects for your product, and reaching out to them with the goal of enrolling them in a sales funnel where they will remain until they are ready to buy from you.

That’s why prospecting is so important: the better you are at identifying prospects with wants and pain points that your solution addresses, the more likely you are to convert them into sales down the road.

Why is Sales Prospecting Important?

To grasp the significance of sales prospecting, you must first comprehend the sales process and how people make purchasing decisions.

Joe Latchow, Lead Development Manager at Intelligence North America, explains why sales prospecting is so important.

#1. Fill Your Pipeline

Sales prospecting is the lifeblood of your company’s expansion.

“Pipeline is a lifeline” is a phrase that I remember every day when I come into the office. Now that I’m working for a SaaS startup, I’m in charge of our internal sales teams and sit in Marketing.

We build pipelines in a variety of ways, but our primary areas of focus are the following:

  • Our website’s “Contact Us” form
  • Phone-in leads from those who contact our corporate number
  • Our inside sales efforts contacting MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads) and other companies in our sweet spot

Your sales teams will struggle if you don’t have a system in place to develop a pipeline.

The pipeline is essential for business growth since it illustrates what has been accomplished, what is currently being worked on, and who you are aiming for. It also holds your team accountable for the goals they set for themselves. None of this is possible without a pipeline, and without documentation of efforts and aims, your company will be left with more questions than answers.

Start small, so work with your team to figure out who your ideal customer is, create personas, and set KPIs that can be assessed, reviewed, and altered as needed.

#2. Become a Trusted Advisor

Prospecting for sales is about much more than the title suggests. You are a valued counsel for the company you represent in this position.

I loved taking on the role of SME (subject matter expert) for clients, goods, and services. Being an SME, on the other hand, isn’t easy, and it won’t happen suddenly.

To keep your team fresh, you’ll need to focus on enablement and learning/development in addition to prospecting. Don’t worry if you haven’t started scaling yet. Until you can assign someone to a sales enablement function, you can delegate this to a frontline manager.

I recall receiving numerous callbacks from customers who had been using a product for years but wanted to discuss patterns, new findings, or just talk about their experience. They didn’t want their account to go unnoticed because of the personal touch I added. One company even offered to send me a personalized guitar, but I had to politely decline because it would have been a breach of our contract with the customer.

Sales prospecting allows your entire team to experience this. Each phone call, email, and LinkedIn message is an additional opportunity for them to identify themselves and deliver value to the possible target.

#3. Increase Productivity

The addition of a sales prospecting staff boosts productivity.

First, you can determine their strengths and limitations by tracking the results of their prospecting activities in a CRM. This enables you to identify inefficiencies and improve efficiency over time.

Be aware that there are numerous excellent CRMs available. There are also free CRMs that perform fine until you can afford a more sophisticated solution with advanced reporting and functionality if your budget is tight.

Second, you’ll need a measuring system that gives your team a single point of access to the leads you’re pursuing, even if it’s just an Excel spreadsheet. (Don’t make everyone cringe at the same time!) Something to keep you and your team motivated is required.)

When I was calling, I treated my job as if it were a game. This was before the term “gamification” was coined. If I made 40 calls in one day, I would aim for 50 the next, then 60, and so on.

Finally, you’ll need a strategy for sales prospecting. Apart from the gamification noted above, this helps you zero in on your target / ideal customer, so you’re not wasting time on prospects that aren’t a good fit but also don’t matter to your company.

That isn’t to suggest that a “holding pen” for them shouldn’t exist. As those of us in sales know, the year has its ups and downs, and extra work can be incredibly beneficial at times.

#4. Gain Competitive Insights

Sales prospecting is a simple way to learn about your competitors.

It’s rare these days to be the only option in your field. The competition is fierce, and you naturally want to know what other products your prospects are considering! Conversations with prospects can provide you with valuable information on how to market your products and services.

I recommend making play cards with your competitor’s benefits and drawbacks so that your sales force is prepared to address these issues as they arise in sales conversations.

It’s crucial to understand that “bashing” or badmouthing your competition is considered impolite. Unfortunately, I had to learn this lesson the hard way. I was fast to insult a big competitor while selling financial services, which immediately turned off my prospect. DON’T BE SUCH A PERSON!

Instead, leverage the competitive data you gain from sales prospecting to improve the effectiveness of your marketing activities.

The simple truth is that sales prospecting is critical to the success of your company. It not only fills your pipeline, but it also establishes you as a trusted advisor, increases productivity, and provides you with unique competitive insights.

Your pipeline is vital to your survival. And sales prospecting is the greatest way to keep it going.

#6 Sales Prospecting Techniques

It’s obvious that you need to get your recruiting house in order. One aspect of the puzzle is work; if you want to see results, you must be willing to put in the time.

But, aside from some good old-fashioned graft, there are a few legitimate ways to improve your prospecting game.

What’s the Difference Between Leads and Prospects?

There is a minor but significant difference between leads and prospects, despite the fact that the two terms are typically used interchangeably.

The most simple way to remember the distinction? Leads and prospects are interchangeable, although not all leads can be considered prospects.

People that qualify as leads have shown interest in what you have to offer. In some way, such as by visiting your website or interacting with your marketing materials, you have established that they are a viable consumer base. When thinking about the sales cycle, they occur early on.

In business, prospects are leads that have been vetted and determined to have potential. By taking some action, such as signing up for a trial or demo, they may have demonstrated sufficient interest in your company to be considered a prime candidate. Customers in need of your services, such as a high-ranking CEO at a corporation, are also considered prospects, even if they haven’t shown any interest.

Why is Sales Prospecting Important?

When it comes to making a sale, prospecting is the first and most important step. If you don’t have good leads to follow up with, you won’t close many deals.

The more proficient you are at prospecting, the more deals you will be able to close. A RAIN Group study found that the most effective sales reps scheduled 52 appointments per 100 potential clients. On average, just 19 meetings were generated for every 100 interactions by competing sellers. Almost half of the top achievers also achieved or surpassed their personal sales quotas, whereas only 27% of all vendors did so.

Even while leads and prospects are prioritized differently, the end aim is the same: to turn them into paying customers through careful nurturing.

Who’s Responsible for Sales Prospecting?

Depending on the company’s resources, different types and numbers of people may be assigned to prospecting.

In a small company, the founder may have to take on all of the sales duties themselves. Sales-related activities such as creating leads, finding new ones, following up with existing ones, and making a final sale are all included.

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) may employ a sales force that handles all of its own lead generations. While marketing may provide them with suitable leads, salespeople are still responsible for finding and contacting leads on their own. They must also act as guides for potential customers throughout the entire sales cycle.

In big businesses, there may be an entire sales crew whose sole purpose is to find new leads. Workers’ responsibilities vary widely from one position to the next.

Method of Sales Prospecting

#1. Block Out Sales Prospecting Time

Consider your college years. You have a major exam coming up, and you need to study. What are you going to do? Carry your books around with you all day, every day, hoping to squeeze in a 15-minute study session here and there, or schedule a time when you can sit down and concentrate. The second choice is likely to yield the best outcomes.

Prospecting isn’t any different. There’s always something else you could be doing, and salespeople are always surrounded by noise. You won’t give prospecting the attention it deserves until you schedule time for it. And don’t expect deals to come your way if you’re not prospecting successfully.

Just make sure your prospecting time blocks coincide with the times when your potential clients are most likely to be available. If you’re going to contact them, you want to offer yourself the best opportunity of getting a response right away.

#2. Cash In On Your Existing Network

One of the fundamental distinctions between the top salespeople and the rest of the pack? The ambition to use their network to their advantage.

Why should they not? Why wouldn’t you ask if you can do the same for their friends and colleagues after you’ve spent the time to create a good relationship with a prospect and proved that you can bring real value to them?

It appears to be really straightforward. Despite this, a shocking amount of reps are losing out.

Almost half of top-performing sales professionals contact their network for referrals on a regular basis whether it’s every day or every time they meet with a prospect. When it comes to reps who aren’t great performers, that percentage lowers to only one-quarter. Non-achievers are also more likely to say they “seldom” or “never” solicit for reference business.

Referrals aren’t simply nice to have; they’re the cherry on top of a successful transaction. They’re by far your most dependable source of fresh leads. Companies with recommendations have 70 percent greater conversion rates and 69 percent faster closure times in the B2B industry. So you’re selling smarter if you’re getting referrals.

#3. Use Events to Your Advantage

It’s easy to dismiss event marketing as obsolete in the age of programmatic ads, laser-focused social targeting, AI, and machine learning. This is no longer true. Not suitable for its intended use.

However, nothing could be further from the truth. Event marketing is still quite effective, especially when it comes to B2B sales. In fact, four out of five marketers say that live events are important to their company’s performance, with the majority believing that it is their most effective marketing method.

One of the most significant advantages of event marketing is the ability to reach a steady stream of people who share similar interests. These are individuals who have the potential to become prospects and, eventually, paying customers.

Events, of course, aren’t a panacea. You can’t expect prospects to line up to meet you just because you’re attending a conference. Ask yourself the following questions as a starting point:

  • Which events will have the highest proportion of prospects (and therefore potentially offer the best ROI)?
  • Which sessions and network meetups should you attend at those events?
  • What will your presentation look like? Will you be speaking, or operating a booth?
  • How will you stand out from the crowd?

#4. Do Your Research

Let’s say you have a job interview coming up. You already know who’ll be on the panel. So, are you going to take a chance and see what they’re like, or leave it to chance? Or should you complete your homework so that you have the best chance of understanding what they’re going to ask you?

You’d always choose option two unless you didn’t want the job in the first place.

Prospecting is the same way. While your first phone call or email with a prospect may be your first encounter with them, it isn’t necessarily your first opportunity to learn about them and anticipate their needs.

A little bit of research can go a long way. It can assist you in breaking the ice with your prospect, anticipating their problems, and understanding how your product might solve them. In other words, it can make a cold call or email feel… a little bit warmer. As a result, you may skip some of the basic questions you’d have to ask otherwise and get right to the vital job of creating value.

#5. Don’t Sell, Build Relationships

The sales process is rarely about actual selling. If you treat every contact with your prospects as a race to close the deal, you’ll end up disappointed.

Arguably more than ever before, buyers are turned off by traditional sales tactics. Asked what sales reps can do to make the buying experience more positive, 61% of buyers say the rep shouldn’t be pushy.

So what should salespeople be doing? The same study found that 69% of buyers simply want the sales rep to listen to their needs. It might sound basic, but you’d be shocked how many reps fail to simply pay attention. A further 61% want salespeople to provide relevant information.

What can you learn from this? Building lasting relationships might seem like a luxury in the high-pressure sales environment, but you’re far more likely to deliver results if you can demonstrate that you’re trustworthy and able to offer genuine value to your prospects.

#6. Get Active on Q&A Forums

Prospects want to know they can trust you, which is an extension of the preceding point. That you’re someone worth paying attention to.

That is to say, if you can show that you have true competence in your field, prospects are far more inclined to pay attention.

However, you can’t merely wait to build a relationship with a prospect to prove your expertise. After all, buyers have a lot on their plates. That’s why you’ll need to come up with innovative approaches to educate your audience while also showcasing your abilities. One of the most effective is to participate in Q&A forums – sites like Quora and the Moz Community are terrific places to start, though the best sources will vary depending on your business.

Prospects will notice the value you can bring if they see you in action on forums. You’ll be several steps ahead of them by the time you speak with them.

How Do You Make Prospecting Calls?

Just as you would when writing an email, you should start from an informed position when making a phone call to a potential client. Before calling a lead, you should know everything there is to know about their problems, their company, and where they are in your sales funnel.

The buyer personas created by your team will be crucial at this stage, as doing so will allow you to focus on the right kind of customer. That way, you can be sure you’re focusing on the proper leads without wasting time. And don’t shy away from using call scripts; they may appear restrictive, but they’ll help you stay focused and efficient.

Remember that trying to seal a transaction at any cost during a conversation with a prospect would certainly backfire. You aren’t merely there to make a buck. Being patient as a potential buyer mulls over a purchase is part of your job. And it’s important to follow up after every conversation, even if the prognosis isn’t promising.

How Can I Move Sales Prospects to the Next Stage in the Sales Cycle?

Gathering relevant information is crucial, but you’ll need more than that to advance the discussion. In any case, it’s just as simple for potential customers to learn about us as it is for us to learn about them. Simply reiterating the information that is already available on your company’s website won’t help.

How do you really dig in and give them something no one else has? You will need to study not only their language but also their manner of speech and work habits. For this reason, it is important for them to be abreast of the latest developments in their respective fields, businesses, and personal life.

Are you prepared to scale up your successful methods for prospecting? As a sales manager, you can use Sales Cadences to outline a plan for your team to follow, including when to email versus call, how to handle rejection, and what materials to send.

Sales Prospecting Email Templates

Understanding the finest prospecting strategies is important, but it’s also critical that you get it right the first time you contact a prospect. Make use of these tried-and-true prospecting email templates to get a good start:

#1. Connecting With a Referral

Remember how I talked about the value of recommendations earlier? When you’ve gone to the trouble of requesting a friend or colleague for a reference, it’s critical that you capitalize on the opportunity by writing an excellent introductory email.

#2. Offering Advice & Insight

So you’re making your initial contact with a cold lead. What’s your “in” these days? One of my favorite strategies is to show right away that you have true worth to offer:

#3. Reference Their Content

Another great way to encourage your prospects to pay attention is to demonstrate that you’ve done your homework by citing their own content. Something along these lines.

What are Prospecting Skills?

The process of establishing and generating new revenues (business) by searching for possible customers, clients, or buyers for your products and/or services is referred to as prospecting. This process is defined as the activity. The purpose of sales prospecting is to advance potential clients along the sales funnel in the hopes that some of them will eventually become paying customers who bring in money.

FAQs

What is a good prospect?

A good prospect is someone who likes you and your company, as well as your product. People are primarily emotional in their decision-making, and almost all emotions revolve around how one person feels about the other.

What is a prospect customer?

A prospective customer, or prospect, is a person or organization interested in making a purchase, with financial resources required, and the power to make purchasing decisions

What are business prospects?

A prospect is a potential customer who has been qualified as fitting certain criteria outlined by a company based on its business offerings. Determining if a contact is a sales prospect is the first step in the selling process.

How sales prospects will be prioritized?

To be a top producer, prioritize your sales calls by following up with existing customers and reinforcing your relationships with top prospects. Meet their needs first. Then build your new business strategy around prospects’ qualifications, needs, and potential.

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