The product or service you offer for sale is important – equally so is finding the right people whose needs it fulfils. Therefore, keeping the sales pipeline full has over time become imperative. This has historically unlocked sales prospecting techniques which enable a steady flow of qualified prospective customers.
We outline 12 prospecting methods which can be implemented as part of a successful sales strategy.
- Scheduling and committing to sales prospecting
Although prospecting may be viewed by some salespeople as the most challenging part of the sales process, prioritising it is the key to success. Allocating time in your schedule will eventually lead to becoming a regular monthly activity.
- Make warm opposed to cold calls
Generating friendly conversation through warm as opposed to cold calls is more engaging and positive, potentially creating more qualifying leads. Human conversations enable you to find out more about the prospect, e.g. what they are looking for in a solution and if they require further information.
- Create ideal customer prospect profiles
Demographics are often applied in focusing efforts and targeting ideal prospects. Assessing how prospects align with your business by ranking specific characteristics helps build an ideal candidate profile, e.g. determining whether the prospects are in the correct industry, the size of the company and location. Further in-depth evaluation, such as potential constraints and challenges that you could help solve, allows you to spend more time and effort on prospects likely to be more receptive.
- Attend and network at events
Salespeople should consider attending events which play host to relevant topics for your clients and which potentially, have a significant share of prospects and subsequently the best ROI. Access to a large volume of individuals with similar interests via events and conferences provides a great opportunity to draw in potential clients. You can gauge which talks and network sessions are relevant and make your presence known by the way of either speaking at the event or managing a booth.
- Don’t sell but develop relationships
Prospecting is concerned with salespeople sourcing and qualifying leads – attracting interest, providing information and finding out more about your prospects with reference to the issues they face and how you can help them. This, in effect builds a relationship of trust where authority and expertise are demonstrated. Subsequent selling techniques which come into play will be more effective based on the trust developed beforehand.
- Be an expert
Establishing yourself as an expert or thought leader introduces credibility and trust when approaching prospects. How can you become a know-it-all? Writing blogs and guest articles for relevant industry publications and websites as well as speaking at trade shows and conferences emphasise your expertise. Also, ensuring that you have the answers to questions asked and being able to explain with clarity how your product compares with the competition will validate your expertise.
- Request referrals
Referrals are often overlooked despite being a reliable source of high-quality lead generation and as part of your sales process can help salespeople establish trust. Customers should be given the opportunity to introduce your business to friends or colleagues after a successful sale and even be offered incentives for referrals through a formal referral programme.
- Get involved in social selling
Building a social presence is important in the digital age we live in. By creating a profile on one of the social media channels that you think is meaningful will strategically enhance your reach. It allows people to find and learn more about your company, brand and products on accessible platforms. LinkedIn essentially provides effective prospecting for B2B salespeople and encourages prospects to conduct some research before engaging in any conversation.
- Always follow up
The success of a follow up strategy will be determined by your understanding of the customer journey. It helps understand the importance of maintaining communication with your prospects. It’s vital to keep your prospects updated by sending follow up emails, making as many phone calls as necessary and relaying required information. This all contributes towards the prospect building trust in you and your brand and, thereby, developing a relationship based on such trustworthiness.
- Take advantage of automation
Prospecting involves time-consuming tasks including manual data entry and other administrative tasks such as follow-up emails, meeting scheduling and lead qualifying; time that could have best been utilised in communicating with prospects. This is where automation helps.
Automation tools enable sales teams to make the best use of prospecting time with enhanced targeting and customer experience as well as an increase in the number and quality of leads. Integrated with the sales prospecting strategy, automation helps promote relationship building and share thought leadership.
- Deliver relevant, customised content
Sales teams need to know what type of content to distribute and when. Prospecting involves specifically targeting potential clients with the right content which sparks their interest; content tailored to the individual. Here, sales will look to liaising with the marketing team, which provides high quality and informative content, in delivering a simple and customised approach to prospecting.
- Focus efforts on the right prospects
The objective of prospecting is to start a business relationship with a business proposition – introducing your product on the premise it will create value. In other words, selling is not the goal, at least not at this stage. Efforts are focused on finding the right prospects – i.e. people that fit the profiles you have built for your product, ultimately leading to potential profit-generating customers.
Adopting and adapting some of the above approaches as part of a sales prospecting process can help you develop strong business relationships and ultimately increase sales.
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