Sales prospecting—a common source of misery for most sales reps—is a critical aspect of selling for nearly all businesses. Whether you’re brand new to sales or just looking for a refresher, today’s post will take you back to the basics of sales prospecting.
What is B2B Prospecting?
Let’s start at the beginning. Sales prospecting is the act of looking for potential buyers, customers, or clients to convert into new business. The ultimate goal is to nurture your prospects through the sales funnel until they eventually make a purchase.
While the concept is simple, effective B2B prospecting is difficult to execute. In fact, research shows 50% of sale’s time is wasted on unproductive prospecting (source). Think about it—how much more selling could you do if you weren’t wasting so much time?
If you’re ready to prospect more effectively and spend more time selling, keep reading. Today we give you our top six ways to improve new business prospecting.
1. Understand your Best Buyer
The root of unproductive B2B prospecting is a lack of understanding. If you don’t understand your target audience—their interests, pain points, and buying triggers—how are you supposed to sell to them? To put it simply, without a deep understanding of your target audience, your sales efforts will fail.
Although buyer personas are typically considered marketing territory, they’re also critical to the sales prospecting process. Consider the following statistics (source):
- Companies who exceed lead and revenue goals are 4 times as likely to use personas for demand generation compared to those who missed lead and revenue goals.
- 93% of companies who exceed lead and revenue goals report segmenting their database by persona.
- 56% of companies have created higher quality leads using buyer personas.
- 36% of companies have created shorter sales cycles using personas.
- 24% of companies gained more leads using buyer personas.
- It is more effective to target cold leads with persona-based content than targeting warm leads without using persona-based content (58% versus 45%).
If your sales and marketing departments haven’t already sat down to create buyer personas, this should be step number one. Consider the different types of people who have the most success with your product. Who are they? Why do they buy? How do they move through the sales funnel?
The more specific you get, the more granular you can get with your prospecting efforts. More on buyer personas here:
- The B2B Marketer’s Guide to Buyer Personas
- Buyer Personas: The Missing Piece to Your Lead Gen Puzzle
2. Be Proactive and Consistent
It’s easy to put prospecting on the back burner when sales are slow—but, in order to consistently maintain a full pipeline, you must make B2B prospecting a daily activity. It’s no longer enough to rely on your marketing team for leads, you have to go out and find them yourself.
Consider setting yourself, or your team, daily prospecting goals. How many cold calls should reps make a day? How many emails should they send? By establishing a process, prospecting quickly becomes a habit and can help you avoid a lead or revenue shortage.
3. Nurture Relationships
Even after you’ve perfected your sales pitch and contacted all the right people, you’re still going to be rejected. And while rejection always hurts, don’t give up on the prospects that tell you ‘no’. Instead, develop a strategy to nurture these prospects until they become ready to buy.
The key to building a lasting relationship with a prospect is to understand why they said ‘no’ in the first place. Many times, ‘no’ really means ‘not yet’. Take the time to understand what the hesitation is or why your product isn’t necessarily a good fit. Then, develop a nurture cadence to maintain your relationship with this prospect. Aim to be helpful, rather than pushy.
For more information about overcoming objections, check out our recent blog post: Defeating 5 of the Most Common Sales Objections.
4. Master Cold Calling: Cold Call Best Practices
No matter how much you hate cold calling, it’s still an effective way to drum up new business. In fact, 78% of decision-makers have taken an appointment or attended an event that came from a cold call (source).
We’ve covered this topic at length, so we won’t bore you with the details. Instead, we’ll just give you a few quick pointers:
Do your research. Before picking up the phone, it’s important to know your prospect inside and out. What buyer persona do they fall under? What are some of their potential pain points? How can you solve their specific issues? Are they working with any of your competitors? The more information you have, the better you can speak to their specific wants and needs. This increases the chance that they’ll not only stay on the phone, but they might even schedule another meeting or make a purchase.
Make a good first impression. You don’t have to be in sales to know that people don’t like to be bothered and they don’t like to be sold to. A good first impression can break down these barriers and make your sale that much easier.
Win your prospects over by being transparent about your intentions, speak slowly, and establish your ability to solve their problems early. Most importantly, be professional and treat your prospects like humans, not numbers.
Set small goals. The chances of you making a sale on your initial phone call are slim. Instead, set a smaller goal—a second conversation, a follow-up email, a demo, etc.
Working toward smaller goals can relieve sales pressure and make your prospect feel more comfortable with you.
For more ways to improve your cold calls, check out the following blog posts:
- 21 Statistics to Improve Your Cold Calls
- The Cure for the Common Cold Call [Infographic]
- 3 Ways to Warm Up Cold Calls
5. Invest in the Right Technology
In an increasingly digital world, technology can make or break your sales organization—and maybe not in the way that you think. Here’s our take: Develop your strategy and invest in tools that support that strategy. Not the other way around.
The reason for this is simple; if you buy tools and try to develop a strategy around them, the focus becomes the technology and not the process. But, if you do your research and gather input from your team, modern sales tools can drastically improve your prospecting efforts.
Here are a few types of tech to check out:
- Data and Prospecting Insights
- Sales Enablement
- Social Selling
- Auto Dialers
- Lead Management
- Meetings and Product Demos
- Lead Scoring
- Sales Performance
For a complete list of our favorite tools, take a look at our Essential B2B Sales Stack.
6. Switch it Up
Don’t be afraid to get creative and try different B2B prospecting techniques. What works to find and convert one prospect might not work the next time you try it. Try different methods, measure your results, and improve your strategy.
B2B Sales Prospecting Process: Key Takeaways
There’s no way around it, a full pipeline is essential to every business and the only way to achieve this is through regular prospecting. Use the tips and best practices above to stay on top of your B2B prospecting efforts and drastically improve your numbers.
For more ways to improve your sales prospecting efforts, contact ZoomInfo today.