Is acquiring new customers important to your business?
The answer? Of course it is.
Sales prospecting is the first step you take toward growing your business - but it’s not always easy. As prospects become more difficult to reach, salespeople have become even more aggressive in trying to get ahold of them. This back and forth has forced sales, marketing and business development teams to move past old-school strategies and find creative new ways to elevate their efforts.
Prospects are being bombarded with spam across every possible channel - by email, over the phone, and on social media. So, how do you cut through the noise?
Whether you’re just starting your career as a business development representative, or are an established sales leader, effective prospecting has a major impact on your individual and company goals.
We asked 10 sales and marketing professionals to share their surefire tips for successful prospecting. Here’s what they had to say:
Leverage social selling
“Social listening and social selling strategies are being adopted by more and more salespeople. However, rather than simply spamming all your connections on LinkedIn with your latest 25 percent discount offer, the idea is that you use social platforms to actually listen to what your customers are saying and then offer up strategic insights/advice/buying choices as appropriate.”
– Josh Dhaliwal, Head of Sales at iPresent
Ask for referrals
“One of the best ways to find leads is word-of-mouth. Asking for referrals, especially if the client has had an amazing experience working with you, establishes greater credibility. Usually, the best time for this is immediately after the sale is made as the experience is still fresh in their minds.”
– Nishank Khanna, VP of Growth at Utility
Don’t hide behind technology
“My advice is to disconnect from technology and focus on cultivating human, face-to-face relationships. Meeting for coffee or lunch can accomplish so much more than e-mail exchanges, social media posts, etc., and is a great way to get to know people better. I have found that building relationships is what drives my business, and technology supports them once they are solidified. Technology helps advance the conversation but it will never replace the human interaction that builds trust over time."
– Paige Arnof-Fenn, CEO & Co-Founder at Mavens & Moguls
Refine your prospect list
“Most sales teams I've seen spend most of their time optimizing their messaging when their efforts would be better spent refining their prospect lists. Of the time we commit to sales outreach, 80 percent of that is spent collecting data and refining our prospect lists. While the upfront investment in these efforts was large, it has saved us resources when it comes time to collecting the relevant contact details at the prospect organizations, as we don't waste efforts on unqualified prospects."
– Joshua Reyes, Marketing Manager at SmartrMail
Switch up your wording
“I believe in pattern interrupt. Use words and phrases that are unfamiliar to your prospects but also easily understood without much explanation, that when used interrupt their patterns of thinking and assumptions. I cringe when I see a sales individual say cliche statements. Switch up your wording
For example, the worst one of all is when I hear, ‘I would love to show you our service.’ My immediate reaction is, ‘Duh, of course you’d love to sell me. But why should I give you my time?” It’s an immediate sign that the AE or BDR is untrained. While I may want to sincerely look at their product, I want to talk to a professional who understands the basic mechanics of asking for someone's time."
– Zac Kerr, Chief Strategy Officer at SalesRabbit
Master the follow-up
“Identifying quality leads and an initial point of contact does not guarantee a win - learning the art of follow-up does. Following up on a regular basis ensures that you remain top-of-mind in your prospect’s memory. Reminding them that you exist will increase your chances of closing the deal.”
– Ollie Smith, CEO at ExpertSure
Be persistent, not pushy
“Of course, you want their business, but you don’t want the prospect to feel like they are just a big dollar sign to you. Get to know them and their needs, and then carefully explain to them how your products or services will benefit them. If they say this is not the right time and they seem firm in their decision, ask them when you could follow-up and check in again, rather than just sending another email the next week."
– Nate Masterson, CMO at Maple Holistics
Disqualify bad leads first
“Sales prospecting should start by disqualifying every account that isn't a good fit. There are millions of companies out there, and chances are less than 2 percent of them are your ideal customer. There are two main factors to consider. First, do you have the data to know who your ideal customer actually is? Then, do you have the data you need to disqualify every account that doesn't match that?”
– Mike Pollack, Co-Founder at Intricately
“The decision makers you deal with are not rejecting a product, service, or solution, they are rejecting a sales call. Therefore, you need to change your approach from selling to creating an environment where you reduce the customer’s anxiety and ensure the customer is open and receptive. Communicate that you are not sure if what you offer is a fit, ask permission, compliment their current supplier, and speak in a relaxed, non-threatening tone.”
– Tom Stanfill, CEO at ASLAN Training
Elevate your inbound strategy
“Personally I think the best way to find leads is to have them find you. Figuring out the key pain points of your prospects, writing genuinely helpful content around those challenges, and posting it where your prospects hang out online is the best way to lure people in without being brash in your approach.”
– Ollie Roddy, Business Development Manager at Catalyst Marketing
As you can see, there are many ways in which you can approach different methods of prospecting. Use this advice as a foundation for building out a strategy that makes the most sense for your business goals.
Seeking clarification on all of this sales terminology? Learn more about what a prospect is to get the full picture.