More than 40% of B2B salespeople say prospecting is the most challenging part of their role. The prospecting process is deemed more difficult than closing and qualifying opportunities! In many ways, this isn’t a shocking revelation. We can naturally assume that working with a cold lead who has never heard of your product or solution is harder than working with an opportunity already entered into your pipeline. A successful B2B sales strategy prospects new opportunities in many ways, from cold calling to email and social media communication. To achieve the ultimate sales success, you need to use these nine essential prospecting techniques.
1) Refer to your losses: It’s important to look forward when designing an effective sales strategy, but it’s equally valuable to look back at the past. Encourage your team to refer back to the last 5-10 opportunities they failed to prospect and ask what went wrong.
This is vastly beneficial in many ways. This will help your team self-improve, as they become critical of their prospecting processes and discover ways they can change their approach for the better. It helps assess external influences that may be affecting your team’s ability to perform, such as data quality and software use. And most importantly, this process improves your prospecting results. Only by understanding what hinders success, can you implement the most effective changes to drive improvements.
2) Stop selling and start educating: Prospecting as a sales function stands out from the wider pipeline. It is the process that sources opportunities and kick-starts the buyer journey. You have plenty of time to sell to these prospects, but very few attempts to gain their trust, and only one chance at a first impression! When prospecting opportunities, you need to stop selling, and start educating.
You’ll find increased success in building a relationship of trust, authority and expertise, as 98% of B2B buyers crave insight from thought leaders. Ensure your team focus on establishing your brand as the industry experts before presenting your product. Once this groundwork is laid, your team will find introducing sales techniques seamless and successful.
3) Seek out referrals: Nine in ten purchasing decisions are made with referral input. We are far more likely to trust the judgement of someone we know than believe the insights of a stranger. Referrals are like gold dust for your sales pipeline, yet only 11% of salespeople actively ask for referrals when prospecting.
91% of clients are willing to provide referrals, assuming they are pleased with your product and achieving the desired return on their investment. If your team don’t actively ask for referrals, then why not? Team up with your customer service department to implement a process for easily requesting and gaining referral opportunities. Offer your client-base an incentive for their input, such as a discount or free gift. Once a successful referral relationship has been established, your team will continue to benefit, gaining the highest-quality opportunities.
4) Embrace automation: Around 50% of daily sales tasks can be automated– particularly those surrounding data collection, in organization, and email communication. Embracing automation can help your team maximize prospecting time and implement a specific standard of data processing across your whole team.
Data is essential to prospecting. It fuels your team’s outreach actions, later benefitting the entirety of your pipeline. If each member of your team processes data in different ways, you’ll struggle to analyze their performance. Additionally, these inconsistencies will act as self-sabotage, as your team are unable to deliver the optimum sales approach due to a lack of data insight. Investigate the automation platforms available, understanding how they can benefit and streamline your team’s use of data, maximizing their prospecting approaches.
5) Discover social selling: You may be aware of a social selling approach and have already implemented it into your prospecting strategy. Over 70% of B2B sales now involve millennial decision makers, who have displayed a preference for interactions on social media. Social selling helps your team strategically reach out to prospects on platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. This lets decision makers discover your brand at a time and place convenient for them, boosting your chances of success. Those using social selling to boost prospecting efforts have pipelines 18% bigger, moving 28% faster than those who don’t.
6) Use a follow-up strategy: Prospecting shouldn’t be a one-time venture. To achieve success, your team need to understand the journey a buyer moves through and ask how their prospecting efforts can align with this journey. Implementing a follow-up strategy helps you ensure your team understand the importance of continued prospecting communication, and never waste an opportunity.
It takes an average of 18 calls to connect with a decision maker, and potential buyers need to encounter your brand approximately 35 times before making a purchasing decision. The best approaches use an variety of channels to capture lead interest, and continually ignite brand engagement. Look to the different approaches your team use to prospect sales opportunities and ask how they can be combined to build a follow-up strategy.
7) Allocate your prospecting time to specific tasks: As we know, many salespeople find prospecting challenging, and therefore attempt (consciously or unconsciously) to procrastinate. It’s common for your team members to put prospecting tasks aside in favour of progressing already generated opportunities. This is counter-productive, as unless prospecting is continually performed, your team’s pipelines will run dry and leave them without future opportunities.
To make prospecting seem less complex and easily achievable, help your team allocate certain time slots of their day to specific prospecting actions. For example, your team could cold-call for 1.5 hours per day, then spend two 1 hour slots per week sending follow-up emails to these call recipients.
You can adjust this time allocation to align with the strengths and weaknesses of each team member, helping them tackle what they find most challenging about the prospecting process. This doesn’t just help your team maximize productivity, but additionally boosts their chances of success and grow their confidence.
8) Individualize your approach with content: Your marketing team are likely to already produce a consistent flow of high-quality, educational content. These assets are the secret to delivering a highly customized, individual prospecting approach with ease. Once your team understand the industry of a prospect, they can identify possible pain points the prospect may encounter and select the content most applicable. This content can be shared via email or social media between communications to spark conversation and prolong brand engagement.
Open the channels of communication with your marketing team to understand what content assets are available, and help your team understand how they can use these resources to improve prospecting results.
9) Be responsive: At some point within your prospecting process, potential buyers will conduct some self-research into your brand to better understand what you do and offer. The trick to effective prospecting lies in identifying this engagement behaviour and acting responsively. Responding to prospect interaction within 5 minutes makes you 4000% more likely to successfully enter the lead into your pipeline.
94% of buyer journeys start online. It’s safe to assume potential prospects will interact with your website. Lead Forensics can identify the businesses visiting your website, to help your team take prospecting control and heighten conversion through responsive action. Providing real time data for visitors, including phone numbers and email addresses for key decision makers, Lead Forensics fuels your team with all the data needed to enact responsive, tailored communications. Revolutionize your sales prospecting today- book your free demo!
Free guide – It’s time to to turn data into information, and information into insight with this essential guide. Download “A guide to measuring essential B2B marketing“ for free now!