Blog

by Danielle DiStefano
on June 29, 2015

Expert Selling Tips: Sales Prospecting

This is the third installment in our “Expert Selling Tips” series.

If you’re in sales, you’re in prospecting.

But as today’s buyers change, prospecting strategies must take on the same transformation. We know a lot of factors go into developing a successful prospecting process, which is why it’s important to explore the most effective strategies for your sales team. Prospecting is a team sport that requires a strong and confident sales team combined with compelling marketing content.

We compiled a list of our 6 favorite blog posts about prospecting for your sales organization.

Social Sales Prospecting 101 by Barbara Giamanco

It’s not enough to just bring prospects into the pipeline. You need to bring the right prospects into the pipeline.

According to Barbara Giamanco, traditional forms of prospecting aren’t as effective as they used to be. Instead, salespeople need to get creative and use social technology to engage potential new buyers.

She lists 5 main social sales prospecting tips:

  • Target
  • Listen
  • Participate
  • Search
  • Connect

Giamanco suggests salespeople should leverage the features of social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter to achieve her prospecting tips. Identify which groups your prospective customers engage in on LinkedIn. Create and optimize your own social media profiles. Cultivate relationships through one-on-one discussions. These steps contribute to a salesperson’s ability to connect with a buyer before they even realize they are a prospect.

Sales and Marketing Need to Align for Effective Prospecting by Ronan Keane

Marketing and sales need each other, and everyone knows it. But somehow it’s never that easy.

Ronan Keane says prospecting is inherently a job for both marketing and sales. The buyer’s journey is broken into 3 stages: awareness, consideration, and action. Historically, marketing was responsible for awareness, and sales managed considered and action. In today’s sales environment, though, Keane says buyers are spending more time in the awareness stage, consuming content that prepares them to make a purchase decision.

Unfortunately, marketing and sales often are not aligned in prospecting efforts. Keane says there are a few main strategies to help marketing and sales become aligned in order to drive leads and close sales.

  • Digital Marketing
  • Social Selling
  • Content Marketing Insights

With training and support from marketing, sales can leverage content to transform prospects into sales.

Wednesday At Lunch Time Is Best Time For Prospecting Calls by Christine Crandell

Not all prospects are created equal. It’s important to be able to qualify your leads and identify the best way to interact with them.

According to Christine Crandell and research done by The Software Advice company, there are several ways to effectively interact with your prospects for the best outcome. Similarly, though, salespeople need to be aware of the things they shouldn’t do in order to avoid scaring away a potential lead.

3 Best Practices include:

  • Only call buyers if they want you to call. Not all visitors downloading content off of your website want a business development rep to call them immediately afterward. Often, people are just looking to do some background research, Crandell says. Make sure prospects want to talk before you call.
  • Know your sales team’s capacity. Every team has some variety in the way its sales reps sell at certain times in the month, season, or year. If you can identify these tendencies, you can make sure your team is operating at full efficiency at the right times.
  • Provide perks. Crandell says you want to keep your inside salespeople in the office when they are most actively prospecting: during lunch. Make your people happy, and they will be more productive.

 

The Dos and Don’ts of Sales Prospecting by Adam Wiggins

Prospecting takes many forms. From social media interactions to emails, there are many ways to warm a prospect and become top of mind. But the fact is, says Adam Wiggins, you can’t avoid having a live conversation with a prospect forever.

So what should you do to be prepared for when the time comes?

Preparation, persuasion, and persistence.

At a basic level, this means do your due diligence about the prospect, be compelling, and don’t give up. Wiggins mentions the dos and don’ts at each of these steps, helping salespeople navigate the etiquette of prospecting.

5 Sales Prospecting Techniques You’ve Probably Never Tried (But Should) by Ago Cluytens

Good salespeople know the importance of prospecting, and they know how to do it. So why do so many sales reps identify prospecting as a major challenge?

According to Ago Cluytens, it’s because the old methods of prospecting don’t work anymore.

What can you do to improve and differentiate your prospecting process? Cluytens says one of the most important prospecting strategies is leveraging your losses. Without an understanding of why you couldn’t get a deal to close, you miss out on three major opportunities: general improvement, resurrection of the deal, and referrals. He recommends a few other suggestions to create a more valuable prospecting experience, including using video and establishing relationships with companies who sell different solutions to your same group fo buyers.

Waterfall vs. Agile Prospecting: Which Is Best For Your Business? by Greg Klingshirn

Many sales organizations often take the waterfall approach to prospecting, which uses third party vendors to find large groups of people and target them all at once.

However, Greg Klingshirn says tradition might not lead to success.

In this infographic, SalesLoft breaks down waterfall versus agile prospecting techniques and each strategy might benefit your sales organization. Waterfall prospecting, while it provides a large mine of data, is generally insincere and spammy when it comes to connecting with prospects.

Agile prospecting is a more targeted approach. The infographic indicates that agile prospecting is more dependent on identifying a specific group of leads, and strategically coordinating outreach to maximize responses.

SalesLoft says waterfall prospecting may have been successful, but agile prospecting is more efficient and leads to more closed deals.

Our Point of View

Prospecting has figured out what it wants to be when it grows up. No longer is prospecting a surface-level activity, where sales reps make cold calls, pitch the product, confirm interest, and get off the phone as fast as possible.

Now prospecting is a high value, substantive experience that requires sophistication. Sales reps need to be able to engage in real conversations, listening actively for pain points and responding efficiently. Additionally, sales and marketing alignment is crucial for developing strategic content that helps sales reps provide insight to prospects.

The dividing line between prospecting and selling is not so clear anymore. And when you leverage one to get to the other, it can be powerful.

That’s a call worth making.

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