If your sales pipeline is colder than a Siberian spigot in January, it’s time to rethink your sales prospecting techniques.
Here’s the thing though, reps need actionable techniques and tips to make their prospecting systematic, smooth, and, of course, profitable.
Let’s jump in.
What are Prospecting Techniques?
Sales prospecting techniques are the tactics a salesperson uses to find new customers. Prospecting is an early and critical stage in the sales process.
Yet, it’s also a challenging task for many salespeople — from hunting down contact information to getting a decision-maker on the phone.
Don’t stress, as with all things, prospecting takes practice. But it doesn’t hurt to have an arsenal of tips and tricks up your sleeve.
With the help of this article, you can get your reps on a prospecting schedule, automate efficient processes and hone your prospecting efforts to ignite your sales process.
What Are the Best Prospecting Techniques?
1. Commit to a Prospecting Schedule
As with any successful process, the secret to productive prospecting starts with an organized approach to fill your pipelines with quality leads.
- What deals went well?
- How did you find those prospects?
- What can you do to multiply that type of outcome moving forward?
It’s important to also consider the types of creative prospecting techniques the team can use to research and reach more contacts. If they default to cold calling (a task they find difficult), a ‘warm-style’ calling approach might be a better fit (see #5 below).
Once you have everyone on board, work with the team to create a schedule that includes quotas, such as the number of prospects to contact within a period (e.g., per day).
2. Summon Your Ideal Customer Persona (ICP)
To ensure more successful prospecting, you need to identify which prospects are a good fit and which are not.
For a salesperson building a list of contacts, the personas guide how they interact with each prospect.
For instance, a startup persona’s pain point might be ‘securing additional funding.’ This information can guide how the tech-solution rep approaches a similar prospect.
Did the startup prospect just get a round of funding?
If so, that rep needs to be the first in the door, pitching them, showing how the product will help the prospect scale and keep their investors happy.
When the same rep is prospecting for enterprise-level prospects, the enterprise CEO persona will help the salesperson shape the conversation straight out the gate.
Understanding the ICP pain points, the fearless rep will go in with impenetrable confidence. He’ll recognize that the CEO doesn’t have time for him. So, he’ll skip the discovery call and go straight to telling them what they need to hear.
The goal is clarity — identifying the persona’s pain points and objections then applying that knowledge to ask the hard questions like, “What do you mean by ‘you don’t have the budget? Can we unpack that?’ “
Read more about building better ICPs: How Can You Use Data to Build Better Personas?
3. Focus on Building Relationships
Whether a sales rep is doing a cold call or following up on a marketing lead, building a relationship with a prospect is critical.
Let’s say the rep pitches a new prospect — a marketing director. The director says they’re not in the market for the rep’s solution. However, the salesperson read that the company is making leadership changes.
Rather than hanging up and moving to the next prospect on the list, the rep personalizes the conversation, mentioning the company’s change in leadership.
He suggests setting up another phone call in a month — after the C-suite shuffle — and gets the call on the calendar.
Even if the sale doesn’t go through now, the rep is on the director’s radar.
4. Get Social with Your Prospects
Where do your ideal prospects hang out online? For the B2B sales rep, social media channels like LinkedIn and Twitter are a gold mine for connecting with potential leads.
With some Holmes-like social listening, you can get to know a prospect’s interests.
Do they share articles from particular industry publications? Whose LinkedIn posts do they comment on? Are they active in groups? Do you share a contact who could introduce you?
The opportunities to connect with prospects on social media are endless (that said, make sure you read and follow the social platform’s user guidelines).
Ultimately, if you base your social activity on relationship-building, your prospecting will go from cold contact list to a warm selling opportunity.
5. Make Cold Calling Feel Natural
You’ve heard that cold calling is dead, we’re sure. But let’s not write any obituaries yet.
Consider this:An analysis of 40,000 deals revealed that high performers made 82 percent more cold calls and sent 26 percent fewer unsolicited emails than lower-performing reps.
Some salespeople are quick to get on the phone. Other reps find cold calling hard, mostly because it feels unnatural. So, what’s the high performer’s secret?
Go in prepared.
Sure, you’re making a cold call, but a data-rich script will take the ick out of calling (including the receptionist’s icy “He’s not in”) and make connecting with the prospect more likely (and meaningful).
For instance, you can personalize your sales cold-calling scripts with information such as the person’s correct title, department, tech stack, and location with access to real-time data. These simple details turn your script from annoying telemarketer call to grab-their-attention conversation.
What to do when you get the dreaded voicemail? You have a killer voicemail script ready to go.
For example, here’s the message our sales rep Dave left:
“Hey Jeff, this is Dave, with ZoomInfo.
I saw that you manage the team that hunts down ERP projects on the East Coast. I came across a company right in your backyard who is looking to migrate their ERP system – and it looks like a home run for what you guys are doing there.
Grace Taylor is their VP of Network Infrastructure and the person you should be talking to.
I’m shooting you over an email right now with some of the details. Feel free to reply there if it hits the mark. Thanks, Jeff.”
Here’s the thing, Dave uncovered these details with some quick research on the prospect’s LinkedIn profile. Using the personalized intel, he left a message that was less ‘cold’ and more promising.
Read more about Dave’s approach and get other voicemail scripts: Cold Call Sales Voicemail Scripts That Get Callbacks.
6. Automate Manual Processes
Your reps need the right prospecting tools to compete in the modern business world. Sales automation tools will reduce the manual processes that eat up reps’ time.
For instance, your salespeople can manage prospects’ information in the customer relationship management (CRM) solution. The software allows them to track potential customers throughout the sales process and the buyer’s journey.
However, the lists they create in the CRM are only as good as the data going into them. That’s where sales intelligence comes in.
Whether you’re lining up cold calls or researching an enterprise-level opportunity, getting immediate access to clean intent data is essential for getting quality leads into your pipeline.
7. Respond with Roadrunner Speed
One of the challenges sales managers face is getting reps to follow up on their prospecting efforts. If a rep leaves an initial voicemail, do they follow through immediately with the email they promised?
Here’s an example of how fast the ZoomInfo team responds:
If a rep responds instantly, it shows the prospective customer that they matter, setting the stage for future interactions and a possible sale.
Evaluate, Tweak, Repeat
Sales prospecting works best when you commit to a schedule, set up a plan, and take action.
It’s critical to evaluate each of the techniques over time — to understand what worked and what needs tweaking (from meeting schedule goals to personalizing call scripts).
Maybe one rep’s call successes skyrocketed. What did they do to accomplish their goal? Moreover, what can they do next to maintain the momentum and hit their new number?
7 Sales Prospecting Tips to Ignite Even the Coldest Pipes