If you have been in sales for a while, you can relate to the fact that prospecting is not easy. What’s more, a lot of sales professionals have said that prospecting is the most difficult step in the sales process.
Why should you focus on prospecting?
There is an abundance of information and data available out there. Buyers do their research and arrive at decisions even before reaching out to the sales team. In some situations, the need for a sales rep is itself removed from the equation!
“I tend to analyse and understand my needs and formulate a solution that I think could help me. In a way, it is not them who is convincing me to make a purchase – it is me,” said a millennial customer who represents the mindset of today’s generation accurately.
So how can sales teams and sales reps get hold of the steering wheel again? This is where our seven highly effective prospecting techniques come into play!
#1 Use all available channels to establish contact
If you are aiming for a sales pipeline full of potential leads, more conversion, and optimised closing rates, then you should make use of all available channels to establish contact and grow your network. Apart from cold calling and emailing, tap into social media and online forums to identify new prospects. Use Quora to identify the type of questions people are asking or pain points they are discussing about your industry, service or product. Leave comments about how you can help them.
The above information can even be used when you are pitching to the client. Inform them about your products and services and how it will benefit them. Point out how you can align your service with their needs and help them achieve their goals. The idea is to embark on a more consultative approach to selling and link your services to the customer’s needs.
How does it work? – Competition is hectic and those who leverage technology and social media will be at an advantage. Creative ways of identifying leads will set you part from the competition and add more to your funnel.
#2 Build a good prospect / buyer profile
Just as there are different sales personas, there are also a wide variety of prospects from different industries, companies, company sizes, and so on. So, where do you start to get the most benefit without wasting your time? This is where your prospect profile comes into play.
Dedicate some time to find out what your ideal customer looks like. Try to answer the following questions before getting started:
- What are the top 5 ideal companies you should target?
- Who are your worst 5 customers?
- What customers can you make the most profit from?
- Which customers can you not profit from AT ALL?
Once you have your answers, you can narrow down the best prospects to target and prioritise your list of contacts. Build a profile for each of these categories and find people in your database who fit into them. Reach out to people on social media and through your connections, who you think fit the profile. It will help you market WHAT your product is, WHO will benefit from it, and exactly HOW the product needs to be sold to them.
How does it work? – There are indeed several fish in the sea, but they won’t all be of help to you and there is a different way to catch each of them. This technique will help you reach your ideal prospects exactly how they should be reached.
#3 Personalise your emails
Emails are age-old sales tools that never lose their charm. Did you know that close to 80% of buyers prefer to be contacted through email? It is also great to send bulk emails – provided the templates are personalised. This means that you begin the email with the person’s name and address the customer’s pain points.
“The objective is to impress the client by showing them how much you know about their company. You don’t send the mail saying ‘Hey, how is your company faring?’ You send it saying ‘Hey, your follower count seems to have dipped in the last 3 months and we have a way to make the numbers soar again!’. This is what will grab their attention and let them know that you can address specific pain points for them,” said the Team Lead of a popular advertising firm in Bengaluru.
How does it work? – People tend to believe the news when it reaches them through authentic sources. Even if you are using a template for your sales pitch, be sure to add minor details like the customer’s name, company name, and some details relevant to them. It will ensure that your emails are opened and read.
#4 Believe in the power of referrals
This is a great prospecting technique as satisfied customers are powerful tools you can use for your business. What could be better than having a prospect approach you themselves? Ask your customers to refer you to other prospects or refer them to your business. Ask them to spread the word about what you do and their experience working with you. Obtain testimonials that you can share on your website and on social media.
You would be amazed by how powerful word-of-mouth marketing is and how much it can influence buyers into making a decision. People like to get into business knowing it will work and that they are not wasting their time and money.
How does it work? – Asking for referrals is an important step that most sales professionals forget to do. Ask your customers for a referral immediately after making a sale or provided a service, as this is when the experience is still fresh in their minds.
#5 Research the prospect’s company and your own
People don’t just want a salesperson at their doorstep. They want a reliable friend who can give them a permanent solution to their problems. This is why you should know all about the industry you are targeting, the potential customer you are speaking to, and the product you are selling. If you don’t have the confidence that your product is the solution to all their problems, they won’t believe it either!
“Before every sales meeting, I first take time to check my company’s website and social media. I need to know what’s new and what makes us stand out. I should be aware of ongoing offers, any new product launches, or any USP we have identified. Before researching about the client, I first understand my own company completely,” said the sales rep of a reputed auditing firm in Chennai.
How does it work? – People are more likely to listen to you if you go beyond the regular buyer-vendor role. They will trust you and prefer to make a deal if you show them that you are knowledgeable about their industry and your own products or services. You need to indicate to them that you genuinely care and want to help.
#6 Go for engaging sales videos
Making sales explanatory videos is a trending format that many sales teams have been using. During the pandemic, this technique proved extremely useful to several customers. It is still a great way to get attention. People don’t have time these days and they are looking for ways to spread the message without sounding ‘boring.’
Salespeople use videos as a way to market their services as well as for outreach. This could be a demo video of the service or a product profile highlighting your USPs or a testimonial from a satisfied customer. It is similar to a sales pitch, except it is in video format and your prospects can play it back if they wish to revisit a point.
How does it work? – Videos create a sense of authenticity. It creates a bond with the sales rep even before they meet. Furthermore, it is a good way to follow up with them and ensure that your business is always on their minds.
Remember that prospecting is an ongoing exercise. You need to be consistent and set time aside every day to prospect in order to have a full pipeline. If you slow down now, you will face a dip in the future. So make sure you schedule some time in your calendar every day to prospect.
Interested to know more about prospecting and enhancing your techniques? Click here to know more.