Prospecting is the most challenging stage for 42% of sales reps.
Sales pipelines have to be full of good quality leads or they will fail. The more prospects you generate, the more chances you have of closing a sale.
However, the prospecting game has changed.
In a world of endless choices, social media and increasing competition, buyers today are independent and tech-savvy. 95% of B2B buyers look up companies online before buying, and 53% of B2B users refer to social media first to make buying decisions.
Buyers want to reach out to sales representatives. A B2B buyer who does not speak with a sales rep or who doesn't respond to his sales calls will choose the vendor who does. Reaching out is all a buyer needs in order to say yes to a meeting.
Salespeople have one of the toughest tasks in their job descriptions: prospecting. But, when done properly, it can be an exciting experience that polishes your skills while allowing you to focus on the right prospects who are the best fit for your offer.
Talk about your competitors with your prospects
Your prospects might be already leaning towards another competitor or comparing options. They already know about your competitors. Don't simply ignore your competitor's options. Check out their rivals too. Don't be petty about it.
You should instead emphasize the reasons your product is better. Be sure to set yourself apart from other products. Explain the features, benefits, and pricing differences. Do not be afraid to talk about what your competitor does that you don't.
Be honest about your intentions
There are three ways your prospect might read your email: a pop-up alert, a preview, or text message. Not a lot of space to share your story, so explain creatively why you're contacting them.
Try to mention they might be seeking a certain service or product you provide, or perhaps they have a specific issue they’d like to resolve.
Remember that we aren’t telling you to go sales-y right away. Just don’t be reluctant to explain your reasons for your email or phone call several paragraphs into the email or on your call ten minutes later. You end up running them down and wasting their time if you hide your intentions.
Connect over any commonalities
It is much easier to connect with a prospect when you share something in common with them that can pique their interest and warm them up to you.
Browse through LinkedIn and find any commonalities in your prospects’ profiles such as these:
- You used to work at the same company or for someone you both know.
- You worked at similar internships or jobs
- You attended the same university or graduate program
- You volunteer for the same or similar nonprofit organizations
- You belong to the same LinkedIn professional group
Don’t be shy to stand out
Stand out from the competition by offering a solution that shows value and that is in step with the times.
Are you innovative or ahead of the curve? How can your product and service improve the business of your clients Why should they invest in your product and service now?
Tell them you're capable of providing much more than what everyone else gets. Let them feel as if you have created something personalized for them, so they feel like they're unique.
If you can come up with a creative and unique position, your prospect will find that more intriguing and willing to engage in communication with you.
Ask for referrals from customers
Consider several small businesses you frequent as a customer-perhaps it’s a bakery you love to frequent with your family or a graphic designer who designed signs or brochures for your company. If the experiences went well, how many would you recommend?
People are often happy to refer friends and family to their favorite small businesses, but they might not think of referrals for their own. It's a simple thing to ask for a referral, but that's how you build your pipeline. After all, you may know plenty of like-minded customers already.
Ask for referrals and build that into your selling process. After a sale, set a reminder on your calendar to follow up with your new customer after a few days or weeks. Then check in, see how they are doing, and ask if they know any family or friends who might also be interested.
If they end up sending someone your way, remember the customer relied on your reputation and trusted you with their business, so you need to treat that referral with the same trust and respect.
Develop a presence on social media and become a thought leader
Some salespeople have used social media with success, and you may wonder how. The key is to think of social media as a place to continue building your reputation as a thought leader and not just a place for life updates.
Using every social media network can be overkill—learn which platforms are most used by your ideal prospect and be active on them. Listen to what people are saying, and you will learn the tone people respond well to and how best to answer them.
Find out from your CRM what questions, problems, and sales objections your ideal prospects often tell you in order to create content to build your social media profiles. While brainstorming topics for your social media profiles, think of your prospects and what they may be interested in. Eventually, you'll start sharing your own content.
You may mention your company or your product to bolster your authority and answer questions sincerely, but don't sell all the time. Instead, attempt to help more than to sell. Share a post with your perspective and content so that you prove you're a thought leader.
You can also share anything from your company blog, articles from industry publications, relevant news articles, and blog posts from other companies on social media. To increase your post's reach, use industry hashtags and the writer's name when sharing links from other sites. Don’t forget to include links from your company so prospects can learn more about you and request to schedule a sales call with you.
Show off your sales skills on video
In recent years, video has risen rapidly as a key marketing and sales outreach tool.
This is not about fancy corporate videos where characters talk incessantly in a model-like manner to each other while smiling unnaturally.
With your smartphone, you can create videos that introduce you and tell potential prospects everything about your product and service and give your best sales pitch.
Videos are a powerful means of communicating information efficiently.
7 in 10 B2B customers admit to watching videos during the buying process, so take advantage of this trend.
In case your company already produces videos, you can also discuss making videos with the sales team. Create a series of videos that effectively outlines the benefits of your product and the way it works, and then a more detailed video on how it works.
Since videos appeal to a visual audience, it’s time to leverage it to the fullest. After all, people buy from people. So let them see the real you!
Always follow up with prospects
Getting a lead from a cold contact to a hot one usually takes more than one touch. Follow up with multiple emails, make multiple phone calls, forward more information, and continue to be a reliable wealth of information.
Timely follow-ups increase chances for success. Anything from a quick “just checking in” to a well-crafted proposal can lead to sales.
It's vital to follow up on an unreturned email if you haven’t heard in 24 hours since your second email has a 21% chance of being answered if the first one remains unanswered.
Remember to be human throughout the sales process
Despite living in a digital world, remember to be yourself, whether you personalize a cold email template or you use a tried-and-true cold call script.
The sales process is increasingly getting digitized, which has created a tendency to overlook the value of human connections. Stand out among the crowd by communicating naturally and convincingly.
Get to know your prospects and listen to them before you launch into a sales pitch. Small talk may seem old-fashioned, but it starts the discussion off right and helps everyone to relax. Even if you are just writing a cold email, try to sound more natural.
Also, don’t underestimate your thought leadership role simply because you have a prospect in the pipeline. Keep sharing resources as you move the prospect through the sales process. Make sure the resources you share with them reflect your knowledge of what they're doing, whether it's a webinar or a case study.
As long as you keep being a resource and remain personable, you will create the trust factor that will make a prospect convert.
Prepare your B2B sales prospecting strategy
A healthy pipeline of prospects is crucial to keeping sales and cash moving. Sales prospecting is the beginning of your entire sales funnel, so it's essential to start off strong.
You can optimize your sales process for the digital age by taking your sales prospecting tactics online. As customers are more comfortable going online, you need to put yourself right in their path in order to show your thought leadership and build your reputation.