Prospecting is a key process for any business, finding those unqualified leads and nurturing them to be happy customers. But for something that sounds so simple on paper, it can be tricky to know if you’ve really done everything you can, or if there are more effective ways of getting better results. Here are a few of our favorite techniques.
Yes, prospecting is a key part of the sales process — but it isn’t selling. When you’re first reaching out to leads, the last thing you want to do is scare them away with a hard sell.
The original prospectors would sift through the mud and stones to find gold, but they weren’t the ones who refined and crafted the gold. That was someone else’s job.
In the same way, your job is to find the ‘gold’ prospects, nothing more or less. In most cases, there’ll be someone else who’ll do the selling, but even if you’re a solo salesperson it’s important to have a clear distinction between the prospecting and the selling.
Instead, your first contact with a prospect should have only two key objectives:
- To provide value
- To pave the way for a second contact
If your pitch is all about you and how awesome you are, your prospects aren’t going to be impressed. Instead, spell out exactly what’s in it for them. You need to provide actual value right there, or at the very least make it clear what value you can provide in the future.
Then, rather than closing your message with the hard sell, aim to start a conversation. A great way of doing this is by asking an actual question to open up a dialogue. No rhetorical, obvious questions here, please.
Sound like a human being, not a cheesy infomercial.
How are you dealing with?
Are you ready to start winning and stop being a loser?
Mix it up
We all have our favorite methods of communication. Unfortunately, that can often blind us to other methods when it comes to prospecting. Whether you prefer getting in touch with your prospects via email, phone calls, social media or carrier pigeon, you need to consider several factors.
First of all, each method has its own strengths and weaknesses. Cold calling is great for getting attention, but many people will screen their calls and may not be open to approaching that way.
Email prospecting can easily be scaled up to massive numbers, but it’s also easily ignored. Social media may be great for specific markets, but your ideal prospects may not even be on the network. And while everyone loves carrier pigeon, they may take a long time to reach your prospect (even longer if they have a cat).
Different methods will work better for different prospects, but it’s usually challenging to know the best way beforehand. That’s why we recommend mixing up your approach and getting in touch using different methods.
The two most effective methods have proven to be emails and phone calls, so start with those. For example, use a phone call for your first attempt, then follow up with an email, alternating until you get a response.
Using sales prospecting tools
One of the top sales prospecting mistakes is trying to do all the work yourself. It’s essential to keep it personal when it comes to your prospecting, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it easier and reach more people with the right tools.
There’s a lot of services that’ll take care of the manual, time-consuming tasks, leaving you to personalize the important parts.
For example, you could use:
- Email verification tools to quickly verify long lists of email addresses,
- Data enhancement apps to find out more about your prospects before you get in touch,
- Email automation software like Reply to send effective prospecting emails at scale.
Additionally, you could use cold email prospecting email templates or cold calling scripts, to make sure you’re never stuck staring at a blank page or wondering what to say next.
Of course, it’s important to do your research before you decide on your tools. Have a clear idea of your prospecting process, and identify any parts that are time-consuming or difficult to scale manually. Ask fellow prospectors for their recommendations.
Check out any available reviews and testimonials. Just as you wouldn’t try to build a house with your bare hands, neither should you try and build an effective prospecting funnel without using any tools.
Segmenting like a pro
If all this talk of automated prospecting has you wondering how you can possibly keep things personal, segmentation is essential.
If you have a clear idea of who your prospects are (based on hard data, rather than assumptions), you’ll soon start to see distinct groups emerge. These might be across the industry, job title, behavior, location, or other demographics.
Group your prospects
Start breaking down your prospects into these groups, imagining as you go that you’re separating them into different physical rooms. Maybe one of your rooms contains C-level management which you’ve contacted before and are based in Europe, while the next room contains salespeople from America who’ve never heard of you.
Now, imagine standing in front of one of those rooms and talking to them. Are some people looking confused, maybe even falling asleep, wondering whether what you’re saying has anything to do with them? Then you should consider segmenting further.
On the other hand, is everyone in the audience nodding along, certain you’re talking personally to them and them alone? That’s the power of good segmentation, which leaves your prospects with an uncanny feeling you were reading their mind.
Each prospect on your list is unique, but not as unique as they may think. By segmenting them into groups with common traits, you can talk to them personally, but on a larger scale.
There are many more prospecting techniques you can use. However, by making sure you’re not going immediately for the hard sell, mixing up your contact methods, using sales prospecting tools and segmenting your list, you’ll have a solid foundation to your next prospecting campaign.