Whether you are leading a startup or heading sales at a Fortune 500 company, you can never stop trying to find ways to generate more sales. Sales are the lifeblood of any organization. Without a consistent stream of warm leads, your organization is going to find it very difficult to grow
While there are many strategies to increase a company’s sales, one of the most important strategies is sales prospecting. An effective sales prospecting strategy can lead to consistent warm leads entering your sales funnel, thereby increasing your chances of increasing your sales numbers quarter after quarter.
The actual act of creating an effective sales prospecting strategy, however, is much less clear. There are many decisions that you need to make, from which prospects to target to how you and your colleagues are going to frame your pitch.
We’ve created this guide to guide you through the process of designing an effective sales prospecting strategy that suits your business needs. By implementing the following insights, you will have a sales prospecting strategy that will generate substantial value for your organization.
Outbound vs Inbound
There are two primary forms of sales prospecting: outbound and inbound. Outbound prospecting is when sales representatives send out communications (usually calls or emails) to gauge interest in a product or service.
The ultimate goal is to create opportunities for sales executives, who can then pitch those prospects and, ideally, have those prospects become paying customers.
On the other hand, there is inbound sales prospecting. Instead of actively reaching out to people who may be interested in your product or service, inbound sales prospecting relies on a more passive approach. These leads may initiate contact after reading a post on your company’s blog or downloading a free e-book that you shared on social media.
While sales representatives can follow-up with leads after they have interacted with your company’s content, inbound sales prospecting often involves the prospect of making the first move. Inbound prospecting can be an effective way to find new leads and increase your company’s sales.
Mastering Outbound Sales Prospecting
We are going to spend the remainder of this article focusing on outbound sales prospecting. If you are interested in learning more about inbound sales prospecting, there are plenty of guides and resources that can help you get started.
Identifying target audience
The first step in outbound sales prospecting is identifying the group of individuals you wish to target.
Deciding on your target audience is critical as you’ll be investing time in contacting those individuals and gauging their interest in your product or service. As the saying goes, you want to be fishing in the right pond.
Before making a phone call or drafting a sales email, sit down with your team and think about your target audience. Importantly, make sure that they are key decision-makers at their companies.
One of the most frustrating things can be getting a “yes” from your target, yet having your target’s boss or manager overrule that approval. You can reduce the chances of this happening by strategically creating a group of prospects.
As part of this, you’ll need to find the contact information for these leads. You can do this by manually finding all of your audience’s contact information, purchasing a database of that information, or hiring a third-party organization to acquire that information for you.
Whichever route you choose, the goal is to have accurate and complete contact information for the individuals you want to target.
Preparing your pitch
After getting your targets’ contact information, you will then start to reach out. Admittedly, this is more art than science. But when you are reaching out to your contacts, make sure that you are stepping into their shoes when communicating with them.
Identify what problem they’re trying to solve and make it clear that your product or service will solve that problem. You may need to try a whole host of different pitches to get one that resonates with your audience.
In the end, however, showing your target that you understand them and their problems will go a long way in helping you increase your number of qualified leads. You’ll be able to identify the segment of leads who are genuinely qualified and interested in your service and those who are not worth pursuing further.
Once you do find that list of qualified leads, it’s time to set up sales meetings and close the deal.
Never giving up
Depending on the product or service that you are selling, it may take longer to convince your prospect to make a purchase.
Nonetheless, at this point, your sales team should be dedicating much of their attention to converting these interested prospects into paying customers. Doing so substantially increases your organization’s chances of generating more sales.
Dos and Don’ts
With this basic understanding of how to get started with outbound sales prospecting, it’s important to discuss some of the dos and don’ts of this process. Some of these may be obvious, and some maybe not-so-obvious. That being said, you’ll want to pay attention to them as you’re proceeding on your outbound sales prospecting journey.
Define your targets
First, make sure that you stick with a sales prospecting schedule. If you have a list of 1,000 or 2,000 potential prospects, it can be intimidating. To make this process much more manageable, try to pick a certain number of individuals that you want to contact per day.
Even if you don’t reach your goal on certain days, creating and sticking with a schedule can ease the burden of getting through your next.
Put quality above quantity
Next, don’t sacrifice quality for the sake of quantity. Yes, it’s natural to think that we’ll be more successful with outbound sales prospecting if we contact more people. While this may be true in some circumstances, you don’t want to blaze through a long list of targets and automatically discard those that are initially resistant.
It turns out that some of your most exciting prospects may be the ones who don’t immediately book a meeting with you. It takes some judgment and discretion, but make sure you’re not quickly removing those prospects who showed some resistance to your pitch.
Listen more, talk less
You’ll also want to avoid extended monologues when speaking with your prospects. Keep in mind that they are the most influential people in the conversation. Because of this, make sure that they are feeling welcome and relaxed. Don’t be too “salesy” and make sure that you truly understand what needs fixing in their lives. By placing your focus on them rather than you, you’ll end up being more successful.
Finally, stay positive. It can be tough to hear the word no many times in a row. We’re only human. As difficult as it may be, we encourage you to stick with it. Sales prospecting takes commitment and the willingness to keep going—even if you have experienced many failures. Ultimately, don’t give up and stick with it.
The Right Approach
To wrap up this guide, we want to briefly explore some practical techniques of outbound sales prospecting. There are plenty of useful techniques, but these are especially effective—regardless of the size or sector of your organization.
A continuous process
Starting out, think of outbound sales prospecting as a process. There is never an ending point. You need to continue searching for prospects, identifying their wants and needs, and moving interested candidates down your sales funnels.
Adopting this mindset can be tremendously helpful, as it can help you find opportunities in some of the more unexpected places.
Study the competition
Sit down with prospects who have spoken with your competition and try to gauge where your competitors are succeeding and failing. The simple truth is that you don’t need to be entirely original to succeed at outbound sales prospecting.
Modeling your approach or pitch on a competitor, and avoiding the things they are doing wrong, can be massively helpful.
Focus on existing customers
Last but not the least, don’t forget your former customers. While some previous customers may permanently move on, others may be more than willing to become repeat customers.
It’s easy to focus on those new prospects, but don’t forget about those old ones. They can provide a consistent source of business for your company.
Get Started Today
Outbound sales prospecting is an effective way of generating new business and increasing your organization’s bottom line. However, it doesn’t happen naturally. It requires dedicated and consistent work from you and your team.
Implementing the tips and strategies discussed above will put you in a much better position to capitalize on the benefits of an effective outbound sales strategy.
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