A Comprehensive Guide to Sales Prospecting - Process, Techniques and Tools!


Prospecting is undoubtedly the first and most important part of the sales process, and one of the most important aspect of an organization . So, if you are new to the sales process, this article will guide you through everything you need to know about Sales Prospecting.

What is Sales Prospecting?

Prospecting is the way of developing a new business by searching for customers or buyers for your products or services. It is the first step of a sales process, and a common role of a salesperson.

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Sales prospecting refers to seeking or obtaining new customers for a business. Simply put, it is a process of creating an opportunity to make a sale. It is all about identifying potential customers or clients for your company – who also known as prospects.

The goal of sales prospecting is to move the prospects through the sales funnel until they convert into revenue-generating customers. It is incorporated to expand the customer base of the company and generate new revenue streams.

Lead Vs Prospect

In order to fully understand how sales prospecting works, you need to have a clear idea about the difference between a lead and a prospect.

Leads are the potential customers who have expressed their interest in your company or services. It is identifiable through various behaviors like visiting your website, subscribing to your blog or newsletter, etc. A lead may or may not become your revenue-generating customer.

A prospect, on the other hand, is a qualified lead. Simply put, leads become prospects when they align with your target audience and buyer personas.

Moreover, someone can be a prospect based on their qualifications and behaviors - even if they have limited or no interaction with your company.

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When new leads enter the sales pipeline, they encounter your product for the first time. Then, if a lead shows interest in your business, it moves toward the next steps of the pipeline and become a prospect. Thus, the likelihood of converting into a paying customer increases. This is the relation between a lead and a prospect.

Types of Sales Prospecting

Sales prospecting can be segmented in the following ways -

Cold vs Warm Prospecting

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Cold prospects are customers or companies that you have identified as well-qualified as your target audience, but that has little to no awareness about your company.

A warm Prospect, on the other hand, is a person or a business, that has in some way, shown interest in your business by following your company, or came as a referral from a friend or previous client. These types of prospects are much more valuable than cold prospects, as they are more likely to convert to customers.

Hot prospects, on the other hand, are those who went through both cold and warm stages. At this point, they are located close to the bottom of the sales funnel.

To identify whether a prospect is warm or cold, you can apply the BANT prospect qualifying system.

  • Budget – the prospect’s expectations around pricing and if it matches your products.
  • Authority – if the contacted person is the person in charge, or the Recommender and his final decision regarding your product.
  • Need – the needs and demands of the prospects and if your company can address them.
  • Timeline - the time a person takes to make a decision.

Inbound vs Outbound

Outbound prospecting is a direct marketing channel, where you identify your potential customers and reach out to them directly to introduce your company and its products and its services offered. It is also called traditional prospecting.

On the other hand, Inbound prospecting is a process of generating leads by creating content. Inbound prospects usually have an initial knowledge about your company and directly comes to you.

It is a highly focused method of marketing and prioritizes prospects based on their demographics and behaviors.

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In current times, inbound prospecting is more prioritized than that of outbound methods. However, most businesses find it more effective is to use both inbound and outbound approach.

Importance of Sales Prospecting

Prospecting is an important part of the sales process, but at the same time, it has a lot of advantages for your company.

Sales prospecting is the key to your business growth.

It creates a pipeline of potential customers and converts them to revenue-generating customers. When these prospects move through the pipeline and convert to customers, they help to generate more revenue for your business.

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Pipeline is priceless to business growth, as it explains the entire process of targeting and converting. Without a way of building a pipeline, your sales process is ought to struggle. Besides, it also helps you to focus on the right accounts.

Moreover, sales prospecting can be an easy way of getting competitive insights.

These days, competition is very strong, and to stay on top of the list, you need to know about the other brands your prospects are considering. Through sales prospecting, you can gather insights from your prospects, which can help you to precisely position your products and services and improve them accordingly.

Process of Sales Prospecting

The process of sales prospecting consists of the following 4 step framework-

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1. Research

This is the first and the most important phase of prospecting.

At this stage, you study your leads to gather in-depth information about them and determine whether or not they qualify as a strong potential prospect. You must ensure that you are qualifying your prospects so that they improve your opportunities of increasing value.

Moreover, in this stage, you have to identify and determine if the prospect is workable and begin prioritizing prospects accordingly. Prioritizing your prospects assures you are devoting your best efforts only to prospects that are most likely to become customers.

The easiest way of doing it is through a quick internal qualification check. This helps you make sure our leads tick all the important criteria of strong potential buyers.

You can ask these quick qualification questions to find your ultimate prospects -

  • Does the lead match your ideal customer profile?
  • Is the lead situated in the demography of your service?
  • What is the size of the organization or relevant department you are targetting?
  • Does the lead have a need or demand for using your product or service?
  • Have the lead expressed an interest in buying your product?
  • Is the lead currently using a competitor product?

2. Connect

Now that you have done your research and identified your potential prospects, the next step is to reach out to them.

Before you come in contact with our prospects, you need to create a pitch and personalize your outreach. To do so, you must determine what your prospects care about.

You can do that by checking their blogs, social media, or website information. Then you can map and outline our prospect's options and end-goals, and personalize a pitch that resonates with their main objectives.

Once you have our pitch ready, you can select a medium of communication, and make your first contact with your prioritized prospects.

3. Educate and Evaluate

So, now that you have made contact with your sales prospect, it is time to evaluate and qualify their needs again to make sure there is truly a common fit for the prospect to become a satisfied customer.

However, this time, the qualification process is more focused, in-depth, and based on your conversation rather than research and assumptions.

Though an in-person communication, you can inform about your business to your prospects and, at the same time, through questions and queries, determine and qualify them as well. Hence, you can now fully evaluate if they are interested in your business, their goals and objectives, and if their demands align with your business.

At this stage, you will also come across objections - prospect’s challenge leading to opposing a product or service. You will have to deal with the objections from your prospects in a positive and friendly manner.

Through this, you can confirm and validate that your sales prospect is indeed a good-fit customer for you.

4. Close

The last and final stage of prospecting is closing. It is basically the outcome of previous stages - that is, whether or not your lead has qualified as a prospect that can convert into a potential customer.

You can determine this from the communication with the prospect and how they responded to your pitch.

Simply put, when the buyer purchases or agrees to purchase a product or service from you, it means you won the close, and your prospect is now a potential customer.

However, if the buyer refuses or neglects to purchase your product or service, then it was a loss, and at closing, the prospect did not convert to a potential customer.

Techniques of Sales Prospecting

Sales prospecting techniques are the ways or methods you use to outreach to source new leads or engage with existing leads. There are a lot of different approaches you can take, and these methods can vary from organization to organization.

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So, we have listed some of the most common techniques of sales prospecting for you to consider.

1. Personalised Emails

Emails are the most common and widely used form of communication. While mass spam emails might be a dead route to follow, Personalized emails, on the contrary, runs the show when it comes to sales prospecting.

No one is eager to read lengthy, automated, spammy emails. So, before you contact your prospect, make sure that you customized your content to each prospect’s needs.

You need to make sure the content is specific and addresses the needs of a particular prospect. You can impress them with personalized emails by showing that you know and care about them.

Besides, You can use templates and tools to organize and create these personalized emails.

Moreover, to ensure a conversion, you need to make sure your emails are optimized for every device, so your leads can open and read your emails while on-the-go.

2. Warm Calls

We have already discussed cold and warm prospects. This concept is quite similar to that.

A warm call, as opposed to cold calls, is more engaging and emphatic. It gives the impression that you have indeed conducted your research, and that you value your prospects.

And let's be real, everyone loves being valued! So generating friendly conversation through warm calls can potentially give you more qualifying prospects.

3. Follow up

The importance of maintaining communication with your prospects is surreal. It is vital to keep your prospects updated by sending follow up emails or calls, and relaying required information.

Once again, follow up shows that you value your prospects, which always plays a positive role in their impression about you.

Moreover, after your first point of contact, it is quite obvious that not all of your leads will turn into potential customers. So, a follow up can be of help to keep the prospect in a loop, and push and motivate them to convert into a customer.

Through follow-ups, you can confirm a time for your next meeting or send over additional resources. It can also help you to build trust and a good relationship with your prospect. Besides, though follow-ups, you can convert one time customers to regular customers as well.

4. Social Media

Building a social media presence is vital because this is where your potential prospects visit to find information about you.

Moreover, in this era, almost everyone is on social media. So, it is quite likely that your prospects are active on social media as well.

You can use this to your advantage to not only find them, but also to get in contact with your prospects and build a relationship. Also, you can make proper use of targeted advertising in social media to reach out to more prospects.

If you are starting off, you can primarily focus on building a presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Quora.

Besides, if you are on social media, you can easily share your content as well as respond to their questions and queries to help push them through the sales funnel.

5. Networking through events

Events can be a potential place for networking as well as prospecting.

An event that coincides with your industry gives you access to a large number of individuals with similar interests. You can make your presence acknowledged by either speaking at the event or managing a booth.

This provides you a great opportunity to attract potential customers. Moreover, in these events, you get the chance to interact with your prospects face to face, and have a more humane and convincing conversation, which can help to turn potential prospects into customers.

6. Referrals

Referrals from customers can be a reliable source of high-quality lead generation, that too for free of cost.

Your customers can be a potential link to introduce your business to their friends or colleagues after a successful sale.

You can always ask for a referral from a customer after a purchase is made. If your customer is satisfied, they are likely going to be happy to provide a referral.

You can also set up sales meetings, send your customers invitations to events, share whitepapers, and other relevant content – this makes sure you stay top of mind of your customers! They acknowledge that you truly care about them and are likely to spread the word of mouth about you.

7. Don’t Sell

You need to remember, prospecting is only the first step in selling, but in and of itself, it is not selling.

So, if you try to treat every contact with your prospects as a race to close the deal, you will end up disappointed.

Hence, if you want to be successful in today's sales environment, your target instead should be to build a good relationship while prospecting. You should try to focus more on understanding the needs of your prospects, and provide them with relevant information.

Building a foundation of trust will help you and the prospect become more comfortable with each other, eventually making the process of converting them to customers more effectively.

Useful Tool for Sales Prospecting

Last but not least, we are going to introduce you to our top picked tools to help you get started with sales prospecting.

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1. Prospect.io

Prospect.io is an email lookup tool.

In the process sales prospecting, you need to gather a list of your prospect as well as find their contact details to be able to connect with them. That is when the tool steps in.

All you need to do to find the person you’re looking for is their input their name, or the company website’s URL and the tool will provide you with their contact details.

However, this tool has a lot more to offer you than just finding you the email of a prospect. What sets it apart is its ability to integrate with major CRM platforms like Salesforce and Hubspot Sales.

Moreover, it has a very unique credit system that you can use to verify emails, create simple drip campaigns, and gain data and analytics through tracking each email. You can build and manage email campaigns from the tool’s dashboard as well.

Besides, if you’re working on Google Chrome, Prospect.io also offers a custom extension to use on the browser.

2. MatterMark

Mattermark can be your best friend in searching for prospects for your business. You can quickly search through their directory of businesses to find prospects using their filters.

These filters can get very specific and you can search for leads based on - geography, company size, industry, business model, b2b/b2c, or even the amount of funds their raising.

Moreover, it also integrates directly with a lot of the CRMs on the market.

Another great feature of this tool is that it allows you to save businesses into specific lists. It helps you to automate your prospecting by creating saved searches with over 80 different data fields, comprehensive with company and news alerts.

3. Outreach

Outreach is a great tool to help you automize your sales prospecting process.

It sets up touchpoints for your prospects so that every time they interact with you, they are automatically replied to straight away.

We have already discussed the importance of building a good impression and staying in touch with prospects. If the prospects are not dealt with properly, they might leave.

Outreach offers an advanced messaging system, that will automatically reply to a prospect, and even if you don’t receive a reply from them, it will also follow-up with them again for you.

4. Owler

Owler is a free database that can provide you with company information about your top competitors.

You can find who they are, what are their most recent acquisitions, and also their funding history. Moreover, you can also get access to general information such as their social media accounts, number of employees, and annual revenue.

Sales prospecting can be full of repetitive tasks, but by using the tools above, you’ll be able to increase your efficiency, connect with more prospects in less time, and close more deals than ever before.

Begin Prospecting

Prospecting is vital to the sales process, but it doesn't necessarily have to be a difficult task. By incorporating the mentioned strategies into your workflow, you can identify and convert your prospects into paying customers in no time. At the same time, you can make it a positive experience for both you and your prospects.

So, select the ideal methods and tools for you and get started with the sales prospecting process.

© 2020 DiscoverEmails. A RankToday Company.
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