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Your Guide To Productive Sales Prospecting

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According to The B2B Lead, most sales teams waste 50% of their time on unproductive prospecting.

But where does the time go? Many salespeople waste time pitching to the wrong person: a non-buyer that doesn’t have decision-making power or a potential buyer that’s just not interested in what’s being sold.

While the solution to this problem may seem simple—find better leads—the lead sourcing process can be long and frustrating.

If you’re getting tired of chasing dead ends, then it’s time to learn how you can maximize efficacy without spending hours on prospecting. The answer isn’t that easy, but it starts with identifying bad leads and taking them off your list. Time spent on potentially low-reward customers could be better spent turning a high-value lead into a client.

This sales prospecting guide will help guide you maximize your time, and hopefully bring your company more revenue.

What is prospecting in sales?

Sales prospecting is the process of finding potential clients, known as prospects, and reaching out to them with the goal of making a sale.

In the sales world, prospects differ from leads because they’ve been qualified based on specific criteria. Prior to this qualification process, the term leads is used until they’ve engaged enough or exhibited specific characteristics that overlap with your client base.

To show you all the steps that make sales prospecting a success, we’ve included some pointers on how to qualify leads, in addition to several steps that fit squarely into the prospecting process.

Step 1: Lead qualification – find buyers that meet your specifications

Business development professionals work across lots of different businesses, all with different products. That means your business’s prospecting approach is unique by nature. On top of these differences in products are the differences in business goals, capabilities and other factors that impact your prospecting.

The best way to navigate prospecting is to start with a rigorous lead qualification program. Working from a clear blueprint of your ideal customer helps you contact prospects that might actually buy what you’re selling.

For example, if you’re at a niche consultancy selling startup consulting services, then you’re not interested in reaching Fortune 500’s. You’ll want to focus on the lesser-known, fledgling companies in an industry. However, if you’re selling a software product that’s specifically designed for large enterprises with hundreds of users, you’ll be wasting your time pitching to brand new startups. It’s all about knowing your target audience.

With millions of businesses out there, narrowing them down might seem like a challenge, but sales prospecting tools can make the process less tedious.

  • Social media: Using platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are all great ways to find new leads. Sharing articles or information on products is a great way to attract potential clients. Viewing social media traffic through tools such as Facebook Insights, LinkedIn Sales Navigator or LinkedIn Premium enables sales teams to generate a lead database.

    From there, you can determine which accounts interact the most with your social media posts. Then, do a deep dive on their profile to further qualify the contact and prepare to engage with them. Important details to note are job titles, interests and any groups your contact takes part in. If more information is needed, databases like ZoomInfo offer additional details on a contact that can help you determine whether they’re worth pursuing.
  • Industry research: With the help of market research companies, it’s easier to find contacts that might fit your criteria.

    For example, IBISWorld’s Data Wizard is a tool that helps you narrow down a sprawling catalog of available industry information into focused lists that put your business’s best interests first. Say you’re a banking professional that’s looking for borrowers—you might be interested in targeting growing industries that are stable and offer a low likelihood of default. Industry research tools can help you weed out any struggling industries so you can focus on the more promising leads.
  • Company research: Company information is another way to qualify leads. A good company profile includes revenue figures, location, number of employees and other data that impacts buyer intent.

    Depending on how your research provider designs their suite of company profiles, you may be able to filter out unwanted contacts and zero in on the qualification factors that are most important to your business. For example, if you’re selling medical products and recently started increasing your sales to nursing home facilities, you could identify a list of companies that mirror your current nursing home clients by using company insights from a market research provider.
Related companies
Source: IBISWorld’s Company Benchmarking solution. Learn more
  • Lead scoring tools: In this day and age, lead qualification can also be automated using lead scoring tools that plug in to your CRM.

    Depending on which factors your company prioritizes—from website engagement, to lead form engagement to social media interactions—you can determine a scoring criteria. Then, your sales support team can integrate your scoring criteria with a lead scoring software or sales enablement app that qualifies your leads without any work from the sales floor.

Step 2: Researching your prospect

After forming your list of prospects, it’s time to research each one specifically.

  • If they’re a public company, all their financial statements are available. Go through SEC filings with a list of key metrics you want to look out for. For private companies, where data is not readily available, news outlets and blog posts can often provide useful information. You can also check a company research database for coverage on private companies.
  • Find out how the overall industry of the company is doing. Is it dying? Booming? Mature? This is where market research tools can come in handy. Taking a look at the industry as a whole can shed light on your future relationship with the prospect.
  • While small companies are often confined to a single industry, larger enterprises may span across various industries. Make sure you know the full scope of your prospect’s operations before getting in touch.

    Below, you can find the different industries WPP Plc operates in compared to a smaller competitor, Levick Public Relations Firm. For a company like WPP, ask yourself this: How does what I’m selling benefit the whole of their operations? Can a solution designed for public relations professionals also benefit marketing consultants?
Operating Industries - WPP Plc vs. Levick public Relations Firm
Source: IBISWorld’s Company Benchmarking solution. Learn more
  • Researching a company’s geographic footprint can also help you understand their operating environment. Are there any risk factors associated with the regions where they operate? Are your products even deliverable to all of their locations?
  • Keep yourself up to date with the latest news in regards to the company. For example, spending time researching a potential lead only to find out that their company is spinning off a major division may be a waste of your time.
  • Gather personal details about your prospect. In addition to knowing your prospect’s job title and location, there are other details you’ll want to find before reaching out. For example, how long have they been in their current position? Have they worked in other related industries? What roles have they taken on before?

    Not only should you research their professional background, but be sure to look over your prospect’s background with your company and team. If a colleague has reached out before, make sure to read over their notes for any red flags or get together with them to hear the full story. These types of details can be crucial during your call.

Step 3: Understand your prospect’s competition

Now that you have a good understanding of your prospect, it’s time to research their competitors.

  • Who are their competitors? What are their strengths and weaknesses? How have they been trending in regards to the industry? Have they engaged in merger and acquisition activity or are they slowly divesting assets?

    The answers to these questions can help you understand your prospect’s position in their industry. If stiff competition poses a threat to your prospect, they may not be a good fit for your services. Will they remain viable? Will you be able to support their shifting needs as they enter new markets? It’s better to find out now.
Public Relations Firms - Industry Competitor Matrix
Source: IBISWorld’s Company Benchmarking solution. Learn more
  • Comparing companies side by side and identifying key points can help when discussing your product. Maybe your product can help establish ground in a growing industry. Or, if the industry is filled with large players, your product could provide a niche use, helping the company carve out a small but strong customer base. These are all important things to keep in mind before making the initial call.
  • Does the company’s competitor have a contract with your business or use similar goods and services to keep their operations afloat? If so, this can give you leverage and proof that your product is a necessary buy. If your product has been helpful to other companies, you can use that information to strengthen your pitch.

Step 4: Pre call planning

Now your research is complete—time to establish the purpose of your call

Calling without a goal in mind will not only make you seem unprepared, but could also steer the conversation in the wrong direction. Remember: You are an extension of the company you represent. Without a clear idea of what your goal is, how can the prospect trust you or your company’s product? Imagine what a successful call should end with and plan accordingly to achieve that result.

The approach to the call should be based on what the goal is:

  • Is your goal to establish awareness? If so, get your value props ready and make sure to tailor your summary of the product to meet your prospect’s needs. Try not to be too lengthy, otherwise the prospect might feel overwhelmed.
  • Do you intend to educate the prospect about your solution? If you plan to educate them during the call, it’s best to have a demo at hand to explain the ins and outs. Keep in mind the company’s objectives and how your product can help accomplish those goals.

    For example, if an industry is leaning towards automation of data, offering statistics on reduced operations costs and time may be effective in drawing in a potential client.
  • Are you calling to pitch to an inbound lead who’s already interested? If you’re pitching to a company that has previously expressed interest, then they likely have a basic understanding of what your product does. That means you can go into more detail around what packages you offer and how your current clients get the most out of your solutions.

Step 5: Prepare questions and keep them on hand

While your prospect will be the one asking most of the questions, it’s best to prepare your own list as well. Your questions should be tailored based on the company you’re selling to and the product you’re pitching. You should also keep in mind who you’re talking to. Different roles call for different questions.


Common call prep questions to ask:

  • How does your company’s profit compare to your main competitors?
  • Tell me about your average day. How would this solution impact your daily work?
  • What are your next quarter and next-year goals?
  • How will this product help you achieve those goals?
  • What’s your timeline for product implementation?
  • What is a successful outcome to you?
  • Has your company been exposed to volatility over the past few years?
  • Is your company impacted by foreign competition?

It’s important to remember that you’re talking to a real person who is busy, just like you. In some cases you might have just a few minutes to make your case before they head into a meeting or other obligation.

Find ways to avoid the boring, technical stuff in the early stages to keep your offer fresh and exciting. When you’re pitching or demoing a product, try sprinkling in an anecdote or something that’s personal to your lead. Building relationships is fundamental, not only for securing a lead but for nurturing the lead as well. Establishing trust and assuring your prospect that you have their company’s best interests in mind will go a long way.

Keep in mind that even if you do everything correctly, you might still face objections or rejection. In those instances, it’s important to remain positive and handle any pushback in a calm and collected manner. There’s always a chance your prospect will change their mind, and being approachable gives you the best shot at re-engaging.

Source from Ibisworld

Disclaimer: The information set forth above is provided by Ibisworld independently of Alibaba.com. Alibaba.com makes no representation and warranties as to the quality and reliability of the seller and products.

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