As we’ve previously discussed, the difference between great companies and others that simply fade away is the ability of the former to plan for the future.
Sales Prospecting is one such business function. When done right, it can determine the success of a company for years to come. However, when done poorly, or not at all, it can turn into a sinkhole that drains your company of time, money and resources.
Let’s start this off with a simple statistic: According to research by the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research which surveyed 488 buyers and 489 sellers in 25+ industries, 82% of buyers say they take meetings with reps who reach out to them. Additionally, buyers want to hear from reps when they’re looking for opportunities to improve their business (71%) or trying to solve a problem (62%).
So that pretty much conclusively busts the “sit on your backside because buyers hate to be reached out to” myth.
And that makes sense. In any sort of decision-making process, we seek out conversations and input. If you do both of them well, you get a sale. If you don’t, you get marked as spam.
In this article, we’re going to talk about what sales prospecting is, how to do it well, what advantages you should see when it’s done right and how to automate it.
So what is Sales Prospecting?
And what does it have to do with proactive sales decisions by companies?
Prospecting is the process of searching for new potential customers, clients, or buyers with the goal of developing new businesses for the company. The end goal is to move these ‘prospects’ through the sales funnel until they eventually convert into revenue-generating customers.
High performing companies often have dedicated sales prospectors known as Sales Development Reps (SDR’s).
Job Role and Responsibilities
In the literal sense, SDR’s function exactly as old-timey prospectors. They sit by metaphorical sales rivers, searching the dirt for untapped gold deposits. They are trying to create new leads, this could be researching a new market, or digging deeper into the same sectors.
These Sales Development Reps help create perennial streams of revenue by unlocking new industries and customers for their sales team. This frees up existing executives from having to manually, and incompletely prospect for their own leads, and instead gives them ready-to-buy leads that they can knock out of the park.
The primary tools for Sales Prospecting are often outbound calls, or outbound emails, with the aim of creating new opportunities for account executives.
Sales is a function of two primary determinants, time and numbers. If you have the right product at the right time, you have a successful sale.
Sales Prospecting done well allows you to get ahead of these restraints, and by extension define the playing field you’re on. Prospecting requires extensive amounts of research and is the first step to a successful sales regiment.
Qualify your prospective clients based not just on who could potentially give you the most money, but to whom you could provide the most value to as a business. Through research, you look to achieve the following goals –
I. predeterminants to define your ideal customer
You can do this based on several parameters.
- Industry: Sectors that could see tangible returns from the use of your product/service.
- Number of Employees: If you’re an HR SaaS provider or a Digital Marketing company, number of employees could be an important flag to establish the size and growth of the company.
- Geographic Data: Where companies are located can have an impact. Seasonality can be an issue too. Certain times of the year can be busier/slower for industries and roles.
- Revenue: Small fish may not be able to afford your stuff and big fish may have a custom solution.
II. Prospector side action
Now that you can establish what an ideal company is for you, it is now time for the prospector to look more closely at the companies. You need to put yourself in their shoes and ask questions like, “Are they familiar with our industry?”, “Do they use a competitor?” and “Have they come across any of our blogs, ads or offerings before?”
Finding those who make decisions within the protected borders of assistants and gate keepers has made the end of many-a-prospector.
Prospectors are often required to be experts in the industries they research, to make sure they can field any questions the companies representatives have. Through this research, your prospector may even develop important contacts that your sales team can tap to further build your sale.
Your prospector should be able to find the exact person your salesperson can reach out to. There are two types of employees in a company from a prospectors point of view.
Decision-makers and Influencers.
Decision-makers are the ones that either approve or reject the buy. So think VP’s and CEO’s who have control of funds that they will release for the purchase of your product or service.
Influencers are the direct users of your product. If your product is a Customer Support Automation tool, then Customer Success Managers are the influencers in question. They may not have the power to buy, but they’re often the ones that interact with your product and thus can become our biggest internal advocates.
If you can convince people on the inside that your product is useful, they will sell for you and make the pitch easier.
Does Sales Prospecting feel like too much work? Build your bot in five minutes and engage all your leads in seconds.
III. The Handoff
Through these processes, your prospectors have collected swathes of data that they will provide to the sales team. Context is key, the more information your salesperson can call upon, the better their pitch is likely to be.
Simply giving your sales team a handful of numbers and calling it a day sabotages all the work that your prosector through to get that number.
Pipelines and funnels are designed to create a constant stream of revenue, and those organizations and sales teams that balance lead acquisition and lead nurturing are those that manage to stay in business.
Create easy-to-use spreadsheets or infographics that your sales team can use as crash-courses to the industry, company or customer to maximize information transfer. Give your sales team multiple touch points, so they don’t just stick to cold calling. LinkedIn, Twitter and AngelList, along with traditional means like email are all tools your sales team can use to warm up prospects.
We at Verloop use Sales Prospecting to flesh out new sectors that could benefit from Conversational Automation, Marketing, and Support. But we have it considerably easier, because a 20% overnight increase in leads generated is an easy sell, regardless of the industry in question.
But we’re also wary of how we treat our leads when our Sales Prospecting pays off, and potential customers arrive at our website.
When your customer is on a computer a thousand miles away, one of two things tends to happen.
- They spend the next half an hour scouring your website to understand the value derivation you provide. (unlikely)
- They won’t get their answer and leave. (likely)
And when customers in your target market are left untouched, they eventually go to one of your competitors. Most of the time, to the one that talked to them quicker.
The internet is the most potent two-way communication interface in the history of humanity, but most companies just use it to blast out emails.
Instead of letting prospective customers simply slip through your website return to the Sales: Conversation. To create a conversational sales platform for free, in under five minutes, check this out.