What is sales prospecting?
What is a sales prospect?
In sales, a prospect is a potential customer. The process of sales prospecting helps in qualifying the prospect based on certain predefined criteria that identify the ability and likelihood to buy.
Lead vs. prospect: What’s the difference?
Leads are people who have engaged with your marketing efforts via social media, website, email, or offline communication methods. Marketing teams usually pass on these contacts to sales teams. So, a lead hasn’t necessarily engaged with your sales reps, and there’s no way of knowing if they match your ideal customer profile.
A sales prospect is someone who has either engaged with the sales team or fits the ideal customer profile, thereby increasing their chances of converting to a highly qualified sales opportunity.
What are the types of sales prospecting?
Sales prospecting can be inbound or outbound:
Inbound prospecting: The prospect reaches out to you after engaging with your content on the website, blog, social media, etc. As a result, the prospect is more upfront in the conversation, describing what they need from you.
Outbound prospecting: You reach out to the prospect directly through cold calls or emails, social media, ads on billboards and television, etc. As a result, you’re responsible for leading the conversation and ensuring that it offers tremendous value to the prospect.
What is the importance of prospecting in sales?
According to the Rain Group’s Top Performance in Sales Prospecting research, 71% of buyers wish to meet with salespeople as early as possible in the sales process. However, 58% don’t find these meetings valuable.
A sales rep with the proper prospecting techniques and tools in their arsenal can deliver value from the get-go. The same research reports that top sales performers generate almost 3x more sales meetings than reps who don’t prospect.
That’s why sales prospecting is vital to generating more good-fit leads that match your ideal customer profile, thereby increasing conversion rates and winning more deals.
“I don’t need this solution” or “I’m happy with my current setup”
“I have never heard of you”
“It’s too expensive for us”
“I need to check with my manager”
“It isn’t important for us right now” or “I need to think about it”
Who is responsible for sales prospecting?
The sales development representatives (SDRs) are responsible for finding prospects and qualifying leads as prospects.
Most enterprises have a large salesforce dedicated to prospecting. Here’s the organization structure:
Oversee the management of the sales pipeline
to track progress on existing deals, monitor sales KPIs, and motivate the team, while charting strategies to bring more qualified leads into the pipeline
Sales development representative (SDR): Generate new prospects matching the ideal customer profile (ICP) through cold calling, cold emailing prospect template, or social media outreach
Account executive (AE): Close deals by conducting demos, sharing sales presentations, and handling objections from prospects qualified by the SDRs
How to set up sales prospecting
Prospecting is a crucial part of your sales strategy and, as mentioned earlier, vital to closing more deals.
There are two stages to sales prospecting. The first is at the managerial level, where the sales managers and leaders must:
Understand their market to map the pain points and needs of an ideal buyer
Define the ICP at length
Develop a healthy pipeline of leads and prospects
Ensure that prospects get assigned to reps depending on their skills and experience
Ensure that the sales team crafts delightful experiences for the prospects
Work in tandem with marketing
The second stage is at the rep level, where sales reps must:
Research their prospects to speak their language, be well-versed with their needs and pain points, and understand what drives their industry and market trends
Develop a personalized pitch for each prospect and medium
Build a relationship with the prospect that’s focused on adding value — more money, customers, or efficiency
Evaluate the prospecting process along with the sales manager to identify what needs improving
Sales prospecting best practices
According to a HubSpot survey, only 37% of prospects felt that the sales reps who called them had provided relevant information.
Here are five sales prospecting best practices to ensure that each outreach offers value to your prospect.
According to Brent Keltner, Founder and President of Winalytics, “every company is now selling to six to eight personas. There are probably three or four different types of unique value that different personas care about. So you gotta tell a story to each buyer, about what’s in it for them.”
In addition to tailoring your message for each persona, you should also adjust it for the medium you’re using — emails, calls, or LinkedIn. The message should convey the value and resonate with the prospect within the first 10 seconds.
For writing custom emails and LinkedIn messages, an in-depth understanding of the prospect, their industry, and your value proposition come in handy.
Whereas, for personalized calls, a conversation intelligence tool that provides you with discreet pitch points and battle cards can help nail the call.
Brent Keltner also highlights the importance of the value you have to offer. Sales reps should stop thinking about selling and start thinking about their buyer’s success statement.
This requires salespeople to dig deep into their prospect’s problems and then guide the customer down a path where they persuade themselves of the value of your offering.
During prospecting calls, a conversation intelligence tool can provide real-time cues on customer needs, market trends, competitor comparisons, and more to move the conversation forward.
A piece of common advice in the sales ecosystem is to follow up as if your life depends on it. Unfortunately, most reps give up after a couple of follow-ups. However, it takes at least five follow-ups to close a deal.
In addition to customizing the follow-ups, your reps can adopt a multichannel strategy using emails, social media and calls to get better results.
Using a sales intelligence tool, you can set up a repeatable process to automate follow-ups and convert more prospects.
Without measuring the right metrics, it’s impossible to know how your sales prospecting strategy and technique need to improve. So, here are some essential sales prospecting KPIs to track:
Number of calls and emails per prospect
Number of meetings booked and completed
The length of each conversation
Follow-ups per prospect
Conversion rates (from lead to prospect to opportunity)
The average deal size
“I feel like a dentist when I remind managers: You should spend more time coaching. It feels like I’m asking a patient to floss more. Like a broken record. They nod, and agree that it’s a good idea. But coaching velocity remains slow.”
Alex Boyd, Founder and CEO at RevenueZen
The values of continuous coaching to improve rep performance have been well-established. The challenge lies in execution, since managers don’t have enough time to coach every rep personally.
That’s where a real-time call coaching tool can help by doing all the grunt work and freeing up a manager’s time for more personalized one-on-one feedback sessions. The coaching tool can help you set up: