Five Techniques to Improve Your Sales Prospecting
The sales landscape is changing and you can’t afford to be left in the dust. It’s time to drop the antiquated procedures, drop the excuses, drop the wasted time, and say goodbye to subpar revenue. Let’s improve your business and make it the most efficient it can be. The only way to do this is to expand your company’s techniques for reaching potential customers. 50% of sales time is wasted on prospecting that leads to nothing. Follow these tips correctly and not only will you be more efficient and gain time—most importantly—you’ll end up gaining revenue.
1) Improve Your Research Skills
Research is the most important detail of prospecting. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to do research. You simply just need to do it. It’s the only way to determine the quality of your leads. Don’t be lazy- you’ll be out of work if your leads aren’t workable. Doing research will:
-help you see if the prospect is workable or a waste of time
-begin to prioritize your prospects
-help you find opportunities to develop rapport, trust, and personalization
Consider questions such as these when you do prospecting research:
-Does the prospect fit in from an organizational perspective?
-Does your territory align with the prospect’s?
-Does your company sell to the same industry as the prospect’s?
-Does the prospect fit into your typical buyer persona?
Focus on the customers with the best longterm value who have the opportunity bring you the most revenue. For example, if you usually sell to large businesses with 1,000+ employees, focus on finding more business of that size before settling for small mom-and-pop businesses.
2) Change with the Times
Do you think social media’s not important? Think again. 60% of buyers take social media into consideration when making a purchase. Do you think online presence isn’t that important and that your product’s quality will take care of itself? Wrong again. 44% of buyers take online articles into account. You need to grow your online presence as quickly as possible. It’s 2020, after all. When conducting your all-important research process, make sure you take your prospect’s social media pages, blog subscriptions, etc. into consideration. Don’t live in the past. Take advantage of all aspects of the Internet.
Determining which prospects are truly important will save you a lot of time and ensure you’re going to spend that time on people who will actually consider buying your product. Prioritization levels are never the same, depending on the prospect or the particular organization; however, the focus will become clear the longer you prioritize prospects and determine who’s most likely to buy. You will naturally get better at it the longer you do it, to the point that it becomes second nature.
Keep your ranking system simple and assign a numerical value between 1 to 100 for important factors such as size of opportunity and timing (how soon you think you can get the deal closed). Add up the prospect’s variable scores and divide by the number of variables you took into account (size, timing, etc.)—this will be your new formula for how you rate a prospect. You can then use the numbers to prioritize all of your prospects in a master document.
(4) Prepare the Outreach
Once you’ve effectively implemented the research process as one of your daily tasks, it’s time to execute a great pitch and reach out to the prospect based on your research. Before proceeding, double-check to make sure you/your team did their due diligence and determined what the prospect cares about. For example, did you find blogs that the prospect reads? Did you review your prospect’s social media posts? Did you check the prospect’s company’s website to read their “About Us” section? Don’t even consider doing outreach if you haven’t taken steps such as these. Remember, research is the most important step of sales prospecting.
Make sure you find a reason to connect with the prospect, beyond wanting to make money off of him/her, of course. Consider questions such as:
-Do you and the prospect have mutual connections?
-Has the prospect recently visited your company’s website?
-If so, what did the person search for that brought him/her to your site?
Next, personalize a pitch that includes (1) your researched criteria (2) the reason you’re connecting with the prospect.
(5) Smart First Contact
Your outreach must be extremely tailored to the prospect’s business or goals, whether the contact takes place through phone or email. Keep these factors in mind when contacting your prospect:
-Be personal. Speak about a problem the prospect is having and offer an effective solution.
-Be relevant. Make sure the problem your prospect is experiencing is still relevant or of use to the prospect’s company.
-Don’t be robotic. You’re a human. Act like one. Add personal touches to the conversation to build rapport and show the prospect that you care. No one is going to buy from you if you’re just going through the motions and reading off a generic script. Also, don’t be fake. Be genuine. People can tell when a salesperson is fake.
-Help the prospect. Your mission is to provide value to the prospect. Go out of your way to do so. For example, instead of simply scheduling a follow-up meeting, offer to have your team do an audit of your prospect’s online presence.
-Be casual. Remember, you’re having a conversation, so make it a natural one. Just because you’re a salesperson doesn’t mean you need to sound like a salesperson every waking second of the phone call. Prospecting doesn’t even involve selling. The calls and emails are just to see if a deal could be of mutual benefit to both parties.
One common question is whether you should do emails or phone calls to establish first contact. Why not both? Each carry their own advantages and disadvantages. Doing both will minimize the disadvantages. Let’s take a look at how to be good at both contact methods—
The Right Email
If you want your prospect to actually open your email, you’re going to have to consider the following factors:
-Catchy subject line: The subject line must be interesting and grab the prospect’s attention. Throw generic subject lines out the window and focus on what matters to the prospect and his/her company. (This shouldn’t be hard if you did your research!)
-Personalize the opening line: The email should say something about the prospect, not something about the salesperson or company. This process is all about determining the prospect’s problems and offering solutions to those problems.
-Establish a connection: The prospect has already learned why you’ve taken the time to reach out to him/her. Now it’s time for that person to learn why he/she should care what you have to say.
-Make a great call-to-action: Offer a concrete time to connect over the phone or ask a close-ended question that makes it very clear it’s up to the prospect to decide when to connect. Use a line such as: “Do you have five minutes to catch up tomorrow?” or “Will you be available for a 15-minute call on Thursday between 1-5 p.m.?”
The Right Phone Call
Whether in conjunction with an email or not, it’s highly recommended you get on the phone sooner rather than later and give the prospect a call. When you do, keep the following in mind:
-Establish rapport: It’s okay to get personal and ask how a prospect’s week is going or if they’re going to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday. These personalized touches will ensure a more meaningful relationship with your prospect and make the person more likely to buy from you.
-Bring up pain points: Don’t shy away from pain. Dive into it. By the end of the call, you should know all the challenges that a prospect’s company faces and the underlying causes of them. You can better position yourself to make a sale by understanding the pain points to the point that you have high confidence that your product will eliminate one’s pain.
-Drive curiosity: Ask tons of questions. The conversation is focused on the prospect so you can understand the person’s needs. The less you talk about your product, the more eager the prospect will be to hear your ending sales pitch/solution to the pain points.
-Move on: Find a time between one to two days after the call to conduct a follow-up. Use a line such as: “Will you have 15 minutes to follow up later this week? My colleague, Tim, would be happy to join us. He’s an expert in X, Y, Z. I can make almost any time work, so what time works best for you?”
(5) Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
Take notes throughout the entire prospecting process to assess what generated interest or value and what wasted time. After every interaction with a prospect, write down how well you think that you:
-Dealt with challenges
-Created clear goals
-Successfully stuck to the budget
-Understood the decision-making process
-Determined the results of inaction
-Realized the potential results of success
Self-reflection will help you dramatically improve your sales prospecting techniques for the future. Repeat the above techniques to the point that they become second nature to you.
Prospecting should not be difficult or scary. It should be a favorable experience, not only for you, but especially for your prospects. Practice the above techniques and you’ll see dramatic improvement with your sales prospecting. You’ll convert more high-quality prospects and that will generate more sales. Next thing you know, thanks to the above techniques, you’ll have more money in your pocket.