Sales Prospecting

Sales Prospecting: Here’s What Really Works (11 Proven Tactics + 3 Tools)

Gary Wellington
|
November 15, 2019

Sales prospecting is an important source of leads, and it’s most often performed by salespeople. To identify new leads and collect contact data, these professionals start with a blank slate and use a range of sales prospecting techniques. Let’s dig deeper into the proven sales prospecting strategies you can use to boost your results.

11 Sales Prospecting Techniques

It’s often difficult to know where to get started with sales prospecting. Therefore, you need to use proven sales prospecting techniques and adjust your strategy over time. Here’s a look at eleven of the best sales prospecting techniques, spread across the three key phases of prospecting.

Preparation

During the preparation phase, you need to:

  • Identify the type of lead you’re trying to attract.
  • Collect as much information as possible.
  • Prepare for your first contact.

1. Define your ideal customer(s). 

To begin, it’s very important for you to take the time to define your ideal customer.

If you rush this process, you might feed your pipeline with irrelevant leads. This tactic can cause your sales team to bark up the wrong tree while your customers snap up your ideal customers.

But if you take the time to define your ideal customer, you’ll hit the mark and close more deals. You’ll also reduce churn in the future, because you’ll have made sure your customers are a good fit for your solution.

Just take a look at the way any large company defines their leads. For example, Amazon Web Services fuels the on-demand cloud-computing needs of businesses around the world, but they won’t contact regular shoppers. Instead, Amazon takes the time to identify appropriate leads because they would lose time and resources otherwise.
How to define your ideal customer

Every business uses a range of different techniques to identify their ideal customers. Here are the three key steps you should take to effectively achieve this goal. 

Brainstorm and do research.

You’ll often find it’s easy to identify firmographic criteria you need your leads to match. So you should make sure your leads tick all the boxes in areas such as:

  • Business size
  • Business type
  • Industry
  • Territory
  • Turnover

Verify that you solved the problem.

Next, you have to discover whether your service or product actually solves a problem for your leads.

For instance, let’s imagine that you sell AI-driven web design services. You might decide that your ideal customers are websites that lack web design coverage.

There are lots of ways to confirm this decision. For instance, your salespeople could visit the website of each potential lead, or you might use sales development representatives to contact potential leads and understand their web development process.

You should also try to identify any tools that can give you a deeper insight into your customer. For the example above, you might decide to perform a PageSpeed Insights test to find out more about a particular lead’s website. You might also dive deeper into their traffic with a tool like SimilarWeb.

It’s important to make sure your potential leads have a genuine need for your product or service. This assurance will help you sell more effectively and have happier customers.

Survey existing customers.

You might want to also take a closer look at your existing customers. This tactic can help you get a better idea of your sweet spot when you’re helping your customers.

For instance, you might discover that the majority of your customers are from Germany. This trend could indicate that your product or service strikes a particular chord there. So you could explore the reason why by contacting those customers. This practice could give you valuable insight that helps you better target the right leads.

2. Know your product inside out.

A big part of the preparation phase involves making sure that your salespeople have the appropriate product knowledge. This practice will help them sell with conviction, and it will ensure they can answer any questions your prospects have.

How to enhance your product knowledge:

Below are just a few strategies you can use to enhance the product knowledge of your salespeople. Then they’ll be ready to sell effectively.

 

Collect product knowledge in one place.

A knowledge base is a great way to collect valuable information and insight in one place. The best knowledge-base tools also make it possible for you to easily switch information from private to public. So this tool is a great option if you want to share internal knowledge.

You can maintain lots of important articles in your knowledge base that will help your salespeople improve their product knowledge. For instance, you can provide technical documents and articles on ways to tackle key customer objections.

This type of knowledge base can also make it easier for you to effectively onboard new salespeople. There are lots of great knowledge base examples out there. Canva is perhaps one of the best to draw inspiration from.

Canva

The Canva knowledge base gives you a very good way to see how comprehensive your knowledge base can become. Just look at the logical way Canva has organized its various sections of important information.

Host training sessions.

Training sessions are great ways for you to train new salespeople and enhance their product knowledge. Regular training sessions can help your salespeople stay on top of all the latest developments and learn from their peers.

These training sessions could be hosted by more senior salespeople, which is a great opportunity for them to crystalize their existing product knowledge. Or product managers could share regular product updates with your sales team.

These training sessions can also be recorded and fed into your knowledge base. Then they can be accessed on-demand in the future.

Sit in on calls.

One of the best ways to enhance the product knowledge of a junior salesperson is having them sit in on a call with a more senior colleague. This experience can help a junior salesperson understand the product on a deeper level. How is it perceived by potential customers?

This experience can also help your salespeople gain more confidence and generally familiarize themselves with the sales process.

3. Practice potential situations and objections.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening my axe.”

Before your salespeople head out into the field, it’s important for them to truly prepare all the tools they need. They have to be ready for any tricks or objections that people might throw their way.

You’ll find that your potential customers will only have a limited number of objections with your product or service. So you should expose your salespeople to those objections, in order to make sure they already have the perfect response.

How to prepare for common objections:

Here are some of the techniques you can use to help your salespeople prepare for both common and uncommon objections.

Run mock sales calls.

Mock sales calls are great ways to prepare your salespeople for real contact with potential customers. For instance, you can run these mock calls during training sessions, so you have complete control over the conversation.

To make sure your salespeople are prepared, you can go over key objections again and again. Here are ways you should organize and run a mock sales call, in order to make sure your salespeople get the most value possible:

  1. Plan the whole mock call experience, and don’t skip any steps. To make the experience as realistic as possible, use ringtones and other small details.
  2. Confirm that participants in mock phone calls can’t see one another, and make sure they take the session seriously.
  3. Record all of the mock phone call sessions.
  4. Ask your salespeople to assess their own performance and identify what they could have done better.
  5. Open up the analysis to other participants.
  6. Share best practices at the end of the session.

Catalogue objections

You should make sure to use your knowledge base to catalogue the common objections that your salespeople come across. You can also collect key responses and resources here, which makes it a convenient one-stop-shop for your sales team.

Instill confidence in your sales team.

If your salespeople are going to tackle objections effectively, they need to have the necessary training and confidence. You should carefully assess the ways your salespeople develop over time, and instill them with the confidence they need.

4. Gather as much information on your prospects as possible.

Information is power. The more you have, the more easily your sales team will be able to effectively engage with your prospects. Now that your salespeople have a better idea of your product and who they are trying to target, it’s time to gather as much information about your prospects as possible.

How to gather prospect information:

Here are some of the key techniques you can use to gather accurate, insightful prospect information.

Use data providers

You can obtain information about your leads from a variety of sources. For instance, lead generation platforms like SalesRipe can help you filter leads according to those key criteria. Or you might decide to take a more manual approach.

salesripe

Hire sales development representatives.

Some sales teams hire sales development representatives. Those professionals are often instructed to focus on prospecting and lead qualification, in order to collect important information that might otherwise be unavailable.

Sales development representatives can make direct contact with your potential customers, and use their product knowledge to get answers to the questions you have.

Cold Prospecting

During the cold prospecting phase, you need to reach out to the leads you identified and targeted in the previous phase.

5. Personalized video emails.

Video is an excellent way to quickly and accurately share a detailed message with another person. Based on your own personal experience, you probably know that people are far more likely to watch a 30-second video than they are to read a longer email.

Video also gives salespeople a great opportunity to create a more personal relationship straight away, which can make or break your sales pitch. It provides a great foundation to build upon, and your prospect will feel more comfortable with your salesperson.

Here’s a great example of a very simple introduction video. Notably, this tactic is much more engaging and informative than an email alternative:

How to create personalized video emails:

The thought of creating video content can be daunting for some sales professionals, but it’s really not as difficult as you might think. There are lots of personalized video-marketing solutions that can help you create engaging videos in no time.

But if you’re on a budget, here’s a quick look at ways to record a simple video using QuickTime and the webcam on a Macbook:

1. Open up QuickTime and head to “File > New Movie Recording”.

QuickTime

2. Give QuickTime permission to access your camera and microphone.

3. To begin filming, simply click the red record button.

Quick Time

4. To end the recording, hit stop.

5. If necessary, trim the video by selecting “Edit > Trim”.

Quick Time

6. Save the video.

It’s that simple! After sending a video, your salespeople might see their response rates from cold prospecting improve dramatically.

6. Engage in communities.

Community engagement gives your salespeople a great way to build multiple relationships. You should encourage your salespeople to engage with existing communities, which could enhance both their individual profiles and your business’ profile.

There are lots of online communities out there. Here are some of the key places to start your search:

  • Reddit
  • Quora
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Hacker News
  • Twitter
  • Industry forums

You should take the time to identify the most appropriate communities, according to factors such as your geographic location, your industry, and the tendencies of your target customers.

For instance, let’s imagine that you offer a cloud-based graphic design tool. To organically mention your business and identify prospects, you might decide to integrate yourself in Reddit’s thriving graphic-design subreddit. 

graphic-design subreddit

How to engage in communities:

It’s important for you to develop a strategy that will allow you to get the most from your community engagement efforts. Here are some key steps you should take to create a powerful strategy . 

  1. Equip your salespeople with useful, engaging content.
  2. Invite your salespeople to learn more about your product and your industry.
  3. Set community engagement targets for your sales prospecting team.

You should ensure that you respect all of the community and group guidelines wherever you post them. Also make sure that your salespeople are forthcoming about their intentions and occupation. Otherwise, you might damage the reputation of your business.

7. Use lead data providers.

When it comes to cold prospecting, one of the toughest hurdles you’ll face is accessing the most accurate contact data. It’s surprising how much poor-quality data is out there—given that companies regularly change staff, and old data is stored forever.

Manually updating your records is often not a viable tactic, and your sales prospecting team could spend their time more productively anyway. So to access accurate information in large quantities, you’ll want to turn to lead providers. That information can then be used to help you reach out to your prospects.

How to use lead data providers:

There are lots of lead data provider platforms out there, and each one offers a slightly different experience. In this example, we’re going to take a look at ways to use SalesRipe to find your prospects within a matter of seconds.

Warm Prospecting

During the warm prospecting phase, you need to nurture your leads. To close deals, you need to create a closer connection with your prospects.

8. Ask for referrals (and offer something in return).

If your sales-prospecting activities aren’t getting you the results you’re hoping for, you might want to try asking for referrals. This powerful tactic involves activating your existing customer base and having them help you identify appropriate leads.

Lots of businesses effectively follow this tactic. Some businesses decide to simply ask for those referrals for free, but they often get more impressive results when they offer something in return.

For instance, take a look at Uber. Thanks to its attractive referral offers, this ridesharing app cemented its wide reach and reputation. 

Private drive

This tactic has two big benefits: It helps you collect data about warm prospects, and it helps you build closer relationships with your existing customers.

How to ask for referrals:

Asking for referrals is a delicate science. So you need to play your cards right. If you get it wrong, you run the risk of alienating your existing customers.

You should pay careful attention to your messaging. What are you offering? You’ll need to shape those two factors according to factors like your location, your niche, and your relationship with your customers.

Here’s a look at the steps you should take to effectively ask for referrals:

  1. Identify the appropriate customers that have a high Net Promoter Score. For instance, you might not want to ask new or unhappy customers.
  2. Spend a lot of time finding the perfect tone for your communications. You’ll often want to lead with a friendly, enthusiastic message.
  3. Choose the appropriate channel for your message. Will email be best, or could your customer success department contact your customers directly?
  4. Find the appropriate referral bonus. Choose something that’s attractive to your customers, and makes economic sense for your business.
  5. Stay in close contact with customers that provide referrals. Give them regular updates, and send them thank you emails.
  6. To make appropriate adjustments over time, track the results from your referral campaigns. 

9. Educate your qualified leads, and share content that provides value.

Once you’ve identified and engaged with an appropriate lead, it’s time to carefully nurture your relationship. In other words, you should provide your lead with the materials and information he or she needs to make an informed decision about your business.

For instance, think about all the times you’ve put your contact details into a website, and received a series of product-oriented emails afterward. Here’s an example from Final Draft:

Final Draft

This email does a great job of quickly sharing an exciting product update. It also gives a direct CTA that warm leads can click to make their purchase.

How to nurture your leads:

If you want to nurture your leads as effectively as possible, you should work alongside your marketing team to create an effective lead-nurturing campaign. This campaign should educate your warm leads and target them with well-placed CTAs.

Here are some of the tips you should keep in mind to make sure your lead nurturing campaign is as effective as possible:

  1. At this point, it’s critical for you to personalize your messages as much as possible. Whether you’re sending emails or LinkedIn messages, you should emphasize your relationship with your lead.
  2. Create a content strategy. Make sure that you share a blend of educational materials, branded content, and success stories/reviews.
  3. Monitor the ways your leads interact with your messages and adjust the logic of your campaign accordingly.
  4. Attribute scores to your leads, based on the actions they take. This tactic can help you group your leads and move them through the lead nurturing process.

10. Personalize follow-up messages. (And make sure every message provides value.)

Personalized messages are definitely worth the effort. Even small bits of personality can help you:

  • Strengthen customer experiences, and improve your relations.
  • Make your messages are more prominent and interesting.
  • Increase the likelihood that a user opens your message.
How to create awesome follow-up messages:

The first step to creating awesome follow-up messages is identifying opportunities for personalization. Here are some ideas for ways to personalize your messages:

  • Change your subject lines.
  • Mention your lead’s business or location. 
  • Make specific recommendations for content based on their user activity.

Lots of technologies can help you create this personalized content. For instance, a great CRM can integrate with a range of marketing tools, which can help you extract lead information and place it in your messages.

You might also consider creating broader target groups for your leads, then adjusting your messaging according to those groups. For instance, you might have one group that’s most interested in pricing, and another one that’s interested in a particular product feature.

Typeform is a great tool that helps you collect better data, then use it to personalize your future communications. For more information on how the platform can be used alongside Mailchimp to personalize marketing, read this piece.

Typeform

11. Collaborate on retargeting with your marketing team.

Retargeting may sound quite fancy. But it’s essentially a form of online advertising that’s aimed at prospects who have already interacted with your business.

Marketing can work their technical magic to identify the individuals who have visited your website. Then they can target them with attractive advertising that puts your business in the spotlight again.

On average, only 2% of your website visitors will convert during their first visit. Since retargeting is such an important prospecting technique, it can capitalize on first visits, which ensures these visitors don’t forget about your brand.

Sales Prospecting Tools

To get the most from these sales prospecting techniques, you need to use the right sales prospecting tools. Here’s an exploration into three key sales prospecting tools you can use.

SalesRipe

SalesRipe

SalesRipe is a powerful data provider for sales leads and B2B contact. Our platform offers accurate demographic and firmographic data to speed up your sales-prospecting process and improve your results.

Key features

  • To identify appropriate leads, adjust your search by using over 30 search criteria.
  • For complete success, leverage accurate and up-to-date B2B contact data. 
  • To speed up your process in a flash, build targeted lead lists. To manage every step of the sales process, use a built-in lead manager. 

LinkedIn

Linkedin

Undoubtedly, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional community. The platform has over 500 million users, who congregate on the platform to uncover new business opportunities and network with others. LinkedIn has become an important part of life for every successful salesperson.

Key features

  • To identify appropriate leads, adjust your search by using over 30 search criteria. 
  • Leverage accurate and up-to-date B2B contact data for complete success.
  • To speed up your process, build targeted business lead lists in a flash.
  •  To manage every step of the sales process, use a built-in lead manager.

PipeDrive

Pipedrive

PipeDrive is CRM that aims at simplifying the lives of sales professionals. This CRM prides itself on being very easy to use and eliminating the painful legwork that salespeople often have to perform. Essentially, this tool helps sales teams get more leads, sort sales in one place, and eliminate admin.

Key features

  • Manage leads and deals all in one place.
  • For full visibility, track communications and contact history. 
  • Dive into metrics that are customized for your business.
  • To get the most from your sales process, use mobile apps and integrations. 

 

Conclusion

We hope these sales prospecting techniques give your sales team a new bag of tricks. But utilizing the best sales prospecting techniques is just one part of the battle. You need to give your sales team the best tools. To quickly identify and connect with your next customers, try your free SalesRipe trial.

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