Whether you’re an aspiring salesperson looking to sharpen your prospecting skills or an experienced veteran seeking fresh perspectives, this post will serve as a guiding light to empower you with valuable insights and practical techniques of prospecting.
But let’s start with the basics – prospecting definition.
What is the meaning of prospecting?
The term “prospecting” refers to identifying and engaging potential customers or clients who may have an interest in a product or service.
What is prospecting in sales?
Sales prospecting is the process where sales professionals identify potential customers, known as prospects. It’s an essential initial step in the sales cycle aimed at creating a pipeline of potential customers. Through cold calling, email outreach, and networking, sales reps expand their customer base and drive sales growth.
What is the difference between prospecting and lead generation?
Prospecting is sometimes defined as lead generation. However, while lead generation includes both inbound and outbound approaches, prospecting deals with outbound only. In the sales funnel, both prospecting and lead generation represent the first stage.
→ Prospect vs. lead vs. opportunity: Learn the difference
What is the difference between prospecting and acquisition?
Prospecting is the initial stage of the sales process, which focuses on finding and qualifying potential customers – individuals or organizations interested in a product or service. The goal of prospecting is to generate leads and establish initial contact.
Acquisition, on the other hand, is about converting prospects into paying customers. It involves nurturing and guiding prospects through the sales funnel, addressing their needs, providing information, and closing the sale.
In summary, prospecting is about finding potential customers, while acquisition focuses on converting those prospects into actual customers. Prospecting is the starting point, while acquisition is the goal of the sales process. Both stages are essential for driving business growth and building lasting customer relationships.
Importance of sales prospecting
Prospecting is an active search for leads. It opens up new possibilities compared to attracting leads but also introduces new difficulties. To improve the results of prospecting in sales, you need to have a clear idea of your target audience and buyer persona.
When you don’t take shortcuts, quality prospecting can help with the following:
Prospecting gives you full control over lead collection and sources, letting you analyze which sources and channels perform best. Prospecting also helps you focus on and pick the leads that are most likely to become your customers so you can fine-tune your search to collect prospects with the highest potential LTV (based on current customer base analysis).
Improved conversion rate
When you take your time with targeting, the conversion rate reflects that. Cold (outbound) leads can even show higher conversion rates than warm leads, but only when carefully picked. So once again – pay attention to your targeting. Quality over quantity.
How important is such lead gen optimization? About 40% of sales reps state that lead generation optimization is their top priority for better prospecting. So, as soon as you invest in a high-quality, affordable prospecting tool, your prospecting ROI will rise.
Quicker replacement of churned customers
Churn is a normal process. But to raise revenue, you need to make sure your customer base is growing, not shrinking. Prospecting will help fill your sales funnel with a consistent flow of fresh leads that will compensate for the churn and grow your base. And don’t forget about onboarding when you address that churn.
→ Get quick tips on how to combat high churn rate in Snov.io Sales Cheats
Top 5 sales prospecting examples
You can do prospecting in a variety of ways. For example, you may be present at a sales conference and get in touch with a person who may potentially become interested in your solution. You may visit a LinkedIn profile of a potential customer, research information about their company, connect, and then reach out to them via InMail. In this chapter, we’ll discuss the most common sales prospecting techniques.
Cold emailing is a sales prospecting technique that involves sending targeted, unsolicited emails to potential customers with the goal of initiating a conversation, generating interest in your product or service, and ultimately securing a sales opportunity.
When cold emailing, be sure to:
- conduct thorough research on prospects
- personalize the email to address their specific challenges
- craft an attention-grabbing subject line
- keep the message concise and focused
- establish credibility with relevant information
- include a clear call to action and follow up persistently
- consider email automation for scalability; test and optimize your approach
- comply with email regulations
Though not so effective as cold emailing, cold calling is still used by many sales pros to reach out to potential customers.
To cold-call effectively:
- research prospects beforehand and prepare a natural script
- project confidence, enthusiasm, and a clear value proposition
- personalize conversations by referencing prospects’ industries or recent news
- practice active listening and show empathy
- follow a structured approach, ask open-ended questions, and lead towards the desired outcome
- take notes and send personalized follow-ups
- continuously analyze and improve your approach to enhance cold calling effectiveness
Social selling is an effective strategy for sales prospecting due to several reasons. Firstly, it allows you to directly engage with potential customers right where they are always active – on social media platforms, to build relationships and establish trust. It enables personalized and targeted interactions, showcasing industry expertise and valuable insights.
Additionally, social selling expands your reach and visibility, enabling you to connect with a larger pool of prospects – only Facebook now connects around 3 monthly active users all over the world!
About 66% of salespeople say referrals from existing customers offer the best leads — and high-quality leads often become productive prospects. Utilize existing customer relationships to seek referrals. Referrals tend to have a higher conversion rate and can help establish trust with new prospects.
—> Learn how to ask for referrals from your customers in one of our recent posts
Attending industry events, conferences, and trade shows helps you to connect with prospects, build rapport, and explore business opportunities by engaging in conversations and establishing relationships.
For example, at Snov.io, we regularly attend Web Summit Conferences to present our product to a vast audience, build meaningful relationships and…get new prospects, of course!
→This guide will help you get prepared for Web Summit Conference
5 key sales prospecting strategies
Prospecting strategies are how a salesperson conducts outreach to find new prospects or connect with existing ones. They can vary from company to company, but as a rule, five of them should be present to ensure your prospecting goes in the right direction.
1. Define your ideal customer
Before you proceed with lead generation, create an ideal customer profile and analyze your current customers to know your buyer persona needs, desires, and pain points.
→ Don’t know the difference between an ideal customer profile and a buyer persona? Find out in our post.
To better understand who your ideal prospect is, answer the following questions:
- Who are your happiest customers?
- Who likes your product the most (e.g., CMOs, sales reps, tech enthusiasts, etc.)?
- What industries are using your software/service?
- What is the average income of your best users?
- What are their pain points that you help solve?
→ Check out these 11 buyer persona questions for examples of buyer persona profiles and more tips
2. Search and research your prospect data
At this point, you should identify how to gather prospects and their data. You can find prospects via social media (for B2B prospects, the best option remains LinkedIn), go through lead directories (such as Yelp, Yellow Pages, and Angie’s List), try Google search, or go the easiest and most efficient way – use a prospecting tool that would automatically gather prospect information from web pages.
For instance, with Snov.io Email Finder, you can get prospect information from Linkedin, Twitter, any company website, or right from the Snov.io database in several minutes. The service allows you to find information on single prospects or do bulk prospecting, whereby you can use the tool absolutely for free – it all depends on your prospecting goals.
The key rule of prospecting is to never treat prospects as a pack of come-and-go personas. Each of your prospects is unique, hence your approach to them. Therefore, as soon as you collect the list of prospects, research in-depth information about each of them (by browsing any specific information you’ll find on their social media profiles, blog, or website). This will help you prepare a personalized pitch and do more targeted cold outreach.
3. Start your outreach
Initiate your first touch with the prospect depending on which communication channel your company prefers (the B2B sales professionals will all recommend you to rely on the old true buddy email – and we too:)
If you want your outreach to be most effective, always keep in mind these basic tips:
- Personalize. Prospects like to feel special, so surprise them – demonstrate you’ve done your homework and found out something more about them than their name or company.
- Be relevant. Ensure your first touch is up to a point – think of the proper timing (your prospects might live in another timezone, so check it, please).
- Be human. Empathy, genuine interest, and casual tone will add a human touch to your outreach and help you build stronger relationships with prospects.
- Don’t pitch. Focus your cold outreach on how you can help your prospect – it’s not the right time to sell. It’s time to establish connections.
→ Learn 19 ways to use Snov.io for successful outreach. Spoiler: Snov.io can do it for you from A to Z.
4. Prioritize your prospects
You should understand which prospects to dedicate your most time and effort (hint: those more likely to close). Therefore, the next strategy you are to take is prospect qualification.
The key point here is to define the basic prospect characteristics and do a kind of scoring based on the weight of each characteristic.
→ Read more about how to score your B2B prospects/leads in the most effective way
5. Follow up
Prospects may be cold to your initial message or call – it’s okay. Only 2% of sales happen during the first point of contact, and about 60% of prospects will reject offers four times before making a purchasing decision.
Just don’t stop at the first attempt. Follow up, and your persistence will pay off. Just think of a proper follow-up cadence and schedule your repetitive connections so you won’t miss any opportunity.
8 sales prospecting tips that always work
In this chapter, we’ll provide eight prospecting tactics that will help you prospect even more effectively.
1. Research thoroughly
Prioritize quality over quantity by conducting in-depth research on your prospects. Understand their industry, pain points, and specific needs to tailor your approach and demonstrate value. Without proper research, you won’t be able to reach out to your prospects with a personalized approach.
2. Build your social media presence
By expanding your presence on a variety of social media networks, you get more opportunities to engage with potential customers, showcase expertise, share valuable content, and establish credibility. Besides, it enables direct communication with prospects, expands your reach, and facilitates relationship-building, increasing the chances of converting prospects into customers in the future.
3. Segment your prospects
Segmenting sales prospects allows you to focus efforts on the right people, increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of sales activities. Besides, segmentation lets you personalize your outreach, improve conversion rates, optimize resources, and gain a competitive edge.
4. Use multiple communication channels
Don’t rely solely on one method of communication. Utilize a mix of phone calls, emails, social media messages, and even in-person meetings, depending on what works best for your target audience.
5. Automate your outreach
Automate outreach as much as you can: To save time and effort, use automation tools like CRMs, email drip campaigns, lead generation and enrichment tools, integrations, etc. This saves you time to spend on closing deals and addressing other issues.
6. Learn how to deal with objections
Sales objections are a common thing. For a salesperson, it shouldn’t be a stress – it should be an opportunity. By mastering the art of handling objections, you become that professional sales rep capable of closing multiple deals.
Get prepared for all scenarios of sales objections with this video:
7. Ask for feedback
Even if your prospects respond with a rejection, don’t forget to send them a follow-up email asking for brief feedback on what made them say ‘No’ and what can potentially make them say yes. The purpose of this feedback for you is to learn how you can improve your sales techniques.
8. Track and analyze
Keep track of your prospecting activities and measure your results. Analyze what techniques and approaches yield the best outcomes and adjust your strategy accordingly and what should be improved about your current sales prospecting strategy.
Sales prospecting tools
Sales prospecting tools are software or platforms designed to help you find, identify, and qualify potential customers. These tools provide various features and functionalities to streamline and enhance prospecting. Here are some common types of sales prospecting tools:
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software
- Sales intelligence platforms
- Prospect databases
- Email outreach tools
- Social media monitoring and engagement tools
- Lead generation tools
- Data enrichment tools
- Sales analytics and reporting tools
Some sales prospecting tools may combine several services into one platform. For example, Snov.io may help you achieve various prospecting goals. You can leverage this multifunctional platform as a lead generation tool, prospect database, email outreach service, and sales CRM.
—> Need more sales prospecting tools? We’ve compiled a descriptive list of top B2B prospecting solutions for you.
In the end
Prospecting is the first and key step in the sales funnel – without quality prospects, your sales copy, presentation, or conversion techniques don’t matter. Outline your prospecting strategy, choose a technique (or combination of them) that works best for your niche, and automate the process with Snov.io at no cost.