Prospecting is an integral part of the sales process, and more than 40% of salespeople claim it’s the most challenging area of sales. If a business doesn’t master effective prospecting strategies, it will miss:
- Sales projections
- Revenue goals
The right B2B sales prospecting practices help businesses grow, boost revenue, and keep sales pipelines full.
What is a Prospecting Strategy?
B2B prospecting is an attempt by a business to attract new customers (or, in this case, another business) to buy their product or service. An ideal prospect wants or needs the product or service offered, fits into a business’s target demographic, and must be nurtured to make the sale.
- Identifying potential prospects
- Reaching out to these prospects
- Nurturing the potential lead over time
B2B sales prospecting involves finding the potential prospect with the highest chance of converting into a sale.
Strategies help businesses streamline the prospecting process to generate more leads and convert more prospects.
Why You Need to Test Prospecting Strategies
Prospecting skills that work in one industry may not work in another industry. Prospecting strategies must be tested initially and over time as customer needs and trends evolve. If a business doesn’t test its strategies, it risks:
- Not booking enough meetings.
- Strategy effectiveness fading over time without metrics to determine viability
- Losing potential sales over the short- and long-term
Customer behavior changes rapidly. B2B prospecting methods of the past tried to get in front of as many prospects as possible.
Big data allows sales teams to use predictive prospecting to narrow down prospect lists to include only the businesses that need their product or service. When data analysis and prediction are used, it empowers sales teams to spend more time nurturing leads that have the highest chance of success.
Without testing, sales teams end up using prospecting strategies that may go stale over time and are less effective than other methods.
List of Top Prospecting Strategies
Prospecting must start on the right medium. Businesses can opt for in-person prospecting at industry events, or they can choose some of the options below:
Cold Email – Tried and True Sales Prospecting Strategy
Cold email works. The goal is to be strategic with sending messages because 70% of salespeople stop at sending one email. If follow-up emails are sent, around 25% receive a reply. A few reasons to use cold email are:
- 80% of prospects prefer email over other forms of communication
- 89% of sales teams find email to be their primary lead generation channel
It’s crucial to avoid sending spam emails. Keep messages short and actionable. Messages with personalization work best, so do research on each prospect before hitting “send.”
If a salesperson is using a template to send emails, stop using it. You also risk getting marked as spam. If you want to send higher volume cold email, check out Apollo and these Salesloft alternatives. Before you send your cold email out, make sure you have used an email warm up tool.
Cold Call – Prospecting Strategy For Dials
Cold calling businesses still works in 2022. Narrowing down prospect lists and finding the companies on the cold calling list with the highest chance of converting to a sale is important before making a call.
Making cold calls must be done tactically. Here are a few prospecting tips to follow:
- Rejection is part of the process. Be prepared for rejections and people hanging up the phone.
- Record calls to learn what works and doesn’t work when making a call. Where are salespeople losing engagement during a call?
- Utilize cold calling software to dial phone numbers, deal with wait times and modernize sales teams.
- If using a script, be sure to be genuine and act like a person – not a robot.
The key to successful cold calls is to spend a lot of time researching companies to understand their needs, whether they have the traits of an ideal prospect, and to know who to call within the company.
LinkedIn – Social Selling Prospecting Strategy
LinkedIn has 810 million users and is the social network for business professionals. Creating a strong professional brand, building trusted relationships, and asking questions on the platform are just a few of the ways to leverage LinkedIn.
Salespeople should connect with the right stakeholders in a business and:
- Build relationships over time. If possible, ask someone who knows the person to refer the connection.
- Answer and ask questions in LinkedIn groups and join in on discussions.
- Continue making connections and networking. Over time, trust will lead to sales.
Building a brand on LinkedIn can make it easier for prospecting. Here are 33 LinkedIn Post Ideas to help you get started.
Using Video in Outreach – B2B Sales Prospecting To Cut Through The Noise
Video prospecting breaks through the challenge of outreach because it helps salespeople get their message across in a unique, personalized manner. The larger the business, the more difficult it is to have a message heard.
A one-on-one video message can be highly effective, but the message must be:
- Personal and well-planned
- Natural and authentic
- Lead to a call or meeting versus a sale
Video can be a powerful method of getting the attention of prospects. When video is appropriately executed, it’s a personalized approach that’s difficult to ignore. The right video sent to the right prospect can land major contracts, yet this strategy must be tactical because video creation is time- and resource-intensive.
Many prospecting mediums exist, and these are just a small sample size of mediums that will be used in business-to-business prospecting in 2022.
In-person prospecting may work well for one business and not for others. Salespeople should spend time testing and trying new methods and strategies to find what works best for them. LinkedIn may provide 200% more prospects than cold calling, and if this is the case, allot more resources to LinkedIn.
Choose the strategy that works best in a specific test case, even if no one else is using it.
Creativity can further be added to a business’s B2B prospecting methods to gain a prospect’s attention in ways that other companies overlook.
There are a bunch of video tools you can use. Check out this breakdown of the top video tools.
Creative Sales Prospecting Strategies
Prospecting using traditional methods works well, but sales teams can deviate from the norm to get the attention of buyers or the right prospects. A few creative strategies that may help lead to more meetings and sales calls are:
- Sending gifts: Prospecting may require more than one call or email. Sometimes, the initial connection requires sending a gift to make a connection. Product samples, gift cards, or other items may work.
- Sending food: Food is universal, and everyone needs to eat. Send samples, gift baskets, or other foods for the salesperson or entire team to enjoy.
- Handwritten note: Salespeople rarely send handwritten notes, but they show the time the person is willing to spend on building the relationship. Write a note introducing the business and make a connection with the stakeholder.
- Sending a Cameo: Cameo is a way to create a “wow” moment when reaching out to a prospect. Dive deep into the prospect’s likes and passions, and find a cameo that matches these traits. For example, if the prospect is a major basketball fan, send a cameo from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Isiah Thomas to get their attention.
- Using a Gif: Standing out from other sales emails is difficult. When email prospecting, gifs can boost response rates. The trick is to match the gif to the audience. C-Suite prospects expect a more professional email, so be thoughtful with the gif sent.
Creative prospecting can include an endless list of options, but the few choices above are a good start to generate ideas for sales teams to get a response from prospects.
Prospecting Strategies You’re Overlooking
When prospecting isn’t driving the results expected, it’s time to look at what teams are missing in their approach. Some of the strategies that go overlooked but can be very fruitful are:
- Twitter: People often overlook Twitter because it has a lower user count than most social networks, but it’s filled with people from all walks of life. The network has owners, VPs, heads of sales teams, and other interesting users. Network with these individuals, join in on discussions, and message them in DMs to make an introduction.
- Joining Slack Groups and Discord Communities: Slack and Discord are often overlooked, but there is a lot of opportunity to connect with businesses on these platforms. Slack Connect leads to 4x faster deal cycles, so it’s something every sales team should consider.
- Reddit: Reddit has a massive, active community of business leaders and regular, everyday users. The platform can help businesses connect with prospects and be leveraged to nurture leads asking questions in subreddits. One thing to consider is that the community looks down on spam and overly salesy threads, so be an educator rather than pushing sales.
- Facebook Groups: Business owners are looking for solutions and to make connections on Facebook. Join industry-related groups to get in front of prospects and connect with the right stakeholders in the business.
The best practices in sales prospecting involve knowing where prospects spend their time. Data-driven prospecting requires knowing the demographic of the platforms above. A few stats to consider are below:
10 Prospecting Tips to Book More Meetings
1. Define Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
Creating an ICP is one of the six keys to prospecting success. Building an ICP is easier with internal data that can help define:
- Top ten customers
- Top titles
- Customers who spend the most (industry, location, etc.)
Identify which prospects would benefit from the company’s products and services the most. You can learn more about your Sales ICP here.
2. Create and Revisit Prospect Lists
Utilizing an ideal customer profile allows sales teams to create and refine prospect lists. A lot of prospects are not ideal. It’s crucial to, over time, revisit ICPs to refine lists and remove companies that no longer make sense to contact.
The right prospects will lead to more meetings and higher sales conversions. There are many tools for building prospect lists, you can use tools like Zoominfo, Clearbit, Seamless, Uplead, and more. You can also use a site like Upwork or Fiverr to hire a VA to build lists.
3. Contact at the Right Time
Where is the prospect located? What time is best to call the prospect? When does the prospect check their Twitter account? A few stats that are relevant and can help pinpoint the right time of contact can be found in the table below:
|8am – 10am or between 3pm and 4pm|
|6:15am – 12pm|
|8 am and 4-5 pm|
|6 am – 9 am|
4. Automate Meeting Scheduling
Offer prospects a way to schedule a meeting at their convenience. Online tools make this easy. Send the link to the meeting calendar, allow the prospect to choose a time that fits in their schedule, and free up salespeople time, too. Take a look at these Calendly alternatives.
5. Monitor Progress and Adapt
Collect data and monitor to see what works and doesn’t work. For example, if internal data finds that most prospects are responsive on Twitter at 11 am rather than 6 am to 9 am, adjust to match what the data recommends.
Prospecting strategies must be adapted over time because times and habits change.
6. Use Sales Triggers Based on Changes
If a business secures new funding or a head of sales was recently appointed, it’s a good time to start the prospecting process. These sales triggers often lead to changes and increases in purchases.
7. Be Persistent
Persistence is key when contacting prospects. First emails may be overlooked, but follow-up emails have a 25% response rate. Sales teams should try to contact a prospect with:
- Follow-up emails
- Multiple phone calls
- Engagement on social media
Don’t spam, but also don’t stop communication after one try.
8. Utilize Multi-touch Strategies
Businesses need to use multi-touch strategies to land meetings and nurture prospects. For example, a prospect’s Twitter account may not be active or checked for long periods.
LinkedIn may be the better touchpoint for this prospect.
It’s crucial that the sales team try engaging with the prospect on multiple platforms and mediums, but don’t try to schedule a meeting through numerous touch points at once. Instead, use multiple channels to reach out to prospects.
9. Create a Compelling Proposition
Value propositions are the reasons one company is chosen over another by prospects. When struggling to land meetings, it may be an issue with a business’s proposition. The proposition must be worded properly to clearly state the value provided over the competition.
Strengthening propositions requires knowing and understanding ideal customers and their pain points. If you don’t know your sales ICP it can be challenging to make a compelling pitch.
10. Warm Up the Prospect
Asking for a meeting on the first contact isn’t a good option in 99% of cases. Instead, warm up the prospect before asking for the meeting. The way to approach the “warm-up” may be unique to the medium.
- Engage with the prospect multiple times on social media before asking for a meeting.
- Send out a sequence of emails before scheduling a meeting.
- Add value by sharing an insight.
Prospects shouldn’t feel like they’re doing you a favor. Instead, they should be excited or curious.
Best Practices in Sales Prospecting
Sales prospecting is a continual learning process. Mastering what works today is just as crucial as avoiding strategies that no longer work. The skills below fit into best practices because they drive today’s sales teams.
Prospecting Skills That Work
Certain prospecting skills work, while others fail. Relying on what works can produce faster results. Skills that routinely produce better results are:
- Consistency is a skill that’s difficult to master because rejection is difficult. Prospecting often relies on following up with prospects and remaining consistent.
- Personalization and personality lead to eventual sales. Since spam and non-personalization no longer work, this is perhaps the most important skill to have.
- Research is invaluable because the wrong list of prospects will lead to failure.
- Education, or the skills of being able to teach, is one of the most important in 2022.
- Writing and copywriting are two essential skills when trying to persuade prospects and convey messages in a clear, concise way.
- Listening is a skill everyone should master. The art of listening empowers sales teams to learn what the prospect needs and how to meet these needs better. Listening can also help keep conversations with prospects ongoing.
Many skills can help guide prospecting in the right direction. The skills above are just a handful of the most important ones to follow this year.
B2B Sales Prospecting Strategies That Don’t Work
Prospecting can generate revenue or tarnish a business’s reputation. When engaging in prospecting, it’s crucial to find what works and what doesn’t work. The points below are on the list of what doesn’t work in today’s prospecting:
- Spam doesn’t work. Review all strategies to ensure that salespeople never spam prospects or risk losing them.
- Not providing value. If an outreach method doesn’t work, it’s often because a salesperson fails to provide value. Time is limited, so always build value when prospecting.
- Salesy prospecting. If the first form of contact pushes a sale, it’s a failing strategy.
- Templates. There’s a time and place for templates, but it’s not in the world of cold email. Prospects demand personalization on the first contact or don’t even try.
An internal, data-driven approach to finding what works and doesn’t work for a business is crucial to its success. What works for one company may not work for another.
Teams need to evolve and change to keep sales pipelines full.
The right prospecting approach will help businesses keep these pipelines full. In 2022, personalization and creativity will work well to get the attention of businesses on prospect lists.