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THE OFTEN OVERLOOKED AND UNDERAPPRECIATED ART OF SALES PROSPECTING

Updated: Feb 1

According to Sales Hacker, sales prospecting is the “process of finding, building and qualifying a pool of potential buyers or clients through networking, cold calling, advertising and other engagement methods.”


This first step in the sales cycle is often seen in a negative light, likely because it is the step that takes the most effort, as we will see in this article. Seeking out potential clients is crucial to selling a company’s goods or services. So why do so many businesses downplay its role and its impact? Are there ways of making the prospecting process simpler, better and more enjoyable? And how can sales prospecting be incorporated into a broader marketing strategy and day-to-day operations? Read on to find out!


Many organizations don’t make sales prospecting a priority for a variety of reasons:

  • Limited time and resources. Production, direct sales and day-to-day operations tend to take centre stage, pushing prospecting farther and farther down on the to-do list. Plus, prospecting can be time- and resource-consuming: it can require developing an advertising budget, training sales teams, covering travel expenses for face-to-face meetings with sales leads or hiring telemarketing consultants to make cold calls.

  • A lack of confidence in the results. Businesses tend to be reluctant to devote time or money to prospecting because the ROI is anything but guaranteed. Not only that, but the data that comes from analyzing market needs and sifting through feedback from existing and potential clients can be murky at best.

  • A lack of confidence in the results. Businesses tend to be reluctant to devote time or money to prospecting because the ROI is anything but guaranteed. Not only that, but the data that comes from analyzing market needs and sifting through feedback from existing and potential clients can be murky at best.

  • The complexity of the prospecting process. Prospecting involves multiple layers and requires a specific kind of expertise. Courting sales leads requires an in-depth understanding of the market, competitors and sales channels. It is entirely possible that the existing sales and marketing team does not have the specialized qualifications required to do this.

  • A lack of interest. For some companies, prospecting is something they have no intention of exploring. Perhaps their client roster is stable and they don’t want to add to it for fear or upsetting the balance. Other businesses may prefer to focus on R&D or international expansion as a growth tactic instead of developing new leads.


The first reason that comes to mind is that prospecting is often seen as intrusive. Many consumers consider cold calls or mass mailings to be annoying and an invasion of their privacy. This can seriously undermine a company’s brand and reputation in the marketplace.


There are plenty of negative stereotypes associated with prospecting, including the overzealous sales rep who pushes consumers to sign on the dotted line for a product or service they don’t actually need. People are wary (and weary!) of being cheated or scammed. If they suspect they are being pushed into a decision, they will likely balk and lose confidence in the business and its reputation.


Poor technique is often to blame for consumers’ adverse reactions to prospecting techniques. If a sales rep isn’t sufficiently trained or lacks in-depth knowledge of what they are selling, they may provide inaccurate information, making them untrustworthy in consumers’ eyes.


In some highly competitive industries, sales prospecting is considered to be aggressive. Consumers who are bombarded by cold calls or mass mailings from multiple businesses may perceive this as a form of harassment.


Last but certainly not least, prospecting isn’t free. Businesses need to invest time, money and resources for it to work, which is why they might be inclined to instead focus on other marketing and sales channels that deliver more bang for their buck.


All in all, consumers do tend to respond negatively to prospecting as a rule, and this perception is only perpetuated by the many negative stereotypes out there and exacerbated by ill-conceived prospecting methods. Some companies may shy away from prospecting due to heavy competition in their field and high cost.


Despite all these caveats, it is important to realize that prospecting, when done properly and within the framework of a well-planned and well-executed marketing strategy, can pay off —and pay off big.


Before you start approaching leads, you need to define a clear strategy, identify your target audience, establish your prospecting goals, indicate the communication channels you will be using and so forth. The more prepared you are, the more efficient you will be and the better the results.


Do your homework. Research each potential client. Familiarize yourself with their organization, their needs and their challenges. This will help you tailor your approach to your prospect and align what you bring to the table with what they are looking for.


Your messaging to prospective clients must be clear, compelling and worded in a way that speaks to them.


Build your prospecting team and optimize their sales techniques. Remember that your representatives need enough leeway to be able to adapt their pitch to each prospect’s needs and expectations.


And don’t forget to continually evaluate the outcomes of your prospecting efforts and make the necessary adjustments.

Prospecting, CRM, Customer relationship management

Successful prospecting in 8 steps :

  1. Define your target market. The first thing to do when preparing to approach new leads is to determine who your efforts will be directed toward. Understanding their needs, the challenges they are up against and the expectations they have of you is crucial.

  2. Collect data. When you know what your target market is, start learning more about your sales prospects. You can find information about them from a variety of sources, including social media, industry directories and company databases.

  3. Qualify your leads. Once you have enough data to inform your decisions, you can begin qualifying your leads, based on relevance to your offering and business potential. Criteria can include factors such as company size, sector, specific needs and so forth.

  4. Draft your prospecting messages. Avoid a cookie-cutter approach here. Each message should be tailored to the intended recipient’s specific needs and how you can address them. You may want to create a persona to help you in pinpointing the segments you are trying to reach and develop a strategy and messages that will resonate with them.

  5. Take a multichannel approach. To connect with a broader audience, you need to make use of multiple communication channels, including phone, email, social media and other platforms. They can complement one another and help you reach out to prospects in a more effective way. This broader strategy will also have a positive impact on your brand recognition and visibility.

  6. Plan out your prospecting activities. Once you have crafted your prospecting messages to your satisfaction and identified your communication channels, take the time to determine how you will proceed by setting out the various prospecting steps and assigning the corresponding resources and timelines.

  7. Follow up. Following up is crucial to prospecting success. You need to touch base regularly with your sales leads to remain top of mind, answer any questions they may have and guide them in the next steps of the process.

  8. Measure your results. It is important to gauge the outcomes of your efforts to determine how effective they have been and to tweak as necessary. KPIs such as response time, cost per prospect, customer acquisition cost, conversion rate and others can be highly useful metrics.

To recap, prospecting needs to be part of a broader, carefully conceptualized and meticulously executed strategy if it is to generate the desired results.


  1. Higher sales. Prospecting lets you identify new leads and convert them into active clients, thereby driving your sales figures upwards.

  2. Greater business development. Prospecting makes it possible to break into new markets and expand your client base.

  3. Better understanding of what makes clients tick. Prospecting helps you find out what your current and prospective clients need and want. You can then use this information to adjust your own offering.

  4. Stronger ties with clients. Prospecting helps you keep your relationship with your existing clients fresh by ensuring you remain in tune with their needs.

  5. Improved visibility. Prospecting can help increase your visibility in the marketplace and expose you to a wider audience.

  6. New skills. Prospecting is a great way to acquire and fine-tune specific skill sets related to communication, time management and negotiation.

The outcomes of the prospecting process are a stronger, more cohesive and more successful business that is in sync with the needs of your target market.


Prospecting, CRM, Customer relationship management

  1. Plan your time around it. You need to allot a specific amount of time to prospecting, based on your company’s priorities and goals. Make sure there is a block of time set aside for prospecting at a set interval (daily, weekly, etc.).

  2. Make use of the tools at your disposal. There are lots of solutions on the market you can use to make prospecting part of your daily routine, including CRM software, email marketing platforms, project management systems and more.

  3. Focus on high-value-added tasks. Qualifying leads, creating custom messages to reach out to potential clients and planning prospecting activities are all important aspects of the prospecting process.

  4. Convert dead time into productive time. Why not turn your morning or evening commute into prime prospecting time? You can use these otherwise wasted moments to answer emails from potential leads or seek out new contacts.

  5. Make prospecting a team effort. Prospecting can be a collaborative undertaking for several members of your team. It is important to work together to ensure you proceed as effectively as possible and don’t overstep or duplicate your work.

Converting a prospect into a client is a complex process, and one that will vary depending on individual needs, corporate goals, market characteristics and other factors. Here are some useful pointers on how to “lead a lead” in the right direction.


6 tips on how to turn a prospect into a loyal client :

  1. Understand your prospect’s needs. It is important to understand what your prospect is looking for and what will be helpful to their business. Ask them questions about the challenges they face and the solutions they hope to see.

  2. Personalize your pitch. A one-size-fits-all pitch is a definite turnoff for most prospects. Take the time to fine-tune your arguments based on your prospect’s specific needs.

  3. Instil confidence. Listen to your prospect. Ask them about their problems and propose concrete solutions. Respect and empathy are essential to building trust.

  4. Be solutions-oriented. You’re not selling a product or a service; you’re selling a meaningful answer to their problems.

  5. Be professional. Make sure you arrive on time for all appointments and answer any queries quickly and efficiently. The better prepared you are, the better the impression you’ll be leaving.

  6. Provide an added value. Suggest additional services and special discounts that may tip the scales in your favour. Flexibility and adaptability always pay off in the end.

To recap: courting a prospect and persuading them to become your client is a complex, multifaceted but worthwhile process. You need to put in the effort to understand their needs, adapt your pitch accordingly, build trust, focus on solutions, demonstrate a high level of professionalism and stress the added value you bring to the equation.


Prospecting, CRM, Customer relationship management


Finding leads and landing new clients can be your key to increasing sales and improving your bottom line. But lasting results in terms of a larger client base and higher revenue ultimately depend on the quality of your prospecting strategy. Your company reputation and brand visibility also stand to gain if you do the job right.


Ignoring this aspect of the sales cycle will only deprive you of future opportunities to grow your business. By heeding the recommendations outlined in this article, you will be setting yourself up for success over the medium and long term. So be sure to put all the odds in your favour!

 

If you need help overcoming the hurdles along the way, ask the specialists at Vendere about what a customer relationship management (CRM) system like Membri 365 or a sales lead management module can do for you. Let us show you the way to making the most of your sales strategy and generating new business.


We look forward to hearing from you!


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