We’ve spoken before about what sales prospecting is and the important role it plays in keeping your pipeline healthy.
But once you’ve decided that you want to begin sales prospecting, the question arises—where do you begin?
The fact is, sales prospecting is difficult. The easiest way to describe it is as a process. You’re never going to get it right straight away and it’ll always involve listening, watching, and adjusting to what works, and stopping what doesn’t.
That said, there are still proven ways to get yourself off to a good start. Here’s how to set up your first sales prospecting strategy.
Developing the process
Your sales prospecting strategy will only make sense as part of a larger pipeline. Here’s how that’s done.
Sourcing the leads
It all needs to start somewhere and that means sourcing leads. Now, your potential customers can literally be anywhere, so the approaches you choose to take in finding the leads are limitless.
That said, there are a number of approaches you can take.
Tap into your marketing team
Prospecting usually falls under the remit of sales, but it still overlaps a lot with marketing. In fact, this is the main focus of marketing—to find and be attractive to potential customers. Before anything else, check in to see what your marketing team is doing and how they’re generating leads.
Run automated lead generation campaigns
There are incredible tools out there that can help you to find leads. Take LinkedIn for example, you can use platforms like Prospects.so with Sales Navigator to create lists of leads that fall into the target you’re aiming for.
Look at online engagement
You can learn a lot from how customers engage with your brand online. If you’re tracking your brand across different touch points, whether social media or otherwise, you can see where people are coming into contact with you.
Qualifying the leads
Now we move beyond prospecting to your overall sales process. Finding leads isn’t all that difficult, really. What is difficult is finding the ones who are most likely to become customers. That’s why qualifying leads is the necessary next step.
Again, this can vary a lot but one of the tried-and-tested methods that businesses use is lead scoring.
Lead scoring involves using a predetermined process to rank how ready the lead is for sales materials. You can use whatever data or criteria that are important to you. The trick is to assign points to each criteria to remove the subjectivity out of the process and discover which leads are best worth focusing on.
How to develop your lead scoring
To develop the lead scoring aspect of your sales prospect strategy, you need to have buyer personas, which is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer. You essentially distill all the real points your actual customers share into one, single character. The more real information you use to create them, the better.
Next, you need to determine what points are important to your business. Generally speaking, you can divide this into demographic information, such as location, age, job, etc., and behavioral information, which is based on how they’ve interacted with your brand. This could be if they open an email, visit your website multiple times, sign up for a free version of your product, etc.
Finally, you need to assign numerical values to these criteria. This is an important step because it’s easy to assign points to the wrong areas. If someone signs up for your newsletter, they’re showing interest, but it doesn’t mean they’re necessarily at the point of wanting to buy. So, this behavior would get lower points than someone who has signed up for a free version of your product. This latter example shows much higher intent than the former.
Now, you can identify qualified leads based on their likelihood of becoming a customer.
Turning prospects into opportunities
Anyone who scores even relatively highly on your lead scoring system is now a viable prospect. Next, you need to turn them into an opportunity. This process is known as nurturing.
When nurturing your prospects, there are both general best practices and specific targeted actions you can take.
Beginning with the general best practices, it’s important to always personalize your messaging. Simply using data you have on the customer, whether their name, company, or anything else, to make it more relevant to them is shown to build trust. The fact of the matter is that customers expect personalization and judge companies negatively if they don’t deliver.
Now, how you nurture your prospects will depend on the touchpoint where they came into contact with the brand and the behavior they display. A newsletter signup could be a welcome email campaign, whereas if they download an app, push notifications could be better.
Closing the deal
Finally, you need to actually convert the customer by closing the deal. How you close will depend on your business, but whatever you do, the key is to make it as simple as possible for them to complete the process.
Get the right tools for the job
It’s essential to have the right tools for the job. No matter how good your sales prospecting strategy is, if you don’t have a platform that is able to execute it properly, it’s going to prove difficult to get the results you want.
Begin by identifying the features that you need. For example, every business is going to need email automation capabilities if they want to engage in sales prospecting.
Make sure you consider everything, from sourcing leads to communicating to assigning lead scores and more. There are many ways you can follow up and nurture prospects, and knowing what approaches you want to take is vital before choosing the right platform for you.
At the end of the day, prospecting is essential to grow your business. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll see results.
If you’d like to find out more about how Pipeline.so can help you with your sales prospecting efforts, reach out to us today to arrange an appointment.