July 1, 2021

14 Sales Prospecting Methods to Build a Better Strategy

By Sendoso
In B2B sales, how soon is too soon to reach out to a prospect? If you thought the middle of the funnel was a great time to make an entrance — guess again.

According to one report, 71% of buyers want to hear from sales reps during the first stage. And 62% want to connect with reps when trying to resolve an issue.

Understanding the wants and needs of your target audience is key to mastering sales prospecting. Plus, you need to use tried and true methods to get the job done.

So we put together this quick list of the top sales prospecting methods and techniques. Let’s jump right in.

What Are the Best Channels for Finding Sales Prospects?

You need a sales pipeline filled with hot B2B sales leads. But how do you generate this for your sales team? The key is targeting the right channels. And what seems to work the best today is:

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is one of the leading prospecting methods and has enjoyed the lion’s share of attention from marketers. In our estimation, it’s worth the hype; when done correctly, inbound marketing and prospecting tactics can significantly improve your marketing outcomes without the ongoing investment.

It’s definitely possible to get a consistent ROI over time when you have:

  • a well-constructed marketing plan in place
  • the support of solid content and offers
  • and good funnel construction and marketing automation

Social Media Marketing

Social media gives marketers unprecedented access to their audience. And research by LinkedIn shows over 50% of revenue is influenced by social selling.

Here’s a look at the leading social networks for sales prospecting:

  • Facebook: The first major social media platform to provide avenues for marketers, Facebook continues to provide opportunities for businesses from SMBs and solopreneurs to enterprise companies and major corporations to get in front of an audience. With nearly 5 billion active monthly users, if you’re looking for your audience, you’re likely to find them there.
  • LinkedIn: If you’re looking to connect with either the B2B market, using LinkedIn as a marketing and research tool is an excellent option. With a pool of 660 million users as of 2020, the potential to reach a market in this professional social network can’t be overstated.
  • Twitter: This short-form social platform has a vibe and an audience all its own. It also provides the opportunity to directly connect with fans and engage followers in a meaningful way. Many companies use Twitter as a quick-form method of real-time communication. Jetblue and other companies excel at this and even use the platform as a frontline of customer support.

Instagram—This Facebook-owned visual platform is so much more than a place to share pictures. Savvy B2C and B2B marketers are leveraging the power of Insta to tell stories, create product placement opportunities, and take their brand marketing to the next level. Consumers are responding to this visual selling revolution: over 1 billion monthly users frequent the site.

Referrals

Consider using the most powerful and oft-overlooked sources of new business as part of your marketing efforts. While only 26% of non-top-performing sales professionals regularly solicit referrals from their current clients and customers, this practice is the bread and butter of top performers.

Referrals are a winner for everyone — they bring in more follow-on sales with little groundwork. Plus, they make it easy for customers to adopt your product or service the way they prefer. This works better if your stakeholders are higher up in the organization, where decision-makers rely heavily upon referrals for security and speed in their buying decisions.

Networking

Taking things to the (physical or virtual) “streets” is an excellent way to expand your product or service awareness. Networking opportunities abound. It presents the opportunity to get in front of decision-makers and influencers to discuss your product/service via:

  • participating in tradeshows and conferences
  • keynote and teaching opportunities
  • professional organization and promotional events
  • in-person and virtual networking opportunities

Networking events are highly effective. According to an Event Marketing Institute report, nearly three out of four attendees say the face-time at events make them more likely to buy the products or services.

Outbound Marketing and Outreach

Pounding the pavement may seem more labor-intensive than some of the other methods described in this post. But outbound marketing, such as cold emailing and cold-calling, are still two of the highest-rated methods of conducting prospecting and keeping the pipeline filled out.

Over the last 20 years, cold emailing has become common practice for most outbound teams. And an entire suite of tools and platforms has risen to help marketers make the most of their efforts. However, with this widespread adoption comes a backside of fatigue, so marketers who employ this method need to be sure they’re adhering to best practices.

When you think of a salesperson, you’ll often picture someone with a fair amount of hustle making 20 calls a day trying to put together a deal. This is for good reason: over 40% of marketers still consider phone calls to be their number one tool in the kit. While the response rate for cold-calling is low, for high-ticket or complex products and services, getting on the phone with a stakeholder is the crucial first step in moving to close.

14 of the Best Sales Prospecting Methods

Now that we’ve explored some of the most popular channels for prospecting outreach, let’s explore 14 of the best sales techniques and methods to improve your prospecting, sales process, and outcomes. 

Many of these tactics are in the playbook of consistently top-performing sales reps (and for good reason).

1.Send a Surprise

Since 73% of consumers rate experience as an important factor in their purchasing decisions, give your prospects a unique and memorable human experience by standing out and finding original ways to build new connections along the sales cycle. 

Instead of a standard email, try sending them an UberEats gift card, and ask if they’d be willing to meet over a quick Zoom lunch. Or, have a handwritten note delivered to introduce yourself, your company, and the ways your product or service can alleviate some of their greatest pain points.

2. Make Cold Calls

We know cold calling isn’t your favorite part of the job — in fact, over 60% of sales reps say it’s their least favorite part. But given the potential effectiveness of this habit, it’s well worth consistently engaging cold prospects in an attempt to get them down the funnel. 

Calling is unique in that it’s a direct, one-to-one conversation with your potential customer. But good calling techniques are crucial: they must be well-crafted and personalized. Employ the research you’ve done and make real connections with your prospect, so the call will warm faster.

3. Create an Effective Script

Ever blank out when leaving a message or talking to a friend or colleague? Congratulations, you understand the importance of developing a good script in advance of your cold-calling efforts. 

Relying on a well-crafted script (or even a fine-tuned email template warmed up with personalization) allows you to refine and deliver the message. It also enables you to answer common questions on the fly, and avoid that embarrassing moment the gears grind to a halt on the phone.

4. Never Stop Prospecting

Prospecting is a lot like hitting the gym—it’s only effective if you do it consistently and in the right way. It’s easy to let prospecting efforts take a back seat when the pipeline is flush, but doing so runs the risk of creating dips later down the road. Create a method for your prospecting efforts and keep track of the practice and outcomes using lead management tools.

5. Pursue Qualified Leads

Getting quality leads into your sales pipeline is a matter of proper research. Part of this research involves weeding out sales prospects (for one reason or another). Some may appear to be a good initial fit but fail in one or more qualification areas. For instance, they may have the wrong company size, industry or business model fit, number of transactions, budget, or revenue, etc. Getting these early qualifications taken care of ensures that the leads you do pursue have the highest probability of panning out and heading to closed-won.

6. Leverage Marketing Automation Tools

When you’re working on a large prospecting pool or selling a product or service with a long sales cycle, the need to keep your leads organized and prioritized becomes critical. Using the power of marketing automation tools allows you to make the right connections at the right time. It powers decision-making using insights, data and timelines monitored automatically. Ultimately, it helps keep potential revenue from slipping through the cracks.

7. Benefit from Referrals

Don’t reinvent the wheel. The most successful (and profitable) sales professionals take full advantage of the power of referral in working their leads. A customer who has been adequately served and valued will be highly likely to recommend your product or service to their sphere of influence. 

It’s one of the most powerful forms of free advertising available. Be sure to regularly and consistently ask for referrals from your satisfied customers and reap the rewards of low-friction sales to a constant flow of new customers.

8. Be an Industry Thought Leader

People want to buy from a trusted source. While you can know everything about your product or service, being seen as the source of knowledge and truth within your industry can boost your reputation. It also builds awareness for your product or service. And reduces friction in getting your leads to the closing table. Thought leadership opportunities such as written content, keynote speeches, industry round-tables, or even a Reddit or Twitter “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) session could provide strong social proof for a sale.

9. Produce Monthly Webinars

Webinars are one way to consistently (even automatically) create value for your sales prospects and educate them on the benefits of your product. When you create webinars monthly, prospects are continually invited to learn and share more about the product. This gives those in the decision stage the final push they need to seal the deal.

10. Schedule Time to Prospect

Having a consistent prospecting program is only useful if you carve out time to do it. Making prospecting a recurring event in your calendar ensures that prospecting doesn’t get lost in your hectic schedule. Be sure to schedule these events at intervals that ensure even sales pipeline results.

11. Scroll Through Social Media

Idle scrolling gets a bad rap, but we’re here to tell you it can have benefits as well. Regularly scanning social media platforms for relevant data can yield many types of information: 

  • Topics of interest to your audience
  • Changes and advancements within the industry
  • High-profile industry professionals making moves
  • Sentiment data for yourself and your competitors. 

The next time you’re headed for a rut, check out the web to see what’s happening in your industry.

12. Analyze The Competitive Landscape

Competition is healthy, and scoping out the competition is necessary. So whether you’re: 

  • analyzing magic quadrant results
  • surveying competitor websites and news
  • or reading about the latest advancements made by leaders in a particular industry

You need to watch the competitive landscape to ensure you’re optimally positioned for your intended audience.

13. Team Up with integrations and partners

Ease-of-use is one of the most important aspects of a product or a technical solution. One way to increase ease-of-use is through solid integration and partner relationships. Integrations make it easy for customers to adopt your product and implement it within their organization seamlessly. 

Partners can amplify your message and act as a conduit to offers for an audience that may not have been accessible without a warm introduction. Having a strong integration and partner network is one way you can get new customers to say “yes” without hesitation.

14. Identify former customers for potential prospects

The once and future customer is a wonderful thing. For starters, they’re already familiar with your product or service and were impressed enough with your offering to have been an adopter at some point. 

While customers leave the fold for a variety of reasons, no rule says you can’t get them back when their needs align or when your offering evolves to suit their needs. Reaching out to your former customers in a friendly way might spark a conversation and lead to a sale. This is an excellent accompaniment to your referral request strategy.

So encourage your sales teams to reach out to old prospects to “catch up” and possibly rekindle interest.

Start Using Sales Prospecting Methods that Work

The last thing your sales team needs is outdated strategies that yield little to no results. So it’s critical to continuously modify your sales process with the latest and greatest methods.

Hopefully, this guide helps shed light on ways your sales teams can ramp up the sales pipeline. 

But if you’d like to learn more, then watch the on-demand event: “Out of the Box: ABX Strategies for Marketing, Sales, and CX” today.

See how companies generate over 200% ROI on new revenue with the leading sending platform.

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