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Sales Prospecting Overview

The Complete Guide to Sales Prospecting: Methods, Techniques, and Tools to Convert Leads

When it comes to the world of sales, there are a lot of terms thrown around.
The term “sales prospecting” is a very common one. But what does it mean to “prospect” in sales, why do sales teams practice it, and how can you and your team get started?

What is Sales Prospecting?

Sales prospecting is the process of identifying, qualifying, contacting, and engaging a large pool of potential customers whose demographics, technographics, and pain points make them very likely to buy your product or service. This process should carefully and methodically bring qualified (ready and able) buyers through your funnel, heading toward a closing. The sales prospecting process should be ongoing, bringing fresh leads into the top of your funnel to create steady revenue over time so that you can begin to prospect for another after each closed deal.

How Can You Get Started?

Want to know the first move when it comes to sales prospecting? Research.

You should plan to dedicate a fair amount of time to this critical step. If you haven’t already, define and refine your buyer persona(e), value proposition, and funnel, and use these as guideposts for identifying your best possible pool of prospects.

Start by identifying key components you might use to identify and prioritize prospects during your research phase, such as:

  • Industry or Niche
  • Job Title
  • Product or Business Model
  • Tech Stack
  • Geographic Location
  • Average Revenue
  • Organization Size and Structure
  • M&A Status

Once you’ve researched and identified these key components, you can begin to develop a solid sales prospecting plan or campaign. It’s simply not enough to begin making calls to your targets and hope for the best. Your prospecting plan should have defined objectives, research methods, communication channels, touchpoints (volume and methods), and follow-up procedures to ensure each prospect you make contact with is ready to buy, aware of your product or service, and receptive to your offer when you deliver it.

Check out our 5 step sales prospecting plan campaign here:

How to Identify and Qualify Sales Prospects

After research and planning, comes execution. Get started turning potential leads into potential prospects by compiling useful information based on your research’s key components.

Narrowing down your target market further at the organization level with well-defined parameters allows you to craft messaging specifically for the group you are trying to attract. It may leave quite a few names off the list; however, as nearly 50% of prospects won’t be a good fit for your product or service anyway, fine-tuning your list ensures that you make the most efficient use of your efforts in pursuing the best-qualified leads from the start.

How to Qualify:

Qualifying prospects is not a one-and-done or a single event, but rather a process and a practice that results in the most targeted list and best outcomes. The three levels of qualification outlined by B2B sales expert Bob Apollo are as follows:

  • Organizational: This level of qualification looks at whether the organization you’re targeting is a fit in terms of size, budget, and other broad demographic or technographic parameters.
  • Opportunity: This digs a level deeper, to understand whether the organization in question is correctly positioned to take advantage of your offer. While the qualifying factors may look different depending on product or service, decoding those factors that give your customer a high likelihood of completion is key to moving on to the third stage in qualification.
  • Individual: Also known as stakeholder qualification, this level establishes that your point of contact within the organization is a decision-maker, or otherwise a sufficiently capable influencer to get the deal across the finish line.

How to Identify:

Segmentation is the process of breaking down the different individual roles within your overall audience with one or more differentiating factors, and crafting communications based on those traits for different audiences within your ideal customer profile.

This segmentation can take many forms:

  • Demographic: Age, Gender, Income, Company Revenue, number of employees.
  • Geographic: Targeting companies or individuals within a certain area.
  • Psychographic: Beliefs, ideals, motivations, and other conscious and subconscious traits.
  • Behavioral: Buying patterns, brand awareness, use cases, and decision-making.

For instance, if your target audience is B2B sales teams, you know a sales team is more than the sales manager who makes decisions in a vacuum. The audience may also be made up of influencers (the team members who will work with the product or service daily), finance stakeholders (who must ratify any budget for purchases), and even IT staff (those involved in integrating and implementing the solution).

Qualifying and identifying are time-consuming tasks requiring a lot of work. Take a look at the top 20 sales qualifications to ask in order to weed out prospects your product or service can most readily serve to make your journey towards closing a more targeted, quicker one.

Sales Prospecting Techniques

With so many sales prospecting outreach methods, it can be challenging to determine which one to spend your precious marketing resources on.

Here are the top 5 methods we suggest:

Next comes the technique. Developing the right technique for each of these methods is where you’ll truly be able to stand out. Here we list out 14 of the best techniques for improving your prospecting process and outcomes. Many of these tactics are in the playbook of consistently top-performing sales reps, and for good reason.

The real secret is in the consistency with which you use them, and the variety you employ.

Sales Prospecting Tips Straight from Sendoso’s Sales Team

The above guidelines for sales prospecting will all be incredibly useful, but how do you know what truly will work best for your team?

Sendoso’s Sales Development Managers can guarantee a few best practices—mainly because they’ve tried it themselves.

With our teams combined years of experience reaching out to prospects, setting meetings, scheduling demos, and ultimately closing deals, they break down some of their biggest do’s and don’ts in the prospecting game.

Plus, take a look at some of the most successful sample sales prospecting letters they use that get them new meetings each and every day.

50 Valuable Sales Prospecting Questions to Get the Conversation Going

Any high-performing sales professionals will tell you.

The more human you are in your approach, the more you’ll get out of your prospect interactions. If you’re genuine, open, and participate in active listening (rather than just selling), they’re going to tell you exactly what they want and need. In fact, they’ll willingly offer up the information. And one of the best ways to get to the heart of the matter quickly is by asking the right questions.

It comes down to two different types of questions:

Open-ended: A question that cannot be addressed with a binary (e.g. yes or no) answer. The question is answered in such a way that your respondent has to elaborate. Ex: “What was your favorite feature of our competitor’s program or service?”

Closed-ended: A question that can be answered in a single word, or with a binary answer. Ex: “Do you like our product or service?”

There are also specific ways to ask these questions for the best results. Like with any new relationship, peppering someone with rapid-fire questions is a sure way to stop the conversation. Instead, use your questions with the intention of one of these five purposes:

  • Build Rapport
  • Set the Agenda
  • Keep the Balance
  • Get Interested
  • Close the Deal

It also helps to group your questions into categories so your conversation stays relevant to the topic at hand—your sale. But you don’t want to just jump in and ask prospects for their money. Instead, set up a flow for your conversation. Start with opening questions like, “How is your day going?” or “What are your plans for the upcoming weekend?”

Next, ask some information gathering questions to get a sense of what they may be looking for. Some good examples are, “When was the last time you purchased this product/service/technology?” and “What other providers or solutions are you evaluating?”

Then, get to know their current pain points with questions like “What is the biggest hassle for you in daily operations?”

Finally, make your move with some closing deal questions. These can be questions like “What’s your timeline for making a purchase decision?” and “If all the criteria outlined have been met, how comfortable would you be to proceed?”

Click here for a full list of the 50 most valuable sales prospecting questions to really get your prospects talking.

Sales Prospecting Tools to Know

It’s no secret that sales prospecting can be very time consuming.

To ensure you’re able to get sales prospecting done along with the other responsibilities of your job, you’ll need to be as organized, efficient, and accurate as possible. Find out about how to make the most of various sales prospecting tools designed to help your team do just that.

Use tools like LinkedIn, Marketo, Outreach, and more to create processes, gather intelligent data, and measure the effectiveness of your sales strategies. Use this list of these 16 powerful prospecting tools, and you’ll be able to:

  1. Boost efficiency
  2. Save time
  3. Generate pipeline

Your sales team will thank you.

Improve Your Sales Prospecting Today

The above methods, techniques, and tools are all available for you to begin prospecting today. Schedule a demo to learn more about rising above the noise and the power of attracting potential customers through a Sending Platform.

See how leading B2B companies use Sendoso to fuel revenue

We’ve seen response rates and success with Sendoso like no other form of outreach.

Peter Tarrant, Account Based Marketer, Tipalti

Get Started with a Demo Today!