20 Sales Prospecting Techniques That Really Work
There's an old story about a father telling his teenage son: "You can drive the car without gas, but never drive it without oil." The point? Sometimes it's easy to focus on tasks that are urgent (like filling up with gas) while forgetting those tasks that are ultimately more important in the long run (changing the car's oil).
It's similar with sales prospecting. If you want your business to grow, you have to do it - but it can easily slip through the cracks with all of the other sales activities that need to be handled day in and day out.
Of course, it's easier for your team to focus on sales prospecting when they see good results from it. With that in mind, here are 20 sales prospecting techniques that really work:
1. Know your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Your USP is what sets you apart from the competition, what gives your business unique value compared to other companies. If your sales reps have your USP firmly in mind when they make prospecting calls, they'll be able to clearly communicate it to the person on the other end - and possibly convince them to explore your solution in more detail.
2. Keep a prospecting script handy
Do you like talking to total strangers over the phone? Very few people do. That's why it's so helpful to have a well-written prospecting script handy when making those uncomfortable cold calls. It can help you to stay "on brand" and deliver your message as smoothly as possible.
3. Use marketing and sales automation tools
It can be tough to keep all of your prospects and leads organized, or to follow up on all of your appointments without forgetting any of them. This is where a sales automation tool (like a CRM platform) can be an invaluable asset. For instance, HubSpot CRM automatically logs all rep-customer interactions in a centralized database, and empowers reps to track the progress of deals, manage their contacts, and even set up reminder alerts for follow-ups and meetings.
4. Get better at using video
Video-conferencing platforms like Zoom are becoming a bigger and bigger part of modern sales. With that in mind, you may need to take your "video game" to the next level (no pun intended). Record yourself on your next virtual sales call (with the prospect's permission, of course), and analyze the video for ways to improve your pitch.
5. Ask for referrals
It's no surprise that most prospects will trust a recommendation from friends or colleagues more than a company's ad copy. You can leverage the power of "word of mouth" marketing by asking contacts in your professional and personal networks to refer your brand to any interested people they come across.
6. Analyze the competition
If you want to remain competitive, then you have to know whom you're competing against. Examine your top competitors' websites, marketing campaigns, and brand positioning statements to determine their strengths and weaknesses. Who knows? You may find an important gap in their strategy that your business can fill, whether it's pricing, quality, customer experience, or something else.
7. Remember to follow up
This is a no-brainer (although sometimes it can be hard to do). If you say you're going to call or meet with a prospect at a certain time, make sure you do so - punctually. If you don't, what will that tell them about your professionalism?
8. Answer questions on relevant forums
Positioning yourself as a subject-matter expert is one way to fill your pipeline with prospects and leads. However, you may need to get creative about how to prove your expertise to your audience. One way to make it happen is to frequently visit industry-specific Q&A forums (or general forums with industry-specific threads) and answer questions that potential consumers bring up.
9. Network at events
One of the greatest advantages of attending events and trade shows is the ability to come into contact with a large group of people who all share a similar interest - specifically, interest in your industry and/or product category. With that in mind, be sure to seize any opportunity to network at such events. Interestingly, many marketers feel that event marketing/networking is their number #1 most effective marketing technique!
10. Schedule time for prospecting
It's an unwritten rule of human nature: If you don't schedule it, odds are it won't happen. The same is true for prospecting activities. Sales reps always have a full plate of activities, and prospecting can easily fall by the wayside (especially if it's not one of the rep's favorite things to do). The solution is to block out some time for prospecting on a regular, consistent basis. Of course, you'll want to make sure the time you set aside lines up with the time your prospects are available to talk!
11. Look at former customers as potential prospects
When prospecting, never discount one of the most productive demographics available to you: former customers. Think about it: they already are familiar with your business and your product, they were willing to purchase from you at least once already, and you no doubt have some insight into their needs and interests. Periodically reaching back out to them may yield exceptional results.
12. Utilize customer segmentation
The modern consumer expects (and often demands) a personalized experience from any brand trying to woo them. This is where customer segmentation can really shine for your business. You can leverage segmented messaging to speak to the interests and concerns of sub-groups within your overall audience, and form emotional connections with them more effectively.
13. Reach out on your buyers' favorite channels
In some form or fashion, all businesses have to proactively visit the places where their customers are located. In the old days, that often meant going from door to door. Now, of course, it may mean engaging with customers on their favorite social media networks or OTT platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and so on).
14. Think about switching gears to target thriving industries
The reality is that there's more growth (and money) in some industries than others. If your product or service has uses across multiple industries, consider adapting your marketing efforts to target industries that are booming (e.g., if you sell cleaning equipment, considering pivoting from residential to commercial customers).
15. Don't ever stop prospecting
Prospecting is ultimately a numbers game: you win some, you lose some - but the more you do it, the more you'll win. If your pipeline is full of promising leads, it can be tempting to put prospecting on the back burner. However, you'll need to refill your pipeline at some point in the future. Why not get a jump on it today? Plus, you don't want to end up experiencing a slump because of taking your foot off the gas pedal.
16. Make warm calls
No one likes making cold calls... so make warm calls instead! Consider reaching out not only to previous customers, but to current customers who are already spending money with your brand. Think of how to upsell to them without alienating them. It's a delicate balance, but the rewards are well worth it.
17. Don't sell; educate
Value-based marketing is all about giving the customer what they need without asking for anything in return. People tend to shy away from pushy salespeople. However, most consumers appreciate businesses that inform and educate them on their options without aggressively chasing the sale. If you position yourself as an "educator" rather than a "salesperson," you'll gradually build trust and may ultimately convert your grateful prospect into a paying customer.
18. Become an industry thought leader
"Thought leaders" are brands that consumers trust for their expertise and experience in specific fields. Thought leadership content (including white papers, eBooks, webinars, industry roundtables, or even "Ask Me Anything" sessions on Twitter) can provide compelling "social proof" that your company is not only credible, but the preferred option in terms of product/service quality.
19. Scroll through your social media feed
Exploring the social media platforms on which your business is active can help you to identify high-upside prospects. It can also provide you an avenue for researching a prospect who's currently in your pipeline. The end result? A more personalized approach tailored to the interests, preferences, and even personality of the prospect in question.
20. Host monthly webinars
A webinar is an exceptional way to "kill two birds with one stone:"
- You'll be able to create value for your attendees
- You'll be able to educate them on the features and benefits of your product
For the sake of consistency, consider hosting at least one webinar each month.
In summary, you need to periodically "change the oil" that's driving your company's engine - and that means prospecting, prospecting, and more prospecting. If you're ready to make headway on your prospecting goals, then make sure to contact our team of sales and marketing experts at Leadium. Our team will help you to source specific lead data, scale your sales pipelines, and implement powerful outbound strategies. (And yes, we'll help you kick your prospecting efforts into overdrive.) Contact us today to learn more.
If you want your business to grow, you have to do it - but it can easily slip through the cracks with all of the other sales activities that need to be handled day in and day out.