8 B2B prospecting strategies for faster sales

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Here is the paradox — for faster sales, you don’t need to work harder. The shortcut on a way to success is in reaching only the right customers and doing only the most critical things.

Naturally, prospecting is a basis for any sales process. The sales stage takes up a lot of time, which means doing poor prospecting you just waste a lot of business resources in vain.

It sounds obvious... But even so, a majority of sales reps (not just rookies) continue to rush by numbers in the leads counter. By this, they are legitimately missing their quotas. Why legitimately?

Take a look — the goal of sales prospecting is to find people (in companies) who will most likely buy your product. More timе spent on grabbing extra contacts for the sales lists leaves you less time to understand if he is willing to buy or not. So when developing a strategic prospecting plan, focus on this only goal: find the best prospects, not sell.

Now let’s talk about some of the day-to-day improvements to help you deliver the best sales prospecting strategies. You will see how to do less to get more, what areas of your sales prospecting process to pay more attention to get better results. 

1- Make your ideal prospect agile

Update your ICP every 3-6 months + after significant events like an economic crisis, new legislation, new disruptive technologies.

We do not doubt you have an ideal customer profile (ICP) as a central point in the sales department and for sales B2B strategies. Despite the fact, not all companies revise their ICPs and adapt them to market and company changes regularly. Without the revision, any ideal customer profile becomes useless and sometimes even harmful. 

To redefine your ICP: 

  • collect the list of your customers and identify top clients based on criteria like annual сontract revenue, total contract revenue, retention rate, number of referrals, the potential for growth;

  • from top performers identify their common characteristics like industry, company size, geography, decision making factors, technologies used; 

  • analyze how effective was the profile based on leads entering your pipeline

  • make regular ICP updates an inevitable part of your work routine

Ideal Customer Profile Template

Industry

Computer Software

Geography

Northern Europe

Size

50-100 employees

Revenue ($)

1500-3000k

Organizational

Pain Points

1. High rate of low-qualified leads

2. Loosing time to manual data entry

3. Technical issues

Technology Stack

1. CRM

2. Sales automation

3. LinkedIn Sales Navigator

IT Spend of revenue

20%

Contact Details

company website, contact person email/phone number

2- Devote most of your time to prospecting 

82% of top performers spend at least 4 hours every day just prospecting.

First, you sift people/companies who fit your ICP most and MIGHT be interested in your offer. Then you research the business characteristics, what changes they are experiencing or expecting soon and what problems they have. You need the information to start a conversation and get them interested. All this helps to build trust by appreciating their time and needs. Check the discussion as proof: just finding the right person doesn’t mean they are ready to talk about your product. 

Think about the time spent on prospecting as speeding up your sales, not hindering. It is like building a house. The more time you devote to planning, discovering the most suitable solutions, and preparing drawings, the faster you get exactly what you want.  

The same in sales. By spending less time on low-priority leads, you save more time for high-priority prospects. The better you understand your prospect, the easier it will be to close a big deal. As a result, you stop hoping someone answers you and maybe buy the cheapest thing, you exactly know the prospect will be eager to buy the best solution from you.

3- Revise your qualifying criteria 

These are must-have points every sales rep should assess: 

  • fit with your ideal customer profile

  • whether you find to the right person 

  • relevance of your product for their industry

  • whether they use your competitors’ products

  • reasons why they might be a bad fit for you

Despite these, you should add specific questions related to your and your client’s business domain. Analyze how you started communication with your best deals — find common patterns to add to your qualifying criteria. Ask for feedback from your existing clients: what they like most from your interaction, what is the most important for them, what was the key factor in their positive decision. Besides, continuously upgrade your qualification to identify highly qualified prospects earlier in the sales cycle.

4- Experiment with the list of places to find prospects

First of all find answers to the points:

  • Their industry, their expertise — make a list of business topics your ICP is interested in or may be interested in.

  • Your ICP has a business-related question. Where will they go for answers? Find their top sources of knowledge and insights. 

Based on the answers to the previous questions, make a list of places and test their performance. You will see what channels bring leads easier to close and more money. 

Experiment with various channels systematically. Especially when a company is in a highly competitive field, it is a good practice to routinely brainstorm new prospecting methods in sales. 

You can do it alone or in the team for more prospecting ideas and better results. Think about issues you have in the prospecting process and what unusual ways there are to solve them. Write down all creative ways to reach prospects even if they are crazy. From 10 ideas 7 might fail, 2 might be OK and 1 might be the best solution bringing you out of competition.

Choose the stuff that works quickly. Kill things that don’t work. Check new channels’ performance aligned to your key sales metrics. Then repeat systematically and get your profit.

Don’t abandon the sales prospecting techniques that don't show good results immediately. The business is maturing and you are developing. It may be the case you tried something and that didn't work, and with your current skills and market performance, it will be a perfect match. 

Here are some prospecting tips, where to look for leads.

Online:

Social media, communities, forums. For instance, you can discover members of LinkedIn groups on relevant business topics, you can participate in Twitter chats, or join an online conference and make a list of people attending it.

Offline:

When it is possible (in the current pandemic situation) meet your leads in person. Attend networking events, civic clubs, conferences, charity events, etc.

Use the same tactic with experiments for channels for contacting prospects. When it is possible and available use more than one channel for the outreach. Cold calling is best when combined with social outreach, cold emailing, landing pages for each ICP, and pre-targeted ads.

5- Stop treating content as only a marketing tool

Leverage content (guides, blog posts, product overviews, videos, templates, reports) from the marketing team as one of your prospecting tips for sales. Think about what problems and questions your customers face and offer a solution or an answer with your content. The idea is to genuinely help your prospect, not sell.

By contacting your prospects with a relevant piece of content, you make your message more personalized and get the attention of your prospects. The goal is to learn more about your customers and establish some trust. As a result, you will have a high chance of a deal.

The indirect benefit of using content in prospecting is that you get comments from the target audience representative. The indifferent or negative feedback indicates room for improvements in the marketing strategies.

6- Respond to clients as fast as you can

In 2020 83% of prospects expect companies to interact with them in real-time. Every minute of delay in answering a client message gives your competitors a chance to steal your prospect who is ready to buy.

1) If you are unable to answer properly, at least send a short message that you need some time. Everyone understands that you are not a robot and have other stuff to be done. Just don’t leave them in uncertainty.

2) You will also make your answers faster by preparing short and detailed answers to the most common questions in advance and just adopting them for each prospect. It is very important to mention the time during which you will provide the answer or additional information. For instance:

Hi {name}. Got your message, will reply in 2 hours. Sorry, but I'm at the meeting right now.

Hi {name}. You can learn more about the issue here {link}. I will be able to discuss the details in an hour. Currently on my way to work.

3) In rare cases when you have no time even for a short answer, you may automate the mailing process. So the system personalizes the message and answers to a client using a relevant template. Automate tasks, not yourself. You can delegate a system to send messages and follow set conditions, but write messages and add variables should a human. 

4) If this does not help, turn on email and LinkedIn notifications ;)

5) Finally try to charge your device.

7- Don’t stop after the first cold message to a prospect 

To draw your prospects’ attention and interest you should contact them more than 1 time. Sales reps who communicate 3 or more times with the leads generate 2.4 times more quality prospects.

You are lucky if you get an answer to your cold message in several hours or a day. In most cases, responses are classified into:

  • you don’t get an answer at all

  • «I will contact you later»  

  • «Thank you, I am not interested» 

  •  Obviously a negative answer «I don’t need your help. Don’t write me anymore»  

In the first 3 cases — don’t doubt and send the next message. In the last situation — better to leave him alone.

It is OK to follow up prospects 4-6 times. The number of potential customers is limited. Especially if we are talking about the most promising ones. So if you stop communication after the first negative response or lack of response you will quickly run out of people to contact.

8- Automate Fight-or-flight 

53% of companies automate sales processes leveraging AI and other technologies. While the simplified sales process is among the sales leaders’ top 5 tactics for success. Would you like to be left out of the competition? We don’t think so.

Just several years ago, in 2018, tasks such as managing emails, finding the right person to contact, logging activities, inputting sales data and customer notes took so much time that salespeople only spent one-third of their time actually selling.

For now, the number of tech products for sales processes is growing exponentially. Recent 2020 sales report shows that top performers actively implement tools for repetitive tasks such as:

  • Scraping prospect information (find and verify emails)

  • Scheduling email and calls

  • Cold emails

  • Generating personalized emails and replies recommendations based on the data (use case, industry, target’s persona)

  • Prioritizing leads/opportunities

By just leveraging several tools to help you with monotonous work you make your prospecting for sales leads far faster and more competitive. At the same time remember about making your automation humanized:

  • be honest about using automated tools. When they learn the ‘person’ they were messaging with is a computer, it can make the entire experience feel creepy.

  • correct automated messages by adding a sense of humor when appropriate, focus on making them sound human to create delight and connection

  • and, obligatory, make sure everything is correctly configured. Messages displaying things like empty merge fields don't look trustworthy.

Prospecting Strategies Frequently Asked Questions

What is prospecting?

Prospecting is the process of looking for and qualifying leads as potential prospects.

Why is prospecting an essential activity for salespeople?

Prospecting is the first and basic stage for the whole sales process. The positive results of the B2B prospecting process determine the success of the following sales process and revenue.

What is the goal of strategic prospecting?

The goal of strategic prospecting is to find people who will most likely buy, who have the financial capability, and who will be easier to close the deal with. 

What are the three types of prospects? 

The main three types of prospects are:

  • First-priority. Those who will make the biggest impact on you and your company

  • Second-priority. Most likely they don’t have the great financial capability, yet you should ask them.

  • Third-priority. They can buy at a lower amount.

What is ICP in sales prospecting?

ICP — ideal customer profile —  is characteristics of a customer, who is going to help you meet your business goal. Let’s say, bring most of your revenue.

What content formats should I use in prospecting campaigns?

Guides, blog posts, product overviews, videos, templates, reports.

Will I have fast revenue growth if I improve all these points from the article?

We haven’t (at least we don't know it) a magic formula. Test and adapt them to your company’s sales prospecting plan. 

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