Sales prospecting is something that all businesses, big and small, need to do. Too bad it’s considered the ‘ultimate chore’ among many, and something that a lot of salespeople seem to dread. Some companies find sales prospecting to be their biggest challenge entirely. On the other hand, some claim that it’s achievable in a mere two easy steps!
That being said, sales prospecting appears to be stuck in a rut and trundling down a wayward path. Methods used are often considered out of date, poorly researched, and sometimes simply warranting a one-way ticket to spam-ville. And unfortunately, salespeople are often charged with the task to simply ‘make more calls’ and ‘send more emails’, instead of understanding how to prospect more effectively. Here are some tips that we find really useful when embarking on the sales prospecting adventure!
Let’s take an email campaign for example, with your goal being to drive website traffic and conversions. You need to have a clear idea of who it is exactly that you want to engage with. Remember that your email list of prospects needs to be target specific. I say target specific because, in reality, throwing everything and the kitchen sink at a random list of ‘prospects’ suggests that you either don’t really know who your customers are, or you just like to partake in mass messaging in the hope that some people will listen…which isn’t a whole lot better than the former. Please don’t do that. Not only will this annoy people, but it can also potentially damage the integrity of your brand.
LinkedIn is often considered to be the best form of corporate networking; it’s sort of like Tinder for business, flicking through endless potential prospects to find the right job title that makes you want to swipe right…or in this case, hit ‘connect.’ But what many people don’t seem to utilise on LinkedIn is the ever growing community of members who are congregating in the very same place: the group discussions; the water cooler hangout of LinkedIn if you like. This is a great way to find some relevant prospects. For example, if you want to target a particular industry for a campaign, find a group centered around that industry instead of trawling through individual leads one by one on the main search screen. By involving yourself in group discussions, not only are you warming up new leads, you’re also promoting the company brand to help create potential inbound leads as well.
Right before you hit send, just take a moment to really evaluate your contacts, and consider whether they are the right person to be emailing. If you want to hit the inboxes of sales and marketing managers, there’s little value in sending an email to the HR director or head of Software Engineering in the hopes that they will pass on the message. You’re better off sending the email to firstname.lastname@example.org; at least there will be some poor customer service agent on the other end employed to acknowledge such emails. Ensure that you’re building relationships with the right people; don’t just send an email to anybody to try and get a foot in the door. More often than not, that door is going to stub your foot.
So you have your highly targeted list of prospects, and you know that every single person you’re about to email will actually want to hear from you. You’re sorted, right? Wrong. Without trying to sound like a broken record (I even hate seeing this point mentioned in blog posts), you need to make sure that what you’re sending to these time-constrained managers is going to grab their attention; email content is your royal flush. Try to include a video demonstration of your product or service. Some marketing tools might not allow you to embed a video into an email, in which case you can simply screen grab a still from the video and link it to the source of the file (we like to use Vimeo). By doing this, you can show your product/service in action, and let it literally sell itself. Finding and nurturing the prospect list is the hard part, so don’t let the fruits of your labor go to waste here!
Now you’re happy to hit ‘send’ and hold your breath for the results. But how long should you wait before following up with these leads? Some people wait for several open/click throughs before following up, but we think that’s too long. Why wait? If you’re using a tool like Hubspot or MailChimp and can see recipient activity in real time, then you should contact them straight away while it’s fresh in their mind. By waiting too long, that fantastic email you sent three days ago could now be sitting on page 4 of someone’s inbox and they have forgotten that you even exist. If you’re using a CRM system like Close.io or Salesforce, etc. then you can input your leads and easily keep track of which ones have and haven’t been followed up.
We agree that sales prospecting is time-consuming, but what rewarding effort isn’t? Sending out 200 emails to an unqualified list of companies won’t demonstrate the traditional open and click-through rates, as we all know how savvy we are when it comes to spotting those annoying emails from people who clearly haven’t done much groundwork. Wouldn’t it be far better to send out less emails to more targeted prospects by strategically utilizing LinkedIn and its group discussions, and thus contacting people who might actually want to buy your product/service? Good email content is sure to increase your click-through rate by miles, and by following up now rather than later, you’re much more likely to get that conversion you wanted. Talk about a fairy tale ending!