What Makes Prospecting So Important in Sales?

September 16, 2021

There are a lot of individual elements that go into sales campaigns and each has an important role to play in the overall success of the project, whatever that looks like. Whether you’re selling subscriptions or individual products, your sales strategy needs to develop from a starting point and quite often that first step is prospecting.

An element that is frequently overlooked in terms of its importance, prospecting goes a long way to setting up the whole sales campaign but it’s one that many in sales are still unaware of or playing down in terms of its value to the team. 

What is prospecting?

Put quite simply, prospecting is the process of identifying contacts and their details ahead of a new campaign. These could be businesses or key individuals within the companies that sales people are going to reach out to in an attempt to promote and ultimately sell their next product or service. 

We recently wrote a detailed guide answering the question: what is prospecting, so if you need any more information about what it is or a resource to show your team the next time someone asks you why prospecting is a part of their sales strategy, share that guide with them and they’ll find everything they need.

How to start prospecting

Anyway, that’s what prospecting is, so let’s get started on how to go about doing it. 

Prospecting is a time-consuming process, or at least, it can be. If you’re doing it manually there will be a lot of work involved in terms of creating prospecting lists and compiling data from each and every business you identify before you even start reaching out to them.

Fortunately, there is a time-saving and highly effective solution - HeyProspect! We do all of the hard work for you in compiling an accurate, detailed list of prospects ahead of your next campaign so you can focus on what you do best - selling. 

If you’re interested in how to start prospecting or learning more about the process, here are a few key points that will allow you to develop a relevant and effective strategy:

  • What does your target audience look like?

Before you do any research, ask yourself who is likely to be interested in buying or investing in what you’re selling in your next campaign. You will already know what it is you’re promoting, so now you need to look into who you are going to target and where they are in the world. 

Are you reaching out to new or existing markets, for instance? If it’s a new country then you have a blank slate to work with but you’ll need to ensure that you can service them sufficiently, while an existing market gives you the chance to show case studies but might mean you have a smaller catchment area as you’ve already reached out to a number of key players in the sector.

Where possible, you should always look to find the contact details of decision makers in the business. These are people in managerial positions who are likely to have the permission to spend money on your product or service, and may only need a quick conversation someone above them in order to proceed. 

When you speak to those with limited or no influence, you might feel that your conversation is going well but they’re unable to part with any of the company funds and may even require you to have an additional conversation with a decision maker anyway. You might encounter what’s known as a gatekeeper along the way, someone who is intercepting calls and emails to the generic company contact details in order to allow employees to focus on their duties, but Meet Hugo recently wrote a great piece on how to get what you need from a gatekeeper to eventually reach the decision maker.

  • How are you going to reach out to them

Having identified who you’re looking to speak to, it's time to think about how you’re going to get in touch with them. These days there are all kinds of communication methods ranging from email and phone to social media, even snail mail! 

While there are some who suggest and stand by social media platforms like LinkedIn as valuable ways to build relationships with prospects; the phone and email are without doubt the best ways to get down to business. You can hold an actual conversation with a prospect over the phone, and even leave a message for them if you don’t get an answer, while email represents a valuable resource to share links to information that could help them to make a decision.

If you’ve done your prospecting correctly, you should have all you need to do this including office or mobile phone numbers, direct email address and their social profiles so that you can reach out there if necessary. 

  • Pick up the phone

You’ve now got the name and phone number of who you need to reach out to, it’s time to pick up the phone and get the conversation started. Remember, this may be the first contact your prospect has had with your business or what you have to offer, so be mindful that they might be a little off-guard and under-prepared if you haven’t booked a meeting with them so you’ll need to explain who you are, what you do and why they’ll benefit from what you’re promoting.

If now isn’t the right time for them to speak, try to arrange a meeting so you can give them more information in advance and answer any questions they might have that might help them to make an informed decision.

In the event that the person doesn’t pick up the phone, leave them a message (if you can) explaining who you are and where you’re calling from; and let them know that you’ll follow up by email or with a call another time. It helps to keep the conversation alive and enables them to reach out to you which is a sign of a good lead! 

  • Send a personalised email

Generic, professional-sounding emails addressed “Dear Sir or Madam” sound great in theory, but if your sales strategy is going to work you need to take a leaf out of your marketing team’s book. Reaching out to someone with a personal email message lets them see that you’ve taken the time to do your research into the person and the company, and shows that you’re not sending out mass, blanket emails to hundreds of people trying to make a sale.

A personalised message would address the person directly if at all possible, and is a great way of following up on a previous conversation over the phone or when the prospect didn’t pick up. You can address them directly and explain more about your service and brand, and to try and arrange a meeting with them by sending them a calendar link.

  • Follow-up on communications

Whenever you reach out to a prospect, ensure that you follow-up on that engagement with a message or additional call. Regardless of whether the person has responded previously or not, following up is a proven approach that can help you to eventually get an answer - one way or another - from your prospect; allowing you to arrange a meeting or to share the information that a person asks for. 

Not only does it enable you to finally make contact, it helps to keep the conversation going and the lead warm.

The results of a good prospecting strategy

Right, so, let’s recap. You’ve got a prospecting strategy based around solid research into your target audience and the methods in which you’re going to approach them, and you’ve made your first contact with the prospect - maybe you’ve even followed up on a few of your conversations.

What you should expect to see at this point is some tangible results. Now, prospecting isn’t going to change your sales strategy overnight by bringing in a month’s-worth of sales so you hit your target in the first week; but it can lead to:

  • Qualified leads

These are the kind of sales leads that you want. A qualified lead is defined as someone who matches your specified criteria relating to a campaign and appears likely to invest in or buy into what it is you’re selling. 

By doing your research you are filtering out those on your contact list who don’t meet the criteria, allowing you to spend time and effort on those who do.

  • Interested prospects

As you’ve taken the time to qualify those leads by prospecting correctly, your prospects are much more likely to show an interest in what it is you can offer them, rather than simply putting the phone down or blanking your emails. 

  • Increased customers and revenue

Finally, you can expect to see an increase in customers and revenue because you’re speaking to those in decision making positions who have a genuine interest in what you’re selling or a need for it - in which case they’re highly likely to convert and become a paying customer.

To learn more about how prospecting can improve your sales strategy, sign up for a free HeyProspect account today and benefit from our database of more than 9 million companies.

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