If you work in sales, there's a good chance you've noticed a recent trend.
Traditional sales prospecting techniques aren't as effective as they used to be.
Is cold calling dying? Are regulations (like GDPR) complicating outreach tactics? Or is consumer cynicism to blame?
No matter what is causing the decline in traditional prospecting, one thing is clear — if you want to succeed in sales, you need better B2B sales prospecting techniques.
Let's talk about what, exactly, sales prospecting techniques are and cover what works.
Note: Want a better way to find qualified prospects? Try Leadfeeder, the B2B sales prospecting tool that shows you which companies visit your website — even if they don't fill out a form. Sign up for a free 14-day trial.
What are sales prospecting techniques?
Sales prospecting techniques are methods that salespeople use to reach potential leads.
This can include strategies like cold calling, social selling, networking at conferences, phone calls, and, yes, even buying a sales lead list. 🤮 (Please don't waste your money on that one.)
Figuring out the right sales prospecting technique is a challenge, and here's why: the most effective prospecting techniques can vary by organization, industry, and even the personality of the lead or the salesperson.
So, what used to work doesn't, and what might work depends on too many factors to be helpful.
Why are we here again?
Don't worry, I’ll share a few top sales prospecting techniques you should be using — but first, we need to talk about the difference between sales prospecting and lead generation.
What's the difference between sales prospects and leads?
Prospects and leads are often used interchangeably — but they aren't the same thing.
So, what's the difference?
Leads are contacts who have expressed potential interest in your business or company. For example, someone who downloads a white paper about your industry.
Prospects are contacts that meet a specific set of characteristics and have expressed interest in your business.
The difference might seem slight, but it is crucial.
For example, a lead could be a person who has filled out a form to download a white paper on your site.
They've expressed a bit of interest, but are they in B2B? Are they the decision-maker? Are they an SMB or enterprise company?
Prospects are a bit further down in the funnel. They have a vested interest in your offering, have a challenge you can help solve and are interested in contact beyond just signing up for an email list or following you on Twitter.
Understanding the difference matters because the sales process is different for leads versus prospects.
Leads are just getting to know you, which means the sales process can be somewhat automated — a little TLC in the form of ABM if you will.
Prospects, on the other hand, are closer to the bottom of the funnel. They know who you are and usually need a more hands-on approach.
B2B prospecting techniques you can steal
So, what sales prospecting techniques should you be using?
Dive into social selling
You need to go where your prospects spend their time — and that place is social media.
Social selling is a sales prospecting strategy where sales reps use social media to build relationships with decision-makers and target accounts.
Social selling doesn’t require the entire sales process to happen over social media—and it doesn’t have to happen on LinkedIn alone.
There are two main types of social selling:
Broad authority-building so prospects and followers view you as an expert in your industry.
Targeted sales prospecting and nurturing to individual decision-makers and target accounts.
The different types of social selling can be deployed separately or together — the choice is yours.
For example, you might use LinkedIn to build a personal brand and then leverage that personal brand to connect with targeted accounts for an account-based marketing strategy.
Social selling is effective because it leverages a medium where people are more comfortable and open to communicating and building relationships.
You won't find that kind of openness over the phone.
By connecting and interacting via social media first, prospects are more willing to take part in sales conversations later on in the sales process.
Essentially, social selling warms up a cold prospect — it gets chilly out there, folks.
Use visitor identification software
Given the added time investment that good sales prospecting requires, it’s important to ensure you're targeting the right prospects.
Why waste your time, right?
Visitor identification tools provide access to data you need to show value and deliver knock-out pitches.
A visitor identification tool (like Leadfeeder) shows you data like:
Companies that have visited your website
How many people from a given company have visited
The pages they looked at
How long they spent there
That’s information that can help ensure:
You’re providing information and content that’s genuinely valuable to prospects
You have inside knowledge about what matters to them
You can time and tailor your pitch for more “yes.”
Rather than using a scatter-shot approach, you can leverage visitor behavior data to create personalized, detailed pitches.
For example, you might see three people that work at Microsoft who’ve visited your site and read two related blog posts. That data tells you they are interested and what they are interested in.
I also recommend using other sales prospecting tools to uncover data you can use to create better prospects.
Ask for referrals
Think about the last time you were looking for a new restaurant for dinner or a new television show to veg out to.
Did you Google "best restaurant near me" or did you phone a friend?
Most of us rely on people we trust for recommendations, and B2B sales is no different.
Rather than casting a wide net, referrals give you access to pre-qualified prospects who are already inclined to trust you — and be interested in what you have to offer.
So, how do you get more referrals? Here are two tips:
Ask new clients in the first few weeks: They are likely still excited about your product/service and are better able to explain why it's so awesome.
Automate it: You've got a lot on your plate, and referrals might be low on your list of priorities. Create an automatic email sequence or use a platform that sends handwritten notes to make sure you never forget to ask for those referrals.
According to Neilsen, recommendations from friends remain the most trusted form of advertising. So make sure you’re leveraging the power of current customers to bring in new prospects.
Use video to build connections
I know using videos in the sales process might feel a little awkward... but hear me out.
People are primed to watch videos. According to Statistica, half of US consumers watch online video every day. (And that was in 2018, the last time the study was done — it's likely much higher now.)
Karthi Mariappan, the CEO of HippoVideo, reports even short one-minute videos can increase response rates by 3X.
Why? Because videos help build relationships.
"Relationships are the key to building something, right. And for building relationships, you have to be real, you are to be authentic. And that's what videos are best at delivering." -Karthi Mariappan
Online meetings are limited, email inboxes are flooded with sales messages. Videos can help you break through the noise and build stronger relationships.
Here are a few times to use video in the sales prospecting process:
An introduction: Video allows prospects to see your face and non-verbal cues, which can help foster a relationship.
Mini-demos: Creating a short, personalized demo via video makes it easier to show specific features and highlight your offering's benefits.
Send pre-meeting messages: A short video reiterating the main benefits and introducing yourself is more personal — and more effective — than sending a "are we still on for today?" email.
Video is also helpful further in the sales process, for example, explaining a proposal or following up after a meeting.
Final thoughts on sales prospecting techniques
Sales prospecting techniques that used to work aren't as effective. Which is a bummer.
The good news is, there are plenty of techniques that do work. Just keep in mind that not every strategy may be as effective for your audience or your industry. Test a few and see what works for you.
Note: Eager for more leads? Start Leadfeeder’s 14-day free trial to see who’s been clicking around your site. Warm leads for the win.
Now that you're here
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