When it comes to sales, working smart is equally as important as working hard. A big part of sales is prospecting and finding the right types of individuals to sell to. While it might seem like volume is of utmost importance in your prospecting efforts, failing to prospect the right types of individuals won’t leave you much of a return on your efforts. In this article, we will explain the importance of prospecting and provide you with some tips on how to get you started.
What is prospecting?
Prospecting is the initial stage of the sales process. Prospecting involves searching for business opportunities and potential customers to sell a product or service to. When searching for these opportunities, it is important to qualify whether or not a certain type of individual is likely to not only have interest in what you are selling, but also has a high likelihood of actually purchasing it as well. This stage involves qualifying certain types of individuals to begin moving them through your sales funnel.
Prospecting is important as it helps a business develop a funnel of different individuals to sell to. While some people might find your business on their own, this likely will not generate enough revenue to sustain your business in the long run. Prospecting will help provide you with these additional selling opportunities and allow you to focus your selling efforts on the right types of people.
There are a variety of different methods you can use to begin prospecting selling opportunities. You will likely want to include a combination of different prospecting methods to ensure a steady stream of individuals to sell to each month. Below are a few different methods to consider in your prospecting efforts.
Referrals – A referral is when someone that is already within your particular network recommends your products or services to other friends, colleagues, or acquaintances. Referrals may occur spontaneously from previous customers who already understand the value of your products and services. You also can use referrals as part of your prospecting efforts. Usually the referrals will require an ask or some sort of incentive from your previous customers, friends, or professional network. Referrals make for a great start to begin prospecting as they are more of a warm lead and a bit easier to sell to since they received information about your business from someone they already know and trust.
Content marketing and SEO – Another great way to prospect is through content marketing and search engine optimization. By writing content on topics that serve to educate and inform people of different topics that relate to your business, you can begin finding new individuals that may have interest in what you are selling. You can begin by creating content through an online blog on your website. When writing your posts, just ensure that you embed specific keyword phrases that your prospects are likely to search for. This will help attract the right types of people to your posts that you can then reach out to later with some sales messaging.
Networking – Networking involves connecting directly with other professionals, usually in a business or professional setting. Networking provides a great source of new people to possibly sell to, and can also serve as a great resource to gain referrals as well. Local events and business meetings can serve as an effective place to look for networking opportunities.
Email marketing – One of the most common methods of prospecting is through email marketing. Email marketing involves use of specific selling messaging that serve to educate and inform someone about your product or services, and based on response rate and interest from these messages, you can then determine how to best position an individual for a selling opportunity. One of the best ways to acquire emails is through an online newsletter on your website with an email signup form next to it. You can also begin building an email database through prospecting different types of businesses and noting the emails of any executives or professionals with buying power.
8 Tips to Start Prospecting
- Identify your current customers and their wants and needs – When beginning your prospecting efforts, it is important to first and foremost understand your current customer. You will want to determine what your current customers wants and needs are, as well as other attributes such as location, gender, spending habits, education, and profession. This process is known as profiling, and will later help you in your prospecting efforts as it gives you a great starting point for which types of individuals are likely to buy your products, which you can then research similar businesses or professionals to use towards your prospecting efforts.
- Define your business values and competitive advantages – It is important before you begin prospecting to understand what your business values and competitive advantages are. This can later be used in your sales messaging towards your prospects that you have found online. It is important to be able to clearly outline what in particular makes your business stand out over competitors or other similar organizations so prospects can gain a better understanding of why they may want to consider purchasing from you over someone else.
- Determine ways you most likely will find prospects and diversify – As mentioned above, there are a variety of different methods that you can use for prospecting, such as referrals, content marketing, email marketing, networking, and more. When prospecting for new sales opportunities, it is important to use a combination of these methods to ensure that you have a steady stream of individuals to market and sell your business to. This will also help you determine which methods are most effective for attracting the most qualified individuals that have high selling potential so you understand where to best focus your efforts.
- Develop a concrete prospecting plan – goals,deadlines, methods, etc. – Prospecting requires a high level of organization in order to be successful. When beginning your prosecuting journey, you will need to establish some goals and deadlines to ensure you are on track to be successful each month. These goals should include the number of new leads you would like to acquire within a specific period of time through prospecting, and which methods you plan to use to help you reach these targets.
- Determine which tools will be most effective for prospecting needs (CRM, reports etc) – Along with establishing a plan for your prospecting, you will also need to determine which tools you might be worth the investment to help you aquire, organize, and track your leads. A CRM system will allow you to best organize all of your leads and categorize them based on their stage of the selling process, business type, or date acquired. The CRM system will also allow you to keep track of all previous sales messaging used to help you stay organized with each lead. Other prospecting tools might help you in acquiring new leads, such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Hunter. These types of tools help uncover contact information which can then be added to your CRM system to begin your selling efforts. Finally, you also will want to consider some sort of reporting tool that allows you to monitor different sales metrics such as leads per month, online conversions, and monthly sales.
- Determine methods to attract and engage prospects (develop effective content and sales scripts) – Once you have determined which methods you would like to use while prosecuting, you can then begin development of selling scripts and other types of content to help you reach your sales goals. When developing sales scripts, always try to personalize as best you can by using the prospects name, business or title, as well as referencing their interests or needs. For your content marketing, you will want to make sure the topic or subject aligns with the interests and values of people you are wishing to sell your products or services to.
- Determine your lead generation process for following up with prospects – All leads need to be nurtured before asking for a sale. This usually involves sales messaging that first serves the purpose of educating and building trust in your business. Nurturing allows you to guide individuals through the sales funnel, and tends to result in more success than trying to sell something as soon as someone shows interest in your business.
- Analyze your prospecting methods through data collection and adjust methods as necessary – Your prospecting methods should always be evolving over time to ensure continued success of your business. As your business grows, or individual needs and values change, you will want to ensure that you are adjusting to different ways that you prosper and how you sell to them. By tracking and analyzing your prospecting, you will better understand how to tweak different things such as sales messaging or prospecting methods to see continued business growth each month.
Most Important Aspects of Prospecting
- Consistency – One of the most important aspects of prospecting is consistency. When you find a prospecting method or sales script that works well, continue to use this on new individuals to ensure you are on track to meet your sales goals each month. You also will want to ensure that you are dedicating the time necessary each month to prospecting so you have enough individuals to sell to each month.
- Persistence – Another important aspect of prospecting is persistence. You will find in sales that rejection comes often, but you have to continue to keep up with your prospecting if you want good results. You will also want to adapt sales messaging for each individual based on response rate, and not immediately give up on selling to someone from their first decline to purchase. Instead, stay persistent and determine if there is a better time to reconnect, and keep them engaged with your website content in the meantime.
- First impressions – First impressions are everything when it comes to sales. It only takes a few minutes for someone to develop an impression of your business based on what is presented to them. Therefore, you want to make sure that your sales messaging and website are professional and serve as an accurate reflection of your business. Small mistakes such as typos in your emails or an outdated website might make for a poor first impression, making it difficult to sell your products or services to someone.
- Staying organized – Finally, make sure you stay organized with all of your prospects. Some businesses require a high number of leads to achieve their sales goals, so it is important that you keep on top of your messaging and follow ups to see the best possible sales results.
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