For the Love of Prospecting: 6 Sales Prospecting Tips
As a sales manager or VP, you know that sales people often view prospecting as the most difficult aspect of their jobs. Some may even be afraid of doing it, and if they’re afraid of doing it, they’re less likely to do it. Yet without prospecting, one doesn’t generate leads!
As the person managing the sales team, you also know it’s your job to lead them toward success—helping them overcome any anxiety or fear about prospecting so they can eventually excel at it. Sounds like a tall order – doesn’t it?
Check out these six sales prospecting tips. Then help your inside sales reps put them into practice often enough that they become habit. Soon, prospecting will become just one more part of the job they love to do: sell.
Tip 1: Maximize efficiency
Prospecting can be time-consuming without being productive, so make sure your sales reps are finding the right prospects in the first place. Teach your inside sales reps to ask themselves, “Does this prospect fit our desired customer profile?” If the answer is no, any prospecting might be time wasted. If you don’t yet have a customer profile for your sales reps to refer to, analyze your top customers and develop appropriate profiles in order to help them in their search for profitable prospects.
Tip 2: Look at prospecting as a continuous process
Prospecting isn’t something that appears at the top of the list, gets checked off, and is no longer a priority. Prospecting is always a priority, because it’s how sales reps keep their pipelines full. Teach your team to think of prospecting this way, and to continuously cultivate their potential prospects. Also make the prospects themselves a priority, not just the task. Your reps should give full attention, focus, and resources to potential customers, not just paying ones. (And here’s a tip: Your sales reps should also count past customers as potential prospects for future sales, meaning they should be considered and catered to as well!)
Tip 3: Refine your lead generation methods
Your reps can’t prospect successfully in a vacuum, no matter how many sales prospecting tips you give them. So make sure the methods and tools they use are the best they can be. If your team uses telemarketing, for example, update your sales scripts and create a well thought out dialogue to engage with prospects. If your team uses emails, create killer email templates for them to use, and update your marketing automation technology to improve the efficiency of your email campaigns.
Sometimes give those reps a chance to get out of the cubicle too, if you can. Get them to in-person events by letting them participate in trade shows and conferences. This can give them some much needed quality face-to-face time with potential customers and reinvigorate their passion for selling. (These kinds of events also rank very high as some of the most effective B2B lead generation methods!)
Tip 4: Know your competitor
You might think it’s enough to know who the ideal customer is, but there is someone else your reps need to be familiar with too: the competition. Make sure your inside sales reps have an idea of both your customers and your competitors in order to make sure your service really is the best for your prospect. You don’t want your reps caught off guard by a really good counterpoint from a prospect! Also stay aware of the competition. Be aware of any product/service changes they may have, and even be aware of any personnel changes if they could influence the kinds of conversations your reps have with prospects.
Tip 5: Stay active on social media
When we say stay active on social media, we don’t mean encourage your reps to post more vacation photos. We mean teach your sales team to use social media as one of their prospecting tools. People today communicate in all kinds of ways, including phone calls, text, chat, emails, Facebook messages, InMail on LinkedIn, Skype and even generation-specific channels like SnapChat and Tumblr. While we’re not recommending Tumblr as a way to reach out to B2B prospects, the point is that people are open to different communication channels in a way they didn’t use to be. That means today’s sales people can become more successful by reaching out to prospects in different ways and through various social channels. This is particularly true of LinkedIn for B2B prospecting.
Using social media for prospecting has other benefits for your company too, including increased exposure to your brand and increased traffic to your website or company page.
Tip 6: Don’t settle
This last tip might be the most important of all, because you as a manager and your sales reps as your team should always be thinking of ways to grow and improve your skills. This includes ongoing professional development (such as reading this blog for sales prospecting tips!), but it can also mean being open to lessons from outside. For example, learn from the objections raised by prospects. Listen to them and seek to understand, not correct. One of two things will result: Your reps will either learn about an objection that needs to be addressed or your rep will learn enough about the objection of overcome it. Not settling also means learning from what works and doesn’t work and making adjustments as necessary to keep your sales team prospecting as efficiently as possible
Prospecting is the lifeblood of the sales process because it starts the sales process and keeps the sales funnel full. But prospecting is not a ‘been there, done that’ kind of task. It’s something you and your team will always be doing—and should always be improving upon, until prospecting is as natural to your reps as closing deals.