Your sales team’s success depends on effective prospecting, and effective prospecting depends on effective prospect planning.
Help your salespeople fill their pipelines with qualified prospects that lead to more sales, using these 8 steps.
1. Define Your Ideal Prospect and Qualification Criteria
It’s not enough to know what companies your salespeople should be going after. They need to have a clear picture of exactly who within each company is the right contact, and how to quickly determine whether they are a good candidate for your products and services.
Arm your sales team with clear, up-to-date ideal candidate profiles and effective qualification checklists. For more help on this step, read about the 5 characteristics of qualified prospects.
2. Set Intelligent Goals
Each salesperson needs to know exactly how many new prospects they should contact each week, and how many qualified opportunities they are expected to put into their pipeline.
Set these goals based on how many prospects you need at the top of the funnel in order to achieve the goals set for the bottom of the funnel, as well as what is achievable for each salesperson based on the time they have available and their level of skill and seniority.
3. Choose Effective Prospecting Techniques
Prospecting is an art and a science, and not all prospecting is created equal. Besides cold calling and referrals, salespeople have dozens of possible ways to contact new prospects:
Email, social media, personal positioning, speaking engagements, and networking events are a few examples. Be sure you know which are the most effective for your sales team, so you can incorporate them into your prospecting process.
4. Clarify Messaging
Prospecting with a clear, on-brand message helps ensure your salespeople attract and retain good quality prospects.
Make sure your sales team understands your overall company messaging, as well as the specific messaging for each product and service line. They should also be deeply familiar with the correct messaging at each point in your sales process. Additionally, they should know how to ask probing questions to identify which elements of your messaging will be most effective with each prospect, and be well-trained in staying on message in response to the prospect’s needs.
5. Establish an Effective, Sequential Sales Process
A consistent sales process is critical to a well-functioning sales team and proper prospecting.
Look for a sales process that’s front-loaded, meaning much attention is given to the initial stages, including prospecting and investigating.
6. Use Scripts and Templates that Work
Every salesperson on your team should be prepared to develop their own probing questions to use with prospects.
It can be helpful, especially when onboarding new reps, to provide rough scripts that they can following when reaching out to potential buyers. Remind them to not stick strictly to the scripts to avoid sounding robotic, but to use them as a guide.
Email and phone scripts and templates will save your team time, help them stay on message, and yield stronger results, especially when combined with training that gives them the confidence to think on their feet.
7. Teach Salespeople to Adapt Their Communication Styles
With the right training, your salespeople can become experts at adapting their communication style on the fly to build instant rapport and establish trusting relationships.
Everyone has a preferred communication style that feels like “home” to them. When your salespeople choose to communicate in a prospect’s preferred style, it creates an instant bond. Learn more about the Conversations with Confidence training program here.
8. Measure Outcomes and Refine the Process
When everyone on your team is following the same prospecting process and recording prospecting data, you can analyze outcomes and determine what is working well and what isn’t. Invite your sales team members to share what’s been successful for them, especially if it’s an “outside the box” type of tactic. Use any data you collect as well as general win/loss analysis to continually refine and improve your sales prospecting process.
The Bottom Line
Sales reps are generally fast-paced and enjoy selling activities more than planning, which can make prospecting a challenge. The first step is having your team commit time in their day or week to focus solely on prospecting.
Give your salespeople a plan to fill their pipeline and hit their target. The Sales Territory Planning Workshop teaches salespeople the best strategies for developing sales plans that they can implement, track, and measure for success.
Your reps will come away from the program with solid, actionable prospecting checklists and a concrete plan for hitting their numbers next quarter and beyond.
View the video below to learn more about the program