In the race to finish the year strong, prospecting often gets put on the back burner while sales reps spend time and energy on closing the open business opportunities they’re working.
But salespeople need to be able to fill the pipeline with highly qualified prospects in order to be successful going into the New Year.
First Things, First: Define a Qualified Prospect
Before a salesperson can even begin to think about prospecting and lead generation, they must have a complete understanding of what a qualified prospect looks like. This will ensure they are not wasting their time on unqualified leads.
The five characteristics of a qualified prospect are:
- Awareness of Need
- Authority and Ability to Buy or Commit
- Sense of Urgency
- Trust in You and Your Organization
- Willingness to Listen
Prospecting Techniques for Your Salespeople to Use in 2018
In the age of social networks, each salesperson has an audience (i.e. LinkedIn Connections or Twitter Followers) and a platform for publishing content to them.
For B2B salespeople, LinkedIn is key. But in order to get the most out of LinkedIn, your salespeople need to be using it in the smartest way.
Effective prospecting on LinkedIn should start with your salespeople optimizing their profiles. What would a prospect want to see if they went to check out your sales rep’s profile?
From there, they can work on connecting with potential clients by joining groups, liking and commenting on relevant posts, and exploring 2nd and 3rd level connections.
Today’s lead generation best practices focus more on organically attracting qualified leads, rather than casting a net out and hoping to catch an interested opportunity.
Your salespeople must invest time and energy on improving their position as subject matter experts in the marketplace.
This positioning can be done in various ways, including:
- Speaking engagements
- Publishing blog posts
- Sharing relevant research with clients and prospects
- Improving their overall business acumen
Sales referrals are one of the most powerful ways to generate high-quality sales leads.
Getting a customer referral helps salespeople over the first hurdle of the sale—establishing trust. Since 84% of B2B buyers now start the purchasing process with a referral, it’s key for your sales reps to take an active approach to gaining more sales referrals as a prospecting method.
Most customers are glad to give a referral for a product or service they’re happy with, it’s just a matter of making “the ask” a part of your sales team’s follow-up routine.
For more tips on getting high-quality referrals, check out this blog post.
Gone are the days of cold calling. Cold calling (or sending cold emails) today is not only ineffective, it’s not necessary. There are many ways your salespeople can warm up a lead (even if just a little) before they reach out to them.
Your salespeople can use all of the techniques we already discussed to take a lead from ice cold to at least lukewarm.
Some examples might include:
- Getting introduced by a shared connection or current customer
- Commenting on a piece of content the prospect shared on social media
- Sending personalized follow-up emails to prospects who download a piece of content
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.
Follow the tips above to help your sales team get the most out of their prospecting time, and explore these other blog posts for additional prospecting strategies:
- 8 Winning Questions Your Sales Reps Should Be Asking Every Prospect
- 17 Point Checklist to Measure Your Team’s Sales Prospecting Effectiveness
- Get Your Sales Team Prospecting Smarter, Not Harder
- Sales Prospecting: 6 Tips to Share with Your Sales Team
- Sales Effectiveness Tip: Create the Perfect Email Meeting Invite
As you finish up the 4th quarter and begin filling next year’s pipeline, make sure your reps have a solid plan to hit their numbers. The Sales Territory Planning Workshop coaches salespeople on 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 in 2018. Learn More