Sales Prospecting Techniques: What Works and What Doesn’t

Posted by Abin Dahal on Thu, Nov 08, 2018
Abin Dahal
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There is still a lot of confusion about how to achieve sales prospecting success, and it makes sense why. The efficacy of prospecting channels, messaging, and cadence of touches is constantly evolving.

As soon as new channels (such as Linkedin messaging) become a legitimate medium for sales prospecting, they quickly become oversaturated. Traditional channels like email get abused by people sending spammy prospecting notes, making it difficult to stand above the crowd. So if prospecting tools and methods are frequently changing, what techniques are reliably effective? What is never going to be effective, regardless of the tools and channels you use?

In order to give definitive answers, one would have to conduct extensive research project that analyzes thousands of sales prospecting touches on behalf of hundreds of companies. Luckily, Funnel Clarity has done all of that work. These findings allow us to authoritatively offer a high-level overview of prospecting techniques that do and do not work.

 

What Works: 

The Phone

Yes, cold-calling with no research is dead but calling is still an effective means of prospecting. In fact, it may be the most important channel at our disposal. It all depends on how you use the phone.

If you are “smiling and dialing” a list of contacts without knowing anything about them, stop wasting your time. More importantly, stop wasting your prospect’s time. You need to be armed with information about your prospect and their company before calling. This is the only way to have success on a cold call while prospecting.

 

Multi-Channel Approach

While the phone can be very effective, no one should be relying on just one channel to do their job. Prospects are getting messages from all platforms that they reside on. There is email, Linkedin, Twitter, Voice Mails, Text Messages, Direct Mail, Videos, etc.

Some prospects answer the phone. Some exclusively look to email for sales communications. Others prefer text, while some abhor it. Get creative and communicate with your prospect on multiple channels. You’ll never know which channel is best for that prospect if you only use one.

 

Following Up

We are still shocked by the number of sales leaders who tell us that their sales people send one email then get disappointed when prospects don’t respond. And then they give up, certain that prospecting does not work.

Prospects are busy. This is often even more true of the most sought after prospects, such as executives. Additionally, as I mentioned above, your prospect that never got back to you may prefer a different channel for communication. A great way to be creative about how you utilize the prospecting channels is by following up with your prospects on different mediums.

 

What Doesn't Work:  

Templates and Scripts

If someone tells you that they have a perfect script for cold calling B2B prospects, or if they tell you they have the perfect email template, it’s too good to be true. No one wants to be pitched to on the phone anymore. Prospects will hang up on you if they sniff a self-centered sales pitch coming their way. 

The same applies to email. Prospects expect their messages to be personalized. If you use templates for your prospecting emails, its going to look more like spam than a personalized note sent by a fellow peer.

 

Focusing on Features and Benefits

A lack of customer perspective extends beyond initial outreach. If you get your prospect on the phone, are you listening to them or just waiting for a chance to speak? Are you treating your prospect’s time with respect and getting permission to have a conversation when they pick up your call?

The best sales people are empathetic. Before you send a message to your prospect, put yourself in their shoes and think about how they might interpret it. During your call coaching sessions, consider how the prospect felt when you mentioned something or asked a certain question. If you channel the prospect’s mindset into every prospecting activity, you will be more successful than you are right now. 

 

Waiting to Qualify Prospects  

While it is still tough to get a meeting, prospecting success is now measured by the meeting to opportunity ratio, not just volume of meetings. Sales leaders want their sellers to be focused on winnable opportunities, so sales people need to be qualifying prospects throughout the entire sales cycle.

We especially need to be qualifying during initial conversations with a prospect. Some prospects will be actively seeking a solution you provide while others will be totally satisfied with their status quo. Figure out where they lie on the spectrum.

If you bring a qualification perspective to your prospecting efforts, you will likely end up with fewer meetings. But you will only be scheduling highly qualified meetings with a real possibility the prospect will become a client or customer.

 

Conclusion

While there are general guidelines for what works and what does not, it is still important to remember that each company faces unique challenges at the top of the funnel. Your cadence, messaging, channels, and how you use the channels will need to be A/B tested. Keep these guidelines in mind and use it as a base to build a prospecting process that works for your sales team.  

Perfect the cold call.

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Topics: Prospecting