Prospecting can be one of the most challenging parts of a sales job. That said, it is an essential skill for all sales professionals. Without good prospecting, you can’t keep your sales pipeline full. And without leads, you can’t meet your sales targets.
This article will break down prospecting basics so you can increase your sales and conversion rates.
What is prospecting?
Prospecting is the first step in the sales process. It is a continuous process of identifying potential customers – prospects – to move them into your sales funnel. The idea behind prospecting is to develop an ever-replenishing database of potential leads to build your sales pipeline.
Six Prospecting Best Practices
1. Use a quality data source
Potential prospects are everywhere, but you need qualified prospects in your funnel. This means ensuring that you have a good foundation of quality internal or external data sources. Accurate and reliable data can prove to be a significant advantage. Examples include:
- Accurate emails
- Social media links
- Direct-dial business or mobile phone numbers
- Reporting structure
For internal data sources, your company may already have a database of potential prospects. Third-party tools or databases are often a great way to increase the accuracy of your internal data sources.
2. Use lead scoring to filter prospects
All leads are not created equal. Some leads are hot while others need more nurturing. Some just aren’t the right fit at all. That’s why you need a repeatable system to help qualify the ones that are suitable for your pipeline.
Lead scoring is a process of ranking leads to determine their sales-readiness. A popular lead scoring system is simply “hot,” “warm,” and “cold”. Each term denotes the quality and fit of the lead, and it gives a sales rep insight into the amount of time and attention the lead deserves.
A few data points to consider:
- Was the lead inbound or outbound?
- How long has the lead been in your pipeline?
- Have there been any previous interactions with this lead or the company?
- Does the lead resemble a likely target or client?
3. Focus on your best targets
Once you have a system in place to score leads, you can identify the best targets. Spend your time and resources on the most qualified prospects who have the highest likelihood of closing.
4. Determine your cadence
This is a series of predetermined sales activities you follow to nurture and manage your lead through the sales process. Examples include:
- The number of engagements (touchpoints) necessary to convert
- The engagement channels, e.g., calling, email, LinkedIn, or a combination
- The messages delivered in each touchpoint
- When to take a break from a specific lead and move on to the next prospect
5. Measure and monitor your activities and results
A good salesperson has a repeatable process for tracking and managing all outbound activities. By monitoring and reporting, you will be able to determine what works and what doesn’t. From that point, you can adjust your sales process and repeat the most successful activities.