Let’s start by drawing a line between what we believe prospecting should be, and what it should not be.
In its simplest terms, prospecting should be the process of making contact with people who have a likelihood of needing, using or buying your products or services.
What prospecting should not be, is taking a shotgun approach to find new customers, and convincing them that they have a need for your products or services. If this is your sales team’s current approach, you may as well be shooting that shotgun in the dark with your eyes closed, while wearing a blindfold, just for good measure.
The key component that often gets left out of the prospecting conversation is strategy. Expecting your sales team to have success with prospecting without providing them with a well-thought-out and strategic approach is unrealistic in today’s market.
Here are 3 strategic approaches to sales prospecting.
1. Assess accurate customer profiles.
Start by answering what should be a simple question: Who is your ideal customer? We say should be a simple question, because a notable amount of companies we have worked with are unable to quickly articulate an answer.
If you don’t know exactly who your customer is, how in the world can you expect your sales team to successfully target and find these people?
Take, for example, just one of your current product or service offerings. Who are your most likely candidates in that space? What positions do they hold within their company? What are their pain points or what do they struggle with?
Have you armed your sales team with the ability to find these like-minded people and the knowledge required for how to approach them and how to demonstrate the value that your company can provide to them?
2. Identify trends that have formed.
While assessing your customer profiles, look for trends that may have formed. In other words, narrow the search even further.
If you’ve identified the type of person or company that needs your products or services, are there sweet spots such as the type of industry, the size of the company or number of employees, the demographic location, or the time of year they’re most likely to bite?
The reverse way to approach trends is to determine why, or to what other companies you may have lost accounts in the past. (If you don’t have access to this information, try simply asking the question next time: What could we have done better or different to have earned your business?) Maybe your price point is on the higher end or your product or service hasn’t satisfied a certain need in this particular space. If this is the case, provide your reps with the ability to negotiate price (within reason) and the knowledge for how to play up a feature that your product or service does have, that may be of equal or greater importance to your prospect.
2. Reinforce quality over quantity.
Like we talked about with the shotgun approach – even if it’s toward your ideal customer – targeting a large number of people at once will not produce the results you’re after.
Why go through the exercise and effort of a broad sweep, hitting one or two prospects that may show a mild interest in what you have to say?
Instead, zero in on a handful of highly targeted prospects and make the effort to reach out personally and make connections. Tell them how you can provide value for them and for their organization. Offer to send them your company’s latest thought leadership piece, whether a white paper, e-book, or simply the latest blog post that speaks to their pain points. It is possible to become a trusted advisor to a prospect before they become a customer.
The time of your sales team is better spent making these types of meaningful connections. For further information, take a look at our training program that focuses on prospecting best practices.