Business to Business (B2B) prospecting is the pillar of lead generation. When prospecting for new business, the idea is to get as many quality prospects as possible which requires you to be able to identify and target the right prospects. However, this B2B sales prospecting strategy is not as easy as it sounds and is often an area of opportunity for B2B sales forces.
According to Technology Advice, 70 percent of marketers at B2B companies reported that “improving lead quality” was the primary concern. Also, 54 percent said getting more leads was a top objective as well.
When it comes to prospecting, B2B companies face a quality and quantity problem.
In this B2B prospecting guide we’ll cover:
- What is B2B prospecting?
- B2B buyer journey
- Top B2B prospecting challenges
- Prospecting myths
- 8-step B2B prospecting system
- Key prospecting tools
- Prospecting KPIs
Let’s get started…
What is B2B Sales Prospecting?
B2B Sales Prospecting is the search for new business opportunities. Customers, clients, or buyers all start as sales prospects.
Saleshacker suggests that the sales rep can discover B2B sales prospects or, if the team is broken into different roles, by the business development reps. They will research about, communicate to, and engage the contact with the goal to qualify them as a potential customer.
Leads vs. Prospects
Leads and prospects are often used interchangeably. However, they are not the same thing.
So, what is the difference between a prospect and a lead?
Prospects: A lead becomes a prospect once you have qualified them and discovered that they fit the profile of your target customer. The term prospect can also be used to describe a potential customer that has little-to-no contact with the company.
Leads and prospects share the same goal. In both cases, the salesperson should nurture them through the sales process until they buy the product or service. However, this nurturing B2B prospecting process is not as simple as it sounds.
The B2B Journey is Complex
The B2B buying experience has changed – 68% of B2B customers research products online before they ever speak to a sales rep. This is why you may need to adjust your B2B prospecting process.
More people are involved; often there are buying teams rather than one set decision maker for a company. Forrester reports the average number of people involved in the decision-making process has risen to 7.
The consumer mindset is also changing; price used to be the primary concern, but now there is a value mindset. In 2017, 71% of executives said the most significant issue was that sale reps were not able to communicate “unique business value.”
When prospecting for new business, sales teams need to consider these changes and adapt their prospecting methods and strategies accordingly. The traditional prospecting strategy works but is not comprehensive enough to cut it in all situations. In other words, smiling and dialing is useful, but should not be the only strategy in your prospecting arsenal.
The Prospecting Problem Most B2B Companies Face
B2B sales prospecting is crucial to any organization. However, there is a significant problem most B2B companies face: sales professionals hate it.
HubSpot found that 42 percent of sales professionals say it is the most challenging parts of the sales process.
Prospecting is the foundation of lead generation and is what fills the sales funnel. It has a direct causal relationship with top-line revenue. In other words, the success of your organization depends on how successful you are in prospecting for new business.
However, the dread might be based on misconception. Let’s take at a few of the top prospecting strategies myths.
7 Prospecting Myths — Debunked by Data
We are going to address some common myths and share the data that debunks them.
Myth #1: Cold Calling is Dead
This claim isn’t valid. InsideSales.com research indicates that 54% of the buyers agreed to their most recent meeting based on a phone call from the seller. The RAIN Group Center for Sales research found that while email comes in first, 70% of potential clients connect with sales representatives over the phone. The cold call is not dead.
Myth #2: Scripts Are Too Impersonal
Scripts help you have the right words at the right time. Instead of being impersonal, they help you find your way to making a personal connection. However, some salespeople don’t believe in scripts because they think the pre-written lines get in the way of natural rapport building.
Rapport building is crucial in cold calling, but a proper script will not interfere with your ability to make a connection with a prospect. Instead, it will help you find out what you need to know while you get to know your potential future customer.
Myth #3: Prospecting Takes a Lot of Time
Prospecting is a piece of the sales process that takes time, but not as much time if you have a system and the right tools and technology in place. For example, a tool like SPOTIO will help you focus on the best targets that match your customer profile.
Myth #4: Buyers Hate Speaking to Sales Reps
Buyers do not hate talking to salespeople.. In fact, they prefer to:
- 82% of buyers take meetings after talking to sellers
- 71% of buyers said they want to talk to sellers early in the sales process
- 62% of buyers take meetings to discuss solutions with sellers
Myth #5: Buyers Don’t Want to Hear About Your Product Features
Buyers do want to hear about product features. Sales Hacker found 67% of buyers said that product descriptions influenced their decision to take a meeting.
Myth #6: Prospecting is a numbers game.
This myth could have substance if you are working with unqualified leads. However, if you have quality leads, you will move many more of them along the pipeline. The lesson here is that qualifying leads ensures your spending time on the right prospects.
Myth #7: The Gatekeeper is the Enemy
Sure, the gatekeeper sometimes blocks your way. However, he or she is also your only potential ally when prospecting. Not only will the gatekeeper give you access, but they also help you position yourself for success. you must get the gatekeeper on your side.
8 Powerful B2B Sales Prospecting Tools for 2021
In many ways, the sales process is a race against the clock. A salesperson’s time is what they have to spend to get the numbers they need by the end of the month, quarter, or year. ‘50% of sales time is wasted on unproductive prospecting.”
To maximize your time, here is our 8-Step B2B Prospecting System:
Research: It is vital to know as much as possible as you can about the prospect.
Qualify: In this step, you want to know if the prospect is ready, willing, and able to purchase.
Prioritize: Based on your qualifying step, you should divide sales prospects into high, medium, and low priority segments within your lead management system.
Prep Outreach: When you qualify, you will have identified some of your prospect’s top pain points. Match these up with the prospect to enable personalization and foster engagement from the first contact.
First Touch: It is time to make contact. The goal is to build rapport.
Follow-up: This step can be under appreciated for its significance. However, when you do what you say you will do in the first touch, you begin to build trust with your prospect, an essential ingredient to getting the close and developing a relationship.
Track: Keeping records of what works and what doesn’t helps you streamline your process and focus efforts on actions that yield results.
Learn: When reviewing your results, Sales Hacker says you should ask yourself the following five questions:
- What led to the prospect saying no?
- What features got the prospect to go with the competition?
- Which part of your process has areas of opportunities?
- Is there potential for a relationship later with this prospect?
- Did they have a referral for you?
Document to Scale: Once you have identified a system that works, document it and systemize it for future prospecting strategy efforts.
8 B2B Prospecting Methods to Fill Your Pipeline
Let’s explore the different ways you can prospect and engage B2B prospects.
Also called canvassing, this method involves walking in and introducing yourself in person. Many times, door-to-door canvassing takes place in a geographic area or an office park. It can be useful because of the personal connection a face-to-face meeting can inspire.
For more information, check out this comprehensive door-to-door sales guide.
2. Cold Calling
Cold calling is when you call a person you have not met to determine if they have any interest or need in your product or service. It is effective because you have direct contact with the prospect and can get immediate feedback. Plus, it can help create a personal connection.
3. Social Selling
Social selling uses social media to connect with potential customers. It can mean prospecting with connections on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or making videos on YouTube, to name a few.
4. Cold Emailing
Like cold calling, cold-emailing is when you email a person you do not have a relationship with to determine if they are a suitable prospect for you. With specific targeting and a particular message, you send emails to potential prospects to see if they respond. It is efficient and often bypasses gatekeepers.
In addition, cold emailing gives the recipient an opportunity to you in their own time.
5. Warm Emailing
When the recipient has interacted with your company in some way, they are considered a warm lead. An example of a warm email is a follow up from a web inquiry or after an in-person interaction at a trade-show or conference. Response rates are higher because the prospect has met you in person and has already shown interest in your company’s products and services.
6. Conferences or Events
Meeting people at industry events is an excellent way to find new opportunities for your sales funnel. The secret to this method is to socialize and network with people.
Events are most useful for B2B prospecting when the attendees of the conference also match the target customer profile for your organization, e.g., the meeting is for dentists who want additional training for running their private practice, and you have a practice management software platform for dentists.
7. Direct Mail
A physical message that you send to prospects is one of the three preferred methods of contact. From letters in an envelope to postcards and self-mailers, using the USPS can provide an excellent channel for your B2B prospecting strategy.
Unlike cluttered online channels, direct mail stands out and catches the prospect’s eye, which can lead to a warmer first contact.
A referral is a lead received from someone you know or have called upon. An excellent referral source is your current customer base. Ask customers whether they have any associates that would be interested in your product or services.
8 Tools to Accelerate Your Prospecting Game
SPOTIO’s Sales Prospecting Suite
Spotio’s Sales Prospecting Software helps you identify which prospects have the best chances of closing so you can spend the most time working the best opportunities.
How to use it: Three programs – Lead Targeting, Lead Management, and Calendar Integration – will help you target your best qualified prospects, automate administrative tasks, and quickly schedule appointments through the CRM.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator
LinkedIn Sales Navigator makes social selling easy with sales tools that focus on helping you find the right prospects to build trusted relationships. Scale your social selling and start putting your sales’ team network to work.
How to use it: The search features help you find the contact you need at the companies that are most relevant to your interest. The lead recommendation feature will give you suggestions for companies to pursue. The Customer Relationship Management (CRM feature) automatically saves your activity. The reporting features help you manage your sales funnel.
Sellhack is designed to find prospects, build lists for leads, confirm correct email address and work with Salesforce CRM.
How to use it: You build your list and then use their email verification software to send cold emails and follow-ups automatically. There is also a drip-marketing feature that stays in contact with potential prospects over time.
Hunter.io is an email finder that helps find any email address for a potential customer.
How to use it: You enter the name and company of the contact’s email you are hoping to find, and it will tell you. The tool can also find email addresses in bulk.
Datanyze calls themselves the leader in technographics, which identifies and segments potential customers into market segments based on demographics, psychographics, and lifestyles for that group.
How to use it: Basically, it will alert you if any of your potential target customers are preparing to make a technology-based purchase by monitoring activity on mobile and web.
NerdyData.com give you lists of your competitor’s clients by searching 65 million websites for a software or a source code.
How to use it: Use the results to give your team a list of target accounts, to advertise through platforms with a specific message against your competitor, ascertain market share for you and your competitors, and find websites that are using software when they should not be.
Salesforce describes itself as an all-in-one sales and service solution.
How to use it: Salesforce is at its heart a CRM that records all the data about interactions with your customers and can provide a snapshot of what’s going on in your business.
SPOTIO Territory Management
Spotio’s Territory Management enhances communication between sales managers and sales reps
4 Metrics to Measure Prospecting Performance
Analyzing performance is critical for successful in B2B sales prospecting. You need to know what’s working, and perhaps more importantly, what isn’t. Here are four crucial metrics around prospecting for leads you should measure on a periodic basis.
Prospects. How many are you getting and how long does it take? You need these numbers as the baseline for the next two areas, and also to ensure that you are getting enough opportunities fast enough to get a response and fill that sales funnel.
Activities. Do you know how many activities it takes to get a prospect on the hook? You will not generate any new prospects if you don’t consistently execute a set number of sales activities each day, week and month.
Response Rate. How many of your contacts result in action from the prospect? You determine your response rate by dividing the number of people who answer by the total number of people you sent a query. When you have a response rate, you can see which tactics get the best response and if you need to widen the nets to get enough to fill the pipeline.
Prospect-to-SQL Ratio. How many of your prospects become sales-qualified leads (SQL)? Like a response rate, you divide the number of SQL you get by the total number of prospects you had. If you find that you have a low SQL ratio, you will likely need to change your prospecting parameters to optimize your time.
The better the prospecting, the fuller pipeline. B2B sales prospecting is challenging and it is essential to success.
The fact is that when it comes to how to prospect for sales, you have many channels and tools at your disposal. B2B sales prospects have ways they like to be contacted, namely email, direct mail, and phone calls. However, social selling and content marketing are highly effective as well.
The B2B prospecting tools we shared today can help streamline your time and maximize your results, like email finders or territory management systems that show you where to prospect. Combined with our 8-step system, you can improve your prospecting ratios and keep the pipeline full.
Spotio is the #1 field sales engagement software designed specifically for outside sales managers and reps to squeeze every drop out of their field sales efforts.
Want to see a product demonstration? Click here to see how SPOTIO can take your sales game to the next level.
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