In an ideal world, all salespeople would spend their days lively talking about an endless stream of ideal sales opportunities, closing high deals left and right, and never getting a sweat.
Unfortunately, we are far from this idyll, real selling is hard research work that is not always effective. Searching for clients is precisely prospecting, and with this article we would like to make it much simpler, take less time and bring only the expected results. Seeking customers is necessary, but it doesn’t have to be the black hole of despair that many salespeople think about. Interested? Let’s get started!
What is prospecting and what is the meaning?
“Prospecting” literally means “searching” and in sales it means just looking for customers. More precisely, it is the stage of searching for consumers located between the so-called a sales lead (a sales lead, a potential customer) and a customer who is actually buying the offered product. Originally the word “prospecting” referred to gold prospecting and this example is a great explanation for today’s importance in the sales industry. Using this comparison, sales leads would be a bowl of sand from the bottom of a river. Among them, there may be very valuable elements of gold – these are the customers who will actually buy the goods. On the other hand, the process of washing river silt in order to reveal particles of shiny ore is precisely prospecting. Thus, sales prospecting is the process of creating an opportunity to sell a product.
In order to successfully sell a product, you must successfully complete all stages of customer acquisition. Initially, these are some contacts, for example a list with telephone numbers. The prospecting stage is calling potential customers with an offer to sell a given product or service, as well as persuading them to make a purchase, showing all the benefits that the purchase of a given item will give them. If a potential customer decides to buy, he will become a real customer and will provide measurable profits to the company selling the products or services. The prospecting process is therefore extremely important. A potential customer rarely makes a spontaneous decision to buy a given item, so it’s worth helping him make the decision. A potential customer may even be unaware that a potentially interesting offer has just appeared on the market. Through prospecting, it is possible to show him favorable sales proposals prepared for his target group.
Prospecting methods and techniques in sales
Sometimes two possible strategies of prospecting in sales are indicated. They can be called qualitative and quantitative. The first of them focuses on the quality of the activities carried out, and thus their effectiveness. It is a method of acquiring regular and loyal customers. Although not necessarily in large quantities, they are the ones who should often come back and use the offers of a given company. The second possible strategy is to bet on quantity. It consists in informing as many potential customers as possible about the available offer. Of course, this method also does not ignore the importance of persuading and persuading a potential customer to buy, but the proportions in both of these methods are opposite. The qualitative method will not attract many customers, but they will be regular customers. The quantitative method will provide many customers, but many of them may turn out to be one-time customers. You should choose the right strategy for the type of product you are offering.
There are many prospecting techniques and they do not create a closed catalog in any way. Some of them are:
- calling existing customers,
- calling former clients,
- cold calling,
- organizing or taking part in thematic events,
- sending e-mails (cold mailing),
- Internet search.
Telephoning is considered to be the most effective method of prospecting. They are divided into the so-called warm calling or cold calling. Hot calling is contacting current or former or potential customers – consumers who have some idea about the product on offer. On the other hand, making calls “cold” is calling people who come into contact with the offer of a given company for the first time.
Sending e-mails to potential customers works in the same way as making calls, except that the contact is made by e-mail, not by phone. Currently, it is considered one of the most effective prospecting methods, mainly because our message goes directly to the potential customer’s inbox. This one, in turn, is one of the most frequently used tools when working in any company.
The Internet offers many possibilities for effective prospecting. It is not limited to e-mails only. It can also be an ideal help, a preliminary step to making phone calls to potential customers. The Internet is a great source of information about consumers and their needs. The absolute basis for today’s prospecting on the Internet is joining LinkedIn groups. It is a website created for business needs, designed to raise awareness of the services of a given type or business profile of a given company. In addition, of course, it is worth setting up an account on Facebook and being active on as many websites as possible for the exchange of information between Internet users, such as Reddit, Quora or the local ask.onet.pl. The more information about a company is circulating on the web, the greater the chance of acquiring customers!
The most modern, personalized prospecting can be carried out via the Internet. By collecting data about customers, whether using cookies or other methods, you can then send them offers that are most tailored to their individual needs. Web push notifications are also a good option. It is enough for the client to agree to receive information from a given company to be able to send him current offers by electronic means more effective than by e-mail. Modern prospecting techniques allow for very easy distribution of content to potential customers, researching their opinions, and encouraging them to contact or return to a given website.
The most traditional prospecting option is probably “going out to people” or “out on the town”. Organizing a thematic event, conference or even promotion is a great method of informing people about the products sold and encouraging them to buy. Of course, it is worth doing research in advance about the target group for which the product is intended and organizing the event in a place often visited by this audience.
Stages of prospecting
Prospecting is the first step in the entire sales funnel (its broadest part). We “prospect” to prepare a qualitative database of potential customers, which will be used by us to carry out the campaign (regardless of its nature). And the better prepared the base, the better the results of the campaign that will generate leads. It should be remembered that the overriding goal of prospecting is customer acquisition, i.e. sales, which we measure by the number of signed contracts or ordered baskets in the online store.
We divide the stages of prospecting into several components:
- Analysis of existing customers and development of their needs.
- Development and definition of an ideal potential customer (purchasing persona) based on specific attributes (e.g. industry, position, company size).
- Conducting a campaign aimed at generating a lead.
- Offering, presenting proposals, benefits, resolving purchasing objections.
- Responding to objections, building a relationship with the client.
- Success, i.e. closing the sale.
At each of these stages, we deal with different “stages” of the client, mainly due to his level of interest and knowledge about your product or service. We distinguish clients who can be described as: lead, prospect or suspect. In sequence:
- Lead – leads are customers potentially interested in your offer who have shown a positive reaction to your activities, e.g. responded to an e-mail or expressed a desire to meet your sales representative. The better you match the message with the target group, the “warmer” the lead you get will be.
- Brochures are contractors who have shown interest in the product or service you offer. These are people, unlike leads, who show only initial interest, mainly through the desire to get to know the general offer, without any interaction, such as a meeting or a phone call.
- Suspect is a customer whom we only suspect of initial interest in the product, e.g. due to the willingness to subscribe to our newsletter or after completing a survey or downloading an industry report. Suspect, however, does not have the knowledge and complete information in the context of your offer and requires further education in this area.
Tools for automating prospecting
1. Prospect.io – review and opinions
This end-to-end prospecting automation platform is ideal for modern sales teams looking to automate their sales process. From email verification to email campaigns to tracking campaign performance. Prospect.io is packed with all the useful and smart features that an efficient sales team must have in their arsenal. All in all, it is an ideal lead generation tool.
As part of its prospecting efforts, the platform helps you find and verify emails with the greatest of ease. You can find lead data such as email address, phone number, job title, etc. in minutes by using the Chrome extension on social media websites or profiles. You can select leads from the list individually or in bulk by searching for their email IDs and other information. Prospect.io also allows you to search website domains and perform website and person searches with the same ease of use. With all these features, your search is organized and streamlined!
In addition to these specific features and prospecting features, Prospect.io offers emailing, campaign tracking and synchronization capabilities. All these features combined together make Prospect.io one of the most sought-after lead generation and sales automation platforms for businesses.
2. FindThatLead – opinion
Another tool that is extremely easy to use. The two main features offered by Findthatlead.com are “verifier” and “seeker”. Verifier: Using an advanced algorithm, you can verify the email address you have in your lead list. Finder: Searches for e-mail addresses, website domains, phone numbers, etc. of a potential customer using some information in his possession, such as first and last name. Findthatlead has a specific and unique search technique that involves three steps:
Segment: Select specific segments to search for leads. The segments can include company, industry, job title, location, etc.
Add information: Add detailed information on selected segments. For example, if you added a “location” segment, enter the name of the location from which you want to attract potential customers.Get Perspectives: Based on the segments and details, Findthatlead will provide you with a list of results that you can use.
The best part of using Findthatlead is its neat dashboard. From one dashboard, you can manage multiple tasks, including lead management, domain search, lead search, customer acquisition, and CSV upload.
3. LinkedIn Sales Navigator
A tool that needs no introduction. This is a paid version of the LinkedIn platform, extended with additional functions and possibilities. LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a key tool for finding and generating leads on LinkedIn. The useful platform is intended for B2B Sales Professionals or Business Owners. The way it works is quite simple: you get access to a powerful advanced search which allows you to see 1000 leads as part of that search. (Of course, there are a few extra perks LinkedIn offers, such as 20 InMail credits per month, but they’re practically useless if you’re dealing with a large scale of your own efforts. Search is also so powerful for your business that it is surely the highlight of Sales Navigator. Searching in Sales Navigator can be divided into almost anything. This includes things like job title, industry, and even time spent with the company. The advantage of this is that you can identify exactly who you want to reach.
Leadfeeder is designed to help you discover new leads by keeping track of the companies that visit your website, even if they don’t fill out a form or contact you. With Leadfeeder, all you need to do is install the Leadfeeder Tracker script and link your Google Analytics account to be able to track and analyze the pages your visitors visit. This gives you the ability to develop an outreach and engagement strategy based on the behavior of each prospect, and helps you identify prospects you may not have known about before. In addition, Leadfeeder also helps you find the contact details of employees of any company that visits your site. It allows you to quickly find out who the decision maker is and contact them immediately.
Hunter (formerly known as Email Hunter) acts as a simple Google Chrome extension that it searches for all related email addresses from any domain. It even tells you how likely someone will reply to that email address. Even if you can’t find an email address for a specific prospect, Hunter provides a common pattern for all associated email addresses so you can guess effectively what your customer’s contact information will be. You will also be able to collect email addresses in bulk using the Google Sheets add-on, which finds all emails linked to your domain and automatically copies them to a Google spreadsheet.
What is better to avoid in prospecting?
A certain moderation must also be observed in prospecting. The “more is better” principle only works to a certain extent. It is also worth remembering the saying “too much is unhealthy”. If prospecting exceeds the good taste scale, customers may find certain actions too intrusive and thus boycott the product rather than purchase it. You should persuade, but not be intrusive. Persuasion should present the benefits of the product, but not be too insistent. No consumer will appreciate the web push covering the entire page. A few phone calls a day is also not a good idea – they will rather be counterproductive. Or a potential customer will block a given number and thus cease to be even in the group of “cold” contacts.
There is also a need to maintain a certain balance between the aforementioned prospecting strategies: quantitative and qualitative. You can search for customers that are more targeted at one of them, but it should always be activities that fall somewhere in between. A hundred phones a day looks good in the statistics, but may not be effective if none of the interviewees decides to buy the offered product. On the other hand, you cannot spend the whole day convincing one person: even if he or she is to remain a regular customer of the store, the needs of one consumer have their limits and will not bring satisfactory profits for the business.
Prospecting and scoring clients
Prosperous client scoring will be helpful in conducting effective prospecting. What is scoring? As the name implies, scoring is counting. What is counted? Overall: customer activity. In particular, these may include behaviors such as:
- picking up a phone call with a sale offer,
- opening an e-mail,
- visit to the website,
- adding or removing a comment or opinion about a product,
- clicking “I like it” or “I don’t like it”.
In the above list, the points common to the sellers’ activities carried out as part of prospecting are clearly visible. It can be assumed that these are the reactions of potential customers to prospecting activities. By counting this feedback from individual consumers, you can easily identify which prospects are most likely to become real customers in the future. It is to this group that all prospecting procedures should be first directed.