For a business, prospects are its lifeline. Looking for ideal prospects though a tedious task yet is an essential one for sales reps. B2B Sales Prospecting when executed to perfection can yield remarkable results & can boost the progress of your business. Like every perfect dish that requires properly laid out ingredients, the process of B2B Sales Prospecting also needs an organized approach for the best outcome. This outcome is definitely better prospects, more closed deals & long term business relationships.
What Is B2B Sales Prospecting & How does it differ from Lead Generation?
Sales Prospecting is basically the process of identifying, finding & Nurturing prospects to facilitate conversion to buyers. This process involves understanding the buyer persona & strategizing further steps based on the buyer’s purchase behavior in previous interactions at every stage of the sales cycle. Lead generation on the other hand is generating leads by creating interest touch points such as website, blog content, social media interactions, email marketing etc. Prospects are individuals who have already shown an inclination for the product & possess all the traits of an ideal buyer whereas lead may or may not proceed to become prospects.
Speaking about sales prospecting leads to the question as to why we need prospects in the first place. Filling up the sales funnel & building a successful sales pipeline are the major objectives of every B2B business. These objectives can be accomplished only when the right prospects are nurtured & deals are followed up till their closure.
Importance Of Good B2B Sales Prospecting
Although it is said that 50% sales rep’s time is wasted on unproductive prospecting, yet the vitality of sales prospecting for boosting the business growth cannot be ignored. Sales prospecting simply means locating potential leads & driving them through the various stages of the sales funnel so that they become sure-shot buyers. As a sales rep, the first and most primary thing you learn is how to identify a prospect & draw more potential leads. Being so fundamental to the entire sales process, let’s examine the various aspects of importance of B2B sales prospecting.
- More Prospects = More Customers
An enterprising & aggressive salesman will work hard & continuously to bring in more prospects & potential leads to the business & will drive them through the sales process successfully to become loyal customers. More frequent & efficient sales prospecting can result in the significant increase in customer base.
- Larger Revenue
More customer definitely means more deals close & a larger revenue is generated. This revenue aids in the progressive growth of the business set up & in turn also offers sales reps their due commission thus resulting in a win-win situation for all.
- Qualification Of Customers
Based on set criteria, prospecting serves as a tool for the qualification of customers so that we can decide what sales strategies to apply to get maximum profit from a customer. Since understanding the customer is at the heart of sales, sales prospecting helps to design sales strategies & tactics that can prove to be fundamental for profit generation.
- Data Accumulation
Along with other advantages that sales prospecting holds, it also aids in gathering data of customers, prospects & leads. Sales prospecting is important not only for availing customers but also for gathering of data through mail & web surveys to understand the target audience better & in later stages also try to nurture leads that were considered irrelevant initially.
- New prospects means new business potential
Newer prospects generated by proficient sales prospecting open new avenues of business. For instance, when one prospect is nurtured properly & finally closes a deal to become a buyer, it opens up a number of opportunities to get in touch with similar prospects within the business circle of the former & in turn triggers more sales & better revenue hence boosting business potential & aiding further expansion of the network globally.
Practices That Help Improve B2B Sales Prospecting
Having understood the importance that B2B sales prospecting holds for a business, developing practices that can boost its efficiency is vital for progress. Sales prospecting maybe outbound or inbound in nature. In case of outbound, it involves more of cold calling & a direct approach to potential customers whereas inbound consists of developing social media & email campaigns to increase the interest of prospects on a large scale to draw them towards your business. Now Let’s have a look at some of the practices that can enhance the potential of sales prospecting.
- Identify & Understand The Potential Buyer
Understanding & targeting the right buyer persona so as to boost the chances of getting prospects that will surely convert is an essential aspect of B2B Sales prospecting. Research that answers questions such as why, when & what is a purchasing preference of a buyer can determine whether the particular buyer persona is ideal for your business or not. The key insights from the analysis & targeting of buyer persona can be implemented in different types of marketing mediums such as emails, videos, ads, content marketing etc. It has been estimated that using buyer personas in email campaigns improves the open rate 2x & enhances the click through rate more than 5x(MLT Creative). Thus, sales prospecting that is based on in depth buyer persona research can work wonders & fetches prospects that can drive a larger revenue.
- Social Media is important for building connect
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Prospecting through channels such as Facebook & LinkedIn adds potentially to the prospect quality. 65% of salespeople who use social selling fill their pipeline, compared to 47% of reps who do not (Salesforlife). Social media is a great marketing tool that can help you reach millions of prospects at once, strategizing & executing sales prospecting with social media can help you reach your target audience, thereby building brand presence & loyalty in the process. Moreover, even if you don’t get direct prospects from your social media interactions, the referrals achieved can work wonders for your sales.
- Regular & Consistent prospecting is key
Sales prospecting is not a one-time process. Accepted as one of the most challenging parts of being a sales rep, prospecting requires sales reps to be on their toes all the time to keep the sales pipeline full. Many feel that once they have a good customer base sales prospecting can take a back seat but the truth is once you have a good customer base it becomes even more important to proactively search for newer & more potential prospects to boost the sales pipeline & establish your brand.
- Build & Nurture Relationships
With B2B sales prospecting, your work doesn’t end once you find an ideal prospect, in fact that’s just the beginning, in essence- the tip of the iceberg. Sales reps need to lead the prospect from the prospecting stage to buyer stage gradually & optimally according to the buyer persona so as to achieve the best results. Lead or prospect nurturing involves several tactics such as email follow-ups, sending or sharing interesting content on social media etc.
- Develop Warm Calling Skills
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Don’t just use cold calling to sell your products, instead understand their pain points & offer solutions that would be feasible for them to build trust. Cold calling when done with the objective of providing value to the prospect can be highly beneficial in building a large customer base. Following-up on leads generated with different mediums through cold calling has several advantages for a business. This is justified by statistics such as “ leads responded to within 5 mins are 100 times more likely to convert”.
- Invest in Sales prospecting Tools
With the onset of the digital revolution, almost everyday there is something new in terms of advanced technology. This technology can be used to enhance the efficiency of sales prospecting so that the effort for prospecting is reduced, efficient nurturing takes place & sales cycles are shortened.
Some important Sales prospecting tools include:
- Social Selling
- Lead Management
- Marketing Automation Software
- Lead scoring
- Predictive analytics
- Data & prospecting tools .
- Try Different Techniques
Since each buyer is different, has different pain points & preferences, thus the prospecting approach must also differ accordingly. Moreover trying different prospecting techniques can help in market research, competitor analysis & also data accumulation for subsequent prospecting.
Concisely, B2B sales can only be successful if there is a sufficient & consistent volume of prospects to be nurtured & converted & Efficient Sales prospecting accomplishes this task to perfection along with the added advantage of shorting sales cycles & driving revenue.