Prospects are the gas that fuels your sales engine. So finding them is a crucial aspect of the sales process. But what exactly is prospecting? In this blog post, we’ll explain the fundamentals.
We’ll talk about why it’s important, how it’s done, and how you can do it better.
What is Prospecting?
The sales process is a journey that salespeople take with their potential customers. It starts at the initial point of contact and ends with the closing of a deal.
Prospecting is the first stage of the sales process, that initial point of contact. When prospecting, sales professionals identify, engage, and qualify potential customers or leads.
These potential customers are also known as prospects. They are individuals or companies who are a good fit for the product or service a salesperson is selling.
The primary goal of prospecting is to build a robust sales pipeline. Sales professionals do that by finding and nurturing relationships with qualified prospects.
Stage of the Prospecting Process
There are three primary steps to sales prospecting:
1. Define Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
The first step in prospecting is to define an ICP. This step identifies the characteristics of companies that are likely to buy. That way, a salesperson can focus on prospects with a high potential for conversion.
2. Identify Companies That Match Your ICP
The next step is to identify the companies or individuals who fit that profile. That means conducting research to find potential customers who match the ICP. That ensures that the salesperson is allocating their time well.
3. Communicate with Relevant Stakeholders at Your Target Companies to Verify Fit
The final step in prospecting is to qualify the prospects.
Sales professionals communicate with relevant stakeholders to assess their interests and needs. It also provides an opportunity to gather valuable information. During this stage, salespeople ask about pain points, preferences, and requirements. They use that information can to tailor their sales approach.
The Importance of Prospecting in the Sales Process
Prospecting directly impacts the size and quality of a company’s sales pipeline. And a well-maintained pipeline ensures a steady flow of potential customers.
That said, not all prospects are created equal. You could have a big list of so-called “prospects,” but if they’re not qualified your sales team will be wasting time. Good prospecting enables sales teams to focus on the most promising leads. It is the first step in the sales process and sets the stage for further interactions.
Many channels are available for sales prospecting. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Some of the most common methods are:
- Email. Email prospecting involves sending targeted, personalized messages to potential customers. It is a cost-effective and easily scalable method for reaching a large audience. Make sure you have a well-defined target audience and personalize your emails.
- Cold calling. Yes, cold calling is still a thing. It allows for immediate engagement and rapport-building. But it tends to be time-consuming and labor-intensive. Use cold calling when you need to establish a more personal connection with your prospects. It’s also helpful when your target audience is harder to reach digitally.
- Social media. Social media prospecting offers an opportunity to engage with prospects in a more casual, conversational manner. You can also observe your prospects’ interests and preferences. It’s especially useful when you’re targeting a younger, more digitally-savvy audience.
- Networking events. Events, such as conferences and trade shows, allow you to meet potential customers in person. Then you can exchange contact information, and begin building relationships. It’s more expensive and time-consuming than other prospecting methods. But if you have the resources it’s highly effective.
- Referrals. Referrals are particularly valuable because they come with built-in trust and credibility. Use referrals when you have existing relationships and networks you can leverage.
- Content marketing. Valuable content, such as blog posts, whitepapers, videos, or webinars, can attract prospects. Providing useful information establishes your expertise. It also creates a reason for prospects to contact you or give you their contact information.
- Direct mail. Even today, snail mail can still help you reach prospects. Some people aren’t as responsive to digital outreach. That’s where direct mail can help. It can be more expensive and time-consuming than other channels. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Direct mail retargeting can be very affordable.
- Website visitor identification. Website visitor identification software turns your anonymous website traffic into leads. These are usually qualified, high-intent leads. Because if they weren’t why would they be on your website?
Use Sales Prospecting to Increase Efficiency and Revenue
Don’t waste time on low-quality leads. Improve your prospecting efforts so your team can fill your pipeline with valuable deals.