There are many roads that lead to a closed deal. But, the most important one is the road that identifies which of your potential customers are most closely aligned with your offering.
Your lead generation strategy can bring a wide number of candidates into your net. These have to be vetted to make sure your sales team pursues the most likely customers. Sales prospecting seeks to refine the results of your lead generation system.
While your exact sales strategy will depend upon your client profile, your inbound and outbound prospecting channels, and a host of other factors, the importance of using the right sales prospecting tools will always be a constant. By streamlining the process and giving you deeper insights into potential buyer needs, sales prospecting tools can help your team work smarter instead of harder, and free them up to be even more productive—a win–win for all involved.
We’ll help you understand sales prospecting and the essential tools used. You’ll also learn how to navigate challenges and come up with strategies to mitigate them.
Understanding sales prospecting
Statistically, sellers spend an average of 6–8 hours per week researching prospects—and 40% say it's the hardest part of their jobs. The reward is worth the effort, however, as those who have a quality sales prospecting strategy along with the proper tools are far more likely to convert than those who don't. The trick lies in doing it right.
To better execute your sales prospecting strategy, it helps to take a mile-high view of what the process actually entails. Developing a starting definition, comparing inbound and outbound prospecting, and looking at the benefits of using sales prospecting tools can help.
Definition of sales prospecting
What exactly is sales prospecting? Sales prospecting is the process of identifying prospects or leads who have expressed interest in what you or your company has to offer.
The sales prospecting process comprises three main parts:
Research. Here, you'll do your homework on potential leads to gain as much information as possible and potentially refine them into prospects. You'll do this by checking LinkedIn profiles, subscribing to their social media channels, checking out their website, and studying up on their company.
Qualification. Once you've gathered information on all your prospects, you need to prioritize them so that you know which ones to target first. The urgency of contact, their interest in your product, and the amount of value they could bring to your business are a few parameters to factor into your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) as you compute their score, but make sure your priorities are correct.
Outreach. Now that you're informed and targeting the right prospects, craft a personalized message to send to each one. Some professionals prefer to be contacted by email or text, while others prefer a personal call. So, reach out according to your prospects' preferences if possible.
Just as prospects differ from leads, sales prospecting also differs from lead generation. Mostly done by the marketing department through creating ebooks, white papers, or ads, lead generation creates interest in your product and attracts a wider number of people, all with varying degrees of buying interest.
Prospecting often involves more personal research like scouring LinkedIn profiles and studying website behavior, and it's usually done by sales teams. It also involves more manual work.
Lead generation is also easier to automate with tools like Dealfront Leadfeeder. But even here, having the right tools will boost efficiency.
Inbound vs. outbound prospecting
Another critical component of the sales prospecting process is knowing the difference between inbound and outbound prospecting. Outbound prospecting requires salespeople to reach out to likely candidates and take the sale to their door. Inbound marketing entails creating enticing content that draws potential clients to you and then responding to their inquiries.
You probably need a combination of both to create an effective sales prospecting strategy. So, consider these tactics for implementing each one.
Cold calling/emailing, or contacting a prospect unsolicited so that you can pitch your product.
Social media contact, such as following them on a given channel and setting up further arrangements from there.
Commenting on articles/reviews to start a conversation.
Warm calling/emailing, or sending a message to a prospect based on their demonstrated prior interest.
Social selling, or responding to comments left on social media channels and reviews.
Following up on encounters that you had at conferences or industrial events.
There's no one-size-fits-all approach in B2B. So, tailor your sales prospecting process to the channels that fit your business the most.
Benefits of sales prospecting tools
Sales prospecting tools improve your sales team's chances of closing the deal. We'll look at some specific sales prospecting tools in a moment, but some of their main benefits are:
Greater efficiency Having the right tool enables your sales team to quickly find information like purchasing history, website behavior, company size, contact information, and more, thus simplifying the process and helping them work more efficiently.
Better prospects Candidates may look like legitimate prospects until sellers find out that the budget doesn't fit or that they've been speaking to someone who doesn't have the authority to make the purchase, and sales prospecting tools can give better clarity to make sure that doesn't happen.
Higher volume Sales prospecting tools not only give sellers access to a larger pool of prospects, but make it easier to reach out to them. So, they can contact even more.
Compliance Dealfront's suite of sales prospecting tools all comply with General Data Policy Regulation (GDPR) requirements, helping your company abide by complex data regulations as they make their sales.
Essential sales prospecting tools
They can range in complexity and comprehensiveness, but sales prospecting tools are anything that helps you better scout out potential buyers. Some of their capabilities may include:
Identifying high-quality prospects,
Qualifying your prospects,
Collecting contact information and other data from your prospects, and
Contacting your prospects by email, text message, phone call, etc.
Let's take a look at the four types of B2B sales prospecting tools.
1. Customer relationship management (CRM) systems
The goal of a CRM is to give businesses a more circumspect view of the client and their needs. Their exact functionalities vary with each system, but most CRMs display all of your client's contact information, purchasing history, and more. They can also give sales teams indications of when the best time to contact the client would be.
More modern CRMs are leveraging AI (artificial intelligence) to complete time-consuming and repetitive tasks like data entry to make sellers even more efficient. Some can also identify new opportunities to make a sale, giving sellers greater clarity on buyers' potential needs. With these capabilities, CRM tools give sellers a deeper understanding of which candidates qualify as prospects and how their needs can best be met.
2. Sales engagement platforms
Similar to CRMs, sales engagement platforms help keep marketing and sales departments aligned as they target a prospect. There's some overlap between the two, and many sales engagement platforms can be conveniently integrated into CRM systems to add on any needed functionalities. Some sales engagement platform features include:
Orchestrating daily activities,
Analyzing sales and consumer data,
Generating reports, and
Reaching out to prospects according to their preferred mode of contact.
Essentially, sales engagement platforms foster communication between your sales team and the customer—a critical part of outreach.
3. Sales intelligence tools
While CRMs and sales engagement platforms are good for enhancing communication and developing a clearer client profile, sales intelligence tools, like Dealfront, offer more concrete data and give insights into how sales teams can improve. Some of their functionalities include tapping into B2B databases to obtain contact information and job titles, while others identify trigger events so that salespeople know the right time to reach out. Possible trigger events include:
Changes in ownership
Changes in tools or processes
Data from buyer intent tools
Dealfront offers a host of B2B tools that can enhance all your sales prospecting processes, especially your sales intelligence. For example, Dealfront Datacare lets businesses review, cleanse, enrich, and optimize their data records all from within their CRM system of choice. Its functionalities include everything from data enrichment and reachability checking to detecting company forms and address changes, improving your research and your prospecting.
4. Email outreach and automation tools
Once you've done your research and qualified your leads, you need a way to reach out. Email automation tools help you contact a higher volume of prospects, which gives you a chance to convert more sales. That makes them an essential sales prospecting tool.
Despite their benefits, the drawback to email automation tools is that they can sound automated unless they're not personalized. People prefer a tailored message over one that sounds like it came from a template, try personalizing them by including information that you found as you did your research. That way, your outreach efforts will be more likely to turn into a product demo or further connection—and eventually a sale.
Integrating prospecting tools into your sales process
A key part of choosing which sales prospecting tools you need is knowing which ones can be integrated into your existing sales processes. The best way to integrate your tools is to first develop a structured sales prospecting workflow. So, your sales team can be organized while searching for potential candidates.
Next, you should decide which tools your team is currently lacking. If communication between marketing, sales, and the client is scattered, a sales engagement platform may work best, while a sales intelligence tool would help those in need of deeper sales analytics. Making sure that each tool is compatible with your existing tech stack is also essential, as you cannot use your tools if they don't play well together.
Sales prospecting tools: Challenges and best practices
The best sales prospecting tools are intuitive and easy to implement, but some roadblocks may still arise. Here are some common challenges, as well as some best practices to overcome them.
Common B2B sales prospecting challenges
Most B2B sales prospecting challenges relate to buyer rejection. A prospect may turn down a sale for many reasons, some of which are:
Poor lead quality. It's all too common for a salesperson to invest heavy time and energy in a prospective client, only to find that they were never a viable candidate. You cannot ever eliminate it entirely, but simply conducting adequate research can prevent you from chasing unsuitable leads.
Overcoming objections. 80% of sales require five follow-up calls to get the job done, but only 44% ever call back. Thus, it's vital that sales teams have the automation and alert tools they need to ensure multiple outreach attempts—persistence pays off.
Failure to adapt. Economic conditions, shifting consumer demand, and other factors can contribute to changes in buyer behavior. Sellers must be flexible and adapt to these changes. This way, they're always prepared with an offer that meets the client's needs.
Best practices for effective sales prospecting
There's a solution for each of these challenges, and having the right sales prospecting tools can help you get there.
1. Use your sales intelligence tools to glean clearer insights on your leads, resulting in higher-quality prospects.
2. Nurture long-term relationships with prospects, and use a sales engagement platform to let you know when to reach out again.
3. Keep up with current trends, and use programmatic advertising to target the right prospects with relevant offers.
Armed with the right sales prospecting tools, you can exercise best practices and overcome the most prevalent prospecting challenges that most sales teams confront as they search for new buyers. All that's left is to convert.
The right tools for your business
It's true everywhere that having the right tools is critical for getting the job done well, and prospecting in sales is no different. Your team can slog through countless LinkedIn profiles and social media accounts to find prospects that are likely to convert, or you can furnish them with the sales prospecting tools they need to work faster and smarter, and ultimately, to close more deals.