8 Ways to Get Better at Sales Prospecting

8 Ways to Get Better at Sales Prospecting

How much time do you spend on sales prospecting in your business?

Given that more than 40% of salespeople say this is the most challenging part of the sales process it is little wonder that the average amount of time a salesperson would spend on prospecting is 10%

So what exactly is Prospecting?

According to Shopify, “Prospecting is the first step in the sales process, which consists of identifying potential customers, aka prospects. The goal of prospecting is to develop a database of likely customers and then systematically communicate with them in the hopes of converting them from potential customer to current customer."

The original use of the term “prospector” refers to the efforts of individuals to find gold by visually scanning creek beds and rock formations. When flecks of gold were spotted, the prospectors would spend time sifting through dirt to find the valuable nuggets and flecks that were left behind when dirt was washed away.

It’s this historical reference which could explain why so many in business are reluctant to do it, as to be fair prospecting can be considered painstaking, boring and repetitive. It’s about graft rather than glamour.

Yet it is an essential part of the sales process as HubSpot Research found that 72% of companies with less than 50 new opportunities per month didn't achieve their revenue goals, compared to 15% with 51 to 100 new opportunities and just 4% for companies with 101 to 200 new opportunities.

However if some digital “experts” are to believed then there’s hardly any need to undertake prospecting at all as by implementing a few SEO or Inbound hacks here and there - all your lead generation prayers are answered.

BUT as any savvy business owner will know, that’s not the case and it is indeed a mistake not to allocate sufficient time to this activity. Especially if the business is young, limited on resources and has ambitions to grow beyond being a micro business.

The uncomfortable truth about sales prospecting is that the majority of the time is spent being rejected as unlike most other jobs, rejection is a significant part of the process. Therefore it’s crucial to develop the right mindset when prospecting.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to improve your results in this area which can make the job of prospecting more interesting and rewarding. So it’s with this in mind I wanted to share the following tips.

1. Be clear on your objective

What are your prospecting goals?

For the most part it’s to establish whether a prospect is a right fit for your offer so you can either qualify or disqualify them. If it’s the former then be clear when to move them to the next stage of your sales process and have a plan for that outcome.

2. Be clear on your audience

This is a theme that runs through the majority of my articles and the reason is that it’s always at the centre of everything you do in business.

It affects your approach, your tone and your message. The more aligned you and your offer are with the audience you are targeting, the more likely you are to proceed to the next stage.

Not everyone you speak to will be a good fit for your business but that’s ok. This is as much about knowing who you cannot do business with as much as it’s about who you can do business with.

3. Develop your messaging

Again another common thread in my posts is to be clear on your messaging.

Keep it simple and concise, develop a positioning statement that aligns with your target audience. The aim is not to show up and throw up over your prospect or pitch “at” them but rather position your offer to establish an expression of interest. Then undertake active listening to determine whether there is scope for further discussion.

4. Build a prospecting mindset

I know it's easier said than done, but there’s no getting around the fact that it’s something that has to be done if you want to succeed in business.

Yet with most things it’s about knowing thyself. What time of the working day do you have the most energy? Block out this time for prospecting as you will need the energy and motivation to get through the work and engage with those you want to speak with.

Shift the focus away from being tasked to sell to the fact that you’re looking to solve a genuine problem your prospects are experiencing and this is the first part of that process.

Your only job is to determine whether to progress them to the next stage so take the pressure off yourself in terms of having to close a sale in one conversation. Breaking the activity into bite size chunks makes the task of prospecting more palatable.

5. Practice!

Practice makes perfect so practice your call opening until you're confident to proceed. This can either be done alone or with a nominated practice partner.

6. Be persistent

Persistence does indeed pay as the likelihood of getting a response is pretty low so make sure you have a system for following up the opportunities you’ve identified.

So many opportunities go wasted because salespeople give up too early, make sure you don’t fall into that trap.

7. It’s all about activity and measurement

Prospecting is a numbers game after all and sales follow actions so to ensure you have confidence in the cash register ringing you need to build a healthy sales pipeline and that starts with prospecting.

Once you have a baseline of the number of contacts you need to make to build your pipeline you can then refine your approach to optimise your process resulting in you accelerating your desired outcomes.

If your numbers don’t show it then you don’t know it and a business cannot be built from ignorance.

8. Dare to experiment

Businesses are always evolving and therefore the way they do business will change too. This means that approaches that were once successful may no longer have the same impact so don’t be afraid to try new things out.

For instance the recent pandemic has affected the ability to make phone calls as more people are working remotely. Unless you have a mobile number then the likelihood of connecting is reduced as switchboards are less likely to be able to transfer calls. This means emails and other forms of communication have had to work harder.

Technology is also a disruptor so introducing some new methods into the prospecting mix can work wonders on your results.

In summary, there is no escaping the fact that prospecting is crucial to the success of a business and can be the difference between those that thrive and those that make do or even fail.

Given its significance it’s understandably a huge topic which can be covered more comprehensively.

With some considered actions it’s very possible to reduce the fear and reluctance of sales prospecting and you never know, it could even become a rewarding task.

I would love to know your thoughts on the topic so if you have any questions or comments then feel free to comment in the box below. Additionally if you would like help with your prospecting then fill out the contact form here.