Sales prospecting is one of THE most important parts of the sales process. I mean without any prospects, how can you generate any sales?
Prospecting is the activity of finding and generating sales opportunities. In the same way, a gold hunter will go prospecting for gold, a sales professional will go prospecting for sales opportunities. Sales prospecting generally used to take the form of cold calling and emarketing. Salespeople would make cold calls to prospects to generate opportunities and send emails to email databases to generate opportunities.
It’s 2018 now though and there are A LOT of methods of prospecting!
The problem is a lot of salespeople either aren’t aware of these, don’t know how to do these or just aren’t doing them.
So what is the modern day sales prospecting stack?
Just like a stack of delicious pancakes (yes I want to eat those in the picture as well!), the modern-day prospecting stack is a list of prospecting activities ALL capable of generating new sales opportunities. In 2018 this includes cold calling, email, social selling, networking, videos, and referrals.
Cold Calling – This includes calling people who have no idea who you are, you don’t know who they are, and trying to generate an appointment or interest in your product. Now you can warm up cold calls by mixing cold calling with social selling and building relationships/researching prior to calls. Either way, the reality is MOST people have a phone and it’s a viable way of reaching people.
Email – This involves emailing people, sometimes cold, to explain what you offer in the hope those that are interested will then reply and be keen to discuss further. Email is often shared between sales and marketing, with marketing departments doing mass emarketing campaigns and sales sometimes focusing more on targeted emails.
Social Selling – This involves utilizing social media to connect with prospects and engage conversation. In the same way with cold calling, you pick the phone up and call someone, on social you can connect with someone and start a conversation there with the aim of creating a sales opportunity.
Networking – This is where sales people will go out and attend business networking or industry events with the goal of meeting and connecting with potential prospects. With events always running it’s down to the sales person to find the right ones and make the right impression when there.
Video – Along with social, this is one of the newer and more unknown methods of prospecting. Advanced sales teams are now embedding video into prospecting emails and utilizing platforms like YouTube to have a more personalized conversation with their prospects to help communicate their offering. Some teams are generating 8X more conversions with video compared to cold calling.
Referral – One of the older methods of prospecting, one of the most powerful but also one of the most underutilized! This involves asking your existing customers for referrals of people they think would also be interested in benefit from your product. Referrals often have a significantly higher rate of success compared to other methods of prospecting.
Surely with all these great methods of prospecting, EVERY sales team us using them all…….?
NO! And this is a very scary reality.
Here’s a question for you, how many of those prospecting methods are YOU using right now?
1? 2? 3? All of them?
Most of the sales professionals and teams I meet are using between 1-3 of these, but so far I have only met one company utilizing ALL of these properly. These are all very effective ways of generating prospecting, very effective ways of filling your pipeline. If you’re only using 1 or 2 of those activities, think of all the opportunities you could be missing out on?!
- Some of your prospects will respond better to a phone call…
- Some of your prospects will respond better to social engagement…
- Some of your prospects will respond better to email…
- Some of your prospects will respond better to face to face…
- Some of your prospects will respond better to video…
- Some of your prospects will respond better to referrals…
If you’re JUST making cold calls you’re missing out on all the potential prospects that will respond to other forms of communication. If you’re JUST using social selling, you’re missing out on all of the potential prospects that will respond to other methods.
It’s now very much accepted that the combination approach is the best strategy, the next step is to start implementing it. This begins with learning how to use each method properly. You can’t expect to log in to LinkedIn and be effective at social selling, you can’t expect to just turn up at a networking event and expect to be effective at that.
Social is a very big part of the stack…..
In my opinion social is a very big part of the modern-day prospecting stack and one that is severely underutilized or done in the wrong way. So many of your prospects will be on social media and it provides a whole host of ways that you can connect with them, reach them, build relationships, find information and gain buying signals. Best of all it’s one of the easiest ones to use WHILST doing all of the other prospecting activities as well.
Video is the future…..
I think a video is the one to keep an eye on as it will become a MUCH bigger part of our communication over the coming years and so will become an even bigger part of prospecting. The video fits into calls, social, email and networking so it fits into almost everything. My prediction is that over the coming years most sales offices will soon have video pods built in.
What do you think? How many prospecting methods do you use? Please write it in the comments, I’d love to see what you’re doing and if you’re looking at starting to use other methods as well.
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