Client prospecting is one of the secret weapons successful sales reps use to significantly improve the efficiency of new client acquisition.
When prospecting your potential clients, you better prioritize your work. Organize the flow of leads through the pipeline, build a stronger connection with customers, and boost productivity.
Furthermore, you may even obtain a deeper understanding of your clients and optimize your buyer personas. Thereby, you can find and attract even better clients.
As a result, prospecting streamlines the sales process and not only delivers more closed deals. Nevertheless, higher-quality longer-lasting clients better benefit your bottom line.
In this article, we’ll outline the concept of client prospecting and explain the pertinent terminology and processes.
Read on to learn more!
What Is Customer Prospecting?
Customer prospecting, also known as client prospecting, sales prospecting, and prospecting for sales is the process of sifting through leads, in order to qualify, group, and prioritize them.
The goal is to find the potential customers that are the most worthy of your efforts, craft a personalized strategy to approach them, and make them an offer they can’t refuse.
Prospecting is crucial in the sales process because it can define the outcome of all your efforts to win over the customer and convince them to do business with your company.
During prospecting, the rep conducts research on the client in order to better understand them and their needs, and how your company can offer unique value to them.
With this information in place, the rep can ensure a seamless sales process and productive communication. Furthermore, they can make the conversation all about the client and show them that they don’t only want to sell a product but strive to help.
Why Is Sales Prospecting Important?
Simply put, sales prospecting results in more successful deals.
In order to better understand its importance, let’s have a look at how the sales process looks with and without prospecting:
The sales process without prospecting:
- Lead Generation. The marketing and/or sales teams find leads, i.e. potential customers, that may or may not have an interest in the company’s products and services.
- Nurturing. The sales team reaches out to all the leads to see which of them have an interest. The responsive leads become “opportunities”.
- Closing the Deal. When the rep feels the client is ready, they make an offer and either make the sale, or lose the client.
The sales process with prospecting:
- Lead Generation. The marketing and/or sales teams find leads, i.e. potential customers, that may have an interest in the company’s products and services.
- Qualification. The sales team looks into the leads to evaluate how likely they are to become clients. The ones who check all the right boxes become prospects.
- Nurturing. The sales team communicates with the prospects to see which of them have an interest and are most likely to make a purchase. The most prominent prospects become “opportunities”.
- Closing the Deal. When the rep feels the client is ready, they make an offer and either make the sale or lose the client.
As you can see, prospecting allows salespeople to focus only on the highly-qualified leads rather than waste time and resources chasing down leads that are not a good fit.
Of course, prospecting is time-consuming and, depending on the client, can be very difficult to implement.
However, it’s worth it.
Benefits of Sales Prospecting
Some of the benefits it presents to businesses include:
Allows You to Find the Best Clients.
While closing deals and landing new clients is essential for your business to grow and flourish, not all clients are made equal.
Potential customers that are not a good fit are not only less likely to convert, but, even if they do, they are more prone to churn soon after the sale.
Meanwhile, high-end deals can result in more revenue and longer-lasting sustainable partnerships.
Makes It Easier to Seal Deals.
Convincing your most prominent customers to choose you over competitors is easier said than done. Buyers nowadays are, practically, flooded with offers and have too many choices, which makes it difficult for them to make decisions.
When a sales rep who has done their homework comes around and shows them that they understand their individual pains and needs, it’s a fresh breath of air.
Reduces Rep Burnout.
Even the most talented sales reps find it challenging to nail the perfect pitch if they are exhausted from reaching out to countless random leads, and worn out by rejections.
When salespeople qualify their leads, they make sure that they place their efforts properly so they are more likely to be rewarded with success. This boosts their confidence and productivity, and, in turn, results in even more sales.
What Is the Difference Between Leads and Prospective Customers?
The terms leads and prospective clients are often used interchangeably. However, although their meanings have overlapping areas, they are different things.
Leads and Lead Generation
Lead generation is a process that is, more often than not, under the umbrella of the marketing department, although sales can also look for their own leads.
Simply put, every person that is a potential customer is a lead if you can obtain their contact information.
There are cold leads that have not expressed any particular interest in your business and may or may not match your customer profiles. There are also warm leads – people or businesses that visit your website, follow you on social media, provide you with a business card in person, sign up to your email list, and/or have shown in any other way that they want to know more about what you offer.
However, regardless of whether the leads are cold or warm, they may not be the right fit for your business.
If they are, then they become prospects.
Prospects and Client Prospecting
Prospective customers are people or businesses that are qualified to become your clients. They match your buyer persona profiles, have pain points that you are able to remedy, and can benefit from products and services such as yours.
Similar to leads, prospects can be someone that has shown interest in you and are already in your pipeline. However, they can also be anyone else who is a good fit to become a client.
Commonly, the sales team take care of prospective clients. They are responsible for researching, contacting, nurturing, and making prospects an offer.
However, there are strategies such as pipeline marketing and account-based marketing, in which the sales and marketing teams work together throughout the customer journey. With their powers together, they can approach the customer holistically, align their goals and efforts, and increase their chances of success.
Outbound Vs. Inbound Sales Prospecting: Which One Is Better?
Although every organization and every rep has their own preferences, the best course of action usually is to combine the two strategies and rely both on push and pull tactics. This way you can take advantage of the benefits each one provides.
Outbound Sales Prospecting
Outbound sales prospecting is when you actively look for customers that are a good fit but haven’t been in contact with you or shown any interest. You can find these in various ways. These include public databases, social media, purchasing contact lists, having a glimpse of the clients of your competitors, etc.
To identify the right people and businesses to approach, cross-reference your buyer persona profiles with information about each prospect.
While these prospects have no knowledge of your brand, they are still likely to consider your offer because they have (or at least they should have) pain points that you can take care of.
However, the difficult part is to manage to get through to them. Many people are skeptical of unsolicited sales calls and emails by unfamiliar senders.
Inbound Sales Prospecting
Inbound sales prospecting relies on clients that are already familiar with your business. These can be leads the marketing team has generated. Alternatively, they may have initiated the interaction with your business themselves.
Inbound prospective clients are, generally, easier to work with. They already know who you are – the ice has already been broken and you can proceed with the communication. Also, they have shown interest in your business which is always a good sign.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are a great fit.
You should segment all the marketing-generated leads and pick out only the qualified ones that match your ideal customer profile.
Sales Prospecting Steps
The sales prospecting process consists of five general steps:
- Qualifing the Leads. You segment the leads and potential customers according to how well they fit your customer profiles and how likely they are to become clients. The ones that stand out the most are the prospects that you need to prioritize.
- Researching the Prospects. Once you have a list of prospects, you need to gather as much information about them as possible. Your goal is to understand their pain points and needs, and how they can benefit from your products. With this information, you can design a strategy on how to approach and convince them of the value you offer.
- Outreaching to Make First Contact. By using CRM tools and lead scoring, you can find the best way to reach out to prospective clients, introduce yourself and initiate the proper sales script. It may take a few attempts to break through to them. Therefore, make sure to use the communication channels they prefer to increase your chances of success.
- Active Communication and Nurturing. During this phase, you try to build a connection with the prospective customer, learn more about them, and show them what you can provide. The focus should be on how they can benefit from your products and services. Also, think of ways you can help prospects find solutions to their pain points.
- Closing the Deal. In the end, you make an offer and the customer either accepts or rejects it. If the customer accepts, you proceed with negotiating the details and signing a contract. If they refuse, you can ask for feedback on their reasons.
Client prospecting is mostly done manually. However, modern technology has made it possible to automate some of the pertinent tasks and make the process easier and more productive.
The tools you should consider using include:
- CRM Software. The best CRM tools allow you to track each interaction with prospects and keep thorough logs of the communication. As a result, you are able to truly personalize their experience, tailor your offer, and change your approach according to the client’s behavior.
- Email Marketing Tools. With modern email marketing tools, you can make your emails more compelling, monitor the performance of your outreach messages, and test different subject lines.
- Lead Scoring Tools. Lead scoring allows you to estimate when a customer is ready to move on to the next step of prospecting. As a result, you can perfectly time outreach and increase the probability of success.
- Social Media Platforms. Social media platforms have multiple business functions that can benefit the sales prospecting process. You can look for new potential clients in relevant groups, track the behavior of prospects, be active in the same communities as them to attract their attention, engage with their content, etc. Overall, you can work on making yourself known and showcasing your reputation before making contact.
- Google Alerts and Social Listening. You can set an alert and keep an eye out for mentions regarding the prospects you care about and other relevant keywords. This way, you will be the first to learn of updates that can affect the sales process.
Client prospecting allows you to better organize your sales process and significantly increase the number of successful deals. At the same time, you can manage to build a connection with the customer before their lifecycle has even begun.
This lays the foundation for a more fruitful and long-lasting relationship and, amongst other things, improves your retention rate.
Furthermore, this productivity boost not only affects your bottom line but can bolster the confidence of your sales reps. As a result, they feel better, perform even better, and can pursue even the more challenging prospects with zeal.