Bad Sales Prospecting Habits Hurt Sales, Study Reveals

BY Jessica Helinski
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Recent research found that sellers may need to revisit their prospecting practices.  A study of B2B sales teams by Lusha revealed that approximately one-​fifth of sellers’ monthly outreach calls never turn into a sale. That amounts to a lot of wasted time: an estimated 2,500 hours each year. Bad sales prospecting, along with poor sales outreach, is contributing to these losses.

Bad sales prospecting leads to lost leads

B2B sales processes still haven’t modernized to the extent they should have,” writes Sudipto Ghosh for AiThority​.com. “They still rely on un-​targeted sales techniques (spray and pray)… As a result, salespeople reach a high volume of potential customers with low relevance and spend too long on calls that are a waste of their time.”

And Lusha’s research found that losing prospects isn’t the only negative outcome. Sellers are experiencing frustration (27%) and burnout (12%) due to outreach struggles in the early sales cycle.

Additionally, they worry about the impact it has on their company. They fear that wrongly targeted outreach causes the direct loss of sales (52%), as well as being perceived as unprofessional (49%).

Sellers say they need help

Bad sales prospecting tactics may be derailing the early sales cycle for sellers. 77% say they feel challenged early in the sales cycle. Their top issues are:

  1. Personalizing pitches to each individual prospect
  2. Qualifying leads
  3. Finding prospects

96% of sellers say they need help early in the sales cycle, primarily with getting data about prospects in order to start conversations (cited by 30%). Additionally, 42% believe they have lost sales due to lack of personalized information about prospects.

Focus on the “foundation” of prospecting

It’s clear that prospecting and pre-​call research processes need attention. As buyers evolve and sellers adopt more sales tools, one thing remains constant when it comes to prospecting: relationships matter. “It’s irrefutable that sales and relationships go together,” explains SalesFuel’s Tim Londergan. “They are as inseparable as a smartphone and the internet. For instance, every salesperson knows that you must open the relationship before you can close the sale. However, opening relationships requires certain focus and attention to be successful.”

Sellers must connect emotionally and start a relationship with that very first outreach. To do so, they must demonstrate credibility, knowledge and empathy. But before doing that, sellers need to identify who they should target.

Begin with the buyer profile

Reps start their sales process off on the right foot by identifying their ideal client. Otherwise, they are chasing leads who will never be a good fit. Unfortunately, reps are skipping this vital step: fewer than 25% of salespeople say they research the tendencies of their ideal customers, according to SalesFuel’s research. Yet, research shows that those who do reap the rewards.

ZoomInfo reports that:

  • Companies who exceed lead and revenue goals are four times as likely to use personas.
  • 24% of companies gained more leads using buyer personas.
  • 93% of companies who exceed lead and revenue goals report segmenting their database by persona.

If you already have an ideal buyer in mind, is that profile up to date? As I wrote previously, “A lot has changed in the past couple of years, and the type of prospect you are targeting may have shifted. Additionally, how they prefer to be contacted, their pain points and other aspects likely have evolved as well.”

It’s a bad sales practice to prospect without having a clear, and updated, idea of who would be the best fit for your product or service. As Lusha’s data revealed, spray-​and-​pray tactics aren’t working. So, make sure that you create and maintain an appropriate buyer persona that you stick to when seeking out prospects.

Do your research before reaching out

Pre-​sale intelligence matters. As Lusha’s study results show, sellers are struggling with finding enough information about leads, which is affecting success. And it makes sense considering that 69% of buyers say that sharing primary research data relevant to their business has the biggest influence on working with a seller.

SalesFuel’s own research also supports this. Nearly 60% of B2B buyers say a top seller attribute is “knowing their products and how to use them to solve my business problem or achieve my goal.” But we also found that sellers just aren’t doing adequate research.

The Voice of the Sales Rep study revealed that not even half of reps look at a prospect’s website before a sales call; even fewer check for developments in the prospect’s industry, prepare discovery questions based on research or do a simple Google search on the prospect.

Obviously, though, there is a gap between what sellers are doing and what buyers want.

You can avoid the stress that other reps feel about this topic by effectively researching a lead before reaching out. And the key word here is “effectively.” A couple of minutes scanning their LinkedIn profile or company website simply isn’t enough. That’s just bad for sales.

SalesFuel has a large collection of actionable advice for effective pre-​sales intelligence, which can be found here. You’ll find professional tips for everything from using digital tools to conduct thorough research to crafting discovery questions based on your findings. You can also download, for free, a copy of SalesFuel CEO C. Lee Smith’s book devoted to the topic: The 7 C’s of Pre-​Call Intelligence. His years of experience and insights can guide reps through the challenging phase of the early sales process.

Don’t hit the roadblocks that other sellers are facing. Gathering pre-​sales intelligence will give you the knowledge you need to not only establish credibility with the buyer, but also learn what they want and how to showcase value to give them what they want.

Don't be a statistic like other sellers

As Lusha’s research shows, sellers are clearly having trouble with their early sales processes. Avoid their pitfalls by kicking off the process with a clearly defined buyer profile and thorough research. While the lack of these data points clearly impact sellers and their success rates, you can break away and create a smoother path to sales wins.

Photo by Surface