Sales Professionals Should Do These Two Things When Prospecting

sales professionals

Despite being a vital skill, over a quarter of sales professionals say prospecting is one of their top weaknesses. These results, from SalesFuel’s Voice of the Sales Rep study, reveal that even today, prospecting is tough for many sellers. 

To be successful, reps must be thoughtful about how they approach prospecting. From the old-​school cold call to using data to mine for the best leads, best practices matter. Writing for LinkedIn, Paul Petrone gathered a list of data-​backed tips to help sellers improve this important skill. 

According to the research, Petrone found that successful prospecting methods include traditional methods of outreach, as well as new ones. It’s how the seller approaches each strategy that determines its success. 

Sales professionals must update the cold call

Despite what naysayers think, cold calls, long a staple of prospecting, can be an effective method. “Even though it has become a sort of four-​letter word for tech-​savvy sales teams, there is still a place for the classic cold call,” Richard Conn writes for CustomerThink.

Many customers do still expect a phone call with a salesperson before they buy a new product such as if they’re looking for the best contract generator software for their business.”

SalesFuel’s research also backs up Conn’s claim. Today’s buyers say a phone call is the most-​preferred method for interacting with a salesperson. But, not just any phone call will be effective. Sales professionals must make sure that each cold call is preceded by thorough research on the prospect and their business. Today’s buyers won’t tolerate a generic phone call; they want immediate value. As Petrone points out, “Before your prospect will talk to you, you have to show them why they want to talk to you.”

This is a big change from cold calls of the past, when reps often picked out leads from a list. “Each list of leads was simply a list of names and nothing more,” Forbes Council Member Mike Burton explains. There was no insight into interests, how far along the lead may be in their research prospect and little context as to how or why they were added to the list in the first place.”

Sellers today have so much valuable information right at their fingertips. But first they need to find it and know how to use it. For guidance on crafting effective cold calls that will resonate, download the free e‑book “The 7 C’s of Pre-​Call Intelligence” by C. Lee Smith. Doing the right research before calling will help you demonstrate personalized value to each prospect, even on cold calls. 

Embrace new methods for even further reach

Petrone explains that sales professionals must also be open to using more than one method when prospecting, including new tools, to be successful. “According to a survey of 160 B2B sales professionals, it took more than five different touchpoints (email, phone calls, InMail, etc.) to set up 54% of initial sales meetings,” he reports. “Another 10% took more than 10 touchpoints.”

While this may seem daunting, keep in mind that a touchpoint could include a simple mention on a social network or emailing an article of interest to a prospect. Today’s sales professionals need to embrace multiple methods to keep their pipelines full, even if it means trying new things. Have you ever used social networks to seek out potential leads? If not, it’s time to take the leap (and here’s how). What about making a quick video to include in a prospecting email? If it’s not a standard practice, it should be. 

Don’t be afraid to embrace these new ways to reach out; your buyers are expecting it. Just be sure that, with each touchpoint, you are offering value and keeping things personal. Just like with cold calls, your leads don’t have the time, patience or interest to deal with generic messages. 

Prospecting is never going to be easy. But by thoughtfully using old and new techniques, sales professionals can fill their pipeline. And they can connect with leads in a way that they want to connect.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Jessica Helinski

Jessica Helinski

Jessica reports on sales tips and credibility for SalesFuel. She is a graduate of Ohio University.