You make 60 cold calls a day, send over 100 emails, and connect with hundreds of prospects on social media. But the day that started with high hopes of closing leads and sales ends with disappointment.
Maybe, you’re not doing it right.
Here are some do’s and don’ts of sales prospecting coming out directly from a customer experience expert.
What is a Sales Prospecting?
Sales prospecting or prospecting refers to the process of communicating with prospective customers in hopes of creating business opportunities. The prospecting process can include numerous modes of communication, such as:
- Text messages
- Social media direct messages
The primary purpose of sales prospecting is to explore business opportunities. It could either be through leads that have gone cold or to reach entirely new prospects.
Many organizations hire dedicated outbound communication experts – also known as sales development reps (SDRs) and business development reps (BDRs) – to reach potential buyers and grow the business.
However, sales prospecting gets a bad rep, especially in this data-driven world where people decide if and when they want to take action. Many consumers detest sales prospecting due to its extremely salesy approach.
But if you’re a new business looking to grow your business, you can get amazing results from prospecting. Provided that you do it correctly.
The following sections talk about the things you should do and avoid to ensure effective sales prospecting for your business.
Do’s – Things You Should Do
Here are a few things that you, as the sales or business development rep, should do to improve your sales prospecting outcomes.
1. Create a Schedule and Stick to It
An outbound sales rep has a lot on his plate. In addition to calling the prospects, he needs to update the CRM, send emails, and manage the relationship with prospects on social media. Hence, time management is a skill every sales rep should prioritize.
Plan your day before getting started. Let’s say you have to follow-up with existing prospects and also reach new prospects. Assign some time of your day (say 30%) to following-up existing prospects, some to reach new prospects (say 50%), and the remaining (20%) to data entry and social media.
2. Take One Step at a Time
If you expect to make a sale on the first call with a prospect, you need to exit that dream. First-call sales happen, and you might end up making a bunch of them in your career. But most consumers don’t buy on the first call.
If you enter the “hard-selling” mode on the first call, you’ll intimidate the customer. Your goal on the first call should be to build a rapport with the prospect. Understand her pain points and educate her. Tell her how you can bring a positive change to her life.
Then, give her some time to think. Schedule a follow-up call after a couple of days and see what the prospect thinks of your offer. If she has any doubts, address them. If she isn’t ready to purchase, ask what’s stopping her. And if she’s ready to buy, go ahead with the process.
3. Learn to Listen
Listening is an essential quality of a sales rep. The general sales rule states that the more the customer talks, the more likely he is to buy from you. So, let the prospect talk and listen to what he has to say. Understand his problems, challenges, and pain points, and then offer a solution.
4. Learn to Embrace Rejection
No one likes rejection. But one can’t deny the fact that outbound sales prospecting has a low success rate. A Duct Tape Marketing article showed that the average ROI of cold calling is 1-3%.
Hence, no matter how good your product is and how good a sales rep you are, not all customers will be interested. It is essential to learn to embrace rejection, move on, and start fresh with a new prospect.
5. Plan Your Conversation Beforehand
Before dialing a number, ensure that you plan the entire conversation. Prepare a list of all the questions you’ll ask and the facts and statistics you’ll state. Also, have a list of potential rebuttals you might get, along with answers to them.
Don’ts – Things You Should Avoid
Here are a few things you should avoid in sales prospecting.
1. Avoid Launching into a Monologue
While the first call will seldom result in a sale, it’s one of the most important calls. That’s because the prospect will form an opinion and decide whether she wants to have further interactions with you. So, don’t be hasty on your first call. Instead, try to make a solid first impression and give the prospect a reason to talk to you again.
2. Don’t Make Outlandish Claims
Customers have become smarter than ever. They can smell scams and outrageous claims from a mile away. Don’t be the source of that pungent smell. Avoid making arrogant statements and outlandish claims that you can’t keep.
Intelligent prospects will immediately identify something fishy. And even if they don’t, they’ll find out sooner or later, which will ruin your company’s reputation.
3. Avoid Being a Curt
If you try to contact a high-profile prospect, the chances are that some other person will answer the phone on the prospect’s behalf. If that’s the case, treat these middle people well. They can be a critical influence on your prospect, so you should try developing a positive rapport with them.
4. Ditch Business Jargon
Using business jargon is a red flag. It’s alright if you’re selling a feature-rich product to a prospect who knows the ins and outs of what the product is about. But if you’re selling to a generic audience, use simple language that highlights benefits and not the product’s specifications.
As a sales rep, you have a lot of pressure to make sales and generate revenue. But the key here is to understand the process. Your prospects aren’t waiting for you to call them. You need to take them through the complete buyer’s journey, starting from awareness and interest and ending in a purchase.