Saturday, August 8, 2020

Executive Education

The Modern Approach to Powerful Prospecting

So many companies set up outbound prospecting teams, throw them into the market, drive lots of activities and then totally fall flat on their face. And instead of examining their approach they will blame changes in the market or lament that cold calling doesn’t work anymore.

This is the wrong learning, please don’t give up, don’t be disillusioned, it can absolutely work with the right structure and approach, please read on and you should get some useful ideas.

B2B customers have radically changed how they buy, they are much better informed than ever and much more resistant to cold approaches. Sales methods that were effective until fairly recently just don’t generate the same returns anymore.

This is even more critical with prospecting where things are moving at a rapid pace and we need to be adjusting our prospecting strategy on a regular basis. Sometimes what worked six months ago is outdated already!

Dedicated Specialist resources

Effective prospecting requires a sustained effort and is best suited to a dedicated team or at least a dedicated person just focused on this activity day in and day out. If you can’t manage this then you must have your generalist sales team strictly time-block a portion of their week for dedicated prospecting. If you don’t do this then it will always come last in their priorities, it’s grinding work that is easy to get pushed to the side.

So what does an effective Modern Prospecting Process look like? Here are a few steps you can follow.

  1. Narrow the account universe. The key is not simply bringing in as many leads as possible, but prioritising the accounts that are the best fit for our offering – those that match our Ideal Customer Profile(ICP).
  2. Systematically research those individuals and companies. Gather what you can about the companies and the contacts from their website, their LinkedIn profile and across the web. Also look for any way to get an introduction or referral, this vastly improves conversion.
  3. Create a structured contact plan. The contact plan should outline our planned touchpoints for target accounts, including the format of each touchpoint (such as email, phone, social media and so on), the messaging for each touchpoint, the follow-up, and so on. It may take us 8-12 touches before getting a response from potential customers, we need to be disciplined and structured about our contact plan.
  4. Develop your value narrative. This will be different for every account and customer contact. Leverage the research to develop short, impactful statements we can use on calls and in emails. Think about what is important to that specific contact, what are the likely priorities in their role, what are common problems they face and so forth. We should include references to similar customers who we have helped to meet their goals. We need to be talking about how we can help potential customers, not about ourselves, our products and company.
  5. Become expert on Call & Email techniques. This is where the rubber hits the road, please do not leave these first interactions to chance or to the variances of our salespeople’s personality or style, this will absolutely not work. There are right and wrong ways to conduct first calls and write attention-getting emails that get a response. Make it a priority to become expert here.
  6. Focus on outcomes. While we should track leading indicators such as talk-time, numbers of calls and touchpoint activity, the real focus must be towards generating leads and creating pipeline.

Following these steps and applying a disciplined approach to regular activity will produce a nice steady stream of leads. Your team will be more satisfied and you will be knocking your numbers out of the park.

Best of luck!

Have you read?

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Steven Norman
Steven Norman is the author of Future Proof Sales Strategy, a guide to what’s working in the professional sales world today. Connect with Steven on LinkedIn. Steven is a regular contributor to the CEOWORLD magazine.