Prospecting is a crucial part of the sales process.
You need to identify prospects, reach out to them, and persuade them to take the next step in your sales funnel.
But all that is often easier said than done. Sourcing prospects can be time-consuming, cold outreach can feel awkward, and gatekeepers might prevent you from even speaking to the right person.
What Is Sales Prospecting?
A sales prospect is a person that meets your criteria for being a dream customer.
For B2C businesses, this means an individual customer, meanwhile, for B2B businesses, this means the decision-maker in the organization.
Typically, that next step is a discovery call, which is the first conversation with the prospect after they have expressed an interest in your product.
Are you serious about sales?
- Read sales books. You can pick up classic sales books such as Brian Tracy’s “The Psychology of Selling” for less than $20 on Amazon. This is the most affordable way to study sales.
- Buy online courses. There are some great online courses out there that can help you become more effective at selling. Just do your research before purchasing, only buy products that come with a money-back guarantee, and don’t be afraid to ask for a refund if the product did not meet your expectations.
- Attend sales conferences. Going to industry events can be a great way to not only learn more about sales but also network with fellow salespeople.
- Hire a sales coach. You might want to consider hiring an experienced sales coach who will work with you 1-on-1. This can be incredibly valuable because it can help you identify your weak spots. Of course, it’s also the most expensive option.
- Apply what you learn! Sales is a skill. That means that the only way to get better at it is through deliberate practice. Want to see a return on your investment in sales education? Then make it a point to apply everything that you learn.
#2 Take Time To Understand Your Dream Customers
The best salespeople are the ones who understand their customers the best.
So before you start reaching out to prospects, take time to understand them:
- Go where they hang out online and observe the conversations happening there.
- Stalk their social media profiles, blogs, and YouTube channels.
- Consume the content that they consume (books, podcasts, YouTube videos, etc.).
- Attend industry events such as meetups, seminars, and conferences so that you could hang out with your dream customers in person.
- Conduct one-on-one interviews with your dream customers. People love to feel heard, so getting someone to agree to a 15-minute Skype interview might be easier than you think.
And make sure you dig deep. You want to figure out what drives your dream customers to do what they do.
Don’t be satisfied with superficial answers such as “They want to make more money”. Pretty much everyone on this planet wants to make more money. That doesn’t tell you anything. Ask yourself why your dream customers want that.
Also, note that when you are targeting B2B sales prospects, the primary goal of the organization (typically either profit or growth) is not necessarily the primary goal of the decision-maker.
Say, a co-founder of a SaaS startup might be focused on increasing the monthly recurring revenue (MRR) because they are incentivized to do so by the equity that they have and the possibility of a lucrative exit.
Meanwhile, a product manager at the same startup might say that they are focused on increasing the MRR, but in fact they might be primarily interested in getting a promotion. They are incentivized to advance their career.
Remember that the decision-maker isn’t an incarnation of the organization they are working at, they are a human being that responds to incentives.
So figure out what the prospect is trying to achieve, then make it clear to them how your product can help them do that.
#3 Create a System For Sourcing Prospects
Take a look at how you are sourcing prospects right now:
- Where do you find them?
- Where do you find their contact information?
- How do you keep track of the people that you need to contact?
Think about how you could optimize all that:
- Are there any industry directories that you could use to find prospects? Note that these do not have to be official directories, what you want is a list of dream customers. Say, if you sell software for podcasters, then you can use iTunes to find prospects.
- Are there any tools that could help you find their contact information? For example, Hunter.io is a search engine for email addresses.
- Are there any tools that could help you be more organized? You might want to look into customer relationship management (CRM) systems.
Keep in mind that the more efficient you get with sourcing prospects, the more time you will have for reaching out to those prospects.
#4 Pick a Cold Outreach Method That Makes The Most Sense
Here are the three most popular cold outreach methods:
- Cold email.
- Cold social media messages.
- Cold calls.
Think about which one of these three makes the most sense for your business.
Say, in the B2C space, cold email or cold social media messages might be more appropriate, but in the B2B space, you might want to consider cold calling.
What’s important is that you choose an outreach method that is seen as acceptable by your dream customers.
#5 Set a Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Cold Outreach Quota
Let’s keep it real:
And cold outreach involves endless rejection.
That’s why salespeople often subconsciously procrastinate on it. This is especially true for cold calls.
You can avoid this trap by setting a daily, weekly, and monthly cold outreach quota. This will help you stay focused on contacting to prospects.
Moreover, it will help you keep going. A negative interaction with a prospect got you down? Move on to the next person on your list. Meet your cold outreach quota for the day no matter what.
Remember, the more people you reach out to, the more sales you will make.
#6 Figure Out How To Bypass the Gatekeepers
This is especially important in the B2B space.
Decision-makers tend to be busy people who have gatekeepers guarding their time. This includes receptionists, secretaries, personal assistants, etc. You need to figure out how to bypass these gatekeepers and get direct access to the decision-maker.
Remember what we have discussed in the section on understanding your dream customers. If those dream customers are guarded by a gatekeeper, you need to understand that gatekeeper as well. What are their incentives?
You want to make it clear to the gatekeeper that it’s in their best interest to let you pass through because their boss will want to hear what you have to say.
#7 Use a Sales Qualification Framework
You don’t want to waste time pitching your product to people who:
- Don’t need it.
- Don’t have the money for it.
- Don’t have the authority to make a purchasing decision.
- Will take too long to purchase it.
In theory, doing your homework should help you avoid that, but in practice, you never know what’s going behind the scenes.
Moreover, people often struggle with saying no, so they might agree to hear you out or even to hop on a discovery call out of politeness.
Sales qualification frameworks are methods that help you avoid wasting time by quickly disqualifying prospects.
“The Ultimate Guide to Sales Qualification” (HubSpot)
#8 Prepare a Sales Prospecting Script
You don’t want to wing your prospecting calls.
Take time to create a sales prospecting script that you can use when talking to your dream customers.
You want to think about:
- How can you make it immediately clear to them how your product will make their life better?
- How can you address the most common objections (e.g. “I don’t have time for this”, “We are already using [competitor’s product]”, etc.).
- How can you end the call with a powerful call to action? Remember, the goal is to get them to agree to take the next step in your sales funnel. Typically that means scheduling a discovery call.
Note that your script doesn’t have to be word-for-word, what matters is that you are prepared for the most likely scenarios and don’t go blank in those situations.
Also, make it as easy as possible for the prospect to say “Yes”, for example, email them a link to your calendar while still on a call so that they could pick a date and time before hanging up.
#9 Practice Your Sales Prospecting Script
Ask a friend or a colleague to help you practice your sales prospecting script:
- Explain to them who your dream customers are.
- Brief them on the most likely scenarios (common objections, etc.).
- Have a role-play phone call with them where you are yourself and they play the prospect.
You might also want to record these practice sessions and listen to them later so that you could better assess your approach.
#10 Analyze Your Results, Adjust Your Approach Accordingly
You want to keep track of your cold outreach efforts so that you could improve your approach based on relevant data (you can use a CRM tool to track everything).
Here are the two key questions that you want to ask yourself:
- What do the emails, social media messages, and calls that did not convert have in common?
- What do the emails, social media messages, and calls that did convert have in common?
The better you understand what works and what doesn’t, the more you will be able to optimize sales prospecting.
Warning: Sales Prospecting Isn’t Scalable!
However, it’s important to understand that this approach isn’t scalable. Even the most driven salesperson can only make so many cold calls a day.
Our co-founder, Russel Brunson, has developed a sales funnel model called the Value Ladder.
Here’s how it looks like:
There are four stages:
- Bait. You offer the potential customer a lead magnet in exchange for their email address.
- Frontend. You offer the potential customer your least expensive and least valuable product.
- Middle. You offer the customer a more valuable and more expensive product.
- Backend. You offer the customer your most valuable and most expensive product.
Here’s how Russel explains the main idea behind this sales funnel model:
And you know what’s best? Once a Value Ladder funnel is set up, all you need to do is drive traffic to the lead magnet landing page. Everything else is completely automated. That enables you to grow your business explosively.
In fact, Russel used this approach to take ClickFunnels from zero to $10 million in annual revenue in just one year (it’s now at $100+ million).
He couldn’t have done it by making cold calls all day. But with the Value Ladder sales funnel model the sky is the limit.
Want Russell To Teach You How To Build a Sales Funnel?
Let’s keep it real:
Building a sales funnel from scratch can seem like a daunting task.
That’s why we have created our 5 Day Challenge where Russel walks you through it step-by-step.
You will learn how to:
- Generate unlimited leads.
- Create your first lead magnet.
- Build your first sales funnel.
- Create a simple 6-email follow-up sequence.
- And launch your funnel!
…in just five days.
So don’t hesitate.
Join our 5 Day Challenge. It’s completely free!