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A Step-by-Step Guide to B2B Sales Prospecting

Sales are the bread and butter of any successful B2B business. It is important to commit time to finessing all aspects that are likely to maximise sales. However, a wise man warned against working hard, but not working smart. 

Sales prospecting is a bright means of optimising sales and time. A means of going through a list of potential customers to locate the ones who may be interested or those ready to buy, sales prospecting ensures that your sales team is focusing their precious and limited time and energy on leads most likely to convert to customers. 

So how exactly to go about sales prospecting? The following article will elucidate how B2B businesses should proceed and act as your step by step guide to sales prospecting, by laying out the approach that you should follow, the best techniques and the top tools to use.

The Power of sales prospecting

B2B Sales Prospecting illustration by MyOperator.
B2B Sales Prospecting illustration by MyOperator.

Sales prospecting has tons of advantages for companies. Some of the most important ones are detailed below:

  • It allows companies to get to know their market and potential customers better. Once you know your customers better, you can anticipate their needs beforehand and better figure out how to convert leads. 
  • Knowing their audience and researching them will allow business companies to make pitches targeted towards their customers’ specific issues that they need help with and give them a better chance at confirming sales. 
  • Sales prospecting allows sales teams of companies to increase their productivity, and streamline the entire process from lead conversion to pitching to the customers to the actual sales. 

An optimal and easy to follow approach for sales prospecting

Following the steps detailed below are a broad map of how to go about the process of sales prospecting. While you could tweak and polish the steps so they best suit your company, the majority of the steps will mould well as a guideline for all B2B sales prospecting. 

Identify your total ideal audience 

This involves researching the market to figure out who your target audience is. This allows you to estimate the revenue opportunities amongst the market. To ensure that you’re only targeting those businesses and clients that you can add value to is a big part of sales prospecting. 

Once you’ve pre determined your ideal audience amongst the market, you can start prioritizing your clients based on who is most likely to convert into a customer. 

Figure out your ICP 

An ICP is an Ideal Customer Profile that fits your business organization. This is an outline of the ideal company or customer that fits your target customer profile. Figuring out your ICP will help you weed out all those from your target market that deviate the farthest from your ICP and highlight those that deviate least and fit well. This lets your business invest its precious time and resources on those companies and customers that have the most prospect of converting into real sales. 

ICP approach can also help your business figure out where a potential client is not fitting the mould which you could then use to focus your pitches and efforts on a specific aspect.

Ideal Customer Profile illustration from The Smarketers.
Ideal Customer Profile illustration from The Smarketers.

Forge an initial contact with your prospects 

Now that you’ve figured out your ideal market and customer profiles, it’s time to make an initial contact with them and start to build relationships.  

Approach your prospects and start building a repertoire with them. You could use either email marketing or personalized call outreach for this purpose. While email marketing for lead generation is a leading way for B2B businesses, cold calls are also great for doing the trick. 

Contacting your prospects via email

In order to find email address online, you can always use email marketing tools like AeroLeads which allow you to find business emails from either platforms like LinkedIn or by using the prospect’s name and domain name etc. This is an easy and effective way to create a mailing list. 

To analyze and optimize your emails outreach campaign, use the best of sales intelligence data and technographics to find out the email campaign open rate and reply rate and how to improve upon them. For calls, use call automation and call reporting to make the best out of them. 

Contacting your prospects via outbound calls

When you have a list of thousands of prospects you need to connect on call, a simple phone system is just not enough. 

When you have to call hundreds of prospects, you don’t want to waste time manually dialing up their numbers, waiting on the line for your call to be picked up, and dialing up again when the number goes busy. All thanks to modern outbound calling solution, all those tasks can be automated now. 

With an advanced dialer like MyOperator outbound dialer and its built-in progressive dialer functionality, you can automate the task of number dialing and waiting. Progressive dialer automatically dials the numbers from the contact list. As soon as a prospect picks up the call, it is connected to your agent. And yes, all the calls that are not picked up are added in the follow-up queue. 

Like email outreach reports and tracking, you can also track all your calls made through the MyOperator outbound dialer and get useful business insights through daily call reports and call recordings securely stored in the cloud. 

Find out whether or not your prospects qualify 

Once you’ve made that initial contact, it is time to start finding out which of your thought prospects qualify as being potential customers. The best way to do so is by getting to know them. Ask questions, but in a streamlined approach. This will help you assess a prospect’s suitability as a customer. Your goal is to determine whether or not this could be a mutually beneficial partnership by figuring out whether or not you could solve their problems. 

Use factors like location, decision-making process, organizational requirement, and pain points to figure out whether or not a prospect qualifies. Ask them a series of questions regarding their problems like what is their major priority, how they’ve tried to solve it, how much they’ve spent in trying to solve the problems, whether they’re still looking for solutions or if they’ve given up etc. 

This will help you narrow down your prospects to only those qualified prospects who will have the potential to be willing customers. 

Make personalized pitch

For all your qualified prospects, you can one by one schedule a live meeting or a video meeting with each of them and then pitch to them your product or services. 

Each pitch should be carefully curated to suit the exact needs of who you’re pitching to. Take your time in planning and rehearsing the pitch. Needless to say, this is and should be a time consuming project. However, you’re only pitching to those prospects who have already qualified as having potential to transform into customers and so you’ll have the confidence that you’re watering the right plants. Hence, you should give it your best shot. 

Your pitch should not be about selling but rather about offering advice, providing solutions, and educating the prospects on how exactly you can be of help to them. Be sure to include all the best suited and most knowledgeable personnel in delivering the pitch. If something is outside your comfort zone, get an expert. For example, for any technicalities, get an engineer to help explain the concepts better. 

Follow-up. Follow-up. Repeat.

Once you’ve said your piece, it is imperative to give time to your prospects to reach a decision. But when and how to follow-up

There is an art to carefully timing a follow-up. If you contact them too soon, you might end up coming off as pushy but if you wait a long time, you might lose the sale. Your timing should depend on putting yourself in your prospect’s position, and figuring out how much of a personal relationship you have with them, what their perception of you is, how much persistence they will require and what is the best approach for them.

Close the deal 

There is a term “ABC” very often used in sales, which stands for ‘Always Be Closing,’ Of course this rings true since the number of deals you close is directly proportional to the amount of resources utilised and not wasted and the amount of success you will experience. It is necessary to close a deal well to prevent competitors from taking your sale. 

Being direct about wanting a prospect’s business is the best way to close the sale. Being hesitant or beating around the bush could lead to you losing the sale. 

But what to do if you hear a ‘No’ from the other end? If this happens, don’t give up too easily. Try to get to the root of their refusal. See if you can sort the differences or overcome the source of their objections. If not, step away without seeming adamant as this could hamper your reputation, and take this as a learning experience!

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