Prospecting…that ugly word that no sales rep wants to hear. Implementing an end to end prospecting process for your team can turn this activity from the most feared to the most rewarding.

Why is prospecting such a negative word?  If marketing is going to contribute 30% of pipeline, sales will need to generate the other 70% of sales opportunities.  Most sales reps on your team hate prospecting because they relate prospecting to cold calling from a list of leads.  The ‘A’ players that know how to prospect were trained in a former role and the rest of your sales team that hates prospecting needs a prospecting process that shows them how to win.

 

At its core, prospecting is a process of leveraging traditional techniques and emerging practices to reach potential buyers.  This does not mean you have to do the same things that have been done for decades.  Read about an SBI client who used social selling to increase the number of appointments per rep from 6 to 11 per week.

 

Download our Prospecting Process Tool to receive help devising a Prospecting Process for your company, and to leverage a mapped out Customer Buying Process (AKA Sales Cycle).

 

The biggest differentiator we see in clients who are successful with prospecting and those that are not come down to 3 things:

 

  1. Having a defined prospecting process

     

  2. Training sales reps on that process starting on week 1 in the job

     

  3. Continual reinforced of the process through daily coaching

     

We recently deployed a new Prospecting Process for a client, called the “P.E.N.” Process…. Let’s discuss what this prospecting process is and how a prospecting process can help your sales reps increase their prospecting output.

 

 

3 Step Prospecting Process:

 

  1. Prepare: Develop a plan of attack. Hint, this is not just handing your reps a list of names and phone numbers

     

  2. Execute: Use the right channels and tools available to implement the plan of attack

     

  3. Nurture: Continue running the plays, prospecting is not a one and done activity

     

     

Stage 1 – Prepare

 

Develop a plan of attack.  Stage 1 is arguably the most important phase.  If this phase is not executed correctly it will make the next two steps much more difficult.

 

We will focus on the prepare stage in this post, but if your organization needs help designing and implementing a full prospecting process join us in the Studio for a full day working session.  Let’s now review the 3 steps your reps will need to do to Prepare for prospecting.

 

  • Prioritize– How will you prioritize the companies we target? This seems like the easiest step but is often made harder than it has to be.  The questions below can be used to put together a target list of prospects.

     

    1. What is the ideal customer profile? An Ideal Customer Profile can be developed by analyzing your customer base and determining the firmographic and demographic variables that are common across the customer set.

       

    2. How much can each prospect spend? Calculating the spend potential of each prospect through an account segmentation exercise will help generate a stack rank of all prospects.  For more details on account segmentation, read our previous blog here.

       

    3. What is the prospects propensity to buy? PtB is used to determine how likely the prospect is to buy now vs later.  Did the prospect just sign a 3-year deal with a competitor?  Their PtB will be lower than someone whose contract is expiring in the next 6 months.

       

      Once you understand the Ideal Customer Profile, Spend Potential and Propensity to Buy of each prospect you can arm your sales team with the best list of prospects.  Your reps will like this approach a little better than being given a list of names and phone numbers.

       

  • Research – How do sales reps better understand the personas that buy your product? Where are they in the buyer journey? Your reps  are selling to individuals not companies and each buyer needs to be treated with a unique approach.

     

    1. Persona development – are personas developed for each buyer of your product? Have they been refreshed in the last year?

       

    2. Are your personas just a name and job title or do they truly represent a fictional buyer? Understanding the personas emotional drivers, goals, priorities, means and metrics will enable your sales reps to speak their language

       

  • Plan Attack – What is the best to way to connect with that persona? When are the best times to contact them? What am is the sales rep going to say?

     

    1. Developing a customized contact strategy for each persona is key. Phone, email, LinkedIn, networking event, referral are all options.  Some will be successful, and some will not be depending on who they are contacting.  When is the best time to contact the prospect?  this also varies greatly by persona, do not think a one size fits all approach will get you the results you are looking for.

       

    2. What does the sales rep say? Email, voicemail and live connect talk tracks and scripts need to be developed to ensure the sales reps are not caught off guard regardless of the outcome

       

Stage 2 – Execute

 

Your sales rep can now run the plays you designed using the best communication channels and tools available.

 

The goal of the execution stage is to run the play and connect with the prospect.  Calling the prospect every day for two weeks is not the most effective way to do this.  Using your social network and asking a mutual connection for an introduction or monitoring the prospects social network activity is the best way to get in.

 

Reps will need a social selling and referral generation playbook to accomplish this.  In addition, objection handling and call advances are key areas to ensure reps are trained on.

 

Stage 3 – Nurture

 

Nurturing is the process of progressing a conversation between your sales rep and a potential buyer by delivering relevant content and information through various communication channels.  Stage 3 is all about staying in the game.

 

Adjusting the message and channels is key.  If you have confidence the prioritize phase was done correctly, you will be talking to the prospect at a company in our ideal customer profile, with high spend potential and high propensity to buy.  Stay the course and progress the deal.

 

The difference between wasting time prospecting and generating pipeline to hit the number is a robust prospecting process.

 

Download our Prospecting Process Tool to receive help devising a Prospecting Process for your company, and to leverage a mapped out Customer Buying Process (AKA Sales Cycle).

 

 

Additional Resource

 

If you would like help developing a customized prospecting process come visit us at the Studio, and ensure you are on track to hitting your number.

 

Located in Dallas, TX, our facility offers state-of-the-art meeting rooms, lounge, full-service bar, and a studio used to tape our TV shows. SBI provides the location and facilitators, all at a compelling price point.

 

As a guest of The Studio, you’ll get unlimited access to SBI’s CEO, Partners, and a handpicked team of experts. Together we’ll focus on developing an action plan to drive stronger alignment by getting a month of work done in just eight hours. It’s an amplified experience that you can only get in one place: The Studio. I hope you join us.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Hastings

Leverages expertise in operations, sales and marketing to implement new strategies that help clients make their number

Prior to SBI, Andy spent 8+ years at Constant Contact in a hyper growth SaaS environment. He brings significant expertise in direct sales, channel sales, marketing, operations and project management. Most notably, he delivered results on projects that included sales and marketing strategy, CRM design and implementation and sales productivity / enablement. Known as a problem solver who can quickly diagnose sales and marketing gaps, develop a strategy and lead cross functional teams during implementation resulting in organizations making their number.

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