Sales Prospecting

Sales prospecting is not an easy sales activity. It is a sales technique that requires training and constant attention to the latest developments in prospect engagement or lead generation tactics. Sales prospecting is a critical aspect of the sales process as the biggest challenge in sales is getting an opportunity started in the first place.

sales-prospecting

Sales Prospecting Should Match the Buyers Journey

Nearly all buyers go through a number of stages on their buyer’s journey. Along the way they will make decisions on the importance level of solving the pain point, they will evaluate the available solutions plus assess vendors who they feel can suitable. In the early to middles stages of the buyer’s journey, sales prospecting is about bringing clarity and communicating a value proposition to the prospect. A potential customer will also need to be convinced of how familiar they believe a salesperson is with their business needs. The outcome of a prospects decision or considerations can be linked back to how well a salesperson has built trust and confidence through the various sales prospecting interactions.

Successful sales prospecting ensures that all interactions and sales communication are geared towards creating specific outcomes, not for the salesperson but for the potential customer. A focus that outlines how the company can make the prospects life easier, their jobs more rewarding and outcomes that simplifies their buyers journey.

Sales Prospecting Tips

 

  1. Selecting target prospects to engage.

Use ideal customer profiles to map the buyers journey. Before a salesperson reaches out via social selling, cold email or phone call they need to be able to answer “why are they on the list of prospects”. What information, signals or insights would make them a potential customer?

Sales prospecting where salespeople have to find or create opportunities is not easy. It involves quite a bit of effort to establish credibility and to get the prospect to listen to what the salesperson has to offer. Sales prospecting has to be a planned, organized activity as random prospecting is mainly a waste of time. Core to every good salesperson sales prospecting activities, is the importance of understanding the company’s needs, as well as the prospects desired outcome they will get by using the proposed product or solution. Using LinkedIn, Google search, Forums and Business directories are the most effective and efficient way to find quality prospects that match a company’s ideal customer profiles.

 

  1. Create a Strong Value Proposition.

Sales Prospecting Tips from The Digital Sales Institute on Vimeo.

Never forget that a prospect only cares about their problems, their challenges and their pain points. They are not looking for a nine-inch drill, they are looking for a nine-inch hole. They want to listen to salespeople who make sense, who create value, who are credible and who will make their lives easier, this includes helping them through the stages on the buyer’s journey. Prospects don’t want to listen to product pitches. A prospect wants to hear solutions to their pains and problems, evidence that others have experienced this and got a resolution. They don’t need more vanilla flavoured sales messages. They want a value proposition that will make it worthwhile their time listening to a salesperson. They want insights, they want to see the end result (without the sales pitch) from the earliest step in the buying process.

So, create a strong value proposition and ask “Will it get a prospect to listen?”

 

  1. Social Media is a Key Activity in Sales Prospecting.

Social media is playing an increasingly bigger part in purchasing decisions and B2B buyers are being influenced more and more by social media. Within the next decade, the majority of B2B buyers will be digital native. Social media will be their go to channel to research, connect, reference and to educate. Social media not only gives salespeople access to buyer profiles, but rich data such as background history, connections, similarities, likes, interests and deep insights into the company. Social listening can throw up signals about the prospects needs, trends in their market or challenges within their industry. All this data can be used in prospecting research and in the creation of a value proposition for a specific market.

Also, social selling along with the growth of inbound lead generation have surpassed the older, more traditional forms of sales prospecting. Whatever other sales prospecting tactics a salesperson uses, the use of social media and social selling has to be on their list.

 

  1. Learn to use Sales Tools and share Content.

Potential customers value content that helps educate and fill in some blanks for them. As more and more selling will be conducted via the digital channels, sales teams need to up-skill on the use of sales tools and content (articles, whitepapers, research etc) to engage a prospect. Content that supports sales prospecting activity must be based on fulfilling the customers’ needs and requirements. The goal is that they build a trusted connection with the salesperson via their interactions. Buyers are drawn to thought leaders and surveys show they prefer interaction with salespeople whom they consider to be a trusted adviser.

Many companies are now prioritising the education of their target audience through the creation of deep and insightful content assets that makes buying easier, and they are doing this with a customer first approach.

Sales tools such as video, ROI calculators, AI, scenario planning, live webinars, messaging channels and virtual tours will continue to grow.

Sales prospecting prioritises building longer term relationships

Always take into account that at any time, just 3% of your target market are actively seeking to purchase with approx. another 6 to 7 percent in the consideration stage. This leaves a whopping 90% of an addressable market that is in “the status quo position”. The fact is that while a prospect may have pain points, no salesperson has made them critical enough that a buyer wants to prioritize a solution.

Salespeople can get lucky with sales prospecting and find the 3 to 10% of the market seeking or considering to purchase now. However, to be truly successful a salesperson will need sales training to nurture more relationships. Nurturing and engaging a focused group of ideal customer profiles should be an essential part of every sales prospecting strategy. This takes time and skill but sales prospecting is now about getting in early, building credibility, cultivating a relationship and getting the prospects trust that when the time is right, they will move with the salesperson who has influenced them the most.

Regards

Brian

The Bitter Business

Social Selling Definition

Social Selling Definition

Social selling definition is important in sales training as many salespeople and sales leaders are still asking “What is Social Selling and how can I do social selling so it gives me results?

Despite all the news and chatter about social selling, many companies and salespeople struggle with a social selling definition that makes sense for them to incorporate into their sales habits. When I am conducting sales training on social selling, people will approach me ask “Is this social selling thing really worth it? Or is social selling really relevant to me as an experienced sales professional?

social-selling-definition
Social selling definition

My answer on Social Selling remain the same:

If a salesperson or a business has all the sales leads and pipeline of revenue they can handle for the next year or so, and don’t believe that social media is playing a bigger part in the buyer decision process, then no, you don’t need social selling.

If on the other hand, you see the more traditional forms of selling declining and you plan on being in business for the foreseeable future then using social media as a sales channel and social selling will not be optional tools. Digital selling and social selling will become increasingly vital to a salespersons and business success. So, let’s look at what “social selling” mean.

 Social selling definition!

I believe that every salesperson should view social selling as a sales touch point embedded into every aspect of your sales habit loop. If you review your sales funnel, it can be connected back to every sales step and to every lead. Successful salespeople have learnt how to use the social networks to build credibility, be visible and relevant in every step of the buyer’s journey.

My social selling definition is as follows:

“It is about building a communication bridge between social media activity (opportunity insights, sharing ideas and perspectives) and the phone call (sales outreach) to maximise buyer interactions and minimise wasted time.”

So, Social selling concentrates on sharing focused content and providing one-to-one communication that flows backwards and forwards between the salesperson and the buyer.

The goal is for the you to form a relationship with each prospect, providing suggestions and answering questions.

What Social Selling is Not:

Firstly, Social Selling is NOT Social marketing

Social marketing is focused on generating mass awareness and is more aligned to inbound marketing (to generate sales leads) while social selling is an organised sales activity aligned to sales (to generate leads for sales). Social selling is focused on individual buyer engagement while social marketing focuses on brand engagement. Sales people involved with pumping out marketing material on social media are doing social marketing not social selling.

Social media is no longer the exclusive domain of marketers. It’s not about pushing mass messaging. It’s about personalised conversations. It’s about connecting and engaging. Social selling needs to be integrated into the very DNA of your business.

A social definition is not one that uses social media to shout at, stalk, or spam people digitally. It is not about employing the social channels to replace cold calling, sales outreach or replacing the telephone with Twitter and LinkedIn. Trying to outshout your competitors, interrupting people and blasting their inboxes or profiles with generic sales pitches are not strategies that will create trust and credibility. Also, social selling is not about having a uniformed approach to every customer interaction.

One to one connections and interactions

Successful social selling that delivers real results comes from meaningful, relevant and personalised one-to-one social conversations and interactions. It is not all about content, while content plays a vital role it is a sales tool to engage the prospect towards a useful and valuable interaction. Forward thinking sales leads and salespeople understand the power and importance of developing one-to-one connections and interactions on social media.

As part of a sales training program or sales transformation process, a social selling strategy should be focused on creating opportunities for interaction in a very personalised manner. As we enter the era of the digital native buyer (2 billion plus people on social media globally), the ability to focus on and tap into your core market(s) online will be vital to sales success.

Why Companies Embrace Social Selling

 Traditional sales tactics have diminishing returns:

90% of decision makers say that they never respond to cold outreach – (Harvard Business Review).

Buyers use social media:

75% of B2B buyers now use social media to research vendors (IDC).

Bigger deal sizes:

Buyers who use social media have larger budgets – typically 84% larger than the budgets of buyers who do not use social (IDC).

Better Sales Achievement:

Social sellers realise 66% greater sales achievement than those using traditional prospecting techniques (Sales Benchmark Index).

 Research and studies from lead sales organisations show that social selling like any great sales strategy is best applied as part of a daily sales habit. In one study from SAP, 71% of salespeople who gained sales leads using social selling and social media were active on a daily basis.

Social Selling Tip: Social selling requires sales training and a planned approach. It is advisable to learn how to leverage all the social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Split out the social selling activity into engaging a new profile of customer, accessing new markets and increasing engagement with existing customers. Learn more about social selling training.

I hope the above statistics prove that social media and social selling are not a fad or empty time filling activity. It is a channel and valuable activity for selling and growing revenue. Companies who have put formal social selling strategies in place are seeing growth in double digits for the socially skilled sales professionals. Not a bad return!

 Where how do we start social selling?

Social Selling consists of five main steps:

  1. Establishing a presence on social networks (Goals and objectives)
  2. Finding the right people (Research into Buyer Personas or Ideal Customer Profiles)
  3. Engaging with those people (Content assets, rules of engagement)
  4. Building trust (Credibility and Connecting)
  5. Measuring the impact (Conversions, Mentions, References and Leads)

Benefits of Social Selling from The Digital Sales Institute on Vimeo.

To build a team of great social salespeople, they have to be trained to become personal marketers, content experts and storytellers. Also, a change in mindset that requires sales leadership to move away from constant pitching to focusing on sharing great content and building relationships and a community online. Salespeople and the brand should strive to be a “Thought Leader” in the eyes of their target audience and market.

The relationship between seller and buyer has changed. Today the buyer self-educates, does their own research and is influenced by what they read and see online. This change to “online conversations” can either be seen as a risk or as a fantastic opportunity. But only if you’re willing to have a formal social selling program with goals and objectives. Then you can jump in, interact on a personal level, start social conversations that eventually lead to warm sales meetings.