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5 Steps to Build a Prospecting Plan

5 Steps to Build a Prospecting Plan

Selling without a detailed, robust sales prospecting plan is like wasting your and the prospect’s time and energy for nothing. The sales prospecting plan ensures every lead you engage is genuinely a good fit (or has the potential to become one) for your product.

So, how do you set up an effective sales prospecting plan for your strategy? Read on to create your prospecting process from scratch by learning:

  • What a sales prospecting plan means
  • What the ideal sales prospecting plan should include
  • The top tips and tricks to develop your prospecting strategy
  • The steps to building a killer sales prospect plan
  • And the goal of prospecting

Let’s jump right in!

What is a Prospecting Plan?

Before diving into the intricacies of building a stunning sales prospecting plan, let’s discuss what a prospecting plan is. Your sales process starts with prospecting, where you identify, qualify, and approach potential customers for your business and successfully transform them into leads.

Furthermore, the sales prospecting plan includes processes that help your sales team identify decision-makers in your target audience. The goal is not to sell your product to anyone but to figure out how your solutions can help a prospect and make them revenue-generating customers.

To sum it up, prospecting plans are short-term approaches that help businesses:

  • Start a conversation
  • Qualify whether the prospect is a good fit for their company or product
  • Position your product or service as the perfect solution to their pain points 

Lead vs. Prospect

lead-vs-prospect

Often people get confused between leads and prospects. Here’s a closer look at their differences:

Leads refer to potential customers who have engaged or show interest in your brand or products through behaviors like subscribing to your newsletter, visiting your website, or signing up for a free trial.

On the contrary, prospects are qualified leads that align with your buyer personas. Moreover, they can further be classified as potential customers depending on their interaction with your company and products.

Why is Prospecting Important?

Prospecting allows you to identify the ideal customer for your business or product and discover their motivation, pain points, and challenges. Plus, it’s incredibly effective!

According to research, 7 in 10 buyers want salespeople to contact them early in the buying process, thus increasing their chances of responding. Moreover, 82% of customers accept meetings when a salesperson reaches out to them.

Another research reveals that top-performing sales people garner three times more sales during prospecting than those who don’t prospect or are low performers.

What is the Prospecting Process?

The prospecting process entails identifying potential customers and developing a customer database that fits within that category. After that, salespeople systemically communicate with the potential customers to successfully convert them from potential customers to loyal buyers.

Here’s what a sales prospecting process comprises:

Step # 1: Conducting Research

Firstly, the salesperson will find out everything they can about the potential customer. That way, they can identify whether the person is a good fit for their product and how they should craft a personalized message. 

B2B brands typically research by looking at a lead’s LinkedIn page, social media accounts, and their company’s homepage.

Step # 2: Identifying Qualification

Next, the salesperson determines whether a potential customer is worth pursuing and ways to prioritize them.

Sales teams rank prospective buyers by their likelihood of turning into revenue-generating consumers and their long-term potential value to your business. Most brands identify these qualities by assessing them through lead scoring.

Step # 3: Planning the Outreach Process

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Delegate the time to craft a personalized outreach message for each prospect. Instead of sending a hard sell, we recommend sharing a helpful resource, informative articles, etc. Remember to contact them through their preferred channel.

The Goal of Prospecting

The primary goal of building a prospective process is generating a strong sales pipeline that feeds qualified leads into your sales funnel. Here, the sales reps nurture them until they reach the bottom of the funnel.

In today’s prospecting world, the numbers don’t matter as much as the qualification of the leads. Thus, the focus is on quality over quantity. For instance, various new sales roles focus on building effective prospect lists:

  • Sales Development Reps (SDRs)
  • Business Development Reps (BDRs)

Intently focusing on qualifying leads allows other sales professionals to fine-tune their part of the sales process to close a greater percentage of leads and achieve higher sales volumes and values. It also helps them predict their ROI and hit other sales goals.

What is a Prospecting Strategy?

Sales prospecting includes formulating strategies to discover prospects who have the potential to convert into paying customers.

 Your prospecting strategy helps your business maximize efficiency by improving the overall sales funnel.

Who Does Prospecting in Sales?

In most businesses, the Sales Development Reps (SDRs) or the Business Development Reps (BDRs) execute the prospecting process. SDRs are typically new members of the sales team who enhance their skillset and increase their experience before becoming Business Development Managers. After that, they negotiate and close deals with prospective clients.

SDRs communicate with hundreds and thousands of prospects to ensure that a lead moving to the next stage of the sales funnel meets the following criteria:

  • Authority – They are the decision-makers
  • Need – They have a problem that your product can solve
  • Budget – They possess the money to make a purchase
  • Time – They want to make a purchase soon

SDRs are also responsible for handling objections, cold prospecting, and sending outreach messages. Every organization measures the success of its SDRs by setting different prospects, such as:

  • Activity Metrics – It includes dials per day, time on calls, emails per day
  • Result-Based Metrics – Refers to SQLs, number of meetings booked and executed, number of responses, etc.

Automate LinkedIn Prospecting with Octopus CRM

How to Set Up a Prospecting Strategy?

Now that we’ve covered the basics of prospecting let’s jump into the different steps involved. Here are the best ten tips to build an effective prospecting strategy:

Creating an Ideal Buyer Persona

Here’s the thing: there’s a sea of people, industries, company sizes, and niches. How do you decide the best place to start? Simple! You take some time to determine what your ideal buyer looks like and do research in your existing database.

Don’t assume every company in your database is the ideal fit for your customer, especially since studies reveal that 50% of prospects do not match your ideal buyer persona. So, do your homework and identify contacts that care about your or should care about your products. Furthermore, determine the best-fit and poor-fit customers by creating groups like:

  • The top best five customers
  • The worst five prospects
  • The most profitable customers

It’s also essential you think of the “problem-solution way,” where you identify your ideal customer’s pain points and how your product can solve them. After that, you can use your buyer persona and existing database to find other businesses and customers who fit that criterion.

Conduct In-depth Research

Learning as much as possible about your prospect before contacting them is critical to ensuring success. By assessing the customer’s titles, roles, and accountabilities, you can determine whether the potential customer is a good fit for your product.

LinkedIn is instrumental in doing research. All the information you need about a prospect is easily accessible with a single search. By leveraging this social media channel, you can determine whether a candidate matches your ideal customer profile.  

Define Your Goals Before Reaching Out

Clearly defining your goals before and above prospecting sets you up for success. Instead of closing a deal every time, you can also aim to book a meeting, schedule a sales demo, etc.

For instance, if you send a cold email to a potential customer, your goal may be building a relationship with them. Prospects want to ensure they’re doing business with a trustworthy organization. Thus, fostering a connection is the first step to boosting brand trust.

Set the Ideal Prospecting Objectives

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Start setting your goals by asking yourself what your main objectives are. Aligning prospecting objectives with the commercial strategy provides you with the direction of your approach.

Your goals should always be SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

For instance:

  • The number of new leads in your portfolio
  • Number of prospects by demographic
  • Number of leads per sales representative
  • Turnover target
  • Percentage of high prospecting leads

Qualify Your Sales Prospect

Segmenting your sales prospect is an excellent way of identifying which profiles of potential customers you should focus on first. To begin this, consider the following criteria:

  • Activity Area
  • Average Revenue
  • Geographical Area
  • Job Title
  • Income
  • Seniority Level

Leveraging this marketing approach helps you collect valuable data on your sales prospects. As a result, you can better understand their issues and motivations and, in turn, be able to speak the correct language. You’ll also be able to create killer offers they cannot refuse.

Actively Work on Your Call Lists

After researching your prospects and building cold and warm lead lists, it’s time to start prioritizing each list and taking the time to call them. Since research reveals that 69% of customers accept calls from new salespeople and 27% believe that making phone calls is highly effective, it’s 100% worth putting your efforts into cold calling.

Start by writing a list of open-ended questions for your prospects. Write between 11 and 14 different questions to improve success by a whopping 74%. But remember, your goal is to start a dialogue, not follow a scripted sales pitch to learn about a customer’s pain points, needs, challenges, wishes, and where they lie in the decision-making process.

Maintaining an exciting and engaging conversation can make qualifying leads a lot easier. So, keep the dialogue alive by asking open-ended questions like “what are you looking for,” “do you have a specific solution in mind,” and “is there any information I can help you with?”

Consider calling again after six weeks or six months to ensure you keep in touch. You can turn lukewarm leads into warmer and hot ones by calling consistently.

Prepare Personalized Pitches for Every Prospect

Once you’ve gathered the necessary information about your prospects, creating a personalized outreach message is time. The best way to do this is to determine what your prospects care about and what they dislike. You can do this by:

  • Visiting their blog to learn what they care about through the articles they’re writing and publishing
  • Reviewing their social media profiles and identifying and learning more by checking recent updates or posts
  • Checking the company website to read their “About Us” section

After learning more about your prospect’s business and role, you need to find tangible reasons to connect, such as mutual connections, a trigger event, a recent visit to the website, etc. You may create a decision map to outline your potential customer’s options and end goals. That way, you can handle objections and personalize pitches better.

Request Referrals

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What’s better than converting viewers into qualified leads? – creating happy customers! Why? Because happy customers translate to increased business and more sales.

Research reveals that word-to-mouth influences the buying decisions of over 91% of B2B buyers. In addition, your sale closing ratio reaches an excellent 50 to 70%. The power of referrals doesn’t end there! Instead, another study reveals that 73% of executives prefer working with salespeople a close friend or family member refers.

Therefore, word-of-mouth is a free-of-charge opportunity that can help your business scale! Request your customers for referrals by focusing on your “best” clients, making it personal, or asking directly. You can boost your revenue by actively seeking referrals 4 to 5 times.

Determine the Ideal Contact Mediums

Part of outreaching is identifying your customer’s preferred contact mediums. So, ask yourself how your customers like being contacted. Is it phone calls? Or do they prefer emails or social media? But don’t stick with a single channel; instead, use them in conjunction. Moreover, consider setting up a process and timeline for when and why you should use a particular social media platform.

Since there are multiple contact mediums to connect with your prospective clients, there are tools and software you can use to streamline your prospecting process. Thus, the software can manage your prospecting sequence by stringing together cold calls, voicemails, video messages, direct mail, LinkedIn, etc.

Consequently, you can increase engagement, share insights with your clients, and boost your chances of scheduling a meeting.

Build Your Social Media Presence

It’s no big news: social media is becoming the center of marketing strategies

To learn more about your brand, buyers will visit all potential channels, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. And if you’re not there, your competitors will likely take your place.  91% of B2B buyers now actively use social media, and 84% of senior executives use these channels to make buying decisions.

The power of social media marketing is so incredible that 65% of salespeople who use it fill their pipeline, and 78% outsell their peers! Thus, it’s evident that social selling works. If you haven’t created a social media profile, it’s time to start on your top three most important channels.

For instance, if you’re a B2B marketer, consider creating a LinkedIn profile and Facebook profile. But you can add TikTok to the mix if you’re an entrepreneur.

Evaluate Your Results

Measuring your results is critical to your sales prospecting process as it helps you identify which tactics offer the best results. That way, you can sharpen your focus on the most profitable metrics and identify areas for improvement.

Furthermore, analyzing results lets you pinpoint what makes prospects convert and turn them off. As a result, you can redefine your ICP quarterly.

How Do I Know My Prospecting Strategy is Failing?

Picture this: your salespeople follow the best prospecting strategies: cold calling, emailing, following up, and requesting referrals. Yet they still cannot get results. Why?

Often problems creep up during the prospecting process without the sales team’s realization. To help you pinpoint the culprit, we’ve created a list of common reasons that could be sabotaging your success:

  • Your sales team overspends on manual data entry instead of switching to software
  • Your salesperson uses the “shoot-in-the-dark strategy.”
  • Your conversion rates are low
  • Particular sales representatives bring in few or no referrals
  • Your salespeople keep changing between sales activity
  • Your sales team cannot identify the prospect’s pain points and challenges

What are the Different Prospecting Methods?

Effective prospecting differs in type of business and industry. For instance, sometimes, SDRs prospects warm leads – people who have already engaged with your brand. However, at other companies, they connect with B2B sales through cold calls. Moreover, there are some ways to find new prospects. They are:

On the Phone

Cold calling is still an effective way of finding new prospects. Almost 69 percent of the customers accept cold calls, making it a huge opportunity to expand your business if done correctly. With the right set of skills, sales representatives can quickly initiate a conversation with prospects and link their products to prospects’ pain points.

Cold calling allows you to show more of the human touch. It will enable you to start a meaningful conversation over the phone. Moreover, it lets you ask questions, listen to the answers, and follow up when needed.

Through Email

Sending sales emails is the quickest and most effective prospecting method. Once you have a sales prospecting template that works, you can efficiently prospect in bulk. Moreover, a practical email prospecting method is to create email sequences that allow prospects to view the benefits of your products related to the features.

Via Social Media Channels 

In B2B, organizations easily find their leads on LinkedIn. It helps them connect directly to their prospects through messages that build meaningful connections. Most SDRs gain leads by creating short videos they send through LinkedIn. Video prospecting allows businesses to inject personality into the process and use information about their prospects to add personalization.

Related article: LinkedIn Prospecting: Find and Connect With Future Customers

By Using Automated Messages

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Octopus CRM LinkedIn automation tool helps simplify prospecting, scrape emails, and successfully grow your business.

It helps B2B reps find quality leads while saving time and boosting productivity. Moreover, this tool can automate sending personalized cold messages. Consequently, you can grow your network and improve your online presence.

Steps to Create a Prospecting Plan

A strategic prospecting plan should include the following steps.

Segmenting Your Prospects Based on Need and Type

The first step to creating an effective prospecting plan is to tailor your process to the prospects’ needs while focusing on the types of industries and departments. The more you alter the prospecting plans, the more chances you will have to succeed. For example, one prospect may purchase your product to replace it with your competitor, while the other may buy it to grow your business.

Defining the Objectives of Your Prospecting Campaigns

Make sure you think about the business objectives before creating an effective prospecting plan. Here are a few crucial things you must focus on:

  • Follow-up on hot prospects: If your leads have already visited your website, it is time to build strong relationships. Ensure you know the challenges preventing your leads from moving forward and take adequate measures to unblock the situation.
  • Identify your prospects’ needs: Customer service reports are an excellent way to get hold of customers’ information. Use the data to identify your customers’ needs.
  • Strengthen your existing customer base: You can use CRM software to identify customers you haven’t placed an order in a long time. Moreover, update your products and attract existing customers to try something new. If they have trusted you once, they will surely use your products in the future.
  • Cold Calling:  Cold calling is another effective way to find new leads. These prospects are not among the pre-identified targets or people who have shown interest in your products.

Creating a Script

Have you ever shopped without a shopping list? Most people leave their homes hoping to remember every item they need from the supermarket. Unfortunately, while shopping, they wander in the aisle trying to remember the last thing they had to purchase.

Similarly, selling your products to prospects without a script equals the above situation. In a world where a wrong phrase or word may lead to the cancellation of deals, it is crucial to have a solid script to ensure that your sales reps will always say the perfect phrases to every prospect that contacts them.

Although some sales reps do not prefer using sales scripts because they do not want to sound robotic, sales scripts are beneficial. If created correctly, a strong sales script will save time, make you efficient, and provide a framework that you can optimize for more robust conversion rates.

Providing sales scripts and email templates to your sales team will make them feel prepared and confident while alleviating the pressures associated with prospecting. Moreover, it allows sales reps to focus more on listening to the prospects’ problems and tailoring the conversation to individual needs instead of worrying about what to say next.

Automating Repetitive Tasks

Prospecting consists of multiple repetitive tasks. Data entry is unavoidable. However, it does not mean that sales reps must spend hours to complete the tasks. Multiple software automatically records and organizes customer data without having the sales reps manually enter them.

An efficient sales software brings your CRM, lead scoring app, voice calling software, and other business tools together for a single data source. To make things easier, automated email templates streamline emails to engage prospects.

Leveraging Monitoring Indicators

The last step in the business development plan is to respond to the responses. The objective is to ensure a personalized follow-up of your leads. You can email after each call with a report of what happened. However, you must provide your prospects with the instructions and tell them the next steps. Finally, if a prospect buys a product, continue following up for future projects.

What is Prospect Cost?

Prospect costs are fees charged when a prospect completes a buyer profile. The price depends on different factors, such as tools and strategies used. However, you must hire an expert to work on outbound leads and expand your business.

What is a Typical Cost Per Lead?

Cost per lead (CPL) is the amount spent to gain an individual customer. Cost per lead is determined by dividing the total cost earned due to an activity by the number of resulting customers. However, not all activities contribute an equal number of prospects. As a result, the cost per lead varies significantly from project to project. Furthermore, depending on certain factors such as industry, geographic locations, and product complexity, it ranges between $8–$20 per lead.

Conclusion

A prospecting plan plays a crucial role in gaining leads and expanding business. Therefore, companies need an effective prospect plan to find leads and grow their business. Moreover, it is critical to have a solid prospecting strategy to get leads and turn them into prospective buyers. Companies can increase prospects and expand their business if they use the above mentioned techniques and methods.

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