Quick, answer this question: What’s the one thing every business wants more of?

If you answered, “sales,” then you’re absolutely right – and that’s what this sales prospecting guide is all about.

Lots of businesses are desperate for sales. They’ll do anything – and I mean anything – to grab as many customers as they possibly can. It’s kind of like tossing a net out to sea and not caring what kind of fish you catch.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “quality over quantity.” When it comes to finding customers, more isn’t necessarily better. What you’re looking for are the high-value customers, the ones who are really worth your business’s time. To find them, you need a data-driven strategy that actually works.

That’s exactly what sales prospecting is for. Sales prospecting, put simply, is the process of finding customers who are a good match for your business. Instead of using a net to fish, you’re going spearfishing – hunting for customers with the precise buyer persona that your business wants to target.

“Aren’t sales prospects the same thing as leads?” you may be asking.

They’re actually quite different. Leads are people who showed interest in your business somehow, whether that’s by subscribing to your newsletter, signing up for a free trial, or even simply checking out your website.

Prospects, on the other hand, are leads you’ve vetted who have the potential to turn into customers. Maybe they match your target buyer persona, for instance, or they’ve got a specific problem and your business knows exactly how to solve it.

You’re probably wondering, “How do I evaluate leads and turn them into prospects? How do I know whether or not a lead is worth my time?”

Well, readers, I’m here to answer all your questions in this sales prospecting guide for both new businesses and experienced businesses.

Money Talks

Money Talks

Ideally, you’re looking for customers who have the potential to bring in lots of revenue for your business year after year. Do your leads have the financial means to buy your company’s products or services? If not, there’s really no point in pursuing them as prospects.

Leads who have regular contact with a decision-maker (the person who makes the decision to buy your product) should be your highest priority. These leads can influence the decision-maker to do business with you, so it’s smart to focus on them first because the potential revenue they bring in can be high.

Looking for a Long-Term Relationship

Are your customers likely to turn into repeat buyers? If so, they could be excellent prospects for your business to focus on. Most businesses would prefer a customer who buys from them regularly over someone who makes a purchase once and then disappears.

It’s also smart to target prospects who can bring you more sales through referrals. Social media influencers are one example. These people have a large following on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and even LinkedIn, so the potential for referred business through them is pretty huge.

Watch Out for Tire Kickers

Good prospects are ones who are ready to commit to your business now. You don’t want to focus on people who are just passing by or checking out your website with no real intention of buying. Ask yourself: How urgent is this person’s problem? How badly are they looking for a solution to help them solve it?

Finding the Right Match

In a way, sales prospecting is a lot like dating – there’s little point in pursuing someone if you’re not a good match for each other’s needs.

When evaluating a lead, consider whether your business actually has the products, services, and abilities to help them solve their problems. For example, if the lead needs to repair their furnace but your business only fixes air conditioners, they’re simply not a good match and aren’t worth looking at further.

Sales Personas: Your Ideal Customers

Finally, you want to look for prospects who are a strong match with your business’s sales or buyer personas. Think of a sales persona as your company’s ideal target customer.

An ideal customer profile might include:

  • Demographic information, such as income, location, age, and marital status
  • Buying behaviors, such as a tendency to hunt for deals or a willingness to spend more money on luxury items
  • Interests and hobbies
  • Beliefs, attitudes, and personality
  • Challenges the buyer is facing
  • Objections the person might have to buying your business’s products and services

If you haven’t created sales personas for your business yet, do it now – the information you’ll gather is invaluable for attracting qualified leads and generating future sales. You don’t want to miss out!

Do the Math

Do the Math

Once you’ve evaluated all of the factors above, it’s time to add up each category and give your prospect a score. Don’t worry; this math is pretty easy. You don’t need to know any complex formulas to figure it out.

First, you’ll need to determine how important each category is to your business. For example, if you really care about finding customers who might bring in repeat business, you might weigh that category more heavily than others. A category that’s not as important, such as leads who don’t quite match your target personas, may rank lower on the scale.

Now, give each category a percentage ranking. In the prior example, the first category may have a ranking of 60%, while the second gets a ranking of 10%.

Next, give each category a score of zero to 100. If a prospect is a really bad fit for one category, you might give them a zero or some other low score. If the prospect fits the category perfectly, you can give them a score of 100.

For the next step, multiply the score you gave each category by the percentage weight you assigned to it. Let’s say you have a category with 50 points, and you’ve assigned that category a percentage weight of 70%. Multiplied together, you get 37.5 (38 if you round up). That’s your category score.

Lastly, add up each category’s score to arrive at the total score for your prospect. Repeat the process for all of your prospects, then rank them by their total scores.

Now you know who your best prospects are. That wasn’t so hard, right?

Where to Find High-Value Prospects

So where do you find potential prospects, anyway?

Social media websites, like Twitter, are a good place to start. I’m not talking about combing through thousands of Tweets every day – you’re busy, obviously, and you just don’t have time for that.

Fortunately, you can find monitoring tools that will watch Twitter for you. Brand24 and Brandwatch are two to try, but free options exist if you don’t want to pay a fee.

Tools like these can monitor Twitter for mentions of your business, industry, or niche. You can then use this information to find people who might be looking for products or services like yours.

Monitoring tools are also great for keeping an eye on your competition. If you find that people are complaining about one of your competitors, for instance, it’s your chance to swoop in and offer them an alternate solution.

LinkedIn is another option, and it’s one of the best ways to find prospects today. You can browse for prospects in specific industries or track down people who work at companies you’d like to serve.

Not only that, you can search by job title to find key decision-makers at target companies. This helps you locate sales team leads, department managers, and other people who might be in a position to do business with your company. From there, you can simply reach out with a friendly message and invite them to connect.

Pitching to Prospects the Right Way

It might go without saying, but you shouldn’t just call or email potential customers and ask them to buy from your business. That’s a good way to get your number blocked or have your email sent straight to the trash.

Instead, it’s smarter to try and connect with prospects using a more personalized pitch. If they have social media or a blog, check out their recent posts. This gives you something to talk about when you reach out to them.

For example, you could lead with, “I really enjoyed your article on marketing to customers. I have a few ideas you might like to include in your next post.”

This way, you’re not immediately jumping into “sales mode,” which turns a lot of people off. The key here is to demonstrate value before you start pitching your product or service.

Sales Prospecting: Your Ticket to Turning Qualified Leads Into Loyal Customers

By now, I hope I’ve convinced you of the value of building your own killer sales prospecting strategy. Follow the tips in this sales prospecting guide, and you’ll have a much better idea of which leads are worth your time. Try them out, and your company’s sales team – as well as your bottom line – will thank you!

Rodney Warner

Founder & CEO

Rodney’s two primary responsibilities are business development and marketing strategy. He produces highly effective marketing campaigns for our clients and works tirelessly to bring new opportunities to Connective and our connections. In his off time, he produces music, plays video games, enjoys his family, and eats way too much ice cream!

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