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Top Sales Prospecting Tips & Training For BDR / SDR / Account Executive

By December 23, 2022No Comments

Research your prospect and their business to gauge whether you can provide value. Prioritize your prospects based on their likelihood of becoming a customer. Prepare a personalized pitch for each prospect. Craft the perfect first touch — and ensure you’re helping, not selling. Iterate on your prospecting process to understand what you can improve. Unproductive prospecting is a huge time-waster. That’s why we recommend the inbound way and put together a basic framework that applies to all sales processes. But with a twist. I understand that everyone has their approach. So I’ve also weaved in personal prospecting tips and tricks from the best salespeople I know. Pick and experiment with whatever works best for your own sales hustle. 1. Research your prospect and their business to gauge whether you can provide value. I’ll go over this again and again in this post — that’s because this is by far the most important aspect of prospecting. We must ensure that we’re qualifying our prospects to improve our chances of providing value to them or their business. In this stage of prospecting, I am looking to accomplish a few goals: Determine if the prospect is workable. Qualify and begin prioritizing prospects. Find opportunities to develop a connection through personalization, rapport building, and trust development. 2. Prioritize your prospects based on their likelihood of becoming a customer. Prioritizing our prospects can save us time and ensure I am’re dedicating our strongest efforts to prospects that are most likely to become customers. Levels of prioritization will vary between each type of sales organization and each salesperson, but the main idea is to create a few buckets of prospects based on their likelihood to buy and focus on one bucket at a time. Let’s break down the qualifying dimensions used in our list above (and any additional relevant dimensions) into percentages between 1% and 100% based on how important they are to the sales process. For example, the size of the opportunity is probably more important to us than timing in terms of closing a deal, so it would receive a 70% whereas timing would receive a 5%. Now we can assign a value between 1 and 100 to these dimensions for each prospect in our list. Once we complete this step, we can multiply each prospect’s value by the percentage weight we gave to the dimension. Add up these dimension scores until each prospect has a total score. And now our entire list is prioritized. Prospect prioritization formula example Note: Lead management software does this automatically. 3. Prepare a personalized pitch for each prospect. In this step, we’ll gather in-depth information on our prospects to hone our pitch and personalize our outreach. So first, we must determine what our prospects care about. We can do this in a few ways: Take a look at the prospect’s blog to learn what they care about through the articles they’re writing and publishing. Identify and review their social media profiles. Do they have recent updates or new posts? Check the company website to review their “About Us” information. Once we’ve learned more about our prospect’s business and role, we need to find a reason to connect. Do we have mutual connections? Has there been a trigger event? Have they recently visited our website? If so, which search terms drove them to our site? Which pages did they look at? If we want to get more high-level with our prep, we can create a decision map to outline our prospect’s options and end goals. This will help us better handle any objections and personalize a pitch that resonates with their primary objectives. We could also conduct a competitive analysis to determine how we can better position our company’s service or product within the industry and how we can combat prospects’ objections. 4. Craft the perfect first touch — and ensure you’re helping, not selling. Whether calling or emailing, our outreach should be highly tailored to our prospect’s particular business, goal, and industry. Keep these general tips in mind when contacting a prospect, whether on the phone or through email: Personalize. Reference a specific problem that the prospect is encountering with a specific solution. Stay relevant and timely. Ensure the issue a prospect is trying to solve is still relevant to them and their team. Be human. No one likes to communicate with a professional robot. Adding in details like wishing someone a happy holiday weekend or conveying how awesome their company’s product is are real touches that allow us to establish a connection on a deeper level. Help, don’t sell. Provide value and ask for nothing in return. This process isn’t about us, it’s about them. For example, instead of scheduling a follow-up meeting, we could offer to conduct an audit on their digital media presence and get back to them with our findings in a week. Keep it casual. Remember that this is just a conversation. Stay natural and as not salesy as possible. The key to prospecting is that we’re never selling. We’re simply determining if both parties could mutually benefit from a relationship. 5. Iterate on your prospecting process to understand what you can improve. Keep notes throughout this process to assess what activities generated value for the prospecting process and which wasted time. After each contact with a prospect, we should assess how well we: Uncovered challenges Helped create well-defined goals Confirmed availability of budget Understood the decision-making process Determined consequences of inaction Identified potential results of success This self-reflection will help us improve our sales prospecting techniques in the future. Now, let’s look at a few tips straight from the sales desk on how to better qualify prospects and win more deals. Sales Prospecting Tips Look at your prospects’ career pages. Use the GPCTBA/CI sales qualification framework. Classify prospects with ratings. Subscribe to your prospects’ blogs. Keep track of your prospects on Twitter. Batch prospecting sessions. Use a healthy mix of email and phone communication. Use the BASHO sequence for emails and calls. Follow-up after a closed-lost deal. 1. Look at your prospects’ career pages. Look at the business’ job board to find departments in which they are investing or growing. This can further inform us of their key goals or challenges. If our prospect is a public company, we can also look at their annual financial report (dubbed a 10-K) under the “Risk Factors” section to see if there’s alignment between their stated business challenges and our product offering. 2. Use the GPCTBA/C&I sales qualification framework. Use GPCTBA/C&I framework (which they vouch sounds more confusing than it is). The acronym stands for: GPCT (Goals, Plans, Challenges, Timeline) BA (Budget and Authority) C&I (Negative Consequences and Positive Implications) Here is the basic breakdown and some examples of questions asked when connecting with potential customers to follow the framework: GPCTBA/C&I sales qualification framework with sample questions Now we can focus on creating a highly targeted, relevant list. Based on our research, we should have a fine-tuned profile of our target customer, and every company or individual on our prospect list should meet those criteria. 3. Classify prospects with ratings. Qualitatively classify prospects by rating them on a spectrum from high, medium, and low suitability. Here’s what that looks like: High Matches criteria for customer persona Clear business challenge that aligns with our product offering Able to connect with a decision-maker We have a mutual connection or common interest (i.e. mutual friend on LinkedIn or both graduated from the same college) High level of interaction with our website or social media accounts Recommended effort: Five touchpoints every other business day Medium Match some elements of our customer persona Clear business challenge that aligns with our product offering Able to connect with an influencer Some level of interaction with our website or social media accounts Recommended effort: Four touchpoints every other day Low Doesn’t match with our customer persona Unclear business challenge Not able to connect with an influencer or decision-maker Limited or no interaction with our website or social media accounts Recommended effort: Three touchpoints every other day 4. Subscribe to your prospects’ blogs. Kyle Van Pelt, Executive Vice President of Sales at Skience, reads 30 articles in 30 minutes every day and uses the content in his email outreach in a tailored, relevant way. And he achieved a 90% response rate. Kyle uses Digg to subscribe to the companies’ blogs he thinks would make for good prospects. Here’s how it works: Open each interesting post in a new tab. Skim each post. Read the most interesting posts. After skimming through all of the options, narrow the final list down to the most interesting posts. There will typically be between 20-30 posts left. We should put ourselves in the prospect’s shoes as we’re reading these articles, searching for pain points or trigger events. Use the most interesting, relevant information we find in the articles to tailor an email or a call to our prospect. All of these questions will help us craft more context around our prospect’s situation, which will help us when we’re ready to make that initial contact. 5. Keep track of your prospects on Twitter. Everyone’s on Twitter — including your prospects. Create a list of top priority prospects on Twitter to more easily track trigger events and streamline the research process. Here’s how to set it up on Twitter’s mobile app: Click your profile picture in the upper left-hand corner, and then click “Lists.” Now click the blue button with a list icon and a plus sign on the bottom right-hand corner Name the list and then set it to “Private” so only you can access it. Now add the prospects you want to track to your list. Just search for their accounts and click the button that says “Add.” Note: You may want to group your high-priority prospects in one list, followed by your medium-priority prospects, and then low-priority. Now we can focus on creating a highly targeted, relevant list. Based on our research, we should have a fine-tuned profile of our target customer, and every company or individual on our prospect list should meet those criteria. Watch as this feed populates with prospect activity. We can check this every morning and afternoon to see if any trigger events have occurred that would provide a valuable opportunity for us to connect. 6. Batch prospecting sessions. Batch prospecting sessions for 2 to 3 hours at a time and take a quick five-minute break between each hour. Get an egg timer, and set the timer on a countdown for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, or 45 minutes, depending on how much time we scheduled for the call. End the call on the timer’s beep, use 5 minutes for following up, 5 minutes for updating notes and administrative tasks in your CRM, and then use 5 minutes to prep for the next call. 7. Use a healthy mix of email and phone communication. In terms of establishing contact, we must decide between email or phone communication. Some of us will initially jump on the cold email approach while others will dive into the cold call. This strategy will vary based on what each salesperson feels most comfortable with. First, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of email communication: EMAIL COMMUNICATION PROS EMAIL COMMUNICATION CONS Emails are visual and allow prospects to consider the offer on their time. Email is a cluttered space so it may be harder to grab a prospect’s attention. Emails provide prospects with adequate time to research the company and product. They’re easily deleted or forgotten. They’re easily forwarded to key stakeholders who might be a better fit to speak with. We may have to follow up multiple times before we get a response. Now, let’s look at the pros and cons of phone communication: PHONE COMMUNICATION PROS PHONE COMMUNICATION CONS Calls are less common than email, so they can grab a prospect’s attention quickly and more easily. Some prospects may feel overwhelmed by a call and thus be less inclined to consider a pitch or schedule a second meeting. They immediately establish a more intimate connection and offer salespeople the chance to develop rapport. While intimate, calls can be seen as intrusive, especially when unscheduled. They’re often more timely than email communication and can accelerate the time it takes to close a deal. There’s no guarantee a prospect will pick up the phone. Voicemail can often be as cluttered as email depending on volume. Successful first touch strategies often incorporate both approaches to take advantage of the pros and minimize the cons. 8. Use the BASHO sequence for emails and calls. Jeff Hoffman pioneered the BASHO sequence, which advocates a combination of voicemail and emails messages to gain leverage with prospects. Voicemail / Email: Wait for 24 hours Voicemail / Email: Wait for 48 hours Voicemail / Email: Wait for 72 hours Voicemail / Email: Wait for 5 days Breakup Voicemail / Email Alternating between voicemail and email, with unique messaging each time, this technique allows prospects to consider our offer, conduct their own research, and respond at a time convenient for them. But how do we leave a voicemail or send an email that prospects want to respond to? Let’s dive into the dos and don’ts of each communication method below. The Warm Email If we’re looking to send a first-touch email that gets opened, there are some essentials that we must include: Engaging subject line: The subject line has to pique the prospect’s interest while avoiding cliché hooks. Personal opening line: We should begin our cold email by saying something about them, not about us. After all, this process is about finding the prospect’s pain points and determining a way to add value to their business or processes. Creating a connection: Now we have to make the connection. In our opening, they learn why we’re reaching out to them, but now they need to know why they should care about what we do. Clear call-to-action: Suggest a concrete time to connect or ask a close-ended question to make it clear that the ball is in their court. Try using one of these lines: “Do you have ten minutes to catch up tomorrow?” or “Are you available for a 30-minute call on Tuesday between 9 and 11AM?” Try sending a calendar invite, instead of an email, to get straight to the point. In the description section, we can type up a personalized message like this: Calendar invite with a cold email in the description Jill Konrath also suggests scheduling a short 5-minute meeting to get our foot in the door with prospects whose calendars are particularly swamped. The Prospecting Call If we decide to call a prospect, whether in conjunction with an email or not, we can follow this basic structure for the call: Establish rapport: We shouldn’t shy away from personal conversations, like asking how a prospect’s weekend was or what team they’re rooting for in the game tonight. These intimate touches help us develop a more meaningful relationship with prospects and enhance our likeability which, hopefully, means a prospect will be more likely to buy from us. Leverage pain points: Dive into their pain points during the call. By the end of the conversation, we should know all of their primary business challenges and the underlying causes associated with them. Once we have an understanding of these key issues, we can better position our product or services to solve them. Create curiosity: Ask questions about their business. Ask more than tell. This conversation is about them and understanding their needs and problems. The less we talk about our business and product, the more our prospect will be interested to hear the final pitch. Wrap it up: Find a calendar time between 24-48 hours after the discovery call to book a follow-up meeting. Try this line: “Would you have 30 minutes to follow up this week? My colleague, John, will join us — he’s an expert in X, Y, Z. My calendar’s open, what works best for you?” 9. Follow-up after a closed-lost deal. Bryan Kreuzberger, the founder of Breakthrough Email, sends a follow-up email if prospects respond with a rejection. The purpose of this email is simple: Learning. We can use this rejection as an opportunity to better understand how we can improve our sales techniques by sending this template: Hi [prospect name], Thanks for your email. I just closed your file. I have a quick question as a final follow up. Why aren’t you interested? Was it something I did? If there is any way I can improve, let me know. I’m always looking for input. Thanks for your help, [Name] Gmail labels for prospecting For example, after an initial discovery call, he sends a follow-up to his prospects and labels their response according to the action required. This allows him to easily shift gears when contacting cold prospects versus re-engaging old prospects or moving warm prospects further down the funnel.


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