In sales, connection is key. Whether you’re seeking out new clients or learning more about your target market, it can make all the difference between a sale and a “no thanks.” This is why prospecting matters.
Prospecting is the process of searching for new customers, clients, or business opportunities. It involves researching and contacting potential leads, as well as presenting goods or services to potential buyers. Ultimately, the goal is to turn prospecting possibilities into concrete sales.
The numbers prove that prospecting is a worthwhile process. In a study of 488 buyers by the RAIN Group, 82% accepted meetings with salespeople who reached out proactively. This means early connections with potential leads get your foot in the door — and bring you one step closer to making a sale.
Why Prospecting Matters for B2B sales
Successful prospecting is vital to business-to-business sales. To start with, it allows salespeople to identify and nurture potential customers who are well-suited to the product or service that they’re selling. This can remove some guesswork from the selling process, which is a huge advantage.
Prospecting also helps salespeople understand the needs of their target markets. It gives them valuable insight into the buying process, allowing them to better tailor their sales approach and more effectively close deals.
What’s more, new buying preferences have made prospecting even more important than it already was. With more avenues for communication than ever before, businesses demand responsiveness. A recent McKinsey survey of more than 3,500 B2B decision-makers indicates that they expect 24/7 availability across in-person, remote, and self-service engagement modes.
Because prospecting is so important in B2B sales, it’s critical that salespeople adapt to these new preferences. Above all, this means responding to prospecting challenges quickly and decisively.
3 Challenges of Prospecting and How to Solve Them
There are several obstacles that can impede your prospecting efforts. Here are some tactics you can use to overcome three of the most common:
1. Finding qualified leads
The first step of prospecting is also one of its biggest challenges: finding qualified leads. This can be a time-consuming, research-intensive process. It can even be difficult to identify the right type of prospects for your products or services.
This is where your knowledge of your customer base matters. Once you define your ideal customer profile and create a list of leads who most closely match it, you can use targeted marketing tactics such as email campaigns or content marketing to reach them. It’s a tactic that other companies have come to rely on: A recent survey from Content Marketing Institute indicates that 80% of respondents succeeded in creating brand awareness with content marketing.
2. Lack of time
Prospecting takes time and effort. In fact, Crunchbase found that top sellers spend about six hours per week researching prospects. The process pays off, but it may be too time-consuming for some business owners to make use of.
To make the process faster, consider using automation tools. For example, a customer relationship management system or some kind of lead-tracking software might be what you need to speed things up. These solutions streamline the prospecting process and reduce the amount of time you spend researching and contacting leads.
You could also outsource your prospecting. Because outsourcing reduces costs and increases efficiency, it’s a great investment in general. It allows businesses to focus on core responsibilities while third parties handle the tedious tasks of the prospecting process. This reduces overhead costs associated with hiring and training staff and allows businesses to access larger pools of potential customers.
3. Too many leads
A successful prospecting strategy can actually generate too many leads. While this might seem like a good thing, it can quickly become a problem. A mountain of leads can overwhelm salespeople and lead to missed opportunities. Invesp found that, on average, 80% of sales require five follow-up calls to close a deal — far more than an overworked sales team can do for any lead. No one wants to lose out on an opportunity because of a missed call.
Organization is key. Segment leads into different categories and create a specific follow-up plan for each group. This will help with prioritizing efforts and ultimately ensure that no leads are overlooked. Even something simple, such as making a plan for a personalized follow-up, can lead to success: Outreach found that personalized subject lines increase open rates by 22%.
In sales, adapting to market preferences can be a game changer. It’s clear that prospects now want a range of communication options. They know their worth, and they won’t hesitate to walk if they don’t get what they want. This is why anticipating and responding to prospecting challenges is so important. Setbacks don’t have to result in failure — they just take creative solutions.