4 Foundational Sales Prospecting Techniques (That Actually Work)
When it comes to sales prospecting, everyone has their own “secret sauce.” I’ve been fortunate to try many — and I’ve failed fast and succeeded.
From these experiences, I’m going to share the four sales prospecting techniques that have been most successful for me, so you can save time finding your own secret sauce.
Let’s get started…
The first (and easiest) sales prospecting technique is this: Just pick up the phone. Always remember, the phone is your friend.
A shift that I have noticed in my 16-plus-year career is more and more “sales-minded” individuals saying the phone doesn’t work or that they are too scared to pick it up.
People, the telephone was invented in 1876, and guess what … it still WORKS. Having phone conversations, while intimidating at first, are an intimate form of communication. The number of sales calls I have made over the years would add up to hundreds of thousands, but I have had some of the most amazing interactions through them. Don’t underestimate this most basic of sales prospecting techniques.
Today it’s easier than ever to hit the red “ignore” button, but I assure you the more calls you make, the more it will increase your chances of closing deals.
I approached each call as a fresh start, so even though someone may have cursed me out on the previous, I aim to right the ship on the next one.
It’s also a great place to try a new tactic or script. When I worked in contact centers, my co-workers and I would share scripts and try each other’s approach. Not only did we get feedback from some of the best producers, but we created hybrid rock-star scripts that delivered for our clients.
Another sales prospecting technique you’re going to need in your day to day is blocking time.
You see, not only do you need to pick up the phone, you need to be intentional about making the time to do it. You need a winning sales cadence that delivers consistent results.
This doesn’t only apply to making phone calls, by the way. You need to break up your day so you don’t fall into time sucks like Facebook, Instagram, etc.
Having this technique will bring rigor and discipline and will have you looking forward to things that may have once seemed cumbersome. For instance, in a previous role, I dreaded starting my day in my email. I would spend most of my morning firefighting various issues because of this. Today I love coming in and catching up on it first thing, because I know the sooner I’m caught up, the sooner I can get to my prospecting blocks.
It’s critical that your team believe in this sales prospecting technique, because if they aren’t managing time properly, not only will they fall short of their KPI’s (key performance indicators), they’ll get burned out trying to go from 0 to 100 day after day.
We referred to prospecting blocks as our “power hours,” and we would have them at least twice a day. The salesperson could chose whatever time they liked, just as long as they got it done.
I tasked them with making as many possible calls in that hour and keeping their notes on a sheet of paper or journal to be entered in the CRM later.
Tip: We would run competitions, and every day the folks on my team loved going toe-to-toe for the top spot. This increased production and reduced turnover since, each and every day, our people brought their best selves to work.
A sales prospecting technique that’s as old as the phone, if not older, is networking.
Being an introvert, this was terrifying to me at first. Why would I want to go to an event with total strangers and have a conversation with them?
Sure enough, my first event was rocky. I would awkwardly approach people, and before saying a word, I would turn around, looking for the next corner to curl up in. Eventually I mustered enough courage and was able to connect with some key people. Some of them I would’ve never talked to if it wasn’t for events put on by our local church or apps like MeetUp (www.meetup.com) where you can find a variety of networking events near you.
Much like the phone, networking is a great sales prospecting technique for trying your pitch. People at these groups/events will often give immediate feedback or will be intrigued by our pitch and want to know more about your company.
With this technique, I’ve developed some fantastic relationships. It’s led to work with a new contact’s company. In other cases, the contact has shared my information with a colleague who was interested in my products/services.
To get the most from networking, here’s what I recommend…
Get a business card from everyone you meet. Then enter them either into a spreadsheet or CRM.
If you have the means, I recommend a business card scanner so you can streamline the process. With a scanner, you can data exchange, export/import contacts from your address book, and then export them into vCard, CSV, text, or HTML. It’s a great weapon to have for downtime or slow parts of your year.
I can’t say enough great things about Discover.org as a sales prospecting technique. It unlocks a whole new way to prospect.
One of my favorite features is its department org charts. In our industry, we are primarily contacting the C-suite. The challenge is getting through.
With Discover.org’s org charts, we can see everyone who rolls up to, say, the CEO or Director of IT. That makes it easy to reach out to an influencer and start to market to them (e.g., with email, target ads, phone calls, etc.).
No sales prospecting technique can work without reliable data, and this tool gives you that as well. Every 90 days, over 100+ data points are refreshed, and I can say firsthand that this information is invaluable — especially from a list building perspective.
Lastly, Discover.org reigns as a key sales prospecting technique because of its technology install base. If you are a SaaS company and you aren’t using this, you are missing out on so many key opportunities.
Not only will it help you uncover net new opportunities, it will empower you to design campaigns around competitors or even your existing install base to upgrade software and services.
These four sales prospecting techniques are some of my favorites. If you’ve struggled with prospecting, start with these, and you’ll likely start seeing sales success right away.
But there are tons more techniques that I didn’t have time to mention here. So share your success…
What’s your favorite sales prospecting technique? How does it help you hit your numbers? Share in the comments below.