Sales

6 Powerful Prospecting Hacks to Help Fill Your Sales Pipeline

Steve Bookbinder

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6 Powerful Prospecting Hacks to Help Fill Your Sales Pipeline Blog Feature

Published on April 19th, 2017

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Successful prospecting depends on developing good habits.

Habits that deal with how you’re managing your time and resources in order to create a steady stream of opportunities, but with the changing nature of sales and marketing, prospecting is harder today than it’s ever been. Plus, if you’re actively working to find and develop new business, you’re likely living with this reality every day.

So, how is the sales landscape changing? Let’s take a look a few stats:

  • The average sales development rep makes 52 calls daily. [Source]
  • It takes an average of eight cold call attempts to reach a prospect. In 2007, this average was 3.68. [Source]
  • Only 11% of salespeople ask clients for referrals, although 91% of clients are open to provide referral. [Source]
  • 84% of the B2B decision makers start the buying process with a referral. [Source]

This is just a taste of how the prospecting game has changed and will continue to change. What can you do to keep pace and make sure you’re filling your pipeline with quality opportunities?

To help set you up for success, here are 5 powerful prospecting hacks to start using today:

We’ve shared a written summary below, but if you’d like to tune in to here these tips, check out the video here: 

Hack #1 – Take Back the Cold Call!

You’re probably thinking, “it’s challenging enough to get a response. How do I actually get someone to talk to me on the phone?”

Well, first, it doesn’t happen that often, so when it does, you have to be well prepared.

You can do that with these two strategies:

Unite Email and Phone

Using both email and phone is a great way to reach busy buyers who are using multiple devices, and usually on-the-go. Why? Because you’re hitting them with your message from multiple angles.

Try sending an email and then following up with a call, or vice versa. Remember that your email and voicemail messages should be short and to the point as well as clearly identify who you are, why you’re calling, and how you can help.

This approach is effective because it aligns and reinforces your message, as well as gives the prospect two options for responding to your message depending on their communication preference.

Hack #2 -- Anticipate Objections and Practice Turn-Arounds

When you’re prospecting, you will inevitably encounter objections and obstacles along the way; Thinking that you won’t is misguided.

That’s why you can gain a competitive advantage through preparation and practice of common objections and obstacles you encounter.

Ok, so you probably understand the importance of preparation, but what steps should you take to specifically prepare to handle and turn around objections?

First, create an ongoing list of objections, questions, and concerns you typically receive from prospects. Then, create responses to each.

Once you’ve got your list, start practicing your turn-around until they sound natural. As you start to utilize this response, you’ll be able to refine and adjust as needed depending on the reaction from your prospects and customers.

Hack #3 – Approach Appointment Setting and Lead Nurturing Emails Differently

While it may be tempting to send a mass email to your entire target audience regardless of where they are in the buying process, you’re actually doing more harm than good with that approach.

Your prospects want to feel special, so, before you make your next call or send your next email, keep these things in mind:

For Appointment Setting:

If you’re sending an email to get an appointment, then you’ve got to focus on making your email stand out through personalization and a clear call-to-action.

You can personalize your email by saying something like: “We work with companies like yours, facing challenges like  X, Y, and Z.”

Provide a brief sentence or two about how you’ve helped those companies and what the outcome was. Then, you can wrap it all up in an easy to respond to call-to-action like: "I have some ideas for you, and am free on Friday, April 14th at 2:00 pm. Are you free at that time to talk?"

Finally, no one approach works 100% of the time. It’s critical to test different combinations and strategies so you can learn over time what produces the best results.

For Lead Nurturing:

Lead nurturing emails have a very different intention from appointment making emails. The purpose of a lead nurturing email is to provide something valuable to the recipient while gently guiding them through the sales process.

As the phrase indicates, providing value means you’re sharing something, whether that’s a blog post, a current industry report, video, or an introduction to a new contact, it’s something the other person believes to be important. Do this to help position yourself as an expert and build the relationship of helpfulness and trust.

Now, you’ll likely have led at different stages of the buying process. There may be more prospects at the beginning, some in the middle, and only a handful who are ready to buy now.

With this in mind, you need to think about the information and resources you’re sharing in terms of where the prospect is in their path to purchase.

For those at the beginning or top-of-the-funnel, you’ll want to share content that interests and educates in order to help prospects understand and frame their needs.

The people in the middle, who are a little further along in the process, will want more in-depth information about how exactly they would use a product or service like you’re offering as well as the features and benefits of your solution.

Finally, the people at the bottom or end of their journey are looking for client testimonials and feedback along with pricing, return-on-investment, and any type of delivery timeline associated with your solution.

When done right, lead nurturing is an excellent way to build sales momentum and lead flow into your pipeline because you’re constantly staying in touch with potential buyers.

Hack #4 – Leverage Your Social Media Channels

The power of social media is real.

As a salesperson, you can leverage this power by creating your own profile and building a presence. Similar to lead nurturing emails, the key to establishing a strong social presence is to share relevant and timely resources.

For instance, maybe you saw a story in the news your network would find interesting, or you recently wrote a blog post summarizing key takeaways from an industry conference you attended. Whatever it is, make sure it passes the test of asking: would my network find this useful?

Create your social marketing strategy by first determining the channels you will engage on, how often you will write and share content, as well as the level of participation you will take in discussion groups and forums.

Establishing a strong presence and leveraging social media when you’re prospecting will help you expand reach beyond your own network.

The mere act of sharing on a public scale helps associate you and your company with expertise and thought leadership, making it much easier to gain trust when prospecting.

The bottom line: using social media to stay top-of-mind to your buyers increases your chances of “getting a seat at the table” when the buyer is ready to explore a solution like yours.

Hack #5 – Network to Build Strategic Partnerships

Networking comes in many forms. Networking via social media is one way, but networking through events, partnerships, and allies works a bit differently.

Networking events, for example, are a great lead generation tool. When meeting potential customers face-to-face, you’re expediting the process of building rapport and establishing expertise.

You’re also in a relaxed environment where you’re surrounded by like-minded people who are actively engaged in your industry, which means sparking up a conversation may feel less threatening compared to other typical sales situations.

Use this as an opportunity to not only collect leads but to build partnerships and connections.

When you’re networking, you may come across a particular type of business that you’ve never previously considered partnering or working with, but you may uncover similar goals that will align your businesses together. Ultimately, this could lead to a strategic alliance geared toward helping both parties increase their reach and revenue.

Hack #6 - Track Your Numbers

Last, but certainly not least, you must acknowledge the importance of tracking your numbers, but, what KPIs should you be tracking? And why is tracking so important?

First, you must consider your goal and what you are trying to accomplish.

So, for example, if you know you need a certain number of deals each month in order to hit your number, looking at your close rate will help you determine how many meetings you need to hold. When you think of tracking in this way, you can reverse engineer your goals and then build a plan to achieve them.

Once you have a clear vision and understanding of your goal, you can start back-tracking the numbers and metrics you need to be following. To do that, let’s consider whether or not you have a good handle on the answers to these questions and how they relate to your goals.

  • Where are your leads coming from?
  • How many calls are you making per month? And of those calls, how many result in a next step?
  • How many emails are you sending per month? And of those emails how many result in a response?
  • How many new meetings are you going on per month?
  • How many networking events have you attended this quarter? How many new contacts did you generate from attending?
  • How many proposals are you generating each month? And of those proposals, how many end up closing?

Tracking leads to improvement. What you track is what improves because when you’re aware of the activities and metrics needed to achieve a particular outcome, you’re more likely to achieve it.

Knowing what metrics you’re trying to hit and meticulously tracking them helps keep your prospecting focused. It provides direction and helps you make sure that everything you do aids in these efforts.

Conclusion

Don’t let the changing nature of sales and marketing throw you off your prospecting game, the key to filling your pipeline and staying competitive is to recognize that you can’t use any one of these strategies alone, but the “secret sauce” lies in finding the right combination of all of these hacks.

Quick Tips for Selling Over the Phone