10 B2B Sales Prospecting Methods That Work in 2023 and Beyond
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Prospecting is an integral part of the lead generation process. According to a survey, 70% of B2B marketers said that improving lead quality was their top priority.
However, many sales and marketing professionals struggle with B2B prospecting. Over 40% of sales professionals reported that prospecting was the most challenging part of the sales process.
This B2B prospecting guide will cover everything you need to know about B2B prospecting, including effective B2B prospecting methods to make the process easier and more productive.
What is B2B Prospecting?
B2B prospecting is a process where prospective customers (known as prospects) are sourced, filtered, and nurtured to convert them into paying customers. This process is often managed by sales and marketing professionals. Each team executes different B2B prospecting methods to fill the pipeline.
Why is B2B Prospecting Important?
B2B sales prospecting is critical to the success of a business. Companies that invest in B2B prospecting will always have their pipeline full of qualified prospects. Having prospects who match your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile)—a vital part of B2B prospecting—means higher conversion rates. Ultimately, it means more revenue for the business.
The Most Challenging Parts of B2B Prospecting (and What to Do Instead)
There are many obstacles sales and marketing professionals face on the B2B sales prospecting path. Here are some of the most fundamental challenges involved in the process and recommended solutions to the problems:
It’s Time Consuming
B2B prospecting takes a lot time and effort, but you need it to grow your company and increase sales. This can be an unnecessarily lengthy process because many sales professionals continue to rely on outdated techniques rather than effective practices to generate a larger pool of qualified prospects in a shorter period.
Using tools that help automate and organize the process, such as CRM software, sales and marketing tams can make the most of their prospecting time and meet their sales quota. Based on a survey, 65% of sales professionals who use CRMs reported that they met their sales quota compared to 22% who don’t use the software.
It Can Feel Impersonal
As a B2B company, your audience is other business professionals who are focused on their jobs and have limited time. It's often hard to get a conversation started and once it is, many sales reps use pre-written scripts that can sound impersonal or rushed. Scripts are important for consistency and speed, but ensure you develop a script that focuses on specific, relevant questions for your prospects.
Asking smart questions will help build rapport, boost your confidence, and gather crucial information for future outreach. A well-crafted script can revive a process that can otherwise be uninviting and impersonal.
Understanding the Stages of the Buyer's Journey
Shaping the prospect's experience to achieve the best outcome requires understanding their needs at each stage of their journey. As a salesperson you may want everyone to be ready to purchase by the time you hang up the phone, but you need to make sure you understand exactly where the prospect is in their journey and tailor your approach to them. Some sales professionals struggle with B2B prospecting by failing to match the prospect's pace, leading to providing irrelevant content or inappropriate methods. Hurrying or delaying follow-up reduces engagement, regardless of the prospect's fit with your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).
To avoid this mistake, set criteria to determine where they are in their journey and align (and time) the right marketing or sales content.
Try These 10 B2B Prospecting Methods to Improve Your Overall Outreach Strategy
There are many B2B prospecting methods that sales professionals can explore to improve their outreach strategy. Here are some of the methods:
1. Identifying Your ICP
The first technique in B2B sales prospecting is knowing who you’re looking for. Creating a target account list (TAL), followed by the ideal customer profile of those within the TAL is a great way to define your target prospect. The image below is an example of a simple ICP.
The ICP serves as a guide for all salespeople to find the ideal lead. According to Gartner, businesses that invest in a clearly defined ICP record remarkable business results, including faster sales cycles and higher conversion rates.
2. LinkedIn is a Great Resource. Use It.
After Facebook, LinkedIn is the most popular social media platform for B2B marketers. In the US, it is the largest B2B display advertiser at 32.3%. While other social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are great for sales, LinkedIn is considered a great resource for B2B prospecting.
On LinkedIn, you can connect with prospective customers, use their profile to identify if they fit your ICP, and find more data points about your prospects that aren’t often available on other platforms. Additionally, joining groups related to your niche is a great way to meet potential clients.
3. Assign a Dedicated Prospecting Time
According to a Sales Insight Labs survey, about 82% of top performers spend at least 4 hours per day engaged in sales activities, including prospecting. Less successful salespeople dedicate less time to prospecting.
The image above shows that there’s a direct relationship between the amount of time spent on prospecting and the level of success of a salesperson. This means that an increase in the former, causes an increase in the latter. What it boils down to is this: the more time you spend prospecting, the more sales you will achieve.
Assign yourself or your team a dedicated time for prospecting daily. If this is a problem for your team, your company may decide to put a separate team together that focuses specifically on B2B sales prospecting.
4. Personalize Your Emails
After the research stage, contacting your prospects is next. Emails are one of the B2B prospecting methods used by salespeople to reach prospects. According to a survey by Rain Group, 80% of B2B buyers engaged in the survey preferred being contacted via email.
While email seems to be the preferred choice of communication, only well-written emails will make your prospects engage with you. The average open rate of emails across all industries is estimated to be around 21.5%. You can significantly increase that figure when you send personalized emails. Wouldn’t you rather receive an email that feels personal over one that is obviously templated?
In the example above, the sender respected the receiver’s time and kept it short. There was no obvious “customer-fishing” in the tone, and he didn’t come off as a stranger because he did his homework on the company).
Adding those personal touches to your outreach emails can be your one-way ticket to sales success.
5. Practice Cold Calling
To be successful in B2B sales prospecting, you need to practice making phone calls, even if it's not your strongest skill. Cold calling can be a highly effective method, as shown by the fact that 51% of B2B buyers prefer to speak with a sales representative over the phone rather than using other methods of B2B prospecting.
Before calling a prospect, take the time to conduct research on them and prepare your script. An effective script includes an introduction, the main message, relevant questions to break patterns, and a follow-up negotiation. Making a few practice phone calls or role playing with a colleague is a great way to cut down your learning curve when it comes to cold calling.
6. Use Videos to Increase Engagement
Video prospecting is the practice of approaching prospects with video content to convey a specific message. Videos can be sent through different channels, and you can tailor them to the prospect in any way you see fit.
According to a Vidyard report, almost 90% of salespeople use video to qualify leads, engage prospects, or influence deals. 72% of respondents from a survey reported that they would rather learn about a company’s products or services from a video than from other pieces of content. The stats don’t lie. Clearly video prospecting is worth a try.
Additionally, it offers you the chance to showcase your personality and humanize your brand. This is crucial in today's market where trust is a factor in closing sales.
7. Prequalify Prospects
At some point during the prospecting process, it is essential to prequalify your potential prospects. This is because at least half of your prospects, who may even match your ICP, can turn out not to be a good fit for the solution your business is offering. If you don’t filter, you will end up wasting time on the wrong person.
After the first contact with a lead, ask yourself the following questions:
How well does this prospect align with my ICP?
Is my product relevant to the industry in which they work?
Do they appear to be interested in your product?
Do they patronize my competitor?
What could make them an unsuitable match for my company?
8. Don’t Slack Off — Follow Up
It's likely that your first attempt at B2B prospecting won't yield favorable results. However, you can improve your skills and increase your chances of success by practicing and using the appropriate tools.
However, if you get a negative response, do not give up. In our experience, persistence tends to pay off. Carry on with your follow-up emails and calls and develop a follow-up strategy to make the process easier. Here’s an example of what a good follow-up email looks like:
Before you follow up, ensure you have prequalified the prospect and determined if they are a good fit for your offering. Otherwise, you’d most likely be wasting your time.
Instead of viewing objections as a source of fear, use them to establish trust. Being prepared is the key to success. As a salesperson, you may frequently encounter objections. However, by preparing for these objections, you can effectively navigate around them and continue the conversation. To prepare, analyze the most common objections you receive from prospects and develop strategies for overcoming them.
Here are a few examples to get you started:
“I am not interested” — Ask them right away about their priorities and explain how you might be able to support them in resolving these challenges.
“Sorry, we have no budget” — An excellent solution is to emphasize the financial advantages of collaborating with you. Support this with ROI figures.
“It’s not the best time” — Find out if they have any plans for improving their processes. You can provide a professional assessment of their present condition and make some recommendations for how to make it better.
10. Turn to Client Referrals
71% of B2B companies report referrals to have higher conversion rates than leads gotten from other marketing strategies. A referral is how 84% of B2B decision-makers begin the buying process. Referral leads have a 30% greater conversion rate and a 16% higher lifetime value than leads obtained through other marketing methods.
Close Deals and Increase Sales Prospecting with the Help of Thaynes Marketing
As a B2B-focused agency, we've got your back when it comes to building a rock-solid marketing foundation. This will help you score those qualified leads for your sales prospecting process, and get you closer to closing more deals.
Years Experience in the B2B Space
Our team is made up of top performers who have spent decades in the B2B space. Collectively as an agency, we have been helping companies record sales and marketing sales since 2018.
Our insider strategy leverages years of expertise as sales and marketing executives at Fortune 50 and category-disrupting, start-up technology companies and customizes it to the specific growth objectives of your company.
You may refer to us as your marketing agency or experts, but we consider ourselves team members working remotely.
Proven Track Record of Success
We have a proven track record of success in a variety of industries in helping clients cut through the clutter, produce quality leads, and meet their bottom line.
Our offerings cover a wide range of industries, including healthcare, oil and gas, utilities and energy, information and technology, education, fintech, and many more.
An Extension of Your Existing Team
B2B prospecting can be challenging. To help you meet your bottom line, we offer our team of top performers as an extension of yours, to give you an edge over your competition and help your company become recognized as a leader in your niche.
Prospecting for a B2B company involves finding and identifying potential business customers who are likely to be interested in the products or services you offer. There are several strategies that you can use for B2B prospecting, including lead generation through your website and online marketing efforts, networking through industry events and professional organizations, and cold calling and email outreach to targeted prospects.
What Are Prospecting Techniques?
B2B prospecting techniques are methods used by sales and marketing professionals to identify, reach out to, and engage with potential business customers who are likely to be interested in a company's products or services. These techniques are critical for generating new leads and nurturing existing leads in the B2B sales process.
What Is the Best Prospecting Strategy?
The best B2B prospecting strategy will vary depending on a number of factors, including the target audience, industry, and the products or services being offered. A successful B2B prospecting strategy often involves a combination of techniques, such as cold calling, email outreach, content marketing, and networking, tailored to meet the specific needs of the target audience. It's important to regularly evaluate and adjust the strategy to ensure it remains effective and efficient in generating new leads and nurturing existing ones.
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