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How to Effectively Prospect and Engage Potential Customers

September 24, 2020

7 Min. Read

For those who have spent hours preparing, and feel they are ready, to start prospecting, we’ve created a “how-to” article that’ll help establish sales prospecting methods within your company. Just like with any other sales activity, there is a process behind outbound prospecting.

Make sure you use the right sales prospecting tools, automate where possible, and work in a meaningful and measurable way. With the right focus, you’ll get the markets’ response in no time. Let’s walk you through the prospecting dos and don'ts, the how and where, and the rules to abide by, on your way to finding a product-market fit. 

Before you kick it off, prepare adequately.

If you don’t want your prospecting to be a nightmare, check these off your list:

  • lead list uploaded to your CRM (yes, you should have a CRM!) - ideally with a full name, LinkedIn profile, job position, department, email, phone number (and any other relevant contact info) for each prospect - we’ll tell you why later in this article
  • a CRM that can send email sequences and tracks emails
  • a set of email sequence templates (at least 3 email touches)
  • call scripts ready (if you already know the typical customers’ objections have a list ready also)
  • sales process defined

Done? Great, now we’ll move on to social media, which has become an inevitable part of our work life. 

The first step of prospecting - work on your online presence:

The preparation phase covers Linkedin. It’s quite a topic, so let’s take a look at it in greater detail. Your Linkedin profile gives you credibility, and it’s often the very first interaction with your brand. Make it look professional.

There are many tips on the internet but here are some key ones from us:

Essentially, you need to have a professional profile picture (tips: unlock it for the public, have a neutral background, wear what you’d usually wear to work, have an open body posture, and smile) and a headline telling people what you do and where. The headline has to be to the point and without any BS. Remember, if you send out a connection request, you will be accepted based on your headline, profile picture, and personalized message, so do not underestimate these sections.

“About” should be targeted to your audience - if you’re working with startups, mention cooperation with other startups or cool projects you’ve done. If it’s corporations, mention big players and any flagship projects. Use your audience’s language and focus on what matters to each of them.

Moving further down, describe what you do and fill in the other fields (education, projects, skills...) so it is complete.  

The second step of prospecting - strenghten your LinkedIn network

Now, back to where we suggested having prospects’ LI profiles uploaded in the CRM. To have a trustworthy profile, you also need to strengthen your network. Start inviting relevant people (same business or industry as yours) in it even though they’re not your targets now (they can be later, and these connections broaden your reach). Then invite the desired people.

For both targeted and non-targeted growth of your network, use a sales prospecting automation tool, like Dux-soup (or alternatively Octopus CRM). It can work solely with LI, sending a connection request to people listed by your LI search, or you can simply upload a list of specific LI profiles. In both cases, the automation tool will be sending connection requests while you’re busy working on something else - maybe finishing the email templates for the eighth time. ;-) 

If you’re not a techy (though give this a try - it’s quite simple) or you prefer the “human touch”, the other option would be to grow your network manually. This, of course, is way more time-consuming.

Acceptance results using Dux-Soup 

We measured some of our connection activities within the HR industry on Linkedin. The acceptance rates were:

50 % - request with either a blank or a general non-personalized message 

75 % - request with a personalized message

So, it’s your call. Should you have a very narrow scope of people to reach out to, the better way could be doing this manually. If you care about the volume of sent requests, try automation. Remember, many factors influence the acceptance rate, like your job position and the job position of the other party. The same applies to whether you’re from a known or unknown brand, etc. 

Once people start accepting your invitations, LI automatically places your recent activity at the top of their feed. This way, it tests the connection’s relevancy; gives the other side a chance to see what you’re up to, and ‘disconnect’ if they don’t like what they see. For this purpose, have some valuable content prepared and post it right before you start connecting.    

Tip: When connected, you’re usually able to see the person’s phone number on their profile. You might need it later. Also, use anniversaries, birthdays, promotions, etc. as a conversation starter. Engage with your prospect’s activities; comment on posts and articles to make yourself visible. And now it's the time to get your hands dirty!

We promised “Where” to prospect:

We strongly advise using more than one channel. Your targets need to see the same message on various channels, so, ideally, use as many as possible to make your product unmissable. 

These are channels we like to use in SALESDOCk:

  • emailing
  • cold calling
  • LinkedIn

However, when picking channels, be reasonable - is your target group modern enough to be on Linkedin? And if not, don’t bother with your LI profile in the first place ;)

Now the “How” to prospect and “How” the channels fall in one place: 

Business / Cold Emailing:

Emails are your first activity of prospecting, especially if you’re reaching out to a high number of people. Even though emailing might not be the most effective channel, it’s the easiest one effort-wise. Emailing harvests the low hanging fruit. With automation, you can reach out to 500 people within a week, and out of the 500 leads, you can get around 20 meetings. To have an approximate idea of what to expect, our best result in email -> meeting conversion rate is 12% for the entire sequence. 

What’s the goal of emailing, anyway?

Get them on a call. Not a meeting, but a call fist. Even if you schedule a formal meeting, suggest you have a short introductory call first. Why? Tell them you would like to prepare better.

Read about cold emailing in detail in this article.

Business / Cold Calling:

In reality, this call also lets you disqualify the potential customer without wasting hours of travel time and having a pointless meeting. If you see that this solution is not the right one, tell them. Or if you’re worried it might be pricey for a specific segment, ask them about their budget allocation by “We cost approximately XXX. Is that something you plan to spend on XYZ this year?”. It’s OK if some can’t afford you; unfortunately, you can’t work with everyone. 

When emailing, in many instances, you won’t get a response even after 3 touches. Not responding doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not interested in your product. It means you should start calling them, provided you have their phone number.

Even though you’ll ditch your call script after several calls, have it ready together with the objection list - if you know them. Brace yourself; getting through gatekeepers will require some determination. Generally, we stop prospecting by having done 8 touches (emails, calls, LI requests/messages combined). There is always a portion of leads that are very costly to get to. The gatekeeper won’t put you through, emails won’t be delivered, their zero LI presence, etc. For this group, our prospecting style won’t work. 

Read about cold calling in detail in this article.

Older woman receiving a phone call

TIP: Warm up by calling your mom before you start calling potential clients :) You’ll make her happy. 

We like this article by HubSpot on what are the Dos and Don'ts of prospecting. Check it out!

The final takeaways:

Getting a new product on the market can be challenging. However, with a little persistence and our set of key tips, you’ll manage it in no time. Remember to exploit all the appropriate channels. Having an awesome website is great, but show who stands behind the ideas - give your product a face by fine-tuning your LI profile. Have most of the work done by automation tools, and once it comes to emailing and calling, do not give up after one “not interested”! Like our colleague likes to say, “They kick you out the door, you get back through the window.”

If you need some guidance, let us know, we'd love to help!


By

Jana Michelová | Project Manager

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