8 MIN READ
What Do Sales Reps Need To Know Before Prospecting?
Written by Joseph Dutson
Published on January 21, 2021
Sales prospecting is the process of identifying potential customers and pursuing them to try to create the opportunities you require to generate sales. It is usually the first stage in any sales process.
Because sales prospecting acts as the foundation of every sales process, it influences its success. If you do a lousy job when prospecting, then you probably won’t generate as many sales as you anticipated.
For this reason, it pays for sales reps to know what they are doing. Here are several things that salespeople should know before they begin prospecting:
1. Your Potential Customers Have Their Ideas of What They Want
You may be entertaining some ideas of how you will contact your leads and quickly convince them to buy. It would be wise for you to stop building castles in the air. What you anticipate will happen won’t.
The reality is that buyers are now more educated than they have ever been. Only 19% of buyers connect with sales reps during the awareness stage.
About 60% of buyers connect with salespeople when they have at least reached the consideration stage. By this time, they have already done a lot of research, formed opinions, and even come up with a shortlist of what they want.
While this is great for them, it’s not-so-great for you. Woe unto you if your potential customers have misconceptions about your brand. You will have to work much harder to persuade them otherwise.
2. You Need to Work Hard to Close Most Deals
It’s one thing to have a list of leads that you need to contact. It’s another to connect with good sales prospects.
One of your biggest challenges is going to be making that first connection with the right person. It’s going to seem like a mission impossible.
You will need to make an average of 18 calls to connect with a buyer. The callback rate is less than one percent! So, you need to learn persistence. If you don’t have the stamina to keep trying to make that connection with your buyers, other sales reps will beat you to the finish line.
3. You Must Learn To Listen To Find Out What Makes Your Sales Prospects Tick
Determining that you have good sales prospects is just the beginning. You need to find out what makes them tick. And that is where active listening comes in.
According to 69% of buyers, sales reps who listen to their needs create a positive sales experience. You will get to practice your listening skills when you make discovery calls. During these calls, your job will be to find out in detail your potential customers’ pain points.
So, learn to ask the right questions based on what buyers talk about. Give them time to explain themselves clearly but seek clarification when you need to know more. Research shows that the most successful salespeople only speak 46% of the time. They let their sales prospects do most of the talking. And so should you.
4. The More You Know about Your Sales Prospects, the Better
Ignorance is not bliss for any sales rep looking to create opportunities to sell. It will work against you.
And yet, 42% of salespeople say that they don’t have enough information before making a call. This automatically puts them at a disadvantage.
Some of the necessary information that you should have concerning your prospects includes their names, job title, career, and what they enjoy doing. You should know about them include places they like to frequent, age, education, and the problems they are facing.
In this case, the more you know about them, the better off you will be when selling. That’s because you can appeal to them in a way that provokes their emotions and makes them feel heard.
5. The Way You Talk To Your Sales Prospects Matters
How do you usually talk to your sales prospects? What kind of language do you use? What you say is just as important as how you say it.
If you want buyers to respond positively to you when you sell to them, you must:
- Use collaborative language – incorporate words like “we,” “our,” and “together” in your conversations.
- Confidently express yourself – be sure to use words like “certainly” and “absolutely.”
- Avoid language that shows hesitation on your part because it will work against you – Never ask, “Did I catch you at a bad time?” It will reduce your chances of booking a meeting by about 40%.
- Avoid sales language – some of the words you should eliminate from your conversations include “free trial,” “discount,” “competitor,” and “contract,” among others.
So, be very careful about how you express yourself when dealing with sales prospects. It may make or break the deals you have in the pipeline.
6. You Must Position Yourself as an Expert
Other than the obvious, what else do you know about the products or services that you sell? And what else do you know about your niche in general?
Studies show that 51% of top-performing salespeople are seen as “an expert in their field,” compared to 37% of non-to-performing salespeople. This is a very crucial piece of information.
People feel more comfortable buying from those that they trust. And one way to earn people’s trust is to position yourself as an expert in your niche. When you come across as someone who has more knowledge than other people, you automatically position yourself as an expert. Buyers would feel more comfortable coming to you for solutions to their problems.
Therefore, you need to go beyond sharing basic information about your company offerings. Seek to add value by sharing additional information that educates and entertains your target audience even when you are not selling.
7. Networking Online and Offline Can Be Your Saving Grace
It’s not good enough for you to create social media accounts just to be seen that you exist. You must actively take part in online discussions that revolve around your industry. Also, seek to make connections with other people online and offline.
Social selling works. Salespeople who use social selling are 51% more likely to meet and even exceed their sales quotas.
And it gets better. Social selling can increase the likelihood of you making deals that would otherwise have fallen apart. Additionally, it can enable you to close deals of more significant magnitude. Statistics show that your win rates can increase by 5% and deal sizes by as much as 35% just by implementing social selling.
Think of the time that you spend networking as an investment. People are more likely to buy from those with whom they already have some kind of connection. Who you know is, therefore, more important than what you know.
8. Your Previous Clients Can Be Instrumental To Your Sales Success If You Let Them
Do you bother to maintain the relationships you create with the customers you have sold to before? Then it’s time for you to begin to do so.
Over 80% of B2B buyers begin their buying process based on a referral. Yet, many salespeople don’t seem to realize just how important referrals can be. Despite 91% of customers stating that they would be willing to give referrals, only 11% of sales reps ask for them.
It is much easier to ask for referrals from customers that you have maintained a connection with. But it never hurts to ask for referrals even if you haven’t. Your customers can be part of your sales success if you let them. Many of them are just waiting to be asked for help.
So, give it a try and see what happens. The worst that would happen is that they say no. But the chances are that they will say yes, and pleasantly surprise you.
9. Embrace Technology – It’s One of Your Most Effective Sales Weapons
There is a reason why improving sales technologies is one of the top sales priorities for many companies. Technology can be instrumental in making your sales work easier in every way.
You can choose the tools that work best for your needs. These may include technological tools that perform:
- Data analysis and reporting
- Marketing automation
- Sales forecasting
- Customer relationship management etc.
To be forewarned is forearmed. You should ensure that every member of your sales team understands what to expect while working. It will ensure that they are prepared to deal with the challenges in the most efficient way possible.