Ask any b2b salesperson: prospecting for outbound leads could be one of the biggest challenges in sales. It’s tough, not only putting together lists of high-quality leads but also getting the ball rolling toward transforming leads into clients.
Well, someone else is selling when you’re not right? Surely, there is a way to get over the prospecting hump. It’s a grind–but with the right tools and approach that work for you, you can expand that pipeline.
There are loads of lists out there (we’ve got a couple of them) that help you get your prospecting in check. But in this article, I put together seven tips that you might’ve not considered yet.
Ready? Let’s get to them.
Get in front of that camera
It’s a tough market out there, and anyone who’s able to stand out has the best chance of taking the cake. Video lets you differentiate yourself from your sales competition.
Get this: Employees are 75 percent less likely to read text emails than to watch videos as per Forrester Research. Yes, 75 percent.
Well, it’s kind of a no-brainer, but for some reason, not a lot of sales prospectors do it. You get to stand out, deliver your message, and get better reactions (get reactions!) from your prospects.
Have you ever considered including a video message in your cold emails? Well, it’s time to.
Here are some guidelines.
Use videos regularly
Videos are effective. Matt West, a sales rep from Thomson Reuters, uses video messages in his prospecting work. In the 1650 video messages he’s sent, 90% has been opened and 50% has been responded to.
Have you ever gotten numbers like that from email prospecting? Well, Matt also found that although he’s experienced immense success and have shared this practice with his colleagues, less than 5% of his team continue to record and send video messages. Yes, there’s a bit more effort that goes into prospecting with videos but the results are well worth it.
Ok, there’s irony in there somewhere. But your ability to communicate sincerity will be the key to your prospecting success. Now that you don’t have the tone and authenticity issues that are so tough to overcome when you’re just using words on a screen, it’s time get your consultative cap on. Let the prospect know you sincerely want to help them reach their goals.
Be professional–from wardrobe to background
Don’t be sloppy! Noisy backgrounds and sloppy outfits are no-go. You don’t have to be in a suit (well, sometimes)–but, at least, make sure you remember that you represent your company. You want the message to stand out. Don’t distract your prospects. Smile, relax, but don’t be stiff! Act like you’re just in a chat with them face-to-face.
Remember, it’s usually cold outreach. It’s not a full blown sales demo. Hold back a little. Give enough to get a response to your soft ask.
Check your video before sending out
Unlike face-to-face meetings, in videos, you have a chance to re-do your spiels, your smile, even your posture. Always check your video for anything that you can improve, be it in the same message or not. If it’s something you want to improve over time–say, organizing your message–send the video and take steps to improve your game for the next video message.
With how high-quality the cameras on smartphones and laptops today are, there’s practically not many excuses you can put up against making videos. Improve your open rates, click rates and appointment numbers by firing up that camera.
Take referrals seriously
Surely you’ve thought of your existing client stable when thinking of ways to expand your outbound sales channels. Right? Right?!
If you responded with a faint yes, I can’t really say I don’t understand.
You might be one of those salespeople who think that they’re doing clients a favor when they sell their service or product.
“I can’t ask them for another favor this early, right?”
Well, you see. That’s where your problem lies. You need to know and believe that by including client in your list of customers, you’re actually giving service to them. They wouldn’t pay for your product if it was not worth it. Your product is solving a problem they have. So, before I proceed, rid yourself of that icky feeling that you’re an interruption, a pest to your clients. Done? Ok, let’s go.
So, referrals could be a huge source of leads for you if you play this channel right.
How? Here are some techniques.
Establish a system
If your team hasn’t, take the initiative and establish a referral program for your own pipeline. In b2b sales, creativity pays off–so take that step and put together a system. It doesn’t have to be a crazy elaborate process.
The single most powerful step in creating a referral system is just asking for referrals.
When’s the best time to ask for a referral? Always. Yeah that sounds like a bit of a stretch but here’s a few things we can pick up from Steli Efti of Close.io.
In a blog post, Steli talked about the process he uses to ask for referrals. In his case, he asks right after the sale.
1. Ask for a referral.
2. Anticipate the no (or “I’ll think about it.”). Ask one more time right, then and
3. Make sure to give them an email template and make it easy and frictionless to actually make the introduction.
4. After you’ve closed a referral, make sure that your new customer thanks the person who introduced you, so you’re closing the feedback loop in a positive way (inspiring more referrals from the original referrer).
Referral call script
In Steli’s process, you need to put a bit of pressure on your client. And, the biggest factor here is asking right after the sale.
Here’s a sample patterned after call flow he shared:
You: “Are you happy with our product?/Are you happy with our service?”
You: “Awesome. Do you know anyone else who could benefit from this solution too?”
Client: “I’ll think about it and let you know.”
You: “Thank you! I’m sure that as your business continues to benefit from this solution, there’s going to be a lot of people in your circle who can benefit as well. That’s going to be great. Let’s take a minute right now and think about one friend who’s in a similar situation as you who could really use this solution.”
Some prospects will answer with an annoyed no. That’s ok. Expect that and respect that. “I respect that. I’ll follow up in the future through email. I really appreciate that you’re offering to help.” And close the call.
But remember, there will be clients who will give you a name or two after your second ask–so do the second ask!
Take note of the names and make sure to ask for an introduction. Make it easier by sending them an email template.
You: “Awesome. Thank you! To make this as smooth as possible for us, I’ll send over an intro email you can just copy paste and send to Jack and Seth. Make changes if you like! Let’s make this happen today.”
Again, the best way to get referrals is to ask for them–so take off that shy hat and start asking your clients for a referral in your next contact.
Prospect every day
I think there’s a prospecting muscle. And salespeople should flex this muscle each day.
Prospecting is such a different experience compared to the rest of sales activities. Most of the time, it’s just your first touch with prospects, and you may not know a whole lot about them.
What everyday prospecting can do for you
- You get closer to being rejection-proof
- You get into a good groove
- You improve your technique
- You develop better relationships with your prospects
A good way to improve your prospecting numbers is by doing at least one prospecting activity every day and fine-tuning your approach in the process.
Don’t let this be one of the things you say you’ll definitely do every day but end up not doing at all.
Here’s how you make everyday prospecting happen:
Plan for a week
Write out a weekly plan setting aside a set amount of time to prospect each day. I suggest setting the hours closer to the start of the day so you won’t be pulled by the other demands of the day.
Make it a routine
At first, it’s best to make it routinary so it’s easier for you to form the habit. Experienced everyday prospectors can rely on their will to prospect on any time each day–but since that’s not you yet, stick to a routine.
Set a focus channel for each day
A vague plan is just as a good as no plan.
Spell it out. It’s as simple as this:
Monday & Tuesday- Emailing
Thursday & Friday- Calling
15 minutes a day- Asking for referrals
Face it. You’re a sales professional. You’re driven by goals and quotas. While I would suggest setting goals that are not result-dependent (number of calls a week, number of emails, etc.), it’s still good practice to set a number to aim for. How many leads do you want to add to your pipeline each month? What open rate do you want for your emails?
Make sure you don’t set a timeframe too tight for your goals. That’s a recipe for low quality efforts! Set goals but be open to adjusting them. The aim is to get qualified leads and hot new prospects.