4 Phases of Sales Prospecting, where art thou?

Hasn’t sales come a long way?

From the days of door-to-door knocking to hangouts, rolodexes to CRM, instinct to insights and sales to inside sales 🙂 

Sales Prospecting is no more guesswork and sales reps rely on data for prospecting, increasingly. Keeping up with this change is a challenge. Thus, we break it all down in…

The 4 phases of sales prospecting

Please read further to identify which stage of sales prospecting your sales team fits in.

Stage 1: Names of Prospects

A majority of sales people still practise old-school sales prospecting. Predictive scoring algorithm is the name of the modern sales game that suggest exactly where a particular prospect is in the buying cycle.

A few decades back, sales people did not care much about their prospects. And, they invested all their efforts in knowing the details of the prospects and hawking their products straight away to the prospects using their contact details and close the deals.

Stage 2: Organization and Contact Details

With technology and modern automation tools making inroads into the fabric of the modern sales landscape, data emerged as the fulcrum of targeted prospecting. It furnished details such as the names of the organizations prospects work for and their contact details.

A typical sales workflow would include:

  • Import lists of prospects using different aggregator tools
  • Export these lists to CRM
  • Use the contact data to implement varied outbound marketing campaigns
  • Do cold calls and fix up meetings

Many sales teams used these contact details for implementing batch-and-blast email marketing campaigns. However, this approach resulted in inundating the email and voice mail boxes of the prospects with repetitive sales pitches. This led to the prospects getting deflated with the hard selling approach Inside sales teams took and hence the need for personalization.

Stage 3: Social Selling

It’s the future of sales and growth of businesses. Social networking accounts for nearly 25% of all the time spent online and reaches more than 75% percent of all Internet users.
With social channels going into an overdrive today, prospects are tapping the power of social media to make their purchase decisions. They now have the power to make or break a brand with a single post on social media. As these social networks (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Quora, etc.) arrived on the scene, the social media plan for sales took off in an incredible way.

In this stage, sales representatives design a personalized outreach strategy based on the advanced lead intelligence they gather about prospects from their personal profiles and online behavior on social media. It’s about connecting and engaging with prospects on social media in a meaningful way with the goal of delighting them by delivering utmost value there.

Stage 4: Event-based Selling

Events are triggers. This phase of sales prospecting is triggered by events completed by prospects. There could be many compelling events like your target company hired a new CEO, or the prospect clicked on your email or viewed the attachment you sent.
Timing and relevance are the keys here. Good sales representatives use these keys to design personalized and contextual messaging for their prospects and send it to them at the right time, when this can serve as an apt solution to their current challenges.

The key takeaway here is that we need to match the way we sell to the way buyers want to be sold to. And the best way to do smart sales prospecting is to be their consultants, their advisers and not just another sales person. We need to check the buyers’ intent and keep a tab on their online behavior – what kind of content interests them or what are their trigger events. Using these cues, we need to find the right mix of everything and then engage prospects and close more deals.

Can you identify what stage of prospecting your sales team is in? Do let us know in the comments below.

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