While prospecting might not be as exciting as closing a deal, it’s a fundamental block of the sales process that requires just as much attention. Putting it into practice, tracking down and qualifying opportunities, and setting deals in motion is crucial but often frustrating. A process that has only been made more complex by the digital sales transformation; if you stop to think about it, we’ve come a long way from 1995. People don’t use fax machines or mainly use landline telephones to interact anymore. We do business differently. Not only do buyers connect with us in new ways, but some also don’t feel compelled to reach out at all, which leaves many of us wondering if traditional prospecting strategies can compete with their modern counterparts. That’s why below we’ve broken down the difference between traditional vs modern prospecting strategies alongside which gets more results:
Traditional Prospecting Vs Modern Prospecting Strategies: What’s the difference?
As you would expect, traditional sales prospecting is the earliest form of generating leads; as such, traditional sales prospecting is seen as disruptive and very seller-centric.
The approach usually relies on interrupting prospects, grabbing their attention and expecting them to make an instant purchase. Explore some popular traditional sales prospecting strategies below:
Traditional Prospecting Strategies
Networking helps generate business leads and get feedback on your products or services.
The most important part of networking is just getting out there and making yourself known— letting the world (or the room) know what you do.
As the famous saying goes, “it’s not who you know; it’s who knows you.”
One of the easiest and cheapest ways to get more clients is to ask your existing ones for referrals. It’s easy, yet most people don’t do this one easy step which is just asking. You can even ask past customers to refer you.
Although inbound marketing may be today’s biggest trend, despite what others may tell you, Cold Calling is not obsolete. Probably the most widely known outbound sales technique, cold calling is the process of conducting unsolicited calls to an ideal target customer with the goal of selling your offering – this can be done either by phone or in person.
The truth is that when a sales team uses it correctly, it’s still one of the most effective methods for creating new leads. The issue with Cold Calling as a prospecting strategy is usually because it’s a difficult skill to master.
If you suspect you’re getting it wrong, be sure to check out our 13 tips on how to master cold calling.
Articles in Publications
Another popular traditional prospecting method is to submit articles to written publications. By creating articles demonstrating insight and value for your target market, you can evidence your authority on the subject and ultimately set the agenda with those you seek to engage.
Advertising in Print Media
Even in the days of social media advertising, print media is still an effective prospecting strategy for targeting specific prospects. For example, placing adverts in printed brochures such as speciality publications reaches niche audiences that may be more difficult to target online.
A sales letter is still an effective way to generate prospects and can be used to follow up and reactivate unresponsive leads. Even though direct mail has fallen off considerably, a sales letter is still an effective way to generate prospects and can be used to follow up and reactivate unresponsive leads. As one of the most affordable ways to introduce yourself to prospects, it can also often be one of the most ignored.
One of the most direct forms of selling, Door-to-door sales, is the process of sales reps walking through a specific geographical area and enquiring with different residents to make sales.
Modern Prospecting Strategies
Modern sales prospecting uses a combination of tech tools and modern sales techniques, such as social selling, to find, engage, and connect with potential customers:
Social Media Groups
Arguably the largest ‘digital networking platform’, LinkedIn is the perfect place to interact with other businesspeople and make connections. While LinkedIn is good, LinkedIn groups are even more powerful because they give you access to a huge number of highly qualified target audiences who are all interested in the same topics.
Similarly, you can find people who are more emotionally connected and motivated. So if you connect via LinkedIn and Facebook, you can combine both sets of information to get a holistic picture of how you’re going to talk to the person, establish a relationship and build trust.
Overall, the best groups to join are usually centred around alumni, social causes or directly related to your industry, as they will produce most of your highly qualified target audience.
The best way to approach the first step of your lead nurturing strategy is to personalise the connection message by letting them know who you are and why you want to connect. Showing a real-world association of having friends, schools or interests in common is a great way to get their attention and increase your chances of them wanting to connect with you.
The main difference between warm and cold calls is that warm calls require some engagement before the call, while cold calls do not.
While cold calling yields immediate results and more targeted leads, warm leads are already in your sales funnel and are more likely to become customers.
Share Valuable Content
Sharing valuable content like blog posts, tip sheets, videos, webinars, infographics, and case studies is invaluable throughout every sales process, not just prospecting and often has a long shelf life when constructed well.
However, they’re not a replacement for your expert advice and should only be utilized as an additional tool you can access anywhere and anytime.
Social and Search Advertising
Paid social and search advertising has a specific purpose, to get people to take action – otherwise, why invest the money? The secret to converting these leads and encouraging them to fulfil the action you want to take is being extremely clear with your offering and what you want them to do next.
Cold-emailing is a budget-friendly outbound sales prospecting technique for generating leads. The approach uses cold emails of value or offers sent to prospects to initiate contact with prospective customers.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator
Few social media platforms offer as great an opportunity to increase your exposure to potential clientele as LinkedIn. LinkedIn is that go-to website for companies looking to reach their potential buyers -especially when it comes to B2B sales.
Hence, if you’re already on LinkedIn, you really should know about LinkedIn Sales Navigator. It’s a valuable social selling tool for salespeople to “find and build relationships with prospects and customers.” Alongside keeping track of key leads and company changes. According to LinkedIn, Sales Navigator users average +7% higher win rates – something most of us can’t afford to miss.
Which Prospecting Strategy Works Best?
Although we’re viewing modern and traditional prospecting strategies through a lens of “vs”, ultimately, they complement each other.
While it’s true that prospecting has evolved over the years, and there are now more effective ways to prospect that either replace old prospecting methods – they’re still valuable to incorporate into your overall prospecting strategy.
This method of using both is often known as an omnichannel approach, which uses multiple channels to reach out to leads. An example of the different ways you can connect with prospects using an omnichannel approach includes using a combination of the following channels:
• Social (often LinkedIn)
• WhatsApp/Messaging platforms
Why does it work? It’s a prospecting strategy that leads can’t easily ignore.
For example, a prospect who receives an email, phone call, LinkedIn message and social media marketing from the same company in 2 weeks is much more likely to respond and remember the brand than if they had only connected with them once.
2 Prospecting Best Practices for Finding Quality Leads
Success in prospecting requires a systematic process of locating potential customers, which includes:
- Increasing the number of prospects
- Improving the quality of prospects
- Shortening the sales cycle by qualifying prospects
The goal of prospecting is to build a prospect base, a list of current and potential customers.
1. Identify your Top 3 Prospecting Strategies
With so many sources of prospects, it’s important to identify the top-3 ways of consistently reaching a large number of your ideal target customer so you can maximize your impact and avoid spreading yourself too thin.
Here’s a trick I recommend, focus 80% of your efforts based on what has worked for you in the past, 10% on what your competitors are doing and 10% on what no one in your industry is doing.
Here is why you need 3 ways of generating leads:
Why three ways? To avoid putting all of your eggs in one basket in just one way and to avoid spreading yourself too thin in time and money in more than three ways. Sticking to your top three ways of consistently reaching a large number of your ideal target customers is manageable and will keep you focused.
Why consistently? Because anything other than being consistent doesn’t work. If you are thinking that you can hit the jackpot with a one-off advertisement in a newspaper or magazine, you need to think again. Spending thousands of dollars on that type of strategy will almost guarantee you a negative return on your investment. And there is nothing less effective than attending a networking event, making some good contacts and not returning the following month and the month after that. Your audience needs to see you as consistent and credible before it can trust your message.
Why a large number? Because you’ll need to reach lots of prospects in order to achieve your income goals. Consider using Facebook and publishing a blog or an online newsletter as ways of reaching a large number of customers.
2. Measure your results every step of the way
Keep track of how many e-mail messages you sent last week. Look at how many appointments you scheduled compared with how many prospecting e-mail messages you sent. Look at the number of appointments made divided by the number of sales made. Look at the number of e-mail messages sent and the amount of time it took you to send them. Look at the dollar amount in sales divided by the number of hours it took to send those e-mail messages.
By making these comparisons, you can see which are the most effective ways of getting customers. What should you be doing more of? What should you be doing less of? Look at the return on investment for each of your prospecting activities. How many times did you gain exposure to your ideal audience? How much did each form of exposure cost you in terms of money and time? How many inquiries did you get as a result? How many presentations came out of those inquiries? How many sales came from those presentations?
Tracking allows you to measure the effectiveness of each of your prospecting activities.
There is no shortage of things that you can do to get in front of your ideal target customers. You just need to make a commitment to go after that group 100 per cent using your top three ways of reaching them.
Final Word: Take Control of Your Commission
Gain The Skills To Keep The Pipeline Full.
SOCO’s ‘Prospecting Power: Keeping the Pipeline Full’ course aids reps in developing the skills needed to find their ideal customers, craft emails that trigger favourable responses, perfect phone skills and apply an omnichannel approach that delivers real results.
Join today to start gaining the following skills, knowledge and prospecting strategies to start hitting your quota tomorrow.