A prospecting clients can be seen as the process of winning new sales. It involves a number of steps, from opportunity selection to contract closure, including acquisition of leads. There is no standardization for prospecting, but several techniques that must be tested and will work depending on the company, its industry and its organizational culture.
What is Customer Prospecting?
Understanding the Sales Funnel
The Different Types of Client Prospecting
Different Channels to Address a Customer
7 Tips for Prospecting Clients
Tools to Improve Your Prospecting
Selling is simply the most important activity for any business. The customer is the value chain and not selling means not delivering value. Some companies survive well by reacting to sales, either by building an incredible brand or by having a sales point that attracts uninterested stakeholders.
All other companies need to focus on building and optimizing a prospecting process. We can define the prospection such as the proactive work of obtaining clients. The more the company is embedded in a complex sales, more prospecting will become critical to your success.
Prospecting is not like the financial management of a company, in which a set of best practices pre-approved by the market is adapted. There is no standard process that all companies must follow to prevail in the survey, but rather a set of techniques and channels that must be tested before the final implementation.
In any case, it is possible to point steps in a customer prospecting process that most companies will have, even if informally:
- Identification of the ideal customer profile
- Mapping of market opportunities
- Court hearing
- Lead Acquisition
- Initial contact
- Presentation of the proposal
- Closing the sale
Of course, many sales cycles will not go through all these steps. Some will have others according to their reality. exist sales cycles which take 1 week. Other 15 months. The important thing is to always be analyzing and seeking opportunities for improvement.
As we said before, prospecting follows different processes from company to company. However, one thing is common to all: with each step, the volume of contacts decreases.
Me explaining better ... no company will open 5 negotiations to close with 50 different customers. It is more common the reverse, open 50 negotiations to close with 5 clients.
As much as your customer prospects are optimized, some prospects they will change their focus on the process, or they will close with the competition; in the end, external factors will prevent them from evolving in the sales cycle.
This is why steps of the sales process of a company are represented graphically by the image of a sales funnel:
Above the representation of a funnel of a digital company. It needs to attract traffic, take site visits, generate leads, turn them into opportunities, and ultimately, customers.
The role of prospecting is to ensure the best possible transit of individuals along the funnel. At each stage there will be fewer people, but that does not mean that we should not always be looking to increase conversion between stages.
Every stage has conversion and time. These indicators can be improved from the funnel analysis. For example, our above digital company may be generating 1.000 monthly visits and only 10 leads. That is, your conversion is 1% at this stage. It can map the most visited pages and place registration forms.
I once met a company embedded in a complex sales concept that required multiple approvals and sold high-cost projects. She did projects related to nano-technology. Through sales funnel optimization, it was able to reduce the average lead time of the sales cycle from 18 to 3 months.
Before talking about opportunities for improvement in prospecting clients, let us know their different types.
For each company, according to the characteristics of its products / services, there will be a more suitable method of prospecting. However, they all share a first challenge:
How to find more customers?
In general, in the marketing and sales, separate the strategies of customer capture between Outbound Marketing e Inbound Marketing. English terms that mean "Away from home" and "In the home". Let's look at some examples of different types for you to understand.
In that case, instead of you luring the client to your proposal, you go where he is and show him. This type of strategy is usually more expensive and more suitable for products with the highest average ticket. The most classic examples are associated with the purchase of media / advertising space such as:
- TV Ads
- Participation in events
- Direct marketing - cold call, cold email, direct mail, etc.
Unlike the Outbound, in the Inbound you create strategies to make the client become interested in your company going to you. Currently, Inbound is very much associated with digital marketing, so the most classic initiatives are:
- Publications in a blog
- Launch of E-book
- Indication Programs
Inbound is usually connected to content production strategies em different media. The idea is that the prospect, before meeting you, is not ready to buy yet.
So it's better create an audience and show how much you know of the subject to gradually transform visitors into leads and leads into customers.
Either way, in both methods, you want to get customers to sign up and show an initial interest so that you have a starting point for your prospecting process.
The advantage of inbound marketing in prospecting clients is that the strategy is designed so that the lead itself contacts when there is interest. This makes the hopper top larger and directs the sales team's efforts to already qualified and ready-to-purchase leads.
However, it is worth testing strategies of direct marketing at the time of prospecting. Here are some examples below.
Prospecting on the phone
The famous cold call, translation for cold binding, is not stronger as it was formerly. However it can still work as long as some rules are followed. It is about calling a stranger to start a business contact.
To get the most out of prospecting customers over the phone, you should keep in mind:
- People are not at your disposal - the phone is a somewhat invasive practice because it usually means urgent contacts. So, call, report very fast, talk about what you can do for the prospect company, and try to get the conversation to another channel with a date and time. A conference call or email, for example.
- Do Your Homework - study the contact company the day before and use that in the conversation. Speak one or two good points of the company in question and then a point at which you can help.
- Show enthusiasm - every day we receive telemarketing attacks. Do not be one more.
- Do not be pushy - if the prospect is not interested in continuing the contact, politely ask for the email, but do not insist. Not every prospect needs your service now. But he may need 6 months hence, and it's best if he does not remember you than he has a negative image.
- Develop Your Networking - if interested, after the call, the prospect will seek references from you. Have a network that I can recommend. If you have a common contact, you can even mention the link itself.
Prospecting by email
Email is a much less "invasive" channel than the phone. The person will not have to stop what he is doing to serve him. Usually, we've separated some times of the day to answer emails. The problem with this channel is the number of contacts we already receive per day per email. How to stand out?
I believe in more personal and less "mechanical" contacts. Some tips to perform well in customer prospecting by email:
- Be personal - look for information about the prospect and use it in communication.
- Search social proof - social data that show why you are reliable: indications, size of social networks, customer testimonials.
- Think of a good subject - Basically, the subject will define whether the prospect will open your email or not, so plan it well.
- Identify yourself on the sender - instead of simply "Filippo", why not "Filippo da Luz Spreadsheets"? It will make the prospect understand the reason for the contact.
- Stimulate the answer - try finalizing the email in a way that the conversation continues instead of trying to send the prospect to a form or to a landing page.
An example email follows:
Sender: Lucas da Mkt Performance
Subject: What would you do to further improve your marketing?
I have been following the BeeCommunication social networks and wanted to congratulate her for her excellent work.
My name is Lucas and I represent Mkt Performance. Just last year, we served more than 100 companies with a unique focus: to increase the attractiveness of new customers.
Like I told you, you guys are doing a great job, but there's always room for improvement. Would you like to book 15 minutes in your calendar to hear my ideas for BeeCommunication?
Just reply to this email and we continue talking. I look forward to showing you what I thought of you.
Prospecting for social networks
Prospecting for social networks is very similar to email, but the message should be more summarized. Just one caution should be taken. Email is usually a corporate tool. Some social networks are strictly personal.
The rule I follow is as follows: linkedin it is liberated to do any kind of prospecting. For other networks, just quick contacts trying to get the right person in the company or take it to email.
For example: "Hi, Caio. I got to you by Amanda from 8 Agency. She told me about the work they did together and I had some ideas for BeeCommunication. If it's not a bother, can you give me the email from the partner? Thank you!"
The goal is very clear, you want to find, attract and convince new customers that your service / product is the ideal for your needs and that it will be a business relationship that generates feedback. For this, there are some steps / tips that every prospecting process should follow.
1. Understand and test your sales funnel
The first thing to understand sales process is that if you take every step of what happens to your client until he makes a purchase and draws them one by one, the drawing will look like a Funnel: More open at the top and thinner at the bottom.
So it is important to understand how this funnel works and for that we need numbers. First, collect the data from potential customers. Then, record them in a single place or spreadsheet, like the one shown below.
Next, define how the sales process will work. These are the stages of the relationship funnel with the contact, until he becomes a client. In the example, the stages are: prospect, contact made, needs assessment, proposal submission. You should record, step by step, everything that happens during the negotiation. After these phases, you mark the contact as gain or loss.
An important tip: the smaller the path the client has to make until hiring, the better. Once you have your funnel drawn, make tests. Modify steps and see if your conversion rates improve or get worse.
The tests should not be random. Always focus on the crucial, that is, on the steps that are longer or that are having lower rate of evolution of the prospects.
2. Analyze data and measure results
In addition to grouping the customers or potential clients you need to from time to time follow the set of prospects to measure the results. This allows you to analyze in which phases the process is less efficient and which changes should be made. As we have said before, the set of these phases is also called a "sales funnel".
With the knowledge of this data, you can follow through on the rules of how to do a good prospecting of customers.
Citing an example: A store changed its storefront and over 50 people went in there but at the end of the day no one bought anything. Perhaps the shopkeeper's reaction was to change the showcase but with the control of the stages of the funnel it is possible to understand that the problem is not in the window (top of the funnel) but in the service or the price. In factors that hinder the conversion of store visitors into customers. Not the conversion of visitors from the mall to store visitors, which is the role of the shop window.
3. Create multi-channel lead acquisition strategies
An important point in prospecting is to always be creating methods to reach new customers. Keeping an up-to-date professional network, ensuring attendance at events in your area and having online and offline media strategies are some ways to always have new contacts interested.
Important: Whenever you start a new negotiation process with some client, try to keep track of the way your clients have come to you. So you can understand if your strategies are working.
4. Do nutrition from leads and customers
Lead nutrition is the name given to the qualification of data of your registered. At the beginning of the process, we usually only ask for the email to register, and gradually we will complete with more information.
Companies that generate many leads can not afford to negotiate with everyone. It would end the time of the commercial team, which would be focusing on dubious deals in favor of other promising ones.
So it's interesting to know more about your best customers and cross with leads data. That way, you'll know which deals follow the highest success rate profile. Some examples of what you can try to find out:
- Does the prospect work in which sector?
- Is it a big or small company?
- Does he hold a leadership or more operational position?
- Does he have a formal contract or not?
- Does he have a large or small family?
- Do you live in a large center or on the outskirts?
Over time you will learn which data is most relevant to your business.
5. Be patient
Whoever deals with sales knows: to win a client requires patience. You should not rely on a buyer "yes" right after the first contact. Prospecting can not require urgency.
What's more, someone who refuses the product or service at any given time may be able to receive business contacts again in the future and, who knows, may still become a customer one day.
So always remember to record all your negotiations and why the sales were not closed. So you can resume contact with your customers if you change your conditions, such as offering a discount.
6. Understand buying influences
In a complex sales process, with a longer negotiation, there are purchasing influences. They are agents that can facilitate the process of approving the purchase with the customer. Understanding them and knowing how to work each one of them can be a difference in selling.
Eg when trying to sell a large consulting project, it is not enough for the company's shareholder to want to do so. Probably its scope will have to be approved by the Board of Directors. The budget by the financier. The area that will benefit from the project may also play a strong role in showing the benefits to the company. All these people are buying influences.
7. Always leave the next step marked
Always try to terminate a customer contact by checking the next one. Never enter the modus operandi "Ok. Then we'll set up a meeting. " If you are on the phone with the prospect, leave a call or a scheduled meeting before hanging up. At a meeting, show the next steps and schedule the following.
Of course we have to be patient and respect the limits of the prospect, but it is important to have the goal of always being with the next step marked in mind.
Like any good process, customer prospecting is a set of activities that must be performed on a daily basis. To achieve good results, the control of these activities and the stages of the process is crucial. Some tools, such as spreadsheet systems can help with this work.
1. Sales Funnel Control Tools
There is nothing more crucial to prospecting clients than to track and try to optimize the steps of the sales funnel. In order for this objective to be achieved, it is interesting that the activities related to each step are controlled.
The initial instinct is to think of a sales funnel software or sales pipeline. There are several good ones, such as PipeDrive, but before making that decision, one must take into account how much a process of prospecting and negotiation is already mature.
If it is a developing process, we suggest the use of a customer prospecting worksheet.
2. Marketing Automation Tools
There are several activities within the prospecting process that can be automated. Especially if the company practices the inbound marketing, as we mentioned above.
To do this, you will need to use a marketing automation system. In it you automate the flow of lead acquisition and create automatic e-mail rules, from interactions of prospects with your product.
Of all the tools I've ever used, the best of all is the Hubspot. However, its cost can sometimes be very expensive for Brazilian companies, depending on the dollar's price.
In terms of cost benefit, I really enjoy the Active Campaign.
3. CRM Tools
CRM means Client Relationship Management, Ou seja, Customer Relationship Management. A CRM tool serves as a database of customers, with their personal data, professionals and interactions with the company.
Saving this data helps map the ideal customer profile and facilitates future prospects. If you are interested, know our customer registration worksheet - CRM.