Boston Women​Preneurs Blog

Sales Prospecting 101: What is Smart Prospecting in the Sales Process?

Posted by Sep 27, 2013 4:41:00 PM Alison Powell

Prospecting is an art. It takes smart working and a good amount of concentration and dedication to get good at it. Over the past three years I have learned a little bit about how to effectively prospect. Any work I do should be smart work. A lot of sales people think you get successful by working hard. I think you get successful at sales by working smart and hard. 

What is Smart Prospecting?

When you login to your CRM some sales reps are given leads from marketing. Thank you marketing! Some sales reps out there have to source their own leads. Either way you have options. You can login daily and just start calling with no context or plan as to what you are doing. Or you could login and have a plan and purpose. 

Smart prospecting is the process of calling potentially qualified leads to enable your chances of getting an "at bat" to increase. If you just call people willy nilly you likely will not get anywhere unless you are a sweet talker once you reach someone. The easiest way to be successful at prospecting is to think about what you are doing and why you are doing it. 

To figure out how to smart prospect in your organization you should ask yourself a couple of questions:

  • What is an ideal lead and fit for what we sell?
  • Why is that an ideal lead?
  • How do we help them?
  • What do we help them with?
  • Why would they need our help?
  • Would they maybe want our help right now? Would our services or products actually be something that is timely to their business goals and needs? why

These questions will help you to formulate the type of research you need to do to find those good ideal leads to smart prospect. This takes time and takes research. It also takes being consistent in your process and putting time into what you do before you call or reach out to someone. 

Would you just go up to a random girl at a bar and ask her if she wants to go home with you? I doubt it...

You probably don't want to reach out to your leads like that either. This is not about you, it is about the prospect and how you might be able to help them. 

How do you do smart research on your leads?

Once you have a lead, whether you sourced it yourself or got an inbound lead through marketing efforts you need to do research. You should be doing research on the right things. Those things to research your leads on will be different from company to company. The one thing that will be the same is the questions you want to ask yourself as a sales organization as to what types of things you should be doing research on. The questions above will help you configure these ideas. 

I sell software to marketers who need tools to do marketing and lead gen. Daily I have to think about why a company might need our help. I have to think about why that might be and dig online to find reasons as to why that might be. If I didn't do that then I would probably have a really bad time prospecting. 

number_1_ruleMy number one rule in prospecting:

If you don't know why you are a calling a company/lead then you probably shouldn't be calling them in the first place. 

1. Why are you calling the lead?

2. What do you have to say to them that is going to be helpful?

You can guess at those 2 questions each time you call someone but why make your connect any harder than it already is. Figure out what you want to say to someone before you call and have a plan of attack that might help them based on the research you have done on your lead. 

Here are a few things that I look for when I do smart research:

  • How did I find the lead? Was it an inbound lead or was it sourced somewhere? With either case, you should write those things down in the description field of the lead so when you go back to the lead again it is all right there for you to read before you call again. If the lead came inbound you need to write down how and what they looked at, what forms they filled out, what emails marketing has sent, etc. If the lead is outbound write down where you sourced it from and why. You might forget later. 
  • Look for things that will help you understand if what you sell or do would actually be something this company probably has a problem with right now and that you might be able to solve for. At HubSpot we are helping marketers to market their business so I look for companies that have growth goals, press releases that tell me they are trying to grow or have released a new product. 
  • Figure out who the right people are to go after and why. Write those things down as well and look up their background on LinkedIn to see what you can do to impact the conversation once you actually reach them. Find commonalities and find things in their LinkedIn background that tell you what you sell is actually something they would care about.

Ways that I know something might be timely:

  • Have they expressed growth goals in their press releases or anywhere in the news section of their site. What are those growth goals?
  • Do they have any expansion of their services or products? Have they expanded to more locations or offices? Sometimes companies are expanding into new markets as well.
  • Have they just raised money? Understand why they have done this. Usually this will tell you something as to why they have done that. Read those articles that were written by media and news about their round. What are they trying to do?
  • If they have product releases listed somewhere this could tell you that maybe your services or product could be a fit for them right now. 
  • Are they attending trade shows? Events? That probably means that they might want to generate leads and that they are trying to grow. 
  • Press releases in general give you a good sense of what is going on and you might be able to learn something that would directly impact how you should prospect them. 
  • Personnel changes- have they hired someone that would use your products or services? Why did they hire them? Would they need your help? Why?
  • Award lists are great ways to find out about companies that are doing specific things that you might be able to talk to them about. 

tool-beltsSome tools that I use to do this type of research are:

  • Their website 
  • Their press releases section on their site, news section, blog, etc. 
  • Follow them on Twitter and create a private list called prospects. You can check that out randomly each day to respond to tweets if you see something relevant.
  • Follow their company on LinkedIn. Try to connect on LinkedIn. Look for similar groups on LinkedIn. 
  • Setup a google alert on the company name to receive instant updates when something happens with that company. 
  • Follow trade shows and go through their exhibitors lists to find leads. 

Good luck with your smart prospecting! 

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Topics: sales prospecting, sales process, women in sales, smart prospecting

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