Cold outreach is essential to driving business growth. However, 40 percent of sales professionals indicate that prospecting is the most challenging aspect of their job. (1)

Most people dread prospecting because they fear saying the wrong thing – and with good reason. The risk of this happening increases when salespeople get stuck when they speak to a gatekeeper because they blatantly self-promote their products or services. Fortunately, if they do their homework instead of going in unrehearsed, they will avoid this scenario.

Sitting back and letting someone else supply leads does not work, either. Yet far too many salespeople rely on leads provided to them or seek out calling lists. The top 1 percent of sales performers, on the other hand, know that attaining success with cold outreach takes work. It is about relationships.

So, what is the right way to go about cold outreach? Keep reading to find out.

Plan, Plan and Then Plan More 

42 percent of sales reps feel they do not have enough information before making calls to prospects. (2) 59 percent of buyers think the sales emails they receive are irrelevant. (3) Only 37 percent of prospects feel the salespeople who made cold calls to them had provided information that was relevant to their needs – yet nearly 75 percent of salespeople thought they were spot-on with their pitch. (4)

These statistics tell a clear story about how widespread the issue of insufficient planning is among salespeople. It is imperative for salespeople to conduct thorough research and to look for any triggers that may signal a sales opportunity. For example, a new executive at the prospect’s company may be open to new ideas. In a different situation, if the organization has experienced a rough fiscal quarter or year, there may be an opportunity to play on their desire to perform cost analyses to improve efficiencies and production. But salespeople must research the business to become aware of these opportunities.

Connect With Prospects Before Competitors Do 

The first viable vendor to reach a decision maker and set the buying vision enjoys a 74 percent close ratio, according to Forrester. And 50 percent of buyers choose the vendor that responds first when the prospect reaches out, according to InsideSales.com.

While, ideally, sales would come effortlessly, this is simply not realistic. The best working relationships arise from capitalizing on opportunities that savvy salespeople recognize – and moving quickly to do so. Reaching a prospect before the competition does greatly improves the odds of winning their business.

Doing so also requires salespeople to be intentional and strategic in the prospecting methods they use. Understanding who the target audience is and using tools such as buyer personas is vital. Other valuable tools include Mention, online groups, lead funnels and tracking prospects’ interactions with online content.

Utilize Social Selling 

65 percent of salespeople who use social selling fill their pipeline, compared to 47 percent of reps who do not. (5)

If businesses want to outsell competitors and keep their pipelines full, they need to engage with buyers. This is done through maintaining an active social media presence and developing relationships with prospects outside of selling. It also means establishing a reputation as an expert and trusted advisor.

How is this accomplished? Joining online groups the company’s target audience frequents, sharing information that is relevant without being self-promotional and answering questions readily without charging a fee all work well. It means actively participating in communities, being willing to contribute to them and offering insight and expertise.

Obtain Referrals 

Many salespeople are missing out on a golden opportunity to get more conversions. 91 percent of customers say they would give referrals, but only 11 percent of salespeople ask. (6)

Referrals give companies the advantage of satisfied customers who make sales pitches on their behalf. This warm outreach tactic converts extremely well, as the vast majority of people trust peer-to-peer recommendations. Businesses should make a referral strategy a mandatory part of the sales prospecting along with case studies, testimonials and reviews.

These processes, tools and training will all empower sales associates to become more productive and achieve their sales goals faster. Companies that want effective sales reps must focus not just on quotas, but also on the methodology that lands the right opportunities and connects them with the right people. 

Uncertain times call for creative thinking. Contact Gavel International to be inspired with solutions that connect and engage your people. 

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SOURCES:

1 https://www.csoinsights.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2018/06/Growing-Buyer-Seller-Gap-White-paper_FINAL.pdf

2 https://dma.org.uk/uploads/misc/5a1583ff3301a-consumer-email-tracking-report-2017-(2)_5a1583ff32f65.pdf

3 http://blog.close.io/39-shocking-stats-that-will-change-the-way-you-sell

4 https://research.hubspot.com/buyers-speak-out-how-sales-needs-to-evolve

5 http://my.salesforlife.com/social-selling-2017-trends-report/

6 https://spotio.com/blog/sales-statistics/#salesprospecting

Jim Bozzelli