Sales prospecting is not an easy feat—not by a mile. Most salespeople go through hours and hours of training to narrow down their skills and hone them. It is a practice that needs to be sharpened.
Trends shift and customer needs change over the course of a few months. Salespeople need to modernize their ways and adapt to these changes if they want to be successful in this line of work.
What is sales prospecting?
Sales prospecting involves gauging the interests of the clients and customers in the product or service they’re pedaling towards the market.
If done right, sales prospecting will positively affect your business’ sales and performance and if it’s done badly, it will negatively affect revenue.
We can consider this process as the first step of customer acquisition and retention. Perhaps it’s one of the most important phases of marketing as well.
What are prospecting skills?
Prospecting skills may vary from person to person. Some people thrive verbally, some might opt for a more subtle prospecting approach.
That being said, prospecting all boils down to interpersonal and intrapersonal skills. These, along with attentiveness and persuasiveness, are pretty much all a salesperson needs with prospecting soft skills.
- Above-average communication skills (verbal and written)
- Attention to detail
- Active listening
- Emotional intelligence
Salespeople equip themselves with these soft skills, along with product knowledge, technological know-how, and effective sales techniques.
Sales prospecting tips
Here are some do’s and don’ts to help beginners and experts alike.
Don’t: Launch into a scripted monologue
As a customer, have you ever received a telesales call and the other person on the line immediately launched into a monologue?
Right after saying a spiel of “Hi, this is __ on a recorded line…” some salespeople go straight to their sales script. While this isn’t technically wrong, it may appear insincere and impersonal. Prospects need to know that salespeople aren’t just after their hard-earned money.
Do: Create a professional connection
Even if the sale didn’t go through, keep in mind that these people on the prospect lists are still connections.
Failed sales and deals may turn into successful ones sometime after. Remember that in sales, timing is everything.
To create a professional connection with the prospects, take note of their needs and preferences. Create solutions for their problems.
Don’t: Jump to conclusions
There will be times that salespeople will encounter prospects and clients that are curt—they may answer in a short and clipped tone.
For instance, “I don’t have time to talk today.” doesn’t mean “I don’t want to talk to you today.”
Many people, even those who aren’t in sales, will take this as a hard no. Even if the prospect didn’t exclusively say no. Don’t jump to conclusions and translate phrases and messages into something entirely different.
Do: Prepare for rebuttals
On the other side of things, it’s a general rule of thumb that salespeople have to at least try to convince their prospects.
Rebuttals will come in handy for this one.
If a client is hesitant about the quality of the product or service, reiterate its best features and quality checks that it goes through.
If a client is hesitant to change brands, highlight the positive differences between your brand and your competitors’.
Listen to the prospects’ qualms and concerns—addressing these will increase the chances of the deal being successful.
Don’t: Push your customers into purchasing
Never coerce, pressure, and bully a customer into purchasing. Along with guilt-tripping and power playing, these sales techniques are outdated and even offensive to some.
As a salesperson, always keep in mind that these prospects are also as human as you.
One of the most ineffective ways to sell is hard-selling. So rather than wasting effort, time, and potential on hard-selling, be attentive to what your prospects need instead.
Do: Understand their needs
As a salesperson, one of your primary job responsibilities is to understand what the market needs.
Trends shift for a reason and you’re the first point of contact of the brand you’re representing.
Along with honing your product knowledge, studying and being attentive to your customer’s needs is an important part of the department’s day-to-day operation.
Sales prospecting: Needs vs wants
Identifying the needs and wants of a customer is fairly easy. If you did your prospecting right, you’d already have some sort of idea of differentiating these.
Asking the right questions will lead you to realize the vast difference between needs and wants.
For example, if a customer is struggling with the current version of their phone because it’s too small, it’s too big, the camera isn’t as clear—this may be a ‘want’ rather than a need.
If the same customer is struggling with the phone’s performance, you may consider it as a need.
Prospecting in 2022
Prospecting in 2022 has never been this easy.
With the abundance of sales prospecting tools and the rise of targeting and retargeting ads, closing a deal is a breeze.
Just always remember that connecting with your prospect doesn’t end as soon as the deal is done.