It’s no longer enough to cold call prospective clients and expect them to buy on the spot. In today’s sales environment, you may need to use different technologies across the sales stack and tactically go after targeted accounts. Doesn’t that…
The Complete Guide to Sales Prospecting Software
Uncategorized • March 20, 2017
Sales prospecting software has become an important and versatile tool in every B2B salesperson’s toolbox. As teams struggle to hit their quota against the clock, saving time and money by maximizing and investing in the right processes, activities and skills has become more crucial. Today’s B2B buyers are harder to reach than ever before, as the sales landscape shifts to be more buyer-centric. It’s essential that sales reps have the power of sales prospecting software at their fingertips.
According to The Bridge group, the average number of attempts to reach a stranger is 9.2 attempts. That number has more than doubled since 2010, when it was only 4.2 attempts. Traditionally, managing all of these contact attempts across a large number of prospective contacts can prove very difficult, even for the most prolific salesperson. With the advent of sales prospecting software, sales teams have the help they need to manage a wide amount of outreach attempts over a number of days, weeks, months and years.
What is Sales Prospecting?
Prospecting is the process of searching for potential customers, clients, or buyers in order to develop new business. The end goal is to move prospects through the sales funnel until they eventually convert into revenue-generating customers.
Sales Prospect vs. Sales Lead
It’s important to distinguish between a sales prospect and a sales lead when optimizing a sales system. A lead is a potential customer who has shown interest in a businesses’ services through an action such as visiting a website, subscribing to a newsletter or signing up for email alerts. A prospect, on the other hand, is a lead that becomes qualified as a potential customer. This means that they line up with a specific persona of a company’s target demographic. Additionally, a prospect may be characterized as a potential customer who has little or no interaction with a company, but they wouldn’t be considered as a lead.
History of Sales Prospecting
The history of sales prospecting has its roots in the insurance industry. When salesmen, who were tasked with prospecting, selling and collecting, became overwhelmed with the duties of the job, specialized roles for each function emerged.
In the 1920s, International Business Machine (IBM), headed by the formidable Thomas J. Watson Sr., implemented a sales powerhouse that shaped the modern sales process. Watson and IBM helped push the sales profession forward by:
- Implementing formal sales training programs.
- Focusing on sales force motivation through songs, contests, and innovative commission structures.
- Focusing on recruiting the best and brightest.
Watson knew two things that still hold true today: First, as competition increases, a sales team becomes a competitive advantage. Second, the more training, education and experience a sales team has, the more superior sales effectiveness becomes. As sales strategies transformed into a major tenet of successful business operations, a new sales role, known as the Sales Development Rep (SDR), allowed teams to become even more specialized.
The three main aspects of this sales process became lead generation, closing and account management. Sales departments realized that sales growth comes from qualified lead growth; that, in turn, required an SDR to be solely focused on finding and qualifying prospects.
Today, prospecting automation software is giving sales reps the insights that have never been available before. The modern salesperson’s toolbox has largely increased in recent years as computer technology continues to streamline lead generation, CRM, email marketing, contract management and more. Automation of important processes, such as logging and enhancing sales information, means sales teams can spend more time selling and less time sorting minuscule data.
The best sales teams are those that have learned to master both technologically-advantageous sales software and the main principles of successful selling, pioneered more than 100 years ago. These salespeople understand how important the right tools and the right training are to successfully finding a qualified prospect. Because of sales prospecting software, the profession is moving forward, giving sales reps an edge with impactful sales tools.
How Companies Use Sales Prospecting Software
Companies use sales prospecting software to their benefit in various ways. From hands-free organization to valuable insights, computers are improving the sales process. By tracking new sales opportunities that grow business, teams can create a better sales and customer experiences. Using sales processing software makes a huge difference in how your team manages their sales activities, from accessing real-time sales data to improving efficiency and more.
The benefits to a sales prospecting software include:
- Access to a Centralized Database
Storing all of a sales team’s information in one centralized database helps reduce errors and redundancies while also keeping day-to-day activities organized. With data stored in one place, teams can collaborate more easily and boost workflow.
- Insights to Sales Intelligence
Giving a sales team access to the information that they need is key to tracking and analyzing prospects. It makes a salesperson’s job easier to have the essential metrics that they need, such as win/loss history, target market sectors, customer purchases, quote status and gross profit margins.
- Increased Efficiency
The time availability of a sales team is valuable. By using a single system, prospecting becomes much more efficient, giving salespeople more time work on sales, instead of manually recording sales data and chasing down unqualified prospects. Acting at the moment-of-interest, instead of retroactively responding to sales inquiries, is incredibly important in capturing prospects’ information.
- Real-time Data Management
Lead prospecting is centered around the management of data, and the advantage of having that data in real-time allows a salesperson to work more intelligently. When a salesperson knows more about the potential client they’re prospecting, they can build stronger relationships to create higher satisfaction among prospects. This leads to improved sales prospecting methods and better overall account management.
- Promotes Strong Business Foundation
Establishing a strong business foundation, especially in the B2B world of sales, impacts growth and overall value of a company. With sales prospecting software, managing, tracking and grading clients enables a business to integrate important information with other systems, such as ERP software. When teams can integrate systems across departments, sales, finance and operations, it gives the company a strong foundation from which to build.
- Access to Analysis and Reports
Sales prospecting software can help a company gauge the effectiveness of its various sales and marketing campaigns. It can determine if traffic volumes and sales conversion ratios meet the set targets. Past performances can be analyzed, and shortcomings can be identified and fixed to improve revenue and profit.
B2B Sales Prospecting
B2B salespeople have to follow up with and reach out to a wide array of inbound leads as well as outbound prospects to meet their sales objectives. Both of these strategies take multiple attempts to reach today’s busy and time-constrained business contacts. This disciplined set of outbound requires a system to help manage, track and measure prospecting efforts and activities.
To be more proactive in contacting potential customers and rapidly introducing them into your sales pipeline, outbound lead generation may be the best tactic. When a target market is identified, those that match sales personas are likely to become the most lucrative customers. An outbound lead generation team can use software to unlock new markets, test messaging and generate data related to the target prospect. When it comes to B2B sales, outbound prospecting has remained a reliable way to consistently deliver a high return on investment.
Sales prospecting software lowers the struggle of selling elaborate sales processes, complicated business offerings and sales legwork in general. When a sales process is too complex, it can rob sales reps of the time they could have otherwise spent doing their own prospecting. Outbound prospecting software can help calibrate and improve sales systems to allow for more prospect interactions and feedback.
Why Sales Prospecting Systems Are Important
Without a sales prospecting system, salespeople would be left to their own devices to organize, manage, track and measure their prospecting efforts. For organizations that have more than a handful of salespeople, this would make it impossible to standardize and scale a consistent prospecting method across a whole sales team. Further, as a sales prospecting team grows, a manager will need tools for tracking, measuring, and optimizing individual and team sales efforts and results.
There are more than a few important aspects of sales prospecting systems that will improve your bottomline:
The value of a contact list can never be underestimated. Identifying and reaching the decision-makers of a business’ target market is the most effective way to increase sales among your desired audience.
Value in Every (Multiple) Touch
Modern sales requires more attempts to get through to a company’s ideal prospects. At the same time, the prospect needs to properly understand how your services can enrich their lives or business. When trying to make services or products appealing to the prospect, understanding their background can give a salesperson an advantage when turning a prospect into a sale.
Giving a Prospect the Right Offer
No matter what the end product or service you offer, the offer you make before they make a purchase needs to be just as enticing. Whether you offer a particular type of technical instrument, building material, financial assistance or operations software, getting a potential customer into the sales funnel may be the most important part of the sales process. Understanding the behavior of a target client, and how to appeal to their needs, can be better understood through sales prospecting software.
Value in the Variety of Touches
In an outbound sales strategy, cold calling might be effective. However, when used in conjunction with email, direct mail and digital marketing efforts, the variety of touches presents the prospect with more interesting content. Now, instead of bothering a prospect, the salesperson catches his intrigue and serves his needs, leading to a more trusted relationship between the prospect and company.
Know the best time’s to reach out to prospects with Moment of Interest alerts
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