Sales prospects are everywhere — in prospecting databases, chatting on Twitter, attending conventions and standing in front of you at the grocery checkout line. However, as every salesperson knows, although prospects are in plain sight, they are hiding in plain sight.
The best way to keep the prospect pipeline full, therefore, is to prospect on many fronts, using many methods — otherwise you are limiting yourself, perhaps to a prospecting method not nearly as effective as other options you could be testing. Here are three excellent, proven tools to help you cast the widest net possible.
1. Sales intelligence tools
Tap into sales intelligence tools. Identifying qualified prospects and gathering relevant data about them can be managed quickly and reliably with online databases such as ZoomInfo and LinkedIn Sales Navigator. The less time you spend on building a prospect list, the more time you can spend on actual selling.
These databases allow you to shape your prospect list based on industry, geographic location, revenue, number of employees and other variables relevant to your prospecting strategy. In addition, you will also be able to find information about specific contacts within the targeted company — including job title and email address in some cases.
Done manually, assembling a prospect list is a laborious process that chews up hours of selling time. With a sales intelligence tool, the job can be done in a matter of minutes — and the information you gather can be integrated into a CRM or online engagement platform (see below) so you’re not burdened with stove-piped prospecting management systems.
2. Online engagement platforms
Use online sales engagement platforms such as Outreach or SalesLoft to organize your prospecting workflow. These platforms support inbound and outbound sales organizations, enabling salespeople to handle a large number of prospects without having leads fall through the cracks.
These systems enable sales teams to define the various stages their prospects go through during the sales process, and prompt salespeople to take appropriate actions at the appropriate time — sending emails, making phone calls, etc. Emails can be preloaded in the system, which the salesperson can customize and personalize as needed.
Online engagement platforms are highly useful to sales management as well as sales representatives, allowing managers to define goals and track individual and team performance. In addition, these platforms are scalable and can grow with a sales organization as it adds personnel, initiates and new inbound or outbound workflows.
3. Sales video tools
Salespeople rely heavily on email for prospecting follow-up. Although it is very difficult to get responses, there are few alternatives. The advantage of email is that everyone uses it; the major disadvantage is overuse. Prospects tend to ignore legitimate follow-up communication because their inboxes are inundated with spam.
One solution, however, is to leverage videos. Sales video tools are a “secret weapon” that make prospects sit up and take notice of introductory or follow-up prospecting emails. Supported by sales video platforms such as Vidyard and Soapbox by Wistia, these brief videos can dramatically improve email response.
The advantages of sales videos are ease and speed of production; the ability to customize video to specific industries, applications or even individuals; and the sheer novelty factor. While it is true that prospects have overfilled inboxes, not many emails contain video, making it likely prospects will be curious enough to watch. Video also makes a stronger impression than text and adds a personal touch that text or static images can’t match.
A key to successful email video is brevity. Whether your purpose is to establish a personal connection, explain a complex value proposition or introduce your products and services, the goal of the video is to spark enough interest for a clickthrough or phone call — expecting a prospect to watch a 10-minute video is more than likely asking too much.
Implementation: workflow first, tools next
Powerful as these sales tools are, they work best when a sales workflow is already defined. If you unleash a sales team without a prospecting process, leaving it to the sales reps to develop their own workflows, the data will be unmanageable and you will lose the ability to scale your operation.
If you don’t have a defined workflow, or believe your existing workflow should be modified to take advantage of the tools, then it makes sense to test the platform(s) with a small group of salespeople and refine the workflow before introducing it department-wide. Another smart implementation strategy is to start with just one or two features of the tool rather than to dive in and try all of them.
In short, it is always easier to expand the use of a prospecting tool than to rein it in. By starting slowly, you will likely find your sales results grow quickly.