A Step-By-Step Guide for Successful B2B Prospecting


Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Management pros

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Prospecting can be one of the most challenging parts of the sales process. This article will help you succeed and nurture your leads through the sales funnel.

Article 4 Minutes
A Step-By-Step Guide for Successful B2B Prospecting

Prospecting - the process of finding potential buyers or clients and moving them through the sales funnel to make a purchase - is one of the most challenging aspects of sales. However, it can also be one of the most useful. Here are four steps you should take to prospect successfully and increase your chance of a sale:

1. Understand your ideal prospect

One of the most important aspects of prospecting is research. This happens in two stages:

1. Before you even start your sales process: work out what a prospect actually looks like to your company. You need to know what qualities a lead will have that will make them a prospect. Think about things like their position, their industry and their company’s turnover.

2. Start prospecting individuals: now you can begin looking into people who could potentially be prospects, and checking to see if they match your ideal prospect.

Some companies estimate you should take no more than ten minutes to research an outbound lead, and even less for inbound leads. Ideally, you’d have a checklist and be able to quickly match your leads to the qualities you’re looking for, enabling you to be as efficient as possible and not waste time on leads that are unlikely to convert.

2. Find leads to connect with

The next step is to uncover the best place for you to find leads who stand a good chance of becoming prospects. LinkedIn jumps out as the most obvious, with a user base of 675 million monthly users and 30 million companies. However, only 21% of prospects like to communicate via LinkedIn, so it should only be used for preliminary research.

One simple tactic is to utilize company websites. For example, if you know your target prospects are purchasing managers in the pharmaceutical industry, then make a list of pharmaceutical companies and go through their staff lists until you find the position you’re looking for. You can then use LinkedIn or other websites to find an email address or phone number.

In addition, don’t neglect inbound leads. Plenty of sales professionals will extol the virtues of thought leadership content as a method of attracting prospects without having to do the research yourself. If you create content that gets leads thinking about the advantages of your product or service, you’ll find it a lot easier to move them through the sales funnel.

3. Reach out

A common myth about prospecting is that buyers don’t want to be contacted. Actually, 71% of buyers are interested to hear from sales reps even early on in their buying journey, and more than two-thirds of buyers are still happy to accept cold calls. That means once you’ve found a prospect, you should immediately take the time to reach out.

Emailing can also be an effective tool. However, you need to be careful about how it's structured. Research suggests the ideal email is between 50 and 125 words, with a subject line three to four words long.

However you contact your prospects, you’ll need to make a good first impression. You probably don’t want to aggressively sell straight away. Instead, focus on the problems your prospect might be having and how you can help them. Remember that the process takes time; you’re not going to make a sale straight away.

4. Move them down the funnel

The purpose of prospecting is to take a lead and move them down the sales funnel. This starts with awareness, which you’ll pass once you’ve made contact. From there, you’ll need to develop their interest; get them to a stage where they’re ready to make a decision, and inspire them to take action.

Make sure you manage your expectations, otherwise you could easily become overwhelmed by the sales pressure. Once you’ve made contact, you’ll need to create several touchpoints before they convert, so aim to book in a follow-up call for a time that suits them.

But how do you achieve these follow-up calls? One option is to ask questions, but not too many; the sweet spot is between 11 and 14, which translates to a 74% greater chance of success. Around 60% of buyers will want to discuss pricing on the first call as well, so make sure you give them the opportunity to do so.

Insights for Professionals

Insights for Professionals provide free access to the latest thought leadership from global brands. We deliver subscriber value by creating and gathering specialist content for senior professionals.


Join the conversation...