B2B prospecting methods constantly change. With the advent of smartphones, email, online video conferencing tools like Zoom, and networking websites like LinkedIn, salespeople have numerous avenues to find, vet, and connect with prospects. Still, more than 40 percent of salespeople say B2B prospecting is the most challenging part of the sales process.
Though there are inevitable challenges to prospecting, it often comes down to moving beyond a flawed mindset and an ineffective prospecting strategy. In this blog, we will debunk the Top 7 myths that may be stopping you from finding new prospects and closing deals.
Myth#1 Sales is about meeting targets
Gone are the days where the first and only objective for a sales professional was to meet targets, but had little concern whether the product, service, or solution fit was right for customers. In today’s B2B world, sales is about being an expert who understands customers’ pain points and offers effective solutions to solve them. Instead of blindly approaching any business to make a sale, find out whether they fit your ideal customer profile (ICP) and consider the value you have to offer them. To learn how to identify your ICP, read What is an Ideal Customer Profile and 6 Ways to Identify ICPs.
Myth#2 Cold calling is dead
A popular belief is that cold calling no longer works, which is probably true if it’s done the hard-sell, old-fashioned way. Here are few tips to make your cold calling successful:
- Use B2B networking platforms like LinkedIn to identify and connect with prospects before calling them. It’s all about building a relationship first before making the pitch. Social media is a great way to make that initial connection. To learn how to make the most of LinkedIn, read Social Selling on LinkedIn: Top Four Tips to Transform into a Modern Seller.
- Research your prospects before calling them. Do your homework by finding out what a company specializes in and who is the key decision-maker. A tool like the Vendasta Snapshot Report helps you learn about a business by analyzing its online presence and activity. It also highlights gaps that may exist in your prospect’s marketing strategy.
- Use sales scripts to make sure the pitch is focused on the value you offer. Know what you’ll say and how you should say it. Your script should demonstrate that you know what a prospect’s business might be struggling with, needs to solve, and is trying to accomplish. Then show how your offering helps them achieve the business outcomes they desire. You want to “connect the dots.” Train all your sales reps on how to use a sales script for maximum benefits.
- Use customer relationship management (CRM) tools like Nutshell and Keap to manage sales cycles and prospecting. Sales CRMs get you organized and help build more efficient selling processes and marketing campaigns by giving you the ability to manage workflows, automate tasks, and share performance data.
Myth#3 Prospecting ends when you’ve created awareness
There is a misconception that prospecting ends when you’ve helped a customer gain awareness of your products, solutions and services. Unfortunately, this thinking doesn’t close deals. Most markets are intensively competitive, and the moment you stop fighting for your prospect’s attention and keeping them engaged, a competitor is likely to swoop in and take them away. Once you have a prospect aware of the solutions, you need to start educating them on how those solutions will help them achieve their business goals. Offer free trials and support them during the onboarding process. Then meet regularly with them to ensure they’re having success with your product. It’s an opportunity to move them to a paid option by upselling more tools and features that will help them get greater value and better performance.
Myth#4 You don’t need to build a personal brand
Sales professionals might rely on the brand of their company rather than thinking about building their own. But a strong personal brand helps you stand apart from the crowd by gaining more visibility online and becoming identifiable as a person and authority on a given topic, which in turn may position you as an influencer and a thought leader. Case in point: Elon Musk, who has his own strong brand apart from Tesla.
There are three things you can do to build a solid personal brand:
- Work your niche: Identify and promote your area of expertise. If you are great at selling CRM products to sales agencies, create your LinkedIn profile around it. Send emails to prospects, detailing how they can use CRM products to simplify their sales process. Send them informative articles, podcast episodes, videos and infographics to move them along the sales funnel.
- Frequency: Creating your personal brand takes time and effort. Sending emails or newsletters is not a one-time thing. You need to create a messaging sequence and regular cadence so that your prospect thinks of you whenever they consider the area of expertise you promote.
- Visibility: Build your presence on professional platforms and in networking groups. Contribute to blogs and magazines, collaborate on projects, give keynote speeches, and be a guest on podcast shows that align with the area of your expertise.
Myth#5 You don't always have to be professional
Often, sales reps fall into the trap of being too casual with their customers, especially when they have developed a longstanding relationship. Thirty-year sales veteran George Leith, the chief customer officer at Vendasta, says sales reps need to deliver value consistently and remaining professional is extremely important.
Here are ways you can retain professionalism while helping your customers:
- Dress up for your clients. Look professional. Make them realize you take them seriously.
- Prepare an agenda and/or proposals. Don’t be cavalier when you meet with your customer. It’s business, so always let them know what to expect from you and fulfil those expectations consistently.
- Deliver value. Whether you are trying to cross-sell or up-sell to your customers, always focus on how you deliver value.
- Actively listen to your customers. You cannot understand your customers’ pain points if you don’t let them speak. Let them detail the challenges they are facing and ask probing questions to get more data. As the adage goes - seek first to understand then be understood.
Myth#6 You don't need to network
Can you ever have enough customers? Experienced sales reps may think continuously networking isn’t necessary, based on a belief that they drive enough business through their existing customers. But you win a few and perhaps lose a lot more through customer churn. Research shows a 5 percent churn rate is the industry standard for B2B businesses. Always network to find new customers.
Here are few tips to make it easier for you:
- Be a thought leader. Collaborate with peers to participate in industry-wide projects and think tanks. Apart from sharing your knowledge on networking platforms to help your peers, attend industry events to make new connections.
- Use LinkedIn. It’s one of the most powerful professional networking platforms, with the lead conversion rate being 3-times higher than other major ad platforms. Also, 40 percent of LinkedIn users are decision-makers, so you stand a better chance of connecting with an ideal prospect.
- Use multiple channels to stay in touch with prospects. Connect with them on social media, send educational emails, leave voicemails if you are unable to connect directly, and send them relevant marketing collateral. Remember, there’s no such thing as generating too many touchpoints. As American author and salesman Zig Ziglar famously said, for every deal you lose by being too enthusiastic, you will lose 50 more by not being enthusiastic enough.
- Always keep working on your prospect list. Even if a prospect is already doing business with your competitor, keep forging ahead and continue with your networking efforts as they may be looking for an alternative one day, and you want to be around when that happens.
Myth#7 You don't need to be an expert
Sales reps need to do more than sell. They must stay current with industry trends and how they impact buyer behaviour. They must follow the latest industry developments and share that knowledge with prospects, especially when these developments might impact their buying decision. They must understand the buyer journey for their industry and identify the stage a prospect is in. It’s also important to design messages around that. If a prospect is interested in learning how sales CRMs can help simplify their sales and marketing process, share information about software that can help them. If you can customize your product to meet their specific needs, then explain it to them. Even better, demonstrate it.
Prospecting is one of the toughest tasks for a sales professional. Because it is constantly evolving and highly competitive, you need to be flexible and agile. And a well-thought strategy is required.