4 Keys to an Effective Prospecting Process

If you’re like most of the sales managers we talk to, you’re looking for a repeatable, effective sales prospecting process.

You might have one or two top performers who seem to get great leads everywhere they go, while others on the team are attending event after event without anything to show for it.

Or maybe you have some people on the team who are pounding the phones and sending dozens of emails a day without getting any results, while others seem to expend less effort and get more out of it.

Or maybe you have no idea what’s going on with your team’s prospecting – it’s a black hole that randomly produces opportunities.

It might seem complicated, but the difference between top and bottom performers is usually due to these four simple keys.

Target Your Ideal Leads

The first step in an effective sales prospecting process is identifying your ideal targets. Who are you going after? This will drive where you spend your time and how you reach out.

If you are targeting enterprise clients, local Chamber of Commerce events might not be a good fit. And if you want to get to CEOs, a Meetup group may not be the best way to go.

When you’re identifying your ideal targets, be as specific as possible. Start by identifying the industry, company size, and role. Then consider any more detailed identifiers that will help you focus even more tightly.

One great exercise is to look at a few of your best clients and see what they have in common.

Each person on the sales team should have a specific ideal client profile. They might have some of the same criteria, but different people should have

Plan Your Prospecting Activity

Once you have identified your ideal targets, it’s time to plan your prospecting activity. Start with your goal – what do you want to achieve? Keep your goal simple and measurable: 6 qualified opportunities, 2 scheduled talks, 8 meetings with prospects.

Now that you’ve identified your goal, work backward to see what activities you will need to do to hit that goal. If you want to schedule 8 meetings, how many people do you need to talk to? In order to talk to that many people, how many calls should you make?

If you have good records, these numbers might be easy to find. If not, make an educated guess.

When you are planning, consider what assets you have that can help you achieve your goal as well as what pitfalls might prevent you from achieving it. Documenting these in your plan can help you stay on track.

We recommend developing a new prospecting action plan on a monthly basis, learning from the previous month’s results.

Track Your Prospecting

As you may have guessed from the previous step, we’re big believers in data-based planning. And the best source for data on your prospecting process is your sales team!

On the spectrum of data tracking, we see a lot of companies at each end. There are the organization with dozens of fields on each page in their CRM, and each field is required. Others leave it up to the sales team to decide what to report, with somewhat predictable results.

We’d recommend a healthy balance of tracking enough data to drive better decision-making, while letting your sellers actually do their job and sell.

At the least, you should know where your leads are coming from, where each lead is in the process, and what activities are being done. If you are able to easily track other information such as the products and services prospects are interested in, that can be helpful, but it’s not necessary.

Get Out There

The final key to prospecting is getting out there and prospecting!

It can be easy to get caught up in planning your prospecting process, refining your scripts, and mining data, and forget the whole purpose of prospecting – identifying qualified opportunities.

Once you have a plan to reach out to your ideal targets, and you have a way of keeping track of them, get to work! Execute your plan, and keep track of what you’re doing.

Look back at your activity as you are developing the next month’s plan and do more of what worked and less of what didn’t. Within a few months you’ll have a unique prospecting process that fits your abilities and goals.

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By | 2016-10-17T16:31:29+00:00 March 15th, 2016|Sales Leaders, Sales Success|2 Comments

About the Author:

Elizabeth is CFS’s Operations Officer and Senior Advisor and is the Product Manager for the Criteria for Success Sales PlayBook. She writes about sales leadership, management, teamwork, motivation, and process based on her work with CFS’s clients. Elizabeth also hosts the CFS roundtable discussion episodes of the Let’s Talk Sales podcast.

2 Comments

  1. Barry Hall March 15, 2016 at 12:07 pm - Reply

    As usual great post and info. Thanks for everything you do.

  2. Elizabeth Frederick April 5, 2016 at 12:06 pm - Reply

    Thanks, Barry!

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