By: Janet Logan, Vice President of Sales
With more of the world working remotely, it’s harder than ever for sales professionals to capture a prospect’s interest. Research shows that salespeople are sending 60% more emails, while response rates have dropped by 28%.
Most of our clients are facing this challenge. Across industries, sales professionals have had to learn to sell virtually, while aiming to hit targets during a tough year. I asked my sales colleagues at DoubleDigit Sales to share their tactics for prospecting in a virtual environment. Here are 8 best practices we’ve been using to uncover and drive new opportunities:
1. Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes
Before reaching out, empathize with your prospect’s current situation. How might they be feeling? What are their needs? Putting yourself in their shoes will help you craft an authentic, human message that is relevant to them. A personalized approach that demonstrates your genuine interest in their needs – not yours – will cut through the many messages competing for their attention.
2. Provide value to your prospects
A great tip for crafting a personalized message is to conduct “research on current issues their company is facing, including new products or services and competitive threats,” says Scott Gilmore, SVP of Sales and Marketing, “Connect these issues back to your value proposition and make it a part of your email message and subject line.”
You can also leverage value-add materials, including relevant case studies, articles and infographics. Sharing targeted content will grab your prospect’s interest and help demonstrate thought leadership on your part.
3. Establish your prospecting niche
Taylor Beatty, Director of Sales Performance, focuses on prospecting organizations in the same industry over a period. He says, “I’m able to get into the mindset of speaking the industry language and hone my approach in a way that will interest the prospect. As you get replies from prospects who share their experiences, you can incorporate that into your reach outs to others in the industry.”
Taylor’s approach might not work for every sales professional but focusing on who (and how) to prospect each week will help you stay relevant to those you reach out to.
4. Lean into your referral strategy
Part of my strategy is reaching out to people in my network with whom I have good relationships. I spend time on their LinkedIn profiles and identify a few of their connections that I want to meet. When five people in your network introduce you to five people in their network, the results are exponential. With a warm introduction, it’s easier to book initial exploratory meetings.
When five people in your network introduce you to five people in their network, the results are exponential. With a warm introduction, it’s easier to book initial meetings with your prospects.
5. Leverage social selling
In addition to my referral strategy, I’ve blocked time on my calendar for social selling – using social media to find, connect with and nurture sales prospects. My focus is on LinkedIn and Sales Navigator where I engage with connections and share relevant content like this article!
Many of your prospects check LinkedIn regularly – meet them where they are by sending InMail and requesting a connection when it makes sense.
6. Use the 1-2 punch
Sales professionals know the impact of the 1-2 punch. Emailing your prospect and following up with a phone call is a great way to get your prospect’s attention (add a LinkedIn message and you can make it a 1-2-3 punch). By reaching out via different mediums, you also offer your prospect the choice to respond the way they prefer.
Leon Arendse, VP of Sales, says, “I start with a LinkedIn message that is short and to the point, and then follow up with an email that refers back to it.” Short and succinct, no matter what the medium, is crucial in these times. “If you can’t say it in 3 sentences, rethink your approach.”
7. Don’t forget the phone
Although Teams and Zoom have the spotlight these days, the phone is still a very effective tool. Prospects are inundated with emails, so you’ll stand out by giving them a call.
“Voicemails can be a welcome relief from emails,” says Maureen Romanchych, VP of Sales. “A phone call brings out who you are, and you can add some humour too!”
Leon suggests calling early in the morning. Leaving a voicemail at the start of the day gives him time to follow up with an email in the afternoon.
8. Be consistent and have a system
Prospecting takes time and effort before you reap the benefits – consistency is key. Our sales team prospects at the same time during two-hour blocks, twice per week. This helps to drive focus and ensures that we all continue to build new and existing relationships.
Besides time investment, you’ll also need a structure that works for you. Leverage your calendar, a spreadsheet, a territory attack plan, your CRM or any combination of these. Tools can help you track and execute an ongoing approach until your prospects respond and agree to take a meeting. Scott calls it “constant, gentle pressure.”
Above all, try to tune in to your prospect’s situation. Be ready to learn and listen first, then explore how you can support their evolving priorities and needs.
Try out these 8 virtual prospecting tips, and let me know on LinkedIn which method resonates with you.