Revenue starts with sales prospecting. That’s why you need a plan, and get started.
Have you ever noticed how we speak of marketing and sales as if it were one single entity? Of course, the two live in symbiosis. They both aim to get people to subscribe to your SaaS and one cannot do without the other.
However, marketing and sales are quite different. One could say marketing works at a strategical/tactical level, while Sales is more tactical/operational-minded.
Difference between Marketing and Sales
Marketing addresses the market as a whole, trying to get people to notice your company and your product. Perhaps getting people to get in touch with you. As soon as people have shown an interest in what you have to offer, Sales takes over. Marketing generates leads, sales closes the deal.
One phrase that often pops up when talking about sales is “prospecting”. This article explains what sales prospecting is, why you should care about it, and offers a few options you could use.
Sales Prospecting Definition
Sales prospecting is hard work. Some studies even claim that 40% of sales reps consider prospecting to be the hardest part of their job. So what exactly is sales prospecting?
What Is sales prospecting?
Sales prospecting is the process of identifying potential buyers or clients (prospects) and reaching out to them with the objective to get them into your sales funnel, ultimately resulting in a (repeated) purchase.
Although the words “lead” and “prospect” are used as if they are interchangeable, it is important to realize there is a difference. A lead is someone who has actively shown interest. They may have downloaded an e-book or whitepaper, or they may have signed up for your newsletter. Even though you’ve never actually interacted with them, you know they might be interested.
A prospect, on the other hand, is someone who matches your buyer profile. They may be the perfect customer. They tick all the boxes, and they have the budget. They just haven’t shown an active interest yet.
Sales prospecting activities could be outbound calls (cold-calling), emailing leads, SMS campaigns, and so forth.
Sales prospecting: why should I do it?
You have undoubtedly heard about the “sales funnel” or “pipeline”. It describes the different steps people go to before they become a client. One of the most generic sales funnels is the AIDA model: you need to grab their Attention, spark an Interest, evoke a Desire, and finally get them to perform an Action (usually: make a purchase).
If you don’t get someone’s attention, you won’t get them to develop an interest. Sales Prospecting ensures you have a steady flow of people entering your pipeline. Sales Prospecting is the foundation upon which you build your revenue.
Other advantages you gain with Sales Prospecting
Despite revenue being a major reason to engage in Sales Prospecting, there are some other reasons why you should actively pursue prospects.
- Become an expert
Actively reaching out to people who may need your solution helps you gain a reputation as an expert in your field.
- Higher productivity
By allocating resources specifically to prospecting, you may be able to reap the benefits of specialization. Productivity might go up. To get maximum specialization, you may want to hire dedicated prospectors. However, even if your budget doesn’t allow hiring specialized sales prospectors, you can still increase productivity. Just block out time specifically to focus on sales prospecting.
- Get to know your competitors
Engage in an active conversation and you will learn many valuable insights. Not only about your potential prospect, but also about the other options they are considering. This gives you valuable information about your competitors.
Best Sales Prospecting Methods
Ok, so sales prospecting is important. Gotcha. But where do you start?
Sales Prospecting with LinkedIn Sales navigator
You may already have realized that the phrase “Sales Prospecting” is a reference to the era of the Gold Rush, where prospectors would try to find even the tiniest grain of gold. Well, LinkedIn is a true goldmine for anyone looking to find prospects. Here you will find plenty of specks of gold, but more than that, you’re going to find some true gold nuggets.
While LinkedIn is mostly suited for B2B-SaaS solutions, it’s also becoming quite useful for B2C solutions.
The search function that comes with a free LinkedAccount helps you find people or companies which match your criteria. Also, you can browse through all posts mentioning your keywords. Want to discover who has been posting about SaaS? Just enter the keyword and LinkedIn presents you with hundreds (681 at the time of writing) of potential leads. This includes people looking for a SaaS solution, as well as your competitors.
Knowing who might be interested is step one. Now you need to get in touch. The tricky bit is that many people chose to not get messages from people with whom they have no connection. And even if you can message them, have you ever tried to keep track of 681 chat conversations?
Oh, and the free version of LinkedIn limits the number of searches you can do in a month.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator streamlines your Sales Prospecting activities on the network. It offers advanced search options, extended LinkedIn network access, lead and account recommendations and (if you chose the Enterprise Edition) tools to manage your pipeline, sales risk reduction tools, even integration with your CRM. Sales Navigator subscriptions start at US$ 64,99 / month.
Sales Prospecting made easy with these prospecting tools
LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a tremendously powerful tool. If you and your fellow SaaS employees take Sales Prospecting seriously, you need to get it.
Don’t make the mistake to focus on LinkedIn alone, though. No, not even if you reach your sales targets using Sales Navigator alone. Sure, LinkedIn has 756 million members (still climbing) in 200 countries, but that still is less than 10% of the world’s population.
There are potential prospects out there who, for unfathomable reasons, still aren’t active on LinkedIn.
Be smarter than your competitor, and don’t just spend all your time on LinkedIn. Use some other Sales Prospecting tools too.
Seriously? We’re going to discuss referrals in a blog post on Sales Prospecting for our SaaS? Yes, we are. Sure, getting your existing customers to send you referrals might be one of the oldest tricks in the book, but it works.
Let’s travel back in time. The era before the internet. Businessmen would gather at the clubhouse of the golf court, or meet at the Rotary or other networking clubs. You’d get to know people, and if you knew someone needed something, you’d get them connected with a friend who could help.
Referral marketing is the same, except that you can do a lot more online. That’s why companies with referrals report 70% higher conversion rates. Not just that, closing times are up to 70% faster, too!
You can offer your customers rewards for bringing in referrals, or get into partnerships where you mutually send referrals. The secret trick to getting referrals? Just ask.
Make a plan
Not sure how to get started? Work on your Sales Prospecting plan. Describe the profile of your ideal prospects. Think about how and where you could reach them. Work on your list and…reach out. Easy, right?
Luckily the people at a little SaaS company that is all about marketing and sales, called Hubspot, compiled a guide and template to help you plan your Sales Prospecting activities. The download is free.
(See what they did there? As soon as you click that button, they’ve got a lead. And they used us to get a referral.)
Get started, NOW!
We’ve already mentioned that Sales Prospecting is hard work. The tools described help you stay organized, but you still need to get out there. You need to find prospects, identify the most interesting leads. And yes, you need to initiate contact.
Not everyone you reach out to is going to become a client. Some people might even hate it that you bother them. Rejection is part of the game. And while it may be discouraging to get a few “no’s” in a row, this is honest work that you need to do.
Don’t lean back and relax. Your competition doesn’t.