Prospecting is the foundation of the sales process. Getting it right determines the quality of leads you generate, the length of your sales cycle, and the possibility of closing a sale. Yet, as per HubSpot, 40% of salespeople consider it the most challenging aspect of the sales process.
If you are in search of effective B2B prospecting strategies to fill your pipeline with qualified leads, here’s a roundup of prospecting strategies that have stood the test of time.
5 B2B prospecting strategies recommended by experts
Cold calling is one of the oldest sales prospecting strategies out there. It gets a bad rep for being intrusive and having a poor conversion rate of 2%, according to Forbes. But, to be fair, the low conversion rate is understandable since the prospect hasn’t indicated an interest in your product.
But hey, many early-stage companies rely on this strategy to introduce their business to potential buyers. In a survey by Rain Group, both buyers and sellers agreed that cold calling is one of the most effective ways to generate initial sales conversations.
Best practices for cold calling
Use these tips to increase your chances of success when cold calling:
- Avoid the quantity over quality game by researching your prospects to confirm they match your ideal customer profile (ICP).
- Be conversational but direct — get straight to the point.
- Be respectful of your prospect’s time — confirm it’s a good time to talk and also stay conscious of timezones when reaching clients who are in different states or countries.
- Warm introductions help to make sales conversations more natural. If you know someone who knows the prospect, don’t hesitate to ask for an introduction.
Buyers will trust what a customer says about their experience with your business over the best ads you run. Hence, referrals are one of the most effective B2B prospecting strategies you can use to win new customers.
Carley Congdon, Sales Manager at TeamBuilding, attributes the company's growth to 100+ team members and tens of thousands of clients in less than two years to client referrals.
“Our Client Advisors regularly ask past clients for referrals to other department managers within their companies and referrals to colleagues who work in outside organizations,” she says.
“This prospecting strategy is so effective because it allows us to have an automatic personal connection to new potential clients and ensures that new contacts can trust us with their virtual events. From there, we have a strong starting point to continue the conversation.”
Best practices for referrals
Want to get more B2B prospect referrals? Try these tips:
- Invest in your customer’s success by helping them achieve their goals with your product. Happy customers are your best advertisements.
- Leverage a sales prospecting tool like UserGems to track your happy customers, even when they move to new companies.
- Create a workflow for requesting referrals at strategic points in your customer's journey. For example, when they’ve completed an action or dropped a review.
- Offer incentives for referrals, like discount codes or company merch.
Similar to cold calling, cold emails are a B2B prospecting technique where you send emails to prospects who haven’t indicated an interest in your brand.
“When done correctly, direct mail can be an extremely powerful tool for generating new leads. Of course, simply sending out a generic mass mailing is not likely to yield many results,” says BankingGeek’s founder and CEO, Max Benz. “To be effective, direct mail must be targeted to specific companies or individuals that are likely to be interested in your products or services.”
Building a targeted prospect list for a cold outreach is a key challenge for salespeople. So, to ensure their emails reached a receptive audience, Omniscient Digital applied a unique approach to prospecting.
“Like most ABM strategies, we have a well-defined ideal customer profile and we keep a list, segmented by sub-niche, of the top 100 or so accounts that we'd like to attain,” says Alex Birkett, co-founder of Omniscient Digital.
“However, instead of the typical cold email prospecting flow, we create *a lot* of content on Twitter and LinkedIn. Several team members are posting a cumulative 100 posts or so a week.”
“Some of this is for general audience building, but it has another benefit: we can see who likes, responds, and engages with our messages,” Alex explains. “We pull anyone who fits our ICP and engages with our content to a prospecting list, where we have a sales approach.”
Luke Genoyer, Sales & Marketing Manager of Global Call Forwarding, recommends making deposits before trying to make a withdrawal. “Prospects are more likely to engage with people they know and like. Interact with them and build relationships before trying to sell. It will improve your response rates.”
Best practices for B2B cold emailing
Boost your cold emailing conversion rate with these tips:
- Build a targeted prospect list for better conversion rates.
- Don’t sacrifice clarity for clickbaity subject lines. You could land in their spam box.
- Emails should be personalized and relevant to the receiver.
Event prospecting is an excellent way to find B2B prospects in need of your products and services. Connecting with prospects at industry-specific events like webinars and conferences shortens the sales process since they are pre-qualified.
It also gives you a chance to introduce yourself and make a connection before a sales outreach.
However, going to industry events isn’t the only way to find prospects. In addition to the cold emailing strategy at Omniscient Digital mentioned above, they host virtual events as a way to bring in new leads.
“We've built a media engine that includes a podcast and a virtual event series. So in addition to offering a typical sales prospecting sequence, we also invite them into our world to be featured on our media channels,” explains their cofounder, Alex.
“With these two techniques [cold emailing and events], we cast a wider net of people already interested in hearing our messages as well as give greater value than the typical sales pitch "jump on a call?"
Best practices for event prospecting
Connect with qualified leads at events with these tips:
- Identify key people you would like to meet at the event by researching who will be attending.
- Networking is often brief. Prepare ahead of time, so your meeting is memorable and fruitful.
- Don’t forget to follow up with prospects after conversations.
Tailored Google search results
Looking for a way to prospect without the usual B2B prospecting tools?
In search of a means to identify companies that use a certain technology (cloud provider), Economize — a financial software company that helps companies manage their cloud resources — found an unconventional way to generate accurate leads without sophisticated prospecting tools.
Its co-founder and CEO, Anirudh Murali, says, “Every company runs on a certain cloud provider, and they usually hire someone who can operate with the cloud provider. We noticed that companies mentioned these cloud providers in their job requirements.”
“We leveraged job boards to identify the companies that'd be fit for us without a tool — just with Google searches. We did a bunch of searches with the following patterns:
“These gave us results of all companies that use the technology we want to filter on. We did additional filtering on date and location to find the accounts we wanted to target.”
Shorten your sales cycle with effective B2B prospecting strategies
Yes, B2B prospecting is challenging but the right tactics make it worthwhile. Cold calling, cold emailing, and referrals are well-known strategies that many sales experts swear by.
Best of all, you can apply the basics while tweaking your own strategy to suit your target audience.
To make B2B prospecting strategies even more effective, don’t overlook the power of a warm audience like your previous customers. You have a 65% chance of converting repeat customers over 13% of new customers. And with UserGems, you can automate tracking previous customers who have changed jobs instead of wasting hours on a manual search with inaccurate results.
B2B prospecting strategies FAQs
What is B2B prospecting?
B2B prospecting is a step in the sales process where you search for potential buyers in a bid to convert them to customers.
What are B2B sales prospecting techniques?
B2B sales prospecting techniques are methods salespeople use to acquire new prospects, just like the ones we shared in this article.
What is a B2B prospecting tool?
A B2B prospecting tool is software used to automate the prospecting process for salespeople.
What are the best B2B prospecting tools?
There are several tools available to users today.
The best B2B prospecting tools help you increase productivity by automating the prospecting process, generating accurate leads, and automating your sales outreaches.
If that sounds like something you could use, check out UserGems.
What are B2B prospecting best practices?
B2B prospecting best practices help you gain more wins by prospecting effectively.
For example, avoiding spammy messages and starting with warm prospects are tips offered by many experts to help you gain your prospects’ trust and increase win rates.
UserGems helps companies generate more revenue by combining relationship data with trigger events to surface the most relevant buyers for each company.
With UserGems, sales teams get a bigger pipeline and win more often.