B2B sales prospecting isn’t a piece of cake. In fact, 40% of sales folks admit business prospecting is the most challenging part of the sales process, according to HubSpot.
Fortunately, using proven sales techniques can help you win at prospecting. But what are some results-guaranteed B2B sales prospecting best practices you should be following?
We asked SDRs and B2B prospects about it. Where the former shared their secrets to winning at business prospecting, the latter opened up about what annoys them and what gets their attention.
This way, you can learn what both types of experts recommend as their best B2B prospecting ideas. From making a warm introduction to showing your product in action, they share their tips for success.
Better B2B prospecting ideas according to experts
We spoke to three experts who are pros at cold outreach on how reps can improve their B2B sales prospecting. So in this section, you’ll learn their top tips on winning at business prospecting.
Build trust first
Instead of reaching out cold with a hard sell, Tony Bulgarella, the Senior Customer Success Manager at UserGems recommends you connect with people in your network.
According to Bulgarella, one good way to have trust in the prospecting equation is by connecting with these two types of people:
1. People in your network
Tony says, “LinkedIn is a great resource and you’re typically only one or two shared connections away from someone in the organization. Use that as an opportunity to get in the door.”
2. Someone who's already a fan of your product
“If someone is a past user or champion of your product, capitalize on that,” Bulgarella advises. “Past users are 3x more likely to convert and 5x more likely to respond.”
Even as you reach out to these B2B prospects, Bulgarella advises against starting with a hard pitch. Instead, be a resource first.
For example, keep in touch with past users who’ve used your product at their previous company. By doing so, you won’t come across as purely salesy when you reach out to them.
“Even if they don’t initially agree to do a demo, if you see something that the customer would find of value to them, share it with them so they start seeing you as someone who understands their business and is not just trying to sell them something,” explains Bulgarella.
Take the time to learn what's working
This sales prospecting idea is from Ronald Williams, the Founder of BestPeopleFinder who also directs sales at the company.
Williams notes far too many sales reps are focused on measuring performance using metrics like the number of closed sales.
A more effective measure of your performance? Finding out exactly what’s working — not just if something is working — using customer satisfaction surveys as a must-have B2B prospecting tool in your arsenal.
These surveys “...show the processes that are most accurate at the time of conversion,” Williams points out.
Sharing an example from BestPeopleFinder, Williams writes: “One of our best sales reps used this technique and generated 39% more sales than the rest of the team.
Using these surveys, he made a list of inactive and dissatisfied users and approached them, introducing the new features of the products and actually addressing the pain points of these users,” Williams elaborates.
“He also added approved discounts in his proposals to onboard these customers. With this, he became the most engaged sales rep for three months, hitting the highest revenues. Thus, monitoring this data to find more sales opportunities is the key to this technique.”
Work on your outreach timing
“The worst time to make a cold call to prospects in any region is 8-10 am when everyone is rushing to work and preparing for the day but the worst time to call is the best time to email,” shares Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder and CEO of Mavens & Moguls.
Arnof-Fenn explains, “Once employees are at work, the first hour is generally spent checking e-mails and organizing the day. During this hour, your e-mail has a higher chance of visibility. Sending an e-mail during their transit period places your e-mail on top and would be among the first they see as they open their inbox.”
On the flip side, emails sent later in the evening or early in the morning are likely to be missed, Arnof-Fenn notes.
Better B2B prospecting ideas from customers
To help you level up your B2B sales prospecting, we decided to talk to people on the receiving end of the outreach messages too. This way, you can tell what attracts clients alongside their top business prospecting ideas.
Show your product in action
“SDRs should stop just repeating the same pitch that doesn’t get me excited or stand out,” advises the Director of Demand Generation at UserGems, Isaac Ware.
Instead, “SDRs should start doing things that no one else is doing to capture attention and get people excited.”
So how do you go about doing that? One effective way to do this is to show your product in action.
Sharing an example of an attention-grabbing pitch, Ware says, “One of the best recent experiences I have had recently was with an SDR from ServiceBell. Immediately when I answered, I let him know that I was expecting a call from someone else, he apologized and asked if he could let me know what they do before I hung up.”
The surprise came when Ware agreed to their request. “Instead of giving me a scripted ‘what we do’ he asked if I was in front of a computer, and to go to their website.”
“As soon as I landed on their site, I could see a live video of him waving at me and an option to pick up the call. It was so out of the ordinary and attention-grabbing, I picked up the call on the website and he was able to pitch me through a video call on their site.”
Explaining what stood out in this pitch, Ware outlines, “I loved that he wasn’t pushy from the beginning and found a way to stand out. If he would have said ‘we let people do video calls with reps through the site’ I would have said ‘cool, thanks but I don’t think I am interested.’
But his ability to capture my curiosity by making the service just mysterious enough, kept me on the phone with him.”
Not to mention, it showed the product in action — helping the prospect better understand its value.
Pay attention to the subject line
“SDRs should be dedicatedly focusing on the subject line,” comments Aqsa Tabassam, the Head of Growth & Outreach at Apps UK.
Tabassam’s reasoning? “Because most of the prospects open up emails based on the strength of the subject line,” making winning subject lines an essential aspect of business prospecting.
“For example, I get over 150 emails a day and the few that catch my attention are strong in content. But before that, they have catchy subject lines that pique my interest. If that’s not the case, I scroll by emails without even noticing them,” says Tabassam.
So how do you improve your subject lines?
Tabassam advises you to, “...keep all letters lower case as it stands out. Also, if a subject line format is not catching attention, it’s time to change it.”
Lucia Jensen, the CEO of WeLoans suggests adding the prospect’s name in your subject lines.
“The emails that have captured me most are those that mention my name in the headline. The headline sells the click always. Seeing my name on the headline is a sure route to me clicking the email open to know what is in it for me,” Jensen points out.
And finally, Nexus IT Group’s Managing director, Travis Lindemoen recommends personalization.
“Personalize the subject lines by basing them on an article or email they wrote, a major improvement they made to their site, or a recent mention they received in the press, for example. Concentrate on those areas.”
Do your research
Prospects say that when you do your homework, it shows in your communication.
“One thing that makes cold emails more convincing is when it seems clear that the person emailing has done some research on the business they are emailing, usually from looking at the business’s LinkedIn profile,” observes Jared Hines, the Head of Operations at Acre Gold.
“For instance, if someone from a marketing agency is emailing a business and they mention that they noticed that the business is new, they can point to the fact that new businesses can benefit a lot from marketing assistance to get off the ground.”
Essentially, doing your research beforehand helps you identify points to make your outreach more relevant to prospects.
In Hines’ words: “This is better than merely selling something without giving any relevant context as to why the person or business could benefit from the product or service.”
Caro Gadboys, UserGems’ senior Integrated Marketing Manager agrees — pointing out research makes outreach personable.
“I realize this isn't always scalable but for their top ‘whatever it takes’ accounts I think it’s a good strategy,” Gadboys admits.
Sharing their example, Gadboys comments: “If you do any digging on me, you quickly find out how obsessed I am with my dog, Willow. An SDR found out my dog’s name and sent me a Sendoso link to retrieve my custom toy for Willow. Very thoughtful and I figured if this person was willing to go that far for me, I could return the favor.”
The best way to do this? Show your human side.
Gadboys shares how to do this. “I find the people I enjoy learning about and connecting with the most (regardless of title) blend their professional skillsets with their personal passions.”
“When I see someone talking about their weekend athletic activities, dogs, family, personal good/bad experiences, shining light on other people’s success, etc [...] I’m much more inclined to connect on a professional outreach.”
Caroline Irby, the senior Customer Success Manager at UserGems agrees. Irby says using GIFs in your outreach is a good way to show your human side.
“Not sure the science behind this one but I’m WAY more likely to reply (even if it’s to say thanks for the laugh, I’m not interested) if you send me a GIF/get me to laugh. On the same note, if you take time to send me a video via Vidyard (or something similar), I know you spent time on it and I’m more likely to reply so as to not waste your time.”
Improve your B2B sales prospecting today
Effective B2B sales prospecting boils down to extensive, upfront research.
When you take the time to understand who you’re reaching out to, your message is more likely to resonate with your prospects. Our experts agree potential buyers appreciate thoughtful and personalized outreach messages.
And while you’re at it, don’t be afraid to show your human side — they’re sure to value that, too.