Proactive prospecting is one of the best ways to drive better sales performance.

When you use prospecting in the right ways, you have the chance to connect with potential customers and make agreements that would never have come about otherwise.

What Is B2B Prospecting?

This is the practice of searching for potential customers or clients who could convert for your business. The end goal is to better nurture leads and prospects through your sales funnel toward a sale.

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Prospecting can be a daunting concept, especially when you’re aiming to be effective and productive. Reaching out to every viable opportunity can become tedious and time-consuming.

That’s why it’s so important to continuously improve your prospecting methods.

Why B2B Prospecting Matters

Prospecting is critical to your lead generating efforts.

Part of the process of prospecting is generating them and qualifying them in one stroke. You’ll be able to engage with them on a much closer, more intimate level as they move closer toward becoming a customer.

All of your efforts have a direct influence on your top-line revenue, making it one of the most important processes your sales team will perform for your business.

If your team is able to master the skill of prospecting, utilizing better practices, and looking in the right places, nothing will be able to stop them.

5 Common B2B Prospecting Methods

Sales pros can use a variety of methods to discover and qualify potential customers for their business. The five most common prospecting methods are:

1. Phone Calls

Speaking directly with prospects over the phone is still one of the best ways to bring them into the fold. Consumers prefer having one-on-one conversations with salespeople, as it feels a bit more personal.

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You can approach phone calls in one of two ways:

Cold Calling

This is when you reach out to a consumer who hasn’t directly expressed an interest in your business yet. Sometimes, they may not have even interacted with your company at all.

Most customers find this tactic bothersome since they aren’t interested in what you’re selling. But cold calling can help any salesperson if they’re looking to boost their outreach numbers.

Warm Calling

If you’re looking for quality over quantity, then you’ll want to practice warm calling.

Only reach out to leads and prospects who have engaged with your business in one way or another already, expressing an interest in the value you can offer.

These leads can come from any inbound strategies that you implement, from content offer downloads to blog subscriptions.

2. Referrals

When a prospect approaches you because they heard from a friend or family member that your business is great, they’re teeing you up for the perfect swing.

Referrals are a great means of prospecting, as most prospects who come through via recommendation are pre-qualified because they’re already aware of what you sell.

3. Email

Nowadays, pretty much all communication is conducted over email, so it’s pretty important for salespeople to continuously improve their messaging skills.

There are a variety of ways that you can approach prospects via their inbox. But there’s only a brief window of opportunity to actually capture their interest before they subject you to their trash folders, so make sure you’ve done your research in order to appeal to them.

4. Events

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Making appearances at events, like webinars or trade shows, can put you right in front of your prospects. You’ll be able to interact with them face to face with nothing coming between the two of you.

Prospecting on this level means being able to deliver value upfront by answering questions, providing educational information, and maybe showing off a demo or two.

5. Social Selling

Social media platforms offer B2B sales teams the opportunity to find and talk directly to decision makers. This is especially true on platforms such as:

  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

You’ll have greater opportunities to craft more personalized messages to engage with prospects instantaneously. It’s an excellent means of getting up close and personal with them, while showing a bit of your own personality as well.

B2B Prospecting Tips to Help You Find New Leads

To keep climbing higher, you’ll want to reinforce your arsenal of tips and tricks to help you flood your pipeline. Here are 18 different things you can practice on the regular to help your prospecting game:

1. Focus on Helping.

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Of all the prospecting tips, this one is the foundation. People go online to answer a question or solve a problem, and that’s the same reason they talk to sales professionals.

Always go the extra mile to provide them with information they can use. That’s what it takes to build trust.

2. Send Warm Emails.

Warm emails are prospecting emails that are tailored to use relevant, personalized information.

For example, you might read a company’s blog and then start your email connecting with your prospect over something that was said.

This shows you are willing to invest in the relationship.

3. Learn From Your Mistakes.

Anyone in sales will tell you that rejection is all a part of the job. You’ll likely hear a hundred no’s for every yes.

Dealing with rejection, whether it’s because you took the wrong approach or targeted the wrong customer, is only the first step of moving on. The next is learning from it.

Identify why you lost the opportunity and what you can do to avoid it in the future. The more refined your prospecting becomes, the less rejection you’ll face.

4. Collect Lots of Data.

You should be in the loop when it comes to your company’s data analytics efforts. Make sure you’re getting reports at least monthly that you can incorporate into your process.

Don’t be afraid to hit the street and do your own research.

5. Rate Your Prospects.

One reason it’s vital to get in on data analytics is because a large volume of data gives you real insights into how prospects behave in the aggregate.

With this level of information, you can figure out which outstanding prospects you should really prioritize and score them accordingly.

6. Never Sell.

Ask any master salesperson about prospecting tips and you’re likely to learn this: People hate being sold to.

Instead, structure your conversations as an exploration of how you can help another person. This will make them less likely to raise their shields and give you a window of opportunity to prove your value.

7. Don’t Forget to Follow-Up.

Most people aren’t ready to buy from you the very first time they meet you. Not only do they need to get to know you first, but they may not even be convinced their problem needs to be solved.

The willingness to follow up three or even five times can make the difference.

8. Use Discovery Calls.

You might be taking these prospecting tips to mean that you can’t call people on the phone at all. Nothing could be further from the truth.

A phone conversation is the ideal way to ask lots of questions and get more information, even if it is cold. That’s what makes it a “discovery call.”

9. Build Your Email List.

This is one area where sales and marketing can work closely together. Your company site should be optimized to trade something of value for prospect email addresses.

Keep an eye on this list and be ready to jump in when prospects take new actions that mean they are purchase-ready.

10. Incentivize Referrals.

Referral business does a lot of your work for you. These prospects are taking the word of a friend, family member, or colleague that you can help them, so they are less wary.

A special deal or discount that sparks referrals can be an efficient way to drive new business.

11. Blog Consistently.

What? As a sales pro, you don’t think that blogging is your thing?

Think again. When more people at a company are involved in blogging, you get more leads and build more trust. In fact, prospects who’ve seen your content will already feel they know you.

12. Join Social Communities.

Social media isn’t just about one-on-one chats with your prospects, though those can be useful.

LinkedIn groups (even those not managed by your company) are an outstanding way to show your stuff by answering prospect questions and helping them pre-qualify. Quora and Facebook groups are other great options.

13. Capitalize on Visual Content.

Visual content is in, especially among buyers who are doing their research on mobile.

If you want prospects to know you better, one of the best ways is to develop short, informative videos. Provide them with tips and an invitation to contact you directly for a more detailed talk.

14. Set Up Buyer Intent Signals.

Let’s go back to all that data one more time.

If your buyer journeys are optimized, you’ll soon know which content people consult when they are thinking about taking the plunge.

Set up email alerts so you know when prospects are consuming this content and when they’re ready for a follow up.

15. Don’t Let the Relationship End After the Sale.

The moment of the sale may be when you and your prospect are closest in pure relationship terms.

What if there’s a problem after that, or the product itself fails to deliver? Make yourself a resource.

Addressing and solving problems well can be more powerful in securing a repeat customer than not having any issues at all.

16. Celebrate Buying Anniversaries.

There’s only so much time in a day, so post-sale customers may get less attention. Still, if you’re selling long-term solutions, there’s a way to check in at the right time: On the customer’s “anniversary” date.

If they are satisfied after a year, referral business is practically guaranteed.

17. Remember: Not Everyone is a Customer.

Old-fashioned outbound prospecting tips focus on the idea that everyone is a potential customer – you just have to apply pressure.

Inbound is different.

Connecting with people at the right time and focusing on ideal clients is more important. If a prospect gives a red flag, move on.

18. Celebrate Your Successes.

Prospecting can be exhausting. It may seem like you sort through hundreds of people to find a single diamond in the rough.

Focus on the positive. When you build that powerful, long-lasting customer relationship, take time to celebrate.

With the right attitude, prospecting can add value for everyone. You can learn important lessons even from the prospects who don’t turn out to be the right customers for you.

That gives you the chance to refine your presentation and zoom in on what your market really wants and needs.