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3 Tips for More Agile Sales Prospecting

Outbound sales

best practices for sales prospecting

February 14, 2022Article

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What Does It Mean to be Agile in Sales Prospecting?

“Agility” is the buzzword of the moment, but how do sales leaders make agility a visible part of their prospecting process? 

Agility has new relevance in the pandemic and post-pandemic world. Businesses are learning that they can no longer move on a fixed rail towards a knowable future. Leaders need an operational edge characterized by the ability to make quick changes. Even resilience is not enough because resilience is merely the ability to endure. Agility offers opportunities to benefit from a change, not just survive it. 

Most leaders within sales organizations today agree on the value of agility. What is less understood is the “how.” 

Some leaders consider agility to be a balance sheet item. With a strong cash position, a business can deploy capital fast to the places where it is needed most. For others, agility emerges from the IT infrastructure allowing stakeholders to use accessible data to make quick decisions. 

These ideas, and many others, have merit, but too many of them leave out the sales leader tasked with generating the opportunities that power the engine of the business. This is a problem because sales leaders and the sales professionals on their teams need agility more than ever. They need a way to keep pace with changes in the prospect’s world so they can deliver messaging that resonates. The challenge is that agility in prospecting has remained theoretical. No one has provided an explanation of the core concepts that create agility in prospecting. Until now. 

In this piece, we offer three key principles that together form a clear framework for developing agility in what we call Sprint Prospecting™. The result is a more engaging experience for prospects that develop into sales opportunities.

1. Learn and Re-Learn

Many discussions of agility today are framed as “agile transformation.” However, agility is not a transformation because the word “transformation” suggests an endpoint. Agility must be ongoing.

The sales team that believes they have become agile is the sales team that risks losing to the competition. A key concept in agile sales prospecting is that the customer’s needs must be learned and re-learned. This truth is even more pertinent today as the customer’s operation continues to change in the wake of a global health crisis.

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For this reason, Sprint Prospecting™ is not a process with a start and end. Rather, it is a circle of repeating the behavior in which each “sprint” consists of three parts: prepare – engage – advance. This pattern of behavior helps sellers think more objectively and strategically as they plan and execute a single sprint at a time, and adapt future sprints based on the outcome of sprints completed. This is the power of Sprint Prospecting™; it is a perpetual motion machine that maintains momentum. 

For more insights into how to apply a Sprint Prospecting™ methodology to target, attract, and engage new clients download the complimentary white paper: Accessing Growth with Sprint Prospecting by clicking here.

When the sales professional prepares, they are exploring the most impactful and current issues facing the prospect’s business and industry. They are building contacts with others in similar businesses to get a better ground-level view of the customer’s world. When sales professionals engage, they are taking this information and using it to connect with the prospect, build rapport, and ultimately ask for the appointment. Finally, in the advance phase of the sprint, the sales professional is analyzing new information learned and uses that detail to refine the follow-up messaging. This cycle continues as the sales professional executes more touchpoints.

2. "Message-the-Moment"

Traditional prospecting is characterized by boilerplate messaging that seeks to address the common denominator across disparate industries. This approach no longer works. Business challenges have become more nuanced. The most pressing needs change more frequently. Therefore, to be effective the prospecting messaging must address the moment.

This is where the value of agility becomes clear. With an agile prospecting process, the sales professional can keep pace with the changes in the customer’s business and speak to those issues. Turning this idea into practical behavior means making it a habit to attend informational events attended by the prospect, creating alerts for industry news, monitoring the prospect’s social footprint, and participating in online discussions with the lead and those surrounding the lead.

Therefore, sales professionals must be tied into the same channels that the customer is. Sprint Prospecting equips sales professionals for this challenge by providing guidance on how to listen, network, and connect so that when the time comes to engage the prospect, the sales professional’s content is personalized, differentiated, and insightful. 

This approach is the availability heuristic at work. The availability heuristic is our innate tendency to believe that something is important if it can be recalled easily, and when a prospecting message cites information that the customer can easily remember they are making the solution more relevant.

3. Embrace the Unexpected

Sprints work because each time a sales professional moves through the prepare – engage – advance model they have a refined sense of the customer’s needs. This process, like distillation, leaves the seller with an increasingly clarified view of the prospect’s world. Therefore, any information that is new or unexpected is empowering because it informs how all the following messaging should be drafted.

A prospecting method that is propelled by new developments in the customer’s world is particularly powerful in today’s setting because more businesses are changing in response to the events of the last 16 months. As businesses chart new paths, the agile seller has an opportunity to mine this wealth of information and use it to advance the pursuit with precise solution positioning

The sales professional has a responsibility to understand, and use critical information including details on other stakeholders, central challenges within the customer organization, near-term strategic moves that the prospect is considering, how digital transformation plans will influence operations, and willingness to invest in solutions. 

The key is to remember that effective follow-up advances the sales dialogue rather than restating it. The sales professional must provide guidance rather than seek it. They must make each successive message more customer-centric than the last. They must also use what they have learned in previous dialogues to address the full range of stakeholders. Follow-up is what maintains, or even increases the momentum of the sale. Those who recognize the need for a sharper follow-up strategy have a unique opportunity to develop an advantage in the sales pursuit that requires nothing more than some extra attentiveness and conscientiousness.

Richardson Sales Performance’s Sprint Prospecting™ Training Program Helps Your Team Earn the Customer’s Attention

In our Sprint Prospecting program, we teach your sales professionals how to apply selling sprints to embrace the dynamic nature of engaging and selling and integrate specific techniques, skills, and tools to progress each interaction. 

By applying selling sprints in their prospecting efforts, sales professionals will learn that each customer interaction – from an informal, social engagement to a more formal, initial meeting – arms them with the knowledge needed to assess the next best move against their original objectives. To learn more, download an informational brochure about the program, or click here to contact us and set up an appointment to discuss your specific training needs in greater detail.

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White Paper: Accessing Growth with Sprint Prospecting

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