Sales Prospecting in the Digital Age
For decades, we at Richardson have talked about the Three Critical Success Factors of Prospecting: Will, Skill, and Knowledge. We have trained and coached thousands of companies on strategies and a consistent framework to improve prospecting efficiency. We promote a more strategic approach when the prospect is an executive, involving needs-based dialogue, an effective prospecting plan, and both the confidence and discipline to execute the plan.
All of these elements remain as vital today as ever in today’s uncertain business times. Prospecting still involves persistence in securing a meeting, capturing the potential customer’s interest, earning credibility, and encouraging new ways of thinking.
Sales Reps Can’t Succeed by Passively Waiting for Leads to Fall in Their Laps
There’s just one thing missing: the impact of the digital age. From the ubiquitous Web to mobile apps and social platforms, the digital age is shaking up the sales environment. Gone are the days of cold calling because B2B buyer behavior has been radically altered by the Web with an estimated 60% of buyers conducting research online before ever contacting a sales professional.
The good news is that the Web offers sales professionals with a fresh start through more extensive opportunities for prospecting than ever before. Sales research can be quickly and easily accomplished using tools like LinkedIn, Google Search, and Google Alerts. Company websites are rich with information about products, markets, internal culture, news items, and geographic reach. There are often links to financial reports, research reports, white papers, and other key information.
Then, there’s social selling, the whole point of which is to connect people with common interests — whether the desired outcome is to build relationships, find resources, or solve business problems.
Those who are most successful in sales today are those who understand what is working and leverage the power of social media effectively for prospecting.
- Through LinkedIn, you can build your network, find prospects, and learn about those prospects by researching them further. You can also connect and communicate with them through emails and in-mails, discover who they know, and even request an introduction to their connections. Advanced search features allow the pinpointing of prospects according to a number of criteria. Additionally, LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator offers even more tools specifically for lead generation, social selling, and prospecting techniques.
- Google Search is a powerful tool for finding web pages, images, videos, and other information about prospects, both on an individual and company level. Just type your search term into the box, click enter, and see the wealth of information available on your person or topic of interest.
- Google Alerts is an automated service that monitors the Web for specific search terms or keywords that you enter. When new content is found, an e-mail notification is sent directly to you so that you can use this information for calling sales prospects. You can specify how often to get alerts, the types of results that you want, and other options.
This is just a short list of tools that are available and invaluable in today’s digital age of social selling. They make sales prospecting much more efficient and provide richer information than what was previously available.
Just remember, they are only tools. Sales professionals still need the skills and knowledge to engage prospects in consultative dialogue once the initial introduction and call are made.
That’s why clients continue to turn to Richardson for sales training and performance improvement from prospecting throughout the sales process, helping sales professionals to build relationships and profitable business.
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