Ultimate Guide To B2B Prospecting For Sales

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Closing a deal may seem like the most challenging part of sales, but it’s not. 

As a matter of fact, 37% of sales reps will say prospecting poses the biggest challenge, while only 28% will go with closing. 

Ultimate Guide To B2B Prospecting For Sales

Here’s where it gets trickier. Expect prospecting to be even harder in B2B. Why? B2B sales involve multiple players within the sales cycle. So, to close a single transaction, the B2B sales team is forced to target several people (users, champions, and the decision maker) of a business for prospecting. 

But don’t sweat it. This article will simplify B2B sales prospecting to elevate your sales strategy and boost your sales figures.

Let’s start from the top:

What is B2B prospecting?

B2B prospecting is the process of identifying and engaging with B2B customers who may be interested in your service or product. The goal is to nurture these potential customers through the selling process (shown below) until they eventually buy from you. In other words, the goal is to generate sales.

What is B2B prospecting?

The potential customers mentioned can be leads or prospects. We often think these two terms are the same, but they are not. 

Leads are individual consumers or companies that have shown some level of interest in your product or service. They might have attended your seminar or interacted with your content. However, not all leads necessarily want to make a purchase. 

For instance, you can get Instagram likes easily on your product content, but not everyone who likes your content is necessarily interested in buying from you. Some may have done it because they liked the design or for other reasons.

Prospects, on the other hand, are leads who are more likely to buy. They’ve shown a higher level of interest and fit certain criteria that make them more likely to convert into paying customers. For instance, their organization can benefit from your offering, and they have the authority to buy the product or service. 

So, in sales prospecting for B2B, the idea is to engage with prospects to begin the sales process.

Importance of effective prospecting for sales success

Effective prospecting is the lifeblood of your sales process. This is for several reasons. 

Prospecting allows you to narrow down your target market instead of wasting time and resources on unqualified leads. So, you can be sure you’re reaching out to businesses and decision-makers who have a genuine need for your solution. This also helps you save time and resources. 

In addition, businesses that invest in prospecting will always have qualified prospects in their sales pipeline at every point. Filling your pipeline with prospects who align with your ideal customer profile (ICP) means your sales team will never run out of people to convert to paying customers. This translates into predictable earnings with more sales and revenue. 

That’s not all. Prospecting is not just about making sales. It’s also about building meaningful relationships with prospects. With this, you can easily set the stage for long-term relationships, repeat businesses, and positive referrals. 

Do you see where this is leading? Higher customer retention, which is important, especially for B2B SaaS. 

7 Effective B2B prospecting techniques

Here are some experience-based approaches to help you conduct B2B sales prospecting without any hassle: 

1. Research and targeting

This shouldn’t come as a surprise - you have to know whom you want to target in the first place. Understand their needs, constraints, and qualities. This helps you prove to them your product is what they need. 

Research also helps you discover and target the most promising prospects. This way, you won’t waste your efforts and resources on those who don’t need your product or service. 

So, start by identifying your target market. The buyers you’ve already won can help you know whom you should target. Look into your existing customer base to find commonalities among your most profitable and satisfied customers. Pick out trends like their industry, company size, location, and other relevant factors. 

Use this information to create an ideal customer profile (ICP). 

Let’s say you discover that a lot of your super buyers are in B2B eCommerce, located in the US, and have a company size of 50 employees. Those are your ideal customers to target. 

7 Effective B2B prospecting techniques

But it also doesn’t hurt to analyze whom your key competitors are targeting. That way, you’ll see the audiences you might be missing out on. 

Use a data analytics tool like SemRush and intelligence tools like Crayon and SimilarWeb to spy on your competitors. These tools will reveal their audiences and industries. If they’re different from yours, you might want to ask why and revisit your profile. 

Now, how can you find your ICPs?

First, you want to hang out where they probably are. Figure out the online communities they are and the B2B conferences they attend. These are places you want to be (more details later). 

You can also use sales intelligence tools to your advantage. Some of the best B2B prospecting tools for this are LinkedIn sales navigator and ZoomInfo.

With their advanced features, you can search for your target audience based on the criteria in your ICP. For instance:

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When you find your ideal audience, search the web for any information you can find about their company. See their about us page, blogs, and other content to get a glimpse of their brand values and interests. This helps you understand how to tailor your communication with them. 

Next, you’ll need the contact details of the key decision-makers to initiate your outreach process. You’ll need to use an email finder tool to find these addresses. 

Besides their emails, you need phone numbers for cold calling. Use intelligence tools to automatically pull this data from LinkedIn, ZoomInfo, and others. 

2. Personalized email campaigns

Undoubtedly, email is one of the best ways to reach your prospects. But it’s sad that the average email open rate only swings between 15 to 25 percent. Put simply, if you send 100 emails, only 25 get opened at best. Even fewer get clicks. 

The good thing is you can double that number when you personalize your B2B prospecting emails. 

Start with your subject line. This grabs your prospect’s attention and entices them to open your message. So, it should highlight the value and benefit the prospect will get by opening the message - under 60 characters. For example: 

Want to boost your sales with e-commerce analytics?

It’s a bit tricky to personalize your subject lines, though. Sometimes, simply adding the name of the recipient might work. But in other cases, you’ll need to include their interests, locations, or other elements that make the subject line feel more personal to them. Do A/B testing to see which one works for you.  

Assume they open your email. What's next? You want to make them keep reading with engaging content. To engage the prospect, you must have done your research. This means knowing who they are and the best way to approach them. 

Start by greeting and telling the prospect who you are. Find some commonalities to make the intro more personalized and warm. For example, talk about a conference you both attended or anything that shows you’ve done your homework about them. 

2. Personalized email campaigns

Immediately after greeting, get into the problem you want to help them solve: 

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Have you helped anyone solve a similar problem? Throw that in to reinforce your point. 

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End the email with a call to action and closing greeting:

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Always keep this email short—ideally, not more than 180 words. Also, you don’t want to be too salesy in the first email. You only want to inform them you have a solution to a problem they might be facing. To stay in line, use AI tools to your advantage. Content creation is one of the most common generative AI use cases. Just insert the right prompts and the tool will come up with quality emails that follow your guidelines. 

Sometimes, even the best sales emails might not get a response from the prospect. That doesn’t mean you should count your losses and move on. Follow up to remind them you’re waiting to help them meet their business needs. Once you feel like they’re ready to listen, send them a comprehensive sales proposal that touches on their pain points. The best proposal tools come with customizable templates for every industry you can just fill out with your business’ specific details. Look for sales proposal templates and leverage them to save time.

3. Cold calling with a purpose

Despite its challenges, cold calling remains a valuable sales prospecting method. In fact, 57% of C-level executives prefer that you reach out to them via a cold call, according to a Zippia study. 

But to begin, you need a call script. This helps you remove ambiguity from your cold calling. It keeps you mindful of the things to say and pitch your message better. 

Before writing a script, ensure you’ve done some research. Do they currently work with another B2B seller? What specific areas do they need help with? The more information you have, the higher your chances of having a successful call and even scheduling subsequent meetings. 

Remember that a script is simply to help with the flow of the sales conversation. So you don’t have to repeat everything verbatim. 

Your script should start with a permission-based opener:

3. Cold calling with a purpose

If the answer is yes to the question above, establish some rapport, just like you did for the cold email. Mention a shared interest or a recent event the prospect was involved in. 

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If they seem receptive to talking, state why you’re calling. Then ask some questions about the problem you want to help them solve. These questions should be open-ended so that they can provide detailed responses.

The answers will help you understand how to pitch your solution:

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Based on their answers, you can identify specific issues - say, attracting high-quality leads. With this, you’ll know how to respond and tailor your solution.

Then, pitch your solution while throwing in social proof like customer success stories: 

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If they seem convinced, end the conversation with a CTA. Ask them if they’re open to scheduling another meeting. 

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It’s okay to meet objections in your cold calls. What’s not okay is not preparing for them. So, during your research, note the common challenges or objections the prospect may have and prepare beforehand.

For example:

  • It’s very expensive

  • We don’t need this right now

  • We have something similar

Say they are already working with your competitors. You can have a response like:

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Also, remember that you’re probably interrupting the prospect’s schedule. So always keep things short and straight to the point. 

Finally, always see every call as an opportunity to learn and improve your approach. 

4. Leveraging social media

Around 75% of B2B buyers make their buying decisions with social media. So, here’s a great opportunity to engage and capture them. 

The best social media for B2B prospecting methods is where your target audience hangs out. You’ll discover this platform while researching your audience. 

That said, the most popular one that 50% of B2B business clients use as a trusted source is LinkedIn. Twitter is another great platform to engage in real-time conversations and network with these prospective customers. You can also join professional communities on Slack and Discord. 

After choosing a platform, share valuable content with prospective buyers to boost your social media presence. Unlike B2C customers that want entertainment content, B2B audiences mostly prefer industry news, publications, research reports, and thought leadership content.

4. Leveraging social media

Don’t just share content; comment and engage with your target accounts. For instance, frequently drop a like or insightful comment on their posts. Hopefully, they’ll start noticing you and even engaging with your content. This helps you build rapport, so it will be easier when conducting cold calls or emails. 

Finally, use social listening tools to monitor social media platforms for mentions, keywords, and conversations related to your industry, products, or services. This allows you to identify opportunities, pain points, and industry trends that can inform your prospecting efforts. Good examples are Brand24 and Buffer. 

5. Referrals and recommendations

Suppose someone tells you to try a product because they’ve tried and trusted it. That carries more weight than any form of advertising. That’s why 66% of salespeople say referrals offer the best leads. 

In fact, this strategy alone gave Evernote 13 million users. It also helped Trello grow its user base from 500,000 to 50 million from 2011 to 2019. 

But customers will only refer people to you if you have a great relationship with them. So how do you achieve that? Start by providing exceptional products and services. Back it up with top-notch customer service. Evernote and Trello excel at these two things.

For instance, say you offer SEO web hosting. You have to meet the minimum criteria for the best website hosting for SEO to have a chance at a referral. This means having great speed, quality customer support, incredible uptime, etc. 

Still, some customers might need a little push before recommending your solutions. So, connect with happy customers and ask for that recommendation directly.

This could be via a simple email like the one below:  

5. Referrals and recommendations

Sometimes, the push your customers need might be an incentive.

Evernote, for instance, has a double-sided referral program where both the referee and referrer get a one-month premium subscription:

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You could also use a gift card, cash reward, or anything your audience would appreciate. If they know there’s a reward for their effort, they’ll be happy to give you new potential leads. 

6. Attending industry events and conferences

Event marketing remains one of the most effective sales and marketing strategies for B2B businesses. A survey by MarketingCharts confirmed it’s ahead of other tactics like email marketing and content marketing.

6. Attending industry events and conferences

Online event directories and platforms - like EventBrite, LinkedIn events, and MeetUp - can help you find events relevant to your industry and location. 

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Also, industry influencers and thought leaders often share information about events they’ll attend on social media. Follow them to see the ones that are worth attending. 

During the event, approach potential prospects with a genuine interest in their business and challenges. Further, exchange contact information or connect on social media to take the relationship further. 

If you can, seek opportunities to be an event speaker. This is a great way to position yourself as an industry expert - one of the signals B2B buyers consider before buying. 

Another option is to be an exhibitor or sponsor of the event. This way, you’ll get a dedicated space to set up your booth. Potential prospects can come to your booth, where you can collect their contact information and initiate your prospecting and outreach processes. 

7. Content marketing and thought leadership

Educational and thought leadership content resonate better with B2B audiences.

Remember the pain points you identified in your ICP? Create compelling content around them. When you provide solutions to these challenges, you can capture the attention and trust of potential customers. 

For example, some of Magical’s potential clients are busy professionals who don't have the time to write emails.

So, it makes sense that it has an educative blog like this:

7. Content marketing and thought leadership

The content format is not limited to company blogs alone. Explore other formats like videos, podcasts, and infographics. 

You can also write whitepapers and ebooks that delve into:

  • Original data and analysis

  • Industry trends, 

  • Emerging technologies, 

  • Thought-provoking and actionable insights. 

It's equally important to promote your content to attract potential customers better. So, consider social media marketing and influencer partnerships for promotion. 

Also, submit content to industry publications, websites, and relevant platforms as guest posts. Guest posts can generate valuable backlinks, which are key to website SEO. You can leverage the services of a reputable healthcare, manufacturing or SaaS SEO agency to help you in your guest post outreach campaigns. With this approach, you can easily expand your reach to new audiences and establish your authority in the industry.

FAQ

What is B2B prospecting?

B2B prospecting is a stage in the B2B sales cycle where you identify, outreach to, and nurture potential buyers into paying customers. 

Why is B2B prospecting important for sales?

B2B prospecting is important for sales because it helps you to proactively find and engage the right prospects. Targeting the right prospects helps you concentrate your resources on leads most likely to convert. Effective prospecting builds a qualified pipeline and establishes relationships with decision-makers. This will improve your sales performance and drive revenue growth for your business.

How can I identify and target the right B2B prospects for my efforts?

To identify and target the right prospects for B2B selling, analyze your customer base and use data analytics with intelligence tools to know who you should be targeting. Then, use this information to create an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). Use social media, B2B conferences, and communities to find people who fit this profile and target them with cold calling, personalized emails, and content. 

What are some effective strategies for generating B2B leads and prospects

Some of the effective strategies to generate leads and prospects include referrals and networking, content marketing and thought leadership, social selling, email marketing, and cold outreach. 

How can I leverage technology and data to enhance my B2B prospecting efforts?

You can use data analytics and marketing intelligence tools to gain insights into your target audience and track prospecting interactions. Sales and marketing automation tools can also help automate repetitive tasks and personalize your outreach. 

Conclusion

While prospecting is regarded as the hardest part of the B2B sales process, there are some strategies to make it easier. 

First, make sure to know whom you’re targeting via research. You can then kickstart and nurture the relationship using cold emails and calls. Most B2B buyers use social media to make purchasing decisions. So, leverage it to find and target your potential prospects. 

That’s not all. Take advantage of B2B sales prospecting techniques like referrals and events to find prospects and target them accordingly. Finally, engage your prospects and position yourself as a thought leader with thought leadership content. 

Follow these B2B sales approaches and business-to-business sales will come easier than ever.

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