How to Build Effective B2B Prospecting Strategies: Finding High-Quality Leads for Your Business
Generating leads is essential to B2B operations. Good leads bring in new customers, and new customers are vital to sustaining a business and helping it grow. It’s important to always be prospecting – if you wait until you’re in need of new customers, your processes will be rushed and inefficient, and you may end up chasing leads that aren’t the best fit for your business. A good B2B prospecting strategy allows you to identify the best leads and always have some in the pipeline when you need them.
What is B2B Prospecting?
B2B sales prospecting is the process of finding and reaching out to potential customers or clients in order to generate new business. It involves identifying the people most likely to be receptive to your sales pitch and bringing them into the sales funnel with the eventual goal of converting them into customers.
Lead generation is a challenging and time-consuming process. Finding good leads takes time, and not every lead will eventually become a customer. While some companies prefer to cast a wide net and simply target as many people as possible, this can result in time wasted on contacting people who won’t be receptive to a sales pitch. It is therefore important to target your efforts carefully and to utilize a variety of tools and strategies when B2B prospecting.
Understanding Your Customers
The first step in any good B2B prospecting strategy is understanding your existing customer base. What businesses are they in? What are their needs? What are their pain points? Who in the organization makes the buying decisions for your type of product or service? Developing buyer profiles — or working from existing profiles provided by marketing — helps you to create an ideal customer profile (ICP) that you can use to identify the sales prospects who will most likely be receptive to you.
Keep in mind that while company leaders may be the top-level decision makers, they’re not necessarily the ones who will make purchase decisions about your product. Similarly, people in finance may make the actual purchases, but if they’re not the end users, they’re not likely to be the best leads. Finding and targeting the right decision influencers within the company will increase your chances of success.
It’s also valuable to map out your market: what industries to your customers operate in? What size are the companies and where are they located? What job titles do your prospects have? Who are your current customers and competitors? This information helps you to filter through prospects and discard those that don’t feel like a good fit, leaving you with high-quality prospects that are more likely to become customers.
Inbound vs. Outbound Prospecting
There are two main types of B2B prospecting strategies: inbound and outbound. Inbound prospecting is typically the territory of the marketing team and involves generating interest through various types of content. These types include:
- Advertising — this includes pay-per-click ads that drive traffic to your company’s website, as well as PR campaigns.
- Content marketing — this involves creating content relevant to your target market in order to raise awareness of and interest in your offerings. It comes in many forms, including blogs, white papers, webinars, videos, podcasts, and more.
- Social media — this can be a valuable tool to promote not only your products but also your contact marketing. It also allows you to network and identify prospects.
- Email marketing — this involves email campaigns such as newsletters and promotions, with the goal of converting prospects who are ready to buy or bringing those who aren’t further into the sales funnel.
Marketing prospects are typically people or companies that have come to you via the above methods and expressed an interest in your business. Initial contact with these prospects can come from sources such as a form on your website, a CTA in your content, an ad, or registration for a demo, webinar, or other event. The benefit of marketing prospects is that you know they’re already receptive to your product or service.
Outbound prospecting is conducted by the sales team, who contact leads directly. This is one of the reasons having an ICP is so important: the more precise you are in targeting leads, the more likely you are to reach someone who is interested in what you have to say, resulting in less time lost to unproductive prospecting.
Methods of reaching out to people for outbound prospecting include:
- Cold calling
- Social media (especially LinkedIn)
- Prospecting platforms
- Sales demos
Emailing and calling can often be the most challenging, both in terms of the prospect’s potential receptiveness to being approached by sales and in terms of ensuring that the contact information you have for someone is both accurate and up to date. Methods such as a prospecting platform or social media have the benefit of allowing you to contact a lead directly through the platform.
However, cold calling and emailing are still important tools when it comes to B2B prospecting strategies. Many people will end up purchasing a product or service from the vendor who reached out to them first, so a well-tailored pitch can be very effective here. Phone calls and emails allow for a direct dialogue with the customer, giving you the opportunity to gather information that you can use in future conversations. The goal of the initial contact isn’t usually to make a sale on the spot, but rather to raise awareness and interest with the customer and ideally set a date for a follow-up call or demo.
Cold Emailing Strategies
The majority of buyers prefer email as their primary communication method with sales representatives, so a well-written email is a strong way of introducing yourself and your company. It’s important not to start too aggressively in your first contact with the customer. Start with an engaging subject line, friendly introduction, and a personalized message — the recipient won’t be impressed if it’s obvious you don’t know anything about them or their business.
Don’t get too bogged down in details in the initial message, or the customer may lose interest. Outline the ways that your company can help them and ask for a follow-up call or meeting to discuss things further. Don’t get discouraged by a lack of response, as not everyone will have the time or inclination to contact you right away. If they don’t need what you’re offering right now, they may remember you in the future when they do need it. You can also send follow-up emails if your first attempt goes unanswered — it may be they just needed a little time or a reminder to get in touch.
Keep track of who you’ve contacted, when, and whether they’ve responded so that you can plan future emails and meetings. Also test out different email templates and track how effective they are, as it can take time to find the optimal wording and timing for your messages. If your current setup isn’t working or you think it could be better, change it up! There are always opportunities to increase effectiveness.
Cold Calling Strategies
Preparation is key when cold calling a lead. Make sure you have as much information as possible on their company and their needs so that you can catch and hold their interest during the call. At the same time, it’s important not to overwhelm them with information. Don’t speak too quickly, and don’t push too hard for a sale during your initial call. Smaller goals are important here, such as a second call, a demo, or an email with more details.
A phone call can also be your opportunity to learn more about a prospect. Instead of pushing too hard on what makes your product the best, ask questions about their company and any pain points they might face. This gives you the opportunity to learn information that isn’t available online or in databases, and helps you determine the best way to convince them that your product is a good fit for their company. It can also make a good first impression, showing that you’re willing to listen and care about their needs. This will make them more receptive to future contact.
Other Tactics for Creating a B2B Prospecting Strategy
Some practices are useful regardless of which channel you use to reach out to your prospects. Establish yourself as an authority in your market, learn how to answer common objections, and take advantage of satisfied customers when looking to attract new ones.
Build a Social Media Presence
Social media can — and should — be a two-way street. It’s a useful place to promote your product offerings and your content, but it’s also a way to network and build relationships. By interacting with other people on the platform, you build recognition and positive association. Support others in your market by sharing useful information, boosting their posts, or offering advice. If your initial contact with someone helps build them up, they’ll be more receptive to a later sales pitch than if you immediately try to ask them for something.
You can also use social media to establish yourself as an expert in your field. Share insights and news that are relevant to your target audience, and you can build a following of people who are interested in your offerings.
Prepare Responses to Common Objections
Many people will be resistant to a sales pitch before they have all the information about what you’re offering. If you can overcome someone’s assumptions and biases, you may still find an in even when the initial response is “no.”
Price is a common sticking point. If the prospect doesn’t think they have the budget for your product, explain how it could save them money, improve efficiency, or increase revenue. They may find that these advantages will more than cover the cost of the product.
If the prospect says they’re not interested, ask them about their priorities and challenges. With more information on their needs, you can point out ways in which your product can benefit them.
If the company you’re targeting already works with a competitor, ask how satisfied they are and what features they might be missing. You may be able to find ways that your offering can help with unmet needs.
Ask for Referrals
If your current customers are happy with your offerings, take advantage of that. Just like with B2C transactions, word of mouth can be a powerful tool in B2B sales. A recommendation from someone they trust can have a strong impact on a buyer’s purchasing decisions, and many customers are happy to provide a referral when they’ve had a good experience. Simply asking can often be enough, but you can also consider introducing a referral program that provides financial incentives or other benefits.
B2B prospecting is a challenging job, and many leads will turn out to be dead ends. But sometimes, the right approach can turn a dead end into a road to partnership. Record your efforts and the results, look at what other companies are doing and don’t be afraid to switch things up. Experimenting allows you to dial in the methods that work best for you and your customers, increasing the number of leads you acquire and cutting down on time lost to weak prospects. Finding the right B2B prospecting strategy may take time, but will result in steadier revenue and stronger growth for your company.