Prospecting and sales are undoubtedly another area of development for many companies, particularly given the shift evident during COVID. Now more than ever, companies and individuals are having to try and source prospects through online means only. This has also meant a change in focus and skill set for some job roles.
For some companies, this has drastically altered their business models as they’ve shifted from sourcing all of their prospects from face-to-face networking events and meetings to being fully reliant on online prospecting.
I can’t be the only one to have received lots more ‘sales pitch’ template emails or messages on LinkedIn – unfortunately, many of which are simply archived!
It is no secret that many companies and sales teams find prospecting the most difficult part of the sales process, in fact one report suggests as many as 42% find it the most challenging part of the entire sales process! This has been heightened by COVID, which has created an even more saturated market for online prospecting.
Launching onto the online sales and delivery world also requires investing in more software and quality IT provision, as well as ensuring all staff have the experience and know-how associated with online marketing and selling. This is at a time when many businesses are also suffering due to the pandemic.
So, how do we improve our success rate online?
If you’re struggling with online prospecting, keep reading to find out how to generate worthwhile, new leads…
Establishing your target audience is extremely important. The clearer audience profile you have, the more likely you are to receive engagement or interest from your efforts. While establishing an exact target audience may seem like a long-winded task, it certainly saves you from wasting time approaching potential leads that simply have no interest in your product or service.
Good questions to answer when establishing your target audience are:
- What characteristics does your target audience have?
- Who are they?
- What do they do at work and/or what does their company do?
- Where do they live?
- Do they have particular lifestyle interests?
- How much money do they earn?
Although it can be tempting to broadcast a generic, templated sales email or message to potential prospects – don’t do it! It is very important to build rapport and demonstrate an individual interest. Work out what the company or individual may find useful about your product and service and go from there.
We all know that building a rapport with someone is easier when you are face-to-face using two-way communication. This gives an opportunity to read their non-verbal communication, clear up any misinformation, and recognize common ground.
When restricted to one-way communication, this can be more difficult, so make sure your messages are clear and succinct.
Instead of diving in with a hard selling tactic, think about engaging with them on a mutual topic or offering some useful, complimentary advice. Which leads to the next point…
Social Media and Newsletters
Once you have a clear picture of your target audience, offer insightful content for them to engage with on social media and your website. Based on your target audience, think about what platforms they’ll likely use and which ones you should focus your efforts on. Instead of trying to post on seven different platforms, invest your energy into the ones that will pay off – sometimes less is more!
Establishing positive touch points with your business is extremely valuable for potential clients. Don’t underestimate the power of consistent and informative posts and engagement online.
If you have generated prospects, continue to nurture the relationship with regular communication through weekly or bi-weekly newsletters.
Keep It Short and Sweet
If you’re reaching out to cold prospects via an email or inbox, keep your message short and clear. Clearing an inbox is a daily task for most of us, quite often the aim is to get rid of emails that don’t require action and action the ones that do – as quickly as possible!
So… don’t expect too much of your prospect. Keep your cold emails/messages short and direct. A Boomerang study found the most effective sales emails contain between 50-125 words! Make it to the point, informative, and personal.
Create a Sales Funnel
Once you’ve established your target audience and a channel to contact them, make sure your CTA (call to action) is clear. What next step do you want your prospect to take?
If you want further details from them, make sure you have a strong landing page with a tracking function so you can continue to monitor progress.
If you’re approaching through an email or message, what specific action are you hoping they’ll take? Make this clear and simple for them to complete.
Don’t give up! It can be easy to lose motivation if a prospect doesn’t respond initially. However, research shows on average, it takes eight cold calls/messages to reach a prospect.
Establish your target audience, offer valuable content, and stay persistent!