If there is one universal truth across almost any business, it is this: if you work in sales, you better be comfortable making some phone calls.
Sales prospecting has been a documented strategy dating back to the late 1800’s with the sales manual of John H. Patterson of NCR Corporation and today, many of the strategies remain unchanged for businesses looking to generate new business.
But you see, that is not a good thing.
While you might be able to make a case that sales technology plateaued from about the time of the telephone until the mid-90’s, there is no denying the internet has changed the way leads find and engage with your business.
As a result, businesses should also evolve to prospect in new, innovative, and data-driven ways.
A recent post here on the SmartForms blog detailed the big differences between lead generation and sales prospecting. The post shared some useful ways you can combine the efforts of sales and marketing to create a unified customer acquisition strategy.
Today’s post will dive a bit deeper into the specifics on the sales prospecting end of the equation. You will learn three ways you can leverage your customer data to take your prospecting strategy out of the 1800’s and into the age of big data.
#1. Create Customer Segments to Focus Your Prospecting Efforts
Salespeople often consider segmentation and the development of buyer personas to be “marketing-focused” activities.
Demand generation marketers might build out segments for better campaign targeting or to create a lead scoring system, two very effective systems that have undoubtedly increased marketing ROI across countless businesses.
But all that success begs the question:
Why doesn’t sales take advantage of the same segmenting practices for their prospecting efforts?
Here is exactly how creating customer segments can increase your conversion rate:
- You can create targeted messages. Instead of using one blanket message for all of your prospects, customer segments give you the flexibility to “personalize at scale.” If that phrase sounds oxymoronic, here is how it works. Take a segment and cater your message (whether it be email or phone script) to focus on one common, universal attribute among the segment. It might be their location, their job title, their industry or company size – really any demographic data point that unifies them. Anchor your message around that point so that it feels more personal, despite being used at scale.
- You can leverage historical data. Want to know the best way to identify your hottest leads? Look at your current customers. Segmenting your existing customers by demographic and behavioral data means you will be able to quickly identify trends in leads that indicate they are on the same path to potentially becoming a customer.
- You can test higher price points. Segmentation also allows you to be flexible on your price point based on the potential customer’s size, need, and stage in the buying cycle.
#2. Be Active on Social Media
It may be every sales manager’s nightmare to have someone tell their reps to be active on social media at work, but the proof is in the pudding:
Of course, there is a big difference between goofing off on Facebook and actually adding value via LinkedIn or Twitter. Here are just a few ways being active on social media improves your sales prospecting:
- Staying top-of-mind. If you are connected to valuable leads on LinkedIn or being followed on Twitter, sharing valuable content on a daily basis keeps you top-of-mind. That is because as your shared content gains “likes” and comments, social media sites like LinkedIn will broadcast your posts to the top of people’s newsfeeds. Later on, when you call those leads about your product or service, they will have no problem remembering exactly who you are.
- Identifying trends and opportunities. Noticing on Twitter that a huge chunk of your competitors are complaining about a recent update or price change? Finding dissatisfied customer reviews on Google +? Not only are those leads ripe for the picking, but they also might be helping you identify good pain points to leverage against your competition the next time you are making sales calls.
#3. Build a Referral Engine
If you trust you are giving your current customers a top-notch customer service experience, one of the best things you can do for your sales prospecting strategy is start asking for referrals.
Here is an amazing stat from Texas Tech University:
83 percent of customers are willing to refer after a positive experience.
Sounds great, right? But here is the catch:
Only 29 percent actually do.
What is happening with the other 54 percent? Nothing. That is the crazy part.
So for your next prospecting session, try doing this instead of just blindly dialing from a call sheet:
- Call the decision-makers in the top 25 percent of your book. Start off by checking in with a simple courtesy call, but do not shy away from what it is you are truly after. Be transparent. Let the DM know you build your business off referrals and considering the partnership is going so well, you were hoping he/she might have a name or two to send your way.
- Compile those leads and segment them. Just because these are referrals does not mean they should not be subject to the same data-driven segmentation as the inbound marketing leads you receive.
- Dial away. Start making phone calls, being sure to name drop your current customer who referred them within the first 10 seconds of your conversation (it will help put the lead at ease knowing you are a friend of a friend).
Of course, in order to make those calls and do any successful sales prospecting at all, ensuring you are working with clean, enriched data should be a top priority. That’s where SmartForms comes in.