Prospecting is all about creating conversations that will ultimately lead to sales.
It can be tempting to cast your prospecting net as wide as possible to make sure your pipeline is brimming with potential customers. In fact, many companies actually encourage fat pipelines to increase chances of conversion.
While this might seem logical, pumping more into your sales pipeline can compromise the quality of your leads.
You’ll find it harder to focus your efforts on the best prospects, and you’ll waste precious time managing administrative tasks, rather than closing deals.
Sales is a crazy, fast-paced, high-pressure industry. You’re constantly getting pushed for more leads, higher conversion, and greater revenue.
But quality leads are the secret spice in your sales process mix.
Less is more. Too much and you’ll risk ruining all of the rest of your hard work.
The Prospecting Pitfalls You Need to Avoid
There’s one simple trap so many salespeople fall into:
Spending too much time chasing prospects who don’t match the target profile.
Cold outreach is never easy, so you want to make sure you are directing your efforts towards the right people. Mismatched prospects will clutter your pipeline and cause you to scatter your efforts, complicating your focus with little return.
And what if they actually become a customer?
Sure, this will bring short-term payoff and help you to meet your quota, but the wrong customers can damage your reputation and turn into a source of unpredictable revenue.
How to Improve Your Prospecting and Focus on Sales-Ready Leads
Prospecting shouldn’t be about having as many conversations as possible, but rather having conversations with the right people.
Pipedrive’s 2017 Sales Performance Review underlines the differences in conversion rates between high performing and low performing salespeople.
The results are stark.
The best sales teams tend to close more deals faster with a smaller pipeline filled with higher quality leads.
A healthy pipeline is critical to help you move the most high-probability prospects in to your sales cycle.
It’s not about working harder, but working smarter.
Be selective when you prospect for new clients.
You will save time, declutter your pipeline and earn more loyal customers.
The Lead Qualification Checklist You Need to Find the Best Prospects Fast
Pinpointing your ideal prospect involves research, understanding and leverage.
If you’d like to learn more about the finer details of developing a structured lead qualification process, we’ve dedicated an entire article to explaining 4 key steps you can take to develop a lead generation machine for your sales team.
This concept may seem daunting at first, but the last thing we want to do is complicate your sales process.
Lead qualification doesn’t have to be complex.
We want to make it easier for you to find the right prospects easily, so we’ve compiled a checklist to help you turn our tips into practical actions.
Use this checklist to pre-qualify your leads. You can also share this checklist with your team as a point of reference whenever you’re unsure if a prospect is worth pursuing.
1. Does the prospect look like your best customers?
Does your prospect fit the right demographic profile?
Take a look at your existing customers and identify any commonalities.
While intuition is important, data will empower you to define your ideal prospect with precision. Here are some data points to evaluate:
- Company size
- Number of employees
- Annual revenue
- Persona of decision maker(s)
Pipedrive’s Custom Fields feature makes tracking the demographic details of your contacts a breeze. You can create custom fields to capture whatever specific information you need. And that’s just one way you can use this feature to streamline your sales process to suit any specific requirements you have - this quick explainer video will show you exactly how Custom Fields work in action.
2. Does the prospect’s behavior match your success profile?
Deconstruct the path to purchase to examine the behaviors, patterns and preferences that lead to closed deals.
Take a look at the customers you have had the best success with. Can you identify any patterns or variables that typically influence the purchase decision? Form a list of indicators to pinpoint lookalike prospects. Here are some patterns to look out for:
- Attitude towards change
- Factors that influence decisions
- Pattern of consideration and decision making
- Length of buying cycle
- Impact of internal influencers
- Typical roadblocks and objections
- Year-on-year growth
Including a lead generation form on your website landing pages is one of the quickest ways to qualify leads and push them along your sales cycle. This is where sales and marketing really need to work together in order to collect the right data at different stages of the funnel and implement an effective lead scoring model.
Make sure you have the right form fields in place to filter out mismatched prospects and save you time.
If you only want to focus on leads from the construction industry with a specific minimum spending budget and a job title of manager - you can use three simple form fields to get the right leads into your pipeline (and tag poor quality leads as early as possible).
The format and design of your form directly impacts conversion rates, so it’s important to a/b test your forms and optimize towards the best performing versions.
Here are some pointers to help you develop a lead capture web form that helps you get the data you need without compromising conversions:
- Position - Always make sure your form is above the fold. Instant visibility is critical to draw the user’s attention.
- Length - Only ask for what you really need. Form fields can include both demographic and qualitative style questions, but always assume that your prospects are busy and determine the number of form fields with this in mind. You need to find the right balance between collecting the information you need and not wasting your prospect’s time. And always think mobile first.
- Call-to-action - Make sure your submission button has a compelling CTA. A strong call-to-action can make or break the conversion. Keep it simple and catchy so your user knows exactly what they can expect.
3. Pre-qualify to prioritize
Set out some qualifying criteria to determine if your prospect is worth pursuing.
BANT qualification is a good starting point. BANT should not be used as a final checklist, as qualifying prospects goes much deeper than this. But it does help you to evaluate if your prospect has the bandwidth to buy now, in the future, or not at all.
Do your homework to see if you can answer any of these questions before you reach out.
Budget - The size of the business, annual turnover or what your prospect is currently spending on a solution can be a good indicator.
Authority - Do some research on your prospect and try to determine their level of influence. Are the decisions made by a committee or a single head of department/company?
Need - Is your prospect similar to any of your existing customers? What are their main goals and challenges?
Timing - Do some research on the buying cycle and try to evaluate the urgency of the need.
Addressing these points allows you anticipate common objections and puts you in a better position to handle them. It also helps you evaluate the potential deal size and prioritize leads in terms of value.
If your prospect doesn’t meet all the criteria, it doesn’t mean you should forget about them. But parking this prospect for now will free up time to focus on potential customers who are further along the path to purchase.
4. Understand your prospect’s specific pain points
This step involves a little integrity on the part of the sales rep. Timo Rein, CEO and Founder of Pipedrive, notes:
‘The ideal customer is one with whom you have the best possible strategic fit across the board.’
Does your product or solution actually answer the pain points of your potential customer?
What needs are you most successfully addressing with your solution?
Which companies have the best product/need fit?
Form a list of all the problems and challenges that your solution solves. Having this to hand will help you demonstrate value more quickly.
5. Leverage your network
Warm up your outreach with customer referrals.
‘The sale is not complete until the customer is so happy that he or she confidently makes referrals.’
Your existing customers are a powerful tool in your prospecting arsenal, provided you look after them. Long-term relationships are the key to enhancing your business reputation.
Trust is a huge factor in the decision making process and customer referrals serve as a proof point of the value you can bring.
6. Don’t forget your existing customers
Barbara Giamanco of Social Centered Selling notes that:
‘Companies tend to push their sales teams to constantly acquire new customers, even though on average that can cost the company 7 times more than making time to develop sales opportunities with existing customers.’
Take a look at your existing customer base.
Do you have customers that are looking to scale their businesses?
Are they hiring quickly?
Is there another department that could use your solution?
Always look to your existing customer base for opportunities to upsell or cross-sell. Loyal customers are more likely to spend more money with you and further invest in your solutions.
7. Capitalize on familiarity
Don’t disregard previous encounters. This could be a conversation on social media, a meeting at an industry event, or perhaps your lead is an old client of yours, now in a new role. Even small encounters serve to warm up your prospecting efforts.
There’s one simple way to increase your chances of these encounters - be social!
Make sure you are engaging in conversations relevant to your target market and find ways to keep you and your brand front of mind.
Get Smart About Prospecting to Find More Ideal Customers
Streamlining your prospecting process is no easy task, but having the right CRM in place will allow you to work smarter and save time when it comes to research and outreach.
Smart contact data allows you to find valuable insights quickly and pre-qualify your leads by retrieving web-data about your contacts.
Combining this with the Pipedrive Sales Inbox will help you automatically create contact and deal profiles from any email you send and receive. Pair these automation features with our customizable email templates to speed up your outreach and you can optimize up your sales process significantly.
Quick Snapshot of Your Ideal Prospect
If your prospect checks the following boxes, it’s a red hot chance they are worth the effort!
☐ Prospect matches ideal customer persona
☐Business challenge aligns with solution
☐You have access to the decision-maker(s)
☐They have come from a customer referral
☐They are an existing customer
☐You have had previous touch points
Understanding your ideal prospect is pivotal to prioritizing your leads, optimizing your time, and ultimately, enhancing your sales performance.