It’s the rare seller who wakes up excited about the idea of having to prospect to fill their pipeline. Prospecting is hard. Buyers are heavily guarded by gatekeepers, they’re short on time, and it takes a lot of no’s to get one yes.

But prospecting is a critical part of most sellers’ jobs. You need to constantly be looking for the next sale, feeding the front of the pipeline, and leading successful sales meetings.

What, then, works in prospecting today? How can sellers become more productive in their prospecting efforts?

Through the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research, we talked to 488 buyers, representing $4.2 billion in purchases across more than 25 industries, and asked them how they prefer to be contacted by sellers and how sellers have actually attempted to connect with them. Here’s what we found:

At first glance, it may seem like email is the winner. Buyers prefer to be contacted this way, and sellers are reaching out to them over email. So, you should focus 100% of your time on email prospecting. Great! Because who likes using the phone anyway?

I urge you to think twice.

Any one of these methods on its own is unlikely to work very well. The prospecting power comes when you combine methods and build attraction campaigns using multiple tactics and reaching out to buyers multiple ways over time. Using multiple media is one of the five appointment-setting keys to success.

Think about how powerful these tactics are when they work together.

You’ve targeted a few hundred buyers you want to share new research with that your company just conducted for their industry. You send an initial email with the offer to present the key findings and how you think it will affect your buyer’s business. You customize that email based on actual information about that company and research you do on LinkedIn. You follow up with a phone call, and when the buyer doesn’t answer, you leave a voicemail.

A few days later, you haven’t heard back so you resend the initial email asking if they received it and letting them know you‘ll call back the next day at 3 p.m. The following day (at 3 p.m.) you call the buyer and leave another voicemail. You send a LinkedIn request, letting them know you’ve been trying to get in touch to share some relevant new research.

Next, you print the research findings, highlight areas you believe are most applicable to their business, and drop it in the mail with a personal note.

The following week, you send an email to see if they received the research in the mail and leave a voicemail to the same effect. Perhaps there’s an upcoming industry conference that you or one of your colleagues will be attending, so you ask if they’ll be there and if they’d like to meet for a cup of coffee.

At this point, it’s entirely reasonable that the buyer has not responded — many never do. But a few buyers are going to open that email, listen to the voicemail, see the LinkedIn message, or open the research you sent via snail mail, and they’re going to want to meet.

Breaking through the clutter takes hard work, but it can be done. Eighty-two percent of buyers have accepted meetings with sellers who proactively reached out in the last 12 months. You can be that seller.

The prospecting power comes when you combine methods and build attraction campaigns using multiple tactics and reaching out to buyers multiple ways over time. ”

Mike Schultz | president at RAIN Group
 
 
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