Leads vs prospects
A lead is a sales contact. A sales prospect is a lead who has been qualified to move into the sales process.
You want to pursue every lead. Choosing the leads who are worth your time is the purpose of prospecting.
You can consider sales prospecting as the exploratory phase of the larger sales funnel or process. It's a determination of whether potential customers need your help and whether they want it.
Then, you can plan the ways you can provide them with information and support that shows them that your product or service helps them meet their goals within their budget.
Know your customer's budget and timeline first
There is no point in making a sales presentation to potential customers who don't have the bandwidth to consider your offer. There is no point in making a presentation to a sales prospect that isn't a good fit for your company.
The way leads interact with your website can tell you a great deal about your sales prospect's pain points and how interested they are in buying from you. The content with which they interact can tell you how to structure your sales presentation.
The sales team is on the front line, dealing with prospects who turn into leads and prospects who don't. B2B sales professionals have an intuitive sense of the company's ideal potential customers and how to recognize them from interactions online.
Prioritize qualified sales leads
The next step of the sales prospecting efforts is to separate qualified sales leads from non-starters. A qualified sales lead matches the criteria of your buyer persona.
This company has a clear, preferably quantifiable, business challenge that aligns with your offerings. The qualified sales lead that is ready for a sales pitch usually has a high degree of interaction with your online content and your social media accounts. This is the lead most likely to convert to a customer.
In addition to monitoring interaction with your company's online presence, considering company demographics and budget, and encouraging social engagement in person and online, don't forget to rule out spam. You don't want to pursue dubious leads from bad actors.
Identify key stakeholders
Once you have identified qualified sales leads from your target audience, your next task is to identify the individuals who make the purchasing decision.
These fall into two categories: decision-makers and influencers. The decision-maker is the final authority for accepting or rejecting your proposal.
Don't ignore influencers. Influencers are usually the people who will be using your product or service.
These are the people who can make a compelling case for your product or service to decision-makers. They may be making your case before they even meet you. Treat them with the same respect you afford decision-makers, keeping in mind where the power to make the decision lies.
Prepare the flawless pitch
Personalizing your outreach to your prospects shows them that you really care about contributing to their success. The more you know about your prospect, the more information you can share with them about how your product or service meets their needs.
Then you need a reason to connect.
An essential part of any successful promotion strategy is this: Before you write a sales email for the first time, consider where on the customer journey you first made contact with your prospect.
If it was a face-to-face meeting or shared business history, great! It is always best to make a warm, non-salesy introduction. But automating leads from your website and social media presence is perfectly OK, too.
Lead generation for business-to-business marketing can come from the keywords that lead the clients to specific pages on your website. Time on page identifies specific pain points. Analytics can take the place of a lot of cold calling.
Now it's time to remember the secret to success in converting sales prospects to customers: Reciprocity is a strong force in B2B relationships.