For many companies, the focus for 2020 was simply to stay afloat. Challenges brought about by the pandemic shifted business goals from finding ways to thrive, to finding ways to survive.
Luckily, a new year (and a renewed hope for regularity) is here! Businesses that lost traction in 2020 are beginning to get their footing and look forward to what’s next. For many, this will mean rebuilding their pipeline and regenerating a steady stream of prospecting and lead generation activity.
However, prospecting could look a little different in 2021. The world has changed over the past few months— and with it, so have customer expectations.
In this blog, we’ll share our top 7 tips for successful prospecting in 2021. These techniques will help your company regain traction, increase your sales, and scale effectively.
Table of Contents
Leverage Inbound Marketing
In 2021, we’ll see marketing and sales teams working closer together than ever before.
The power of inbound and content marketing to generate leads has exploded over the past few years. One recent study showed that a staggering 95% of B2B buyers research companies online before making purchases. And what are they looking for? Most of the buyers want research data that is relevant to their area of business, and 89% want content that proves the ROI of a company’s product or service.
This means if your business is not generating content to help lure in prospects, you’re missing out on a potentially huge opportunity.
It’s important to work together with marketing teams to create relevant, targeted content to help prospects find you. Not only does it help facilitate awareness among potential clients, it helps with the generation of much warmer leads who are more educated about your company.
Build your Social Media Presence
A decade ago, company leadership may have been doing everything they could to keep their sales teams off social media at work. In 2021, it’s actually a very productive use of their time!
Consider these statistics:
- 91% of B2B buyers are now active on social media
- 84% of senior executives use social media to research and support purchasing decisions
- 65% of salespeople who use social selling fill their pipeline
- Using social selling tools can increase win rates by 5% and deal size by 35%
Platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are now hot spots for salespeople who are looking to build a reputation with a certain audience. Potential prospects look to thought leaders in different industries when choosing a partner to work with; And if it’s not your company holding the megaphone on social media, it will be someone else!
And social is not just great for helping prospects find you— it’s great for finding them as well!
Social media can be an amazing research tool in finding out what your prospects are interested in and what’s currently top of mind for them. You can also use LinkedIn to facilitate warm introductions to new leads from your current connections, which we’ll discuss in more detail next:
Ask for Referrals and Introductions
If you’ve been in sales long, you might not find it surprising that most B2B buyers are influenced by word-of-mouth when making their buying decision.
This means that referrals are a much easier sell than cold leads. Yet many salespeople still neglect to ask for them. One recent survey showed that:
- 58% salespeople said they ask for fewer than one referral per month
- 40% report rarely asking for a referral
- And only 18% said they ask on a regular basis
In 2021, with customers looking more closely at doing business with vendors they trust, referrals will be a major part of successful prospecting. Just remember: Ask your customers at a high point in your business relationship and make it easy for them to share your information.
Make the Most of Prospecting Tools
Today we have the benefit of leveraging technology to make prospecting a little easier. There are hundreds of tools on the market to help your sales team with everything from building your prospect list, to qualifying prospects to engaging with them.
There are a few things any good prospecting software should offer:
- Built-in email personalization functionality
- Automation of certain mundane tasks
- Good visualization of where things stand in your pipeline
Of course, you’ll also need to consider the unique features of each platform, budget, training etc.
However, if your team is struggling to keep their pipeline organized or spending too much time on simple repetitive prospecting tasks, implementing a software solution could remove some of the burden they are struggling with.
Identify creative ways to ‘meet’ ideal prospects
This past year certainly changed the way we ‘meet’ prospects. Since in-person meetings, conferences, and trade shows were essentially off the table, salespeople had to be much more creative in their outreach!
One of the best ways to keep things personal from a distance was through the use of video. Whether it was sending personalized videos in outreach emails, doing webinars, or even posting videos to social media, sales teams utilized video wherever possible. And it was effective:
- 83% of companies said video helped them generate leads in 2020
- And 80% of companies said video directly helped increase sales in 2020
There is no doubt video will continue to be a useful tool for prospecting in 2021. As we remain in limbo about in-person events and gatherings, video helps us put a face to a name and connect with prospects on a more personal level.
Re-examine your cold calling strategy
One of the most useful prospecting tools in 2021 will continue to be a technique that’s been around for ages: cold calling – personalized 1:1 outreach!
While some sales teams shy away from this method of outbound lead generation, it’s still an incredibly effective way to get in front of prospects. As buyers say they have accepted meetings with salespeople after a series of contacts beginning with cold calls. That’s huge!
Of course, there are a lot of reasons why some sales teams have stopped cold calling. Perhaps they aren’t sure how to do it effectively, or they simply don’t have enough time in their day. And this is where our next prospecting tip comes in: Outsourcing.
Statistically, one of the best ways to be more successful at prospecting— is to reach more prospects!
This is where outsourcing your prospecting, lead generation/lead nurturing, qualifying and appointment setting can be such a huge help for keeping your sales pipeline healthy and full.
Hiring a third party to help research, contact, and qualify warm leads to hand over to your team is a very efficient addition to your sales team. Not only does it free up time for your sales team to focus on nurturing leads and closing deals, it takes the pressure off of them to make cold calls and spend hours of research on prospects that don’t go anywhere. It also helps alleviate any internal bandwidth or scaling constraints so you can reach more prospects in less time.
A great lead generation partner can help you reduce costs and time waste while simultaneously growing your business. Just be sure to do your research and bring on a partner you trust to represent your brand.
Here’s to a productive, profitable 2021!
Looking for an outbound sales partner who can help you generate well-qualified leads and warm sales appointments that are ready to be closed? Schedule a demo with the Leads at Scale team!