Create a Winning Sales Prospecting Plan
What’s the status of your current sales prospecting plan?
If you’re not sure, prospecting probably fills you with dread, frustration, and fear.
But that all stops now.
With an effective prospecting plan, you can apply a roadmap to fill your sales funnel with the right leads for your business.
Below, I’ll walk you through the steps to take to create a sales prospecting strategy.
Let’s get started!
What Is a Sales Prospecting Plan?
A sales prospecting plan outlines activities and strategies to help you generate new leads. It involves identifying and engaging with potential buyers. With the ultimate goal of converting them into paying customers.
It lays the foundation for a strong sales pipeline with consistent, high-quality leads.
An effective sales prospecting plan is systematic so you have a way to replicate and scale your successes on an ongoing basis.
Consider Your Lead Generation Goals
Before you send a single cold email, you need to set your goals and business objectives.
It gives you clarity and direction.
Without knowing what you’re working towards, you won’t be able to assess if you need to tweak your prospecting strategy, abandon ship, or double down on your efforts.
Ask yourself: What do you want to achieve with your sales prospecting plan?
Some examples of sales KPIs are:
- Generating a certain number of qualified leads.
- Increase sales revenue by a specific percentage.
When you have a measurable goal, you can track progress and make data-driven adjustments instead of relying on gut feelings and guesstimates.
Pay special attention to actions that deliver desirable outcomes. What happens when you double down on those activities?
Refine Your Ideal Customer Profile
The crux of an effective sales prospecting plan?
Reaching out to the right target audience.
Creating a sales pitch that speaks to their pain points is a million times easier when you know who you’re talking to.
That’s where your sales targeting comes into play.
It combines your target audience’s characteristics, demographics, and psychographics. Analyzing your customer data helps shape your buyer’s journey, choose the right channels for cold outreach, and create a highly-targeted approach.
How do you uncover these attributes? Look at your sales data.
- What traits do your current customers have in common?
- Are there any overlapping traits from past opportunities?
If you need more data to analyze, do some extra research.
- What type of customer does your business work best for?
- Is there a specific company size or industry?
- What’s happening in their business that would drive them to seek out the solution you offer?
Expand Your Target Customer List
Now you know who you want to connect with.
But before you start doing research, see if you can expand your target market.
For example, you can explore ‘shoulder industries’ that have similar pains as your ideal customers.
Software designed to help plumbers could potentially help other industries with similar business models (ie electricians and HVAC).
The broader you can make your target audience, the more flexibility you’ll have when it comes to scaling out your sales prospecting process.
Create a Targeted Account List
Once you know who you want to target, it’s time to find companies that fit your target criteria.
There are LOTS of places to look for suitable companies. You just need to be a little bit creative. You can check industry event lists, association memberships, government registrations, or even industry groups on social media.
And of course Google Maps or LinkedIn are also great places to search.
Make a comprehensive list of all your existing prospects.
But don’t stop there!
Create alerts in Google or Sales Navigator so you get a notification when NEW accounts surface that match your criteria.
If your target market is big enough, you’ll never run out of opportunities.
Find The Decision Makers
You have your list of accounts.
So now it’s time to start finding the decision makers you want to meet.
Start by making a spreadsheet and adding in the fields you think you’ll need.
- First and Last Name
- Company Name
- Job Title
- Email Address
- Company Phone Number
But keep in mind that your data needs to be cleaned after it’s scraped.
Small Batch Your Prospect List
You want to develop your prospect list in small batches.
Data ‘degrades’ very quickly. If you search for everyone all at once you won’t be able to use your data effectively. By the time you get to the bottom of the list many of your prospects will have since moved on to new roles or companies.
Work in batches of a couple hundred people. When they’ve been fully processed, move on to the next batch.
Segment Your Prospecting List
Take your prospecting list a step further and segment your leads.
It will help you personalize your outreach and tailor your messaging for potential clients facing similar business challenges.
For example, you can group your prospects on shared characteristics like:
- Whether they are adding headcount
- Their responsibilities
- How industry changes will affect their business
- And so on
Use those characteristics to inform your messaging and make your outreach more relevant and interesting.
Choose Your Marketing Channel(s)
Next you need to decide what marketing channels you want to use to approach your target audience.
Will you send them a cold email? Contact them on LinkedIn? Maybe make a few cold calls?
Perhaps a combination of approaches?
The trick is not to spread yourself too thin. Be realistic about how much time you have in the week for marketing. And figure out how to optimize your marketing resources.
Choose Your Tech Stack
The channels you decide to focus on will impact your workflows and your tech stack.
For example, some sales automation tools are designed only for cold emails. Others work exclusively on LinkedIn. Some will combine the two, but lack the important features you might want.
The important point is, design your workflow FIRST.
Don’t make the mistake of adapting your internal sales and marketing processes to fit technology.
Instead, painstakingly craft your workflow. Then find the right technology to support what you want to do.
For example, if part of your workflow involves cold calling, you’ll need access to phone numbers as part of your data tools.
Create A Follow-Up & Nurturing Process
According to sales legend Chet Holmes, about 3% of your prospects are ‘in market’ for your solutions at any given time.
That means the vast majority of your communications are going to fall on deaf ears.
So you need a way to follow up with prospects who don’t show any initial interest.
A common follow-up method is to simply pester your prospects until they block you. This approach isn’t recommended (for obvious reasons).
A more effective approach is to contact your prospects once or twice. And if you get crickets, leave them alone for 45 – 60 days.
Then reach out again once or twice. And repeat for as long as you want to work with them.
There are lots of reasons prospects don’t want to speak with you NOW. But in the future, those reasons may no longer be applicable. You want to position yourself so you’re first in line when the timing works for THEM.
Keep regular contact without being invasive or annoying. And be sure to add value to every communication.
Do this and you’ll be the obvious choice when the timing makes more sense.
So, how do you write a compelling follow-up email?
Keep it simple and use the same structure as in your initial email.
- Demonstrate your relevance to the prospect.
- Add value.
- Focus on one benefit in each email.
- Use social proof (if you have any).
- Include a low friction request.
Track and Iterate
It’s crucial to track and analyze your key performance indicators (KPIs) to gauge the effectiveness of your sales prospecting plan.
Taking a data-driven approach will help you identify areas of improvement, remove any bottlenecks and make informed business decisions.
What metrics should you track?
- Number of leads generated.
- Conversion rates.
- Response rates.
- Revenue generated from prospects.
For example, analyze your cold email scripts.
If you notice one cold email template is getting a low response rate, revise it or replace it with another that’s getting better results.
By continuously iterating and optimizing your prospecting efforts with data, you’ll have stronger curated strategies that work for your business.
Focus On Quality Over Quantity
What would you rather have?
- 20 leads in your target industry but aren’t a good fit for your business.
- 5 high-quality prospects who match your ideal buyer persona.
The latter, right?
Quality leads are more likely to convert and save time, money, and resources.
If you’re a small company with limited resources, don’t try to cast a wide net. Instead, be very deliberate about who you are contacting. And how you plan to build a relationship with them.
Use The Power Of Referrals
Referrals are your golden tickets.
It’s built-in trust and credibility from happy customers.
92% of people trust referrals from people they know, which often leads to higher conversion rates. Plus, the lead already has an interest in your product or service, making your sales team’s job easier.
Allocate Prospecting Time
Setting aside a fixed time to do prospecting every day does two things:
- Creates routine, discipline, and consistency.
- Establishes the best time to contact your prospective clients.
Whether it’s in the morning or afternoon, test different times for your cold emails and phone calls to see which one gets the best results.
Consistency is everything in prospecting. Block off big chunks of time every day to focus on your most important activity.
How Long Does It Take?
How long does it take to see results from a sales prospecting plan? The timeline for seeing results from a sales prospecting plan depends on factors like your industry, your target audience, and the effectiveness of your strategies. As long as you’re consistent, measure your KPIs, and make continuous improvements, you’ll see positive results in the long term.
My personal preference is to test everything in small batches to see what works. Then accelerate the activities that show the highest potential to deliver strong results.
Wrapping It Up
A powerful sales prospecting plan drives your business’ growth and success.
Set clear goals, identify your ideal customer persona, create compelling messages, and consistently optimize your sales prospecting efforts to convert prospects into customers.
While it’s not an overnight quick fix, with time and effort, good prospecting habits can help you achieve sustainable business growth and sales success.
Do you have any tips for creating a strategic prospecting plan? Got any questions you’d like me to answer? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
You can contact me on LinkedIn or send me a note on our contact page.