Sales Prospecting : 8 Steps to find the right customers for your business

There is nothing more demoralizing than going through hundreds of email responses from prospects asking you to remove them from your mailing list. 😥 In this blog I will go through the steps you need to create a time efficient sales prospecting strategy for your small business.

To prove this point, when 400 Sales professionals were asked how successful they were at identifying a good prospect. 70% of them came back and confirmed that only 50% of the prospects they reached out to, turned out to be a good fit. 🎯

So before you start prospecting with Prelo, let’s help you create the right strategies for finding highly converting prospects for your startup and/or small business.

As solopreneurs we are the Sales “Team” so we need a time efficient solution to prospecting

What is Sales Prospecting ?

Prospecting is perhaps one of the most important activities for any business. Without prospecting you cannot reach out to potential customers to generate sales. 

So what is prospecting? Prospecting is the process of discovering and connecting with potential customers for the purpose of generating sales for your business.

Once you’ve connected with a prospect, the next step is moving them into your marketing funnel with a view to convert them into a paying customer.

How is prospecting different from lead generation ?

Lead generation is a one to many activity that involves you creating content and/or outreach to people who have shown some interest in your business. 

These are typically people who have been to your website, downloaded digital content and/or engaged with your business through newsletters. 

Prospecting is a one to one engagement with people who match the attributes of the leads you’ve been able to attract to your business with lead generation. 

The objective for both activities is to qualify each lead and turn them into paying customers for your business. For a small business (or an early-stage Startup) like Prelo, we split our sales and marketing activities into 2 parts

  1. Inbound SEO Content to attract solopreneurs and Startup businesses
  1. Outbound personalized outreach emails to prospects we’ve identified based on the type of people that consume our content in (1) above

Why is it important to do prospecting ?

90% of businesses fail, so If you want to keep your marketing agency or consulting firm alive, you need to engage in prospecting. As a small business, people do not know you exist. Put your agency out there to gain the brand awareness and traction you need to grow. 

This process is boring and no one likes doing it. However, the first step is to book some time in your calendar and dedicate it to prospecting every day. Statistics show that 80% of sales people spend 50% of their time prospecting. 

At Prelo we spend about 30% of our time prospecting. This is typical for most small businesses that do not have a sales & marketing team. We work with small business, agencies, consulting teams and Startup Advisors. Most do not have a marketing team.

How to start prospecting for your business ?

Prospecting is about using the data you’ve gathered from your lead generation activities to define an ideal customer persona

The next steps are to go out there and find more opportunities to connect with exactly that type of person, with the hope of converting them into a paying customer for your business.

We’re going to share 8 simple ways to create a prospecting process that will guarantee that you are always connecting with the right customers for your business.

1. What is the best time of the day to do sales prospecting for your business ?

I mentioned earlier that you needed to block your calendar and dedicate a specific time of your day to perform prospecting activities. The obvious question then is when is the best period to block off…

The answer – it depends. It depends on where you are in the entire process of prospecting. If you are doing research then you need to block off a quiet time, ideally when your prospects are not going to be online

However, if you are doing outreach, then you need to choose a time of the day that will increase your probability of converting your prospects into paying customers. So let’s break it down for you below: 

Top 3 days to send a prospecting email 

  1. Tuesdays (highest response rate) 
  2. Thursdays ( 2nd highest) 
  3. Wednesdays (3rd highest) 

Get a visual of your prospecting timetable here in this Airtable

Top 3 time of days to send a prospecting email

  1. 10am 
  2. 8pm 
  3. 2pm 

Read up on some more of the studies right here in this Airtable we’ve provided

If I was to list out the most optimal days for sending out a prospecting email, our schedule will look like this below. 

10am on Tuesday is the best time of the day to do sales prospecting.

2. Create your ideal customer profile

With every Startup or small business, you need to have an ideal customer profile. With our first startup we wanted to sell to “everyone”. That was a terrible idea. 

With Prelo, we were interested in early-stage Startups and Solopreneurs. By niching down on our customer profile, we optimized our website copy to attract our ideal prospects. 

So now we have a database of over 2000 customers. We know where they live, what industry they work in and the job they do. 

Building out your ideal prospect profile requires at least 6 data points to help you build a solid list

Prospect attributes like location, industry and job title are key data points for building an ideal customer profile. Or a lookalike prospects list. 

Remember that simply having customers in your database does not guarantee that they’ll be your ideal customer. As I mentioned in the previous section, about half of the customers you have in your database are not your ideal customers. Check here for some useful statistics.

Bringing our own experience into this, we have some marketers from large corporations and some venture capitalists on Prelo. They’ve reached out to me a few times requesting feature changes to suit their needs. 

However, when you are laser focused on your 1st iteration of a product or service, you need to stay true to your target audience. We’ve logged their requests and we plan on creating Prelo for other demographics later. 

3. Build your list of “ready prospects”

Now that you have a set of attributes for your ideal customer, let’s start building your list of ready prospects.

This can start with a simple Airtable list of key decision makers in a particular demographic. For example you can look for content writers in Boston, if you are building a marketplace for content writers in the east coast. 

When you start prospecting, your list typically consists of warm prospect lists, cold prospects lists, lost lead lists. Prioritize your warm prospects lists and gather as much information about each prospect. 

Prelo will help you find those prospects and augment your list with all that information if you sell services to funded Startups. 

All the sales prospecting data you need is available in Prelo. From Industry Information to detailed company descriptions
Prospect data on Prelo gives you Industry, LinkedIn, Emails, Funding, Momentum and Company Size

4. Decide on your key outreach channels (Email/LinkedIn/Phone)

There are several ways to structure your outreach strategy. The first task is to pick your outreach channels based on the type of information you have about them. So if you have more phone numbers than email addresses, it’s likely you will be doing a lot of phone calls.

Prelo allows you to connect with prospects mainly through Email and LinkedIn. We hold generic phone numbers. From our research, LinkedIn and Email outreach are one of the best ways to connect and build relationships. 

Getting your prospects contact details is easy with Prelo

  1. Unlock the email addresses on Prelo and add to Saved Prospect
  2. Download the prospect data into an excel spreadsheet (or Close CRM)
Prelo boosts your sales prospecting chances by ensuring that all you prospects contacts are saved in "Saved Prospects"
Prelo customers can unlock email addresses, which auto-saves into Saved Prospects

5. Create outreach templates to support your sales prospecting email campaigns

Before you start sending out emails, please read How To Warm Your Email Address

In that blog, I talked about ways to improve your email conversion rate so that you don’t end up in your prospect’s spam folder.

Take some time to check out the templates we have on Prelo. We have a template library of over 80 templates for most scenarios. From introduction emails to thank you email templates.

We are adding more very soon!  

To read up a little more about email templates check out our blog where we talk about email templates you’ll need to run your business

Our email templates are growing all the time. We plan on adding a set of “Sales Prospecting” templates

We’ve shared a simple prospecting connection sequence below.

Option 1
Find Prospect ➡ Find Template ➡ Connect on LinkedIn ➡ Setup a Call ➡ Send An Email

Option 2
Find Prospect ➡ Find Template ➡ Send an Email ➡ Setup a Call ➡ Send An Email

6. Personalize your sales prospecting outreach messages

Email outreach templates are cool, but deep research about your prospects is much better. 

With Prelo, we are working on delivering news in real-time to make your research current and rich in prospect data. Giving you the best possible start to engage with your prospects.

Adding company data to prospect’s business data is the bulletproof solution to converting customers

Right now on Prelo we have enough data on companies to help you personalize your outreach to prospects.

We’re focused on delivering industry information and detailed company descriptions to help you attract and convert the key decision makers without breaking the bank. 

If you are looking for killer email subject lines, check out the article I wrote a couple of months ago on 40 email subject lines your prospects will want to open

7. Use a CRM to follow up and track feedback from prospects

Don’t get complacent, the email outreach is only the first part, the next steps are the follow ups. Please make sure you continue to follow up. Follow ups work, unfortunately not many people persevere. In fact 44% of Sales Reps give up after the 1st follow up.

One of the best ways to follow up is to add value with every additional email you send.  Not every prospect will be interested in your products or services the very first time. The magic starts to happen after the 5th follow up!

With a 1 in 5 chance of getting a response to your second message, you need a CRM to help you manage the responses and the sequencing. 

Of course we are a little biased at Prelo , since we have partnered with Close CRM. As a result of our partnership with Close you can push the latest funding data straight into their CRM. 

There are several other CRMs that you can use to manage your list of prospects like Pipedrive, Hubspot, Sendpulse and so many more. Simply download the list of prospects into a CSV file and upload into your favorite CRM. 

Our collaboration with makes sales prospecting affordable and easier to manage
Close CRM is our chosen solution to help our customers manage their customer responses

8. Social Prospecting is a great way to boost your business

While email outreach should continue to be a  key activity in your overall prospecting strategy, employing email as the 2nd line of outreach is extremely powerful.

Build up your warm engagement through a social media connection request. Engage with your prospects and understand a little more about their pain points.

Once you do, build content to help them solve those problems and consistently share these to build trust and turn prospects into paying customers.

To help you understand how important social media is, the statistics we have suggests that 9 out of 10 B2B buyers are on social media. Over 80% of decision makers look at your social media content for social proof before making a purchase.

Using social media, will convert 5% more prospects to buy your product. That is why we launched our Growth Webinar For Small Businesses and Solopreneurs. 

We launched a Growth Webinar to help solopreneurs build better social prospecting strategies

There is a need to educate solopreneurs on how to become thought leaders and convert more of your prospects into becoming paying customers

Some Closing Statements on Sales Prospecting

For our first startup, we didn’t do much prospecting ourselves. We wanted to leave it to the experts. Unfortunately this cost us, prospecting and outreach needs to happen as soon as you have a product or a service. 

From our experience and from what’s worked for us, this is better done by the founder. Going out there as the business owner is the quickest way to get feedback about your product.

It is the fastest way to learn about your prospects’ pain points and the most efficient way to find out if you are building the right product for your customers. 

The key question is “Are you solving a hair on fire problem?”

Tired of pitching to Startups with zero budget?

👉 Try Prelo

Prelo connects growing businesses to recently funded Startups in 3-Clicks

👉 Get Started For Free

💡 Access over 1 million highly curated decision makers from well funded Startups

😲 Discover Emails and Business Contacts in seconds

🎯 Send super targeted emails to well-funded Startups and 10x your revenue

On twitter : 🐤 @oluadedj
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We’ll catch up again soon and we’ve got many blogs coming up.

Founder, Prelo
I tweet about helping founders win!