Three Ways to Improve Sales Prospecting for 2023
The task of initiating and developing net-new business is a challenge for organizations of all sizes. Across all verticals and niches.
Not to mention, it’s also the perceived “hardest part of the job” for inside sellers with 40% admitting that prospecting presents the greatest challenge across the sales process.
And yet, while only 27% of salespeople met or exceeded their sales goals last year, 47% of top performers did, and they all had one thing in common: they prioritized their prospecting efforts.
So how do you find potential customers that match your ideal customer profile? What’s the secret to keeping your pipeline full for the foreseeable future? In this article, we’ll take a look at three sales prospecting trends we’ve monitored at the InsideOut Lab, helping you go from prospect to profit in 2023 and beyond.
How is Prospecting Changing?
Lead discovery was once seen as a “frontline” activity, handled by legions of field sellers. COVID has changed that. Many B2B prospecting channels were simply redundant: PR, trade shows, in-person visits, and networking dinners. The result? Prospecting on a more virtual front. A digital shift that changed the game for lead generation and customer acquisition.
This shift coincided with a change in behaviour. Buyers became more receptive towards digital channels. This combination has made digital prospecting an inherent part of the sales process, with leaders recognizing the chance for greater efficiency and enhanced ROI. As a result, inside reps now comprise an estimated 40% of high-growth sales teams.
Fast-forward to 2023, the digital prospecting trend, combined with a heavily competitive market, means it takes a lot to stand out in the buyer’s eyes. It takes even more to capture their attention.
Our Three Findings
Our Finding #1: Use Data to Apply an ROI Focus to Prospecting
The sales funnel has changed drastically. Marketing and business intelligence now feeds a majority share in the top of the funnel. This means ‘prospecting’, by definition, is more about Sales Ready Leads (SRLs) over chance suitors.
The collection of proactive intelligence is not a new concept in the world of B2B prospecting. In fact, By 2025, 60% of B2B sales organizations are predicted to transition from intuition-based and experience-based selling to data-driven selling, according to Gartner. Used strategically, prospect data from verifiable sources can drive insight into buyers, and their behaviors. The more intelligence organizations can collect, the better they can tactically craft an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) or Buyer Persona and strategize outreach.
Where organizations typically fall short is not in their determination of an Ideal Customer, but in settling. Staying on top in an ever-changing market requires data refreshment, experimentation and continual testing. After running an initial program, closing a deal and gaining the data, leaders should return to the drawing board to learn where the top 20% of their sales leads came from, what they look like within their ICP definition and how their frontline can prioritize their time targeting higher-value prospects with an increased likelihood of qualification.
Our Finding #2: Sell to their Pains, Not your Gains
In many circumstances, sales reps have been criticized for prioritizing prescribed messaging and data over prospect-by-prospect interaction. Knowing that 70% of buyers make purchasing decisions to solve problems, the most effective teams instead looked to resolve the barriers holding their prospect’s back.
Resolving these ‘pain points’ remains the true value that a salesperson brings with each interaction. While a seller’s value proposition is likely based on generic industry challenges, most prospect pains are layered, contextual and subjective. It is unlikely that a single, untailored message will solve each of their problems.
It is therefore essential for sales teams to understand each prospect uniquely prior to engagement. Encourage sellers to look holistically at each prospect in their pipeline, tailor their message and present a pathway to supporting their pain-free expansion. Intent data can be the next best addition to a B2B sales database in this regard, enabling sellers to gain in-depth insights into the behaviors, challenges, and needs of high-intent prospects. This helps develop more meaningful sales conversations, personalize outreach efforts, and gain intimate knowledge about individual target contacts.
Our Finding #3: Embrace Omni-Channel to Avoid Saturation
Email and phone call prospecting have been by far the most effective and efficient channels over the past decade, enabling personalized outreach at scale. Though, this popularity raises challenges for the modern seller. The digital prospecting trend combined with a host of competitors that look similar in the buyer’s eyes has resulted in an incredibly saturated market. Now, it takes a lot more than a cold call for a seller to stand out to a decision maker.
Embracing omni-channel sales is a pathway to overcoming this saturation. Buyers across B2B and B2C have been clamouring for the right balance across many channels for decades, and many firms are only just responding. Five years ago, “omni-channel” meant selling across four to five channels. According to McKinsey, buyers now want – and expect – to engage seamlessly across ten or more.
In terms of growth, businesses that have been quick to respond to this demand have seen exponential profitability: 72% of B2B companies that sold via seven or more channels grew their market share. Now, as companies begin to evaluate their prospecting and outreach strategies for the new year, leaders should look to build a model that is effective at reaching and serving their potential buyers across multiple stages in the pipeline. Not only will this heighten the revenue “success” results every business seeks, but it will also boost customer loyalty and satisfaction scores in a way that drives top-and-bottom-line growth.
The art of prospecting is changing, but it’s still one of the most critical stages of the sales process. From the most experienced sellers to those who are entry-level; everyone risks falling behind. To stay with the pace, increase customer acquisition and drive revenue, businesses need to invest in quality data, and the framework to action it effectively.
Backed by extensive experience selling into a wide range of geos, industries, sectors and buyer personas, we’ve helped businesses from Unicorn startups to FT100 organizations in perfecting their messaging to drive lead generation forward. Ready to move to the next stage? If you’re aiming to add an extra edge to your prospecting and inside selling in 2023, arrange a consultation with one of our experts.
As a Forbes Under 30 entrepreneur/consultant, Sercan had the fortune of practicing innovative business models and behavioral operations management for productivity in business development with Google Exchange, Hult Prize IXL Center, MassChallenge, MIT Media Lab, and InsideOut PlayOps. Being a Turkish-American who was lucky enough to live in 4 countries and travel to 27 across Europe, North Africa, and the United States.