Your prospecting skills can make or break your career as a sales development representative (SDR). With more and more tools available to automate the sales pipeline, building an initial prospect list has become one of the most important aspects of an SDR's job. Here are five steps to prospect like a pro by finding your target customers, crafting the perfect pitch and researching effectively.
1. Build prospect lists based on your current customers
Customers provide the perfect template for prospects. Were your last two customers in related industries? Did they have roughly the same number of employees, or were they founded around the same time? Create a target profile using factors like headcount, stage, and industry, and from there, look for companies that fit the mold.
Here are some examples of what a prospect prototype might look like:
- Chicago area-based early-stage companies that just made their first marketing hire
- Small retail companies that heavily use social media
- B2B startups that just closed a funding round
The more closely you can identify your target customer, the better. Those parameters will help you similar companies along the right metrics. And as an added bonus, you may be able to reuse a previously written script for similar prospects.
2. Prioritize like your job depends on it
The best SDRs don't doggedly pursue every lead to the ends of the earth - they're strategic with their time, deciding which leads are worth extra effort and which are unlikely to convert no matter what you do. There are a number of available options for lead scoring, but aside from basic factors like industry quality, available budget and role within the company, you can (and should) also include time-sensitive qualities like:
- A recently raised funding round
- A new hire or job posting
- An expansion or newly opened office
By prioritizing based on both the quality of the lead and the timeliness of your pitch, you can tailor your efforts to the right people.
3. Leverage all available information
With the wealth of information available today, prospects expect you to know everything about them: where they worked previously, what their current responsibilities are, and whether your coworker went to college with their spouse. To craft the perfect pitch in the least amount of time, find dedicated sources of information to find supplementary information like work history and education, company milestones like recent hires or funding rounds, and even which conferences your prospect will be attending. Before you pick up the phone, or send an email, make sure you have a robust profile that includes more than just a job title.
4. Find the perfect reason to call
Of course, explaining why you're a good fit for the customer in general is only half the equation. You'll also have to make sure that you're reaching out at just the right time - and articulate that to the customer. Build out a list of possible sales triggers, from a recent promotion to an acquisition to receiving an award to writing an article.
Great cold-emails don't begin with "just reaching out." They include specific information like:
- "Congratulations on your new role at..."
- "I loved your article in..."
- "I saw you're going to be at..."
Finding good sales triggers is an important part of how to prospect effectively.
5. Be efficient
Prioritizing, getting background information and monitoring channels for sales triggers takes a great deal of time - time that isn't spent selling. Invest time in developing an efficient system of information-gathering, whether it's becoming a Google master or using web scraping tools, to minimize the research time spent on each call. The number of deals you close is a function of your close rates and the number of calls you make; becoming better at prepping for calls has just as much of an impact as perfecting your pitch when it comes to hitting your quota.
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