In today’s world of sales, the relationship between the buyer and seller has shifted from transactional to relational. This has gone hand in hand with the evolution and integration of data and technology within sales organizations. Many organizations haven’t negotiated this and neglected the foundation for successful outbound sales- the prospecting process.

Great sales organizations rank prospecting at the top of the list of non-selling activities. Businesses that put in the hard yards are aware that a robust list of leads is likely to translate into revenue-generating conversations with qualified prospects. This is the golden ticket when it comes to creating relationships around value exchange and long term profitability.

From building out target personas for clients we’ve found that many can’t distinguish between a lead and a prospect. It all comes down to engagement- you speak to a lead, but you have a conversation with a prospect. As sales professionals, it’s up to us to increase the likelihood of having revenue-generating conversations. This all depends on a combination of criteria that should be a north star to your outbound efforts.

The Need for a Need:

The very foundation of a qualified prospect is that they have a need that your offering can solve. The value proposition of your business needs to solve the pain point that they are currently experiencing. That said, all messages resonate differently and there isn’t a silver bullet approach that will work anytime and every time. We’ve found that great engagement comes from reaching out with the intention of establishing a mutually beneficial relationship. Taking the next step and messaging the prospect was simply a logical thing to do.

Reaching the Right Decision-Maker:

You need to reach out to someone within the organization that influences the sale. This means engaging with top-tier employees that have the authority to move forward with relationships. Most of our success has come from reaching out to top-tier employees and those that have a stake in the business. That said, these folks are often inundated with messages so it can help to phrase your message in a way that asks for a referral. Interestingly enough we’ve found that when launching sequences on behalf of a tech-focussed client that offers customizable software solutions it’s not always ideal reaching out to the CTO in the organization you’re looking to sell to. Similarly, when working with marketing and advertising companies, we’ve seen better results when we don’t message CMO’s. This reveals that people may be hesitant to receive outside help, and don’t want their toes stepped on. Be wary of coming across as pitchy- try to position yourself as a partner that can help achieve their goals

The Prospect of Future Sales:

The key to relational sales is to find and foster relationships with prospects that have needs you can fulfill on a long term basis. Long-term profitability is crucial so it’s vital to identify prospects to whom you’ll be able to provide value to over years. Something to take into consideration is keeping your eyes and ears open for prospects where there are opportunities to cross-sell and upsell. This means doing your research on the industry you’re reaching out to and reconciling the evolution of your offering in a way that anticipates the needs of the companies you intend on reaching out to.

There is no way to guarantee sales success, but a focussed prospecting strategy can make it much more likely. Just like a high-quality dish requires quality ingredients, so too does a qualified prospect need to meet certain criteria. This doesn’t have to be rigid in the sense that they must tick the above-mentioned boxes. We just follow the data on what criteria has worked for us. Have a look through your ideal client profile and see if you can find commonalities among clients you provided value to. The point is, take the time to dot the I’s and cross the T’s in your prospecting process. What you put in at the top of your prospecting funnel is what you’ll get out when it comes to more meetings, more pipeline, and ultimately more sales.