When I was an inside sales rep for another company, I almost exclusively sold to leads that came in from marketing efforts. At the time, however, we had outside sales reps who would hop in their cars, drive to viable prospective businesses and try to set up appointments. On good days they might even close a deal on the spot. These outside sales reps were prospectors, mining for valuable new leads that eluded our marketers’ best efforts. Without the often-exhausting efforts of these prospectors, many of our most valuable customers would simply never have heard of us. And since prospectors were specifically targeting larger businesses, many of our biggest sales came from their efforts.
Though sales prospecting has its roots with the traveling salesperson, it has evolved into one of the most important roles in an inside sales team. Now reps in many industries can eliminate the headache of traveling, and have far more quality connections with prospects in a day than they ever could before.
Sales Development Vs. Telemarketing
Prospectors (known as sales development reps or SDRs) should not be confused with telemarketers. The biggest difference is that telemarketing is really a numbers game (e.g. the 2000th person you call just might want to buy a timeshare on Lake Chickamauga). SDRs, on the other hand, laser-target prospects who can actually benefit from your company’s solutions. As a marketer, I have to paint in broad strokes. Even the best marketing campaigns leave some viable leads on the table. A great team of dedicated SDRs can find these leads who would have otherwise never heard of your solutions and transform them into valuable opportunities for your account executives to close.
Our latest eBook shows how to successfully hire and support sales development reps. Here are 4 tactics that sales development reps can use to maximize prospecting ROI.
LinkedIn is a B2B SDR’s best friend. Using LinkedIn can help reps identify new executives (who have mandates to deliver change and budgets to do so). It can also help identify companies that are hiring (as this signals the potential for available budget). LinkedIn’s free service is great. But the platform also offers a variety of premium features that make it easier than ever for reps to pinpoint decision makers at a company.
Use Email to Initiate Contact
One of the most powerful prospecting tactics is sending an email or LinkedIn In Mail prior to calling. This can potentially familiarize prospects with your brand and rep’s name prior to a sales call. Emails are great because it also enables reps to ask to be referred to the proper decision maker. Every company is structured differently. For example, you might think that a VP of Marketing is in charge of buying marketing software, but it could actually be another marketer, CIO or even CEO who handles technology change management. By simply asking, you might be surprised how many prospects are happy to refer you to the right decision maker at the company.
Fast-Track Credibility by Using Referrals
Referrals are the quickest way to warm up a cold call. If you can get an introduction by a mutual connection it can dramatically increase close rates. So prospectors should always search LinkedIn for valuable second-degree connections. But even if reps can quickly establish that they’ve done business with an individual or company that a prospect trusts, that prospect is going to be far more receptive to the pitch.
Use Sales Acceleration Technology
The most powerful way to gain a prospecting advantage is by investing in tools that make it easier to connect with leads. For example, RingDNA’s internal research shows that prospects are far more likely to answer phone calls from numbers with local area codes. Think about it – when you get a call from a toll-free number what’s your first thought? It’s a sales call. But our customers are currently using our local presence tool to always automatically dial leads from numbers with local area codes. The result is more conversions, more opportunities and—most importantly—revenue.
Want to learn more about how to drive ROI with a dedicated sales development team? Check out our latest eBook!