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Prospecting is a gruelling, tiring activity for any sales pro, but it’s a necessary one.

So it’s crazy that many salespeople don’t even put in the effort that’s needed to generate qualified leads for their companies. They use ineffective and outdated prospecting techniques instead of ones that could actually lead to a higher volume of better-qualified leads (which would probably make them more partial to prospecting too).

One of the ways to make prospecting easier is to develop relationships with people instead of just “selling” to them all the time. Developing relationships takes time, effort, and focus, but it often leads to more qualified leads that are well-suited for your products.

Use these five modern, relationship building techniques to find leads more easily that you can serve, engage, and eventually, convert into customers.

1. Gather and use insights about prospects

As with any relationship, personal or professional, you need something to talk about with your prospects. Sure, you could always talk about your products and company, but that can get tiresome after a while. You may run out of things to talk about and your prospect is tired of hearing about them. They begin to feel like you only ever speak to them when you want to sell them something.

Use your research skills to gather some insights about your prospects that you can talk to them about. Information about their company and products, your industry or market, even their professional lives — all of it is worth looking into and then talking about.

You could even automate your prospect research with software tools that gather the information for you (like Nudge.ai for Chrome). Get the information delivered to your inbox automatically and start using it right away.

2. Build a social media presence

Social media is a big presence in our personal and professional lives. People use it to engage with friends and family, but also celebrities, sports personalities, and some have even made careers of it! (Think of any YouTube or Instagram star.)

So it’s critical that you develop a professional social media presence as well. Find out which channels your prospects use (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn) and then create accounts on them. Post relevant content to the various channels, engage in conversations with people, comment on blog posts, and follow relevant hashtags for your industry. This way your prospects will see you in a different light and your name will always be top of mind when they think about their work. It makes those future conversations much easier to have since you’ll know what they’re thinking or talking about.

3. Develop a circle of influence

“Circle of influence” sounds so official and like something you’d hear about in the political world, but the same concept can be used by sales pros. Simply put, a circle of influence is a list of people who can influence sales opportunities or refer business to you. They may not need your products themselves, however, they know people and companies who do.

By maintaining a relationship with these people, they can have a significant impact on your sales relationships. When your prospects hear that you know one of these people, or hear them talk about how valuable your products are, they are more likely to stay in touch with you. Your influencers help you maintain your prospect relationships, so it’s important to maintain a relationship with them too.

But how do you find these influencers to create your own circle? Start with your immediate colleagues and former colleagues. Then other friends who work in the industry. And expand it from there. Don’t forget to use technology to figure this out too: LinkedIn can help you a lot with this, as can other relationship management tools.

4. Use tech to help manage your time

Once you’ve started looking at other ways to develop and/or sustain relationships with your prospects, you may find yourself spending a lot more time on that than your other duties. After all, how many times will your boss believe that you’re working when you when you’re caught on Twitter several times a day?

This is where technology can help you a great deal. Consider the following:

  • You can use software like Buffer or SmarterQueue to help you stay on top of your social media accounts.
  • Use email automation to help you send out regular emails to your prospects.
  • Use the lead management functionality of your CRM to keep prospect information updated. Your CRM may even have the functionality to notify you when certain information in a prospect profile has changed (such as their employer or job title), so you’re able to send out a quick note of congratulations in a timely fashion.

5. Define and follow a regular contact schedule

You can let a lot of time elapse between visits with friends and family, but not with sales prospects. If they forget about you, you won’t be the person they think of when they finally get approval to buy new software for their company. That’s why it’s important to stay in contact with them on a regular basis. Use an AI-Powered CRM, like Spiro, to help notify you of who to call and when to call them, keeping you on top of all your most important deals.

And just like any other relationship, the more frequently you talk, the more you have to talk about. You’ll know more about them and what’s going on in their workday, so you can find relevant topics to talk about.

Keeping in touch on other platforms like social media is important, but the personal touch is always better. A phone call or email can work wonders to keep the relationship alive. Each prospect is different, so you’ll have a different contact schedule for each one.

Bottom-line:
Don’t stick to the same old sales prospecting playbook because it’s what you’ve always done. Practice your relationship techniques until you find the right mix of modern and effective techniques that effectively support your prospecting efforts, make prospecting easier, and help retain customers.

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About the Author Jaxson Khan

Jaxson Khan is a marketer, founder, and community builder in the technology and social sectors. Jaxson leads marketing at Nudge.ai, an artificial intelligence platform that helps sales teams find and grow the right relationships. Jaxson is also a co-founder of Young Diplomats of Canada, a national diplomatic program, an advisor and judge for Venture for Canada and Code for Canada, the national startup and government technology fellowships, and was named a Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum, a global network to improve the state of the world.

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