Most salespeople are good listeners, great talkers, and know their way around the sales cycle. But time and time again, I hear really awesome sales reps asking me, “I want to improve my sales prospecting. How to I get more quality leads?”

Unfortunately, there is no quick answer to figuring out the world of sales prospecting. Prospecting takes a well thought out game plan, a ton of patience, and the ability to get over rejection pretty quickly. There is no secret fix or easy way around it – it takes time, a lot of time.

To Improve Sales Prospecting, Focus on Who You Are Targeting

You have a product or service to sell. You know there are prospects out there who are going to find value in what you are selling. But how do you target your efforts to find those key prospects?

Step one in sales prospecting is to build out a buyer profile. Determining who your prospective buyer is will allow you to hone in on more qualified leads, giving you a better chance at success in closing those deals. If you have an idea of who the right prospects are, you can make an educated guess as to how your product can help them, and have a much more contextual conversation right off the bat.

Building Your Buyer Profile

1. Look at Your Current Customers

Even if your company is in its infancy, chances are you have a handful of customers already. Do your research into who is currently buying your product. Begin with some general information gathering to get more details on the companies you are already selling to. Visit their website to familiarize yourself with their size, priorities, and industry.

Then look into the specific individuals at these companies who you have closed deals with. Would they make ideal sales prospects if you met them now?

Check out their LinkedIn profile (and other social media sources, if possible) to find out job title, specific role, and how long they have been in this industry. Where do they live? What’s their average age?

It’s also a good idea to take note of how these people came to be customers – did you go after them or did they organically come to your site. What were they searching for?

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2. Focus on Your Key Benefits

Make a list of what your company’s product or service is offering. Take those features and try to articulate what benefits they can provide for your prospects. How will your product make their lives better and easier. Take the time to be specific and thorough. Many times during this process you will realize that the key benefits you are offering don’t necessarily help the most senior person. So be sure to identify who will see the greatest benefits from your product, and keep those people involved in your sales pitch.

3. Scope Out Your Competitors’ Sales Prospects

Great salespeople always have their eye on the competition. You have to know who you are up against so you can have an educated discussion about why your company’s product is different and better. You can also get great ideas from similar companies on their best practices. After all, imitation is the highest form of flattery.

Visit the websites of your top 5 competitors. Who are they marketing to? Can you get a sense of their customers’ pain points that they aim to solve? What seems to resonate with their messaging?

Building Out Your Sales Prospect List

Once you have a clearer picture of who the right prospects are, now you need to go out and find them. But how?

Let’s say you are selling commercial alarms. Right off the bat, you can rule out the need to target residential properties, and thus zoom your focus in on businesses only. Maybe your product is a good fit for the restaurant world because of the high-tech sensors you offer that detect cooking fires, so you can then narrow your prospect search down again to hone in on restaurants.

Next, try to identify who the decision maker would be, and who benefits most from your product. The owner of a small restaurant personally benefits from a top of the line alarm system that would prevent theft and fire destruction. You most likely don’t want to go after larger chain restaurants then, where the high-level decision maker may not have any direct contact with the property.

You now have a target: small, local restaurants owners. You can either buy a list from a list broker, use a software like ZoomInfo, or build your own list. To start your own database of restaurant prospects, I would begin with Yelp, Open Table, or even Facebook to search for restaurants in my target area. It also doesn’t hurt to begin an online relationship with them – follow them on Twitter or like their Facebook page.

You can most likely discover the owner’s name, email and phone number from some quick online research, but if you are having trouble with finding a phone number, use some of our tips here: 10 Ways to Find Your Prospect’s Phone Number.

Once you have put together a solid list of the right prospects, the next step is crafting your sales message.

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About the Author Adam Honig

Adam is the co-founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a natural sales leader with a mission to help salespeople make more money using artificial intelligence — or any sort of intelligence for that matter. Adam has been a founder of four companies which resulted in two triumphant IPOs and two legendary mergers. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the ‘No Jerks’ hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.

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