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For B2B sales teams, there are many different ways to prospect and many industries and individual salespeople tend to lean towards one method. However, it's a fact in today's modern world that salespeople who gravitate towards a single prospecting method are seriously harming their productivity.
Despite what may salespeople may think or claim, never putting your eggs in one basket is the key and the pipeline often reveals the truth. In this article, we're going to run through why salespeople and sales teams need to adopt a balanced prospecting methodology.
Imagine your parents, friends or a loved-one are planning to retire and they come to you asking for advice on how to invest their savings. During the conversation, they tell you about how they went to this amazing seminar where a charismatic investment guru hopped on stage and presented a sure-thing investment opportunity and that your friend should put all of their money into that one thing.
If you cared about the person telling you this, chances are you'd be sceptical and wouldn't believe it. You'd probably grab them by the collar and shake them. "Are you kidding me? Putting all your money into that is stupid. You'll lose your money!"
It's because you know that smart and sane investors value diversification - by spreading their money across different assets and asset classes, they're able to minimise risk.
Sales prospecting is the exact same. Consistently relying on one prospecting method at the expense of others consistently generates mediocre results. However, striking a balance gives you a statistical advantage that almost always leads to a better outcome over the long term.
Similar to investing, there are so-called sales and marketing gurus on every corner and Facebook feed preaching one method of prospecting. They'll push phone prospecting, email-prospecting, social selling, or inbound marketing as the single best way to generate leads whilst disparaging all other forms.
"Never cold call or send emails again. How we generate 50 sales appointments a week by only spending $5 a day"
That's a real quote from a real Facebook Ad. When you click on it, it takes you to an extremely long landing page trying to sell a $97 dollar course (with various upsells).
The thing is, it all sounds good in theory but in the real world, where salespeople or business owners actually have to engage and qualify prospects, hit their targets, make an income, feed their family and pay their mortgage, this rarely works out in the long run.
Although you may be better at face-to-face meetings, cold-calls or social selling, believing in a one size fits all is a shortcut to career suicide. The key to a winning prospecting strategy is diversification and balance - just like an investment portfolio.
The best salespeople we've encountered have all mastered this. They understand that to generate the most qualified leads, they need to use a combination of phone, SMS, email, LinkedIn, referrals, networking and inbound leads. They understand how to split their time and resources between each strategy to get the best ROI possible.
As much as we all wish there was a silver bullet to prospecting, there isn't. Simple factors like location, industry, the specific product and prospect base each effect the ROI of each prospecting method.
As an example, there are industries with certain products or services where if you spend most of your time cold-calling rather than networking, you will fail. In others, if you don't use cold calls and email you'll die a very quick and painful death. Similarly, some verticals rely on referrals and others have trade-shows delivering the highest value prospects. Software products are skewed towards inbound marketing and some consulting businesses truly benefit from social selling. Large companies tend to have big databases making telephone and email the most efficient way to engage a prospect. It all depends on your business, your goals and your prospects.
The key to all of this is designing and building a prospecting regiment based on what has been proven to work best for your industry with your product, service, deal complexity, existing customer base and your tenure. Depending on the density of the location you're targeting, literal door knocking and face-to-face prospecting might be more effective than phone calls.
Similarly, if you're new to sales at your company or have just taken over a new territory, your techniques and strategies need to be very different to those of the best salesperson who has been working there for 15 years. You might see John generating millions in revenue for the business with what looks like little effort. However, what you don't realise is John spent 15 years building a database, qualifying them and now knows how and when to engage them to close a deal.
If you're brand new to a territory like a real estate agency changing suburbs, you must be prepared for cold calls and door knocking. However, if you're an experienced agent with a long tenure, chances are cold calling is a very small portion of your prospecting activities while referrals, social selling, nurturing and warm calls are likely to generate the most success.
No matter what you're industry, having a balanced approach to B2B prospecting is the most effective way to build a pipeline and keep it full. With very few exceptions, a combination of multiple techniques and channels is the most cost-effective and efficient way to close more deals.