The Different B2B Prospecting Strategies

12 minutes

The Different B2B Prospecting Strategies

For B2B sales teams, a large volume of leads are sourced via outbound sales efforts. It all starts with defining your ideal customer, creating buyer personas and pain points, and then going out and building a database.

In this article, we're going to run you through five different prospecting strategies in detail plus best practices.

01. B2B Databases and Lists

A B2B database or prospect list is an already built collection of contact records and companies that are a good fit for your solution. These lists can be either be built out or purchased from providers. From there, they're input into your CRM our sales engagement platform to be managed, updated and contacted.

Before going through and building or buying a prospect list, you'll need to first define who you want to be reaching out to. The best way to do this is by creating an ideal customer profile (ICP) and buyer persona matrix.

To do this, you need to ask yourself a few questions.

What companies should you target?

  • Firmographics & Demographics - what industries are most likely to gain value? How many employees does the company have? What's the annual revenue?
  • Psychographic - how do your ideal companies think? What's their growth orientation? What does their company culture look like? If relevant, what's their technology adoption profile like?
  • Behavioural - how do your ideal companies typically make a decision regarding engagement? What is their buying process like?
  • Environment - what does there tech landscape look like? Do they need to be in a particular city or state? If selling software, how would their software and IT teams feel about new solutions?

What people should you target at these companies?

  • Demographics - What's their job title? How much does a person in this position earn? What's the average of this stakeholder?
  • Psychographics - Do they have a formal education? What qualifications do they have? What's there decision making process like?
  • Behavioural - where and how do they typically consume media? What habits and skills do they have? What are their research skills like?
  • Environment - what is their tech landscape like and what software do they typically use? What is their buying power before require approval from another stakeholder? What influence do they have on other teams plus their own?
  • Defining your ideal buyer isn't and easy feat but the best place to start is to look at your existing clients or historical customer data. If you're a newer business and don't have these, you can conduct research via interviews, outreach or focus groups, or consider third-party market research.

Account-Based Prospecting

At Fide, we use an account-based selling process for both us and our clients. If your business doesn't follow a similar approach, that's fine - the main thing is that the prospect lists you end up building or buying are targeted at the people most likely to purchase your offer.

For an accounts-based approach, you'd also need to consider all buyer personas when it comes to your B2B prospect list. The reason for this is you're not throwing out a net over an industry and trying to capture types of companies or buyers. Instead, you have a list of specific companies and need to reach out to all stakeholders. This gives your prospecting team more direction as to who they should be reaching out to.

Buying Databases and Prospect Lists

Should you do it? No. It really is that simple.

It's very easy to jump online and find sites and businesses that'll supply you with thousands of contacts. However, you'll find that the majority of these contacts don't have accurate contact information and you'll still need to invest time into filtering the list to ensure they match your ICP.

We strongly recommend building your own prospect lists or hiring a company (like us) to build a custom list for you. There are a number of excellent prospecting tools out there that'll allow you to build a highly relevant list with accurate contact information.

At Fide, our B2B Database Building service involves a hand-built prospect list based on your ICP. We take the time in helping you build your ICP and Buyer Persona Matrix so that you have a cost-effective method of building a list.

02. Cold Calling

Although it sounds unappealing to the modern sales person, it still remains to be one of the most effective ways to prospect. Unlike all of the other prospecting techniques, cold calling is the only way to get in front of your prospect instantly.

Despite this, it's still important to consider whether cold calling is actually relevant to your business. For many B2B companies, a long sales cycle makes it very difficult to make time for cold calling because of the numerous touchpoints. Similarly, many salespeople don't have the time to both manage a pipeline and reach out to cold leads via phone.

The best solution to this is to build an SDR (sales development rep) team. The SDR concept was popularised by Salesforce in the early 2000's. This involves having an SDR team dedicated purely to outbound prospecting. Their job is to prospect, cold call, follow up, qualify leads and set appointments for the 'closers'.

This ensures your sales team don't waste time on bad leads. On top of that, by creating an assembly line structure with SDRs, Closers and Customer Success Managers, each group is highly specialised in what they do. For SDRs this means better prospecting and for management, it means an easy source of future closers - simply promote SDRs over time.

How to Cold Call

If you're in the B2B space and realised that cold calling is right for you, we recommend having the following ready to go:

  1. Ideal customer profile or list of target accounts for account-based sales
  2. Lead qualification system
  3. Documented call cadence

1. Lead Qualification System

Sales is process driven which means you'll need to create a qualification process so that you can keep track of new prospects plus how they progress through your funnel. The system you build is up to you but we suggest giving this 10 point scale a go.

Example Qualification System

Assign the contact record a score out of 10.

  1. Appointment set
  1. Very interested and trying to set an appointment time
  1. Interested and requesting additional information
  1. Warm lead from marketing or referral not yet spoken to
  1. Provided point of contact via colleague or but not yet spoken to
  1. Prospect requested a follow up in the next 3-12 months
  1. Prospect requested a follow up in 12+ months
  1. Prospect from database not yet contacted
  1. Prospect expressed to be removed from database
  1. Unqualified company

Depending on how your prospect list is built, you may want to add additional scores for bad information and those that have been contacted multiple times but never responded.

In this system, you start at a score of 3 and trying to hit 10 by the end of your cadence. Once they're at 10, you have a sales-qualified lead (SQL) and can create an opportunity in your CRM for a closer.

The reason we recommend using a number system is because it's easier to filter, organise and prioritise your prospects. Depending on your CRM, it can also help with reporting and forecasting.

2. Documented Call Cadence

As mentioned above, sales is process-driven and a huge part of the success is documenting and adhering to a cadence. Numerous studies have found that it takes 7 attempts on average to connect to a prospect using outbound methods. So although you may have the script for the first call nailed, you're need to be prepared for numerous follow-ups.

Below is an example cadence that we use for cold prospects that combines email and cold calls.

Example Cadence (Email, Cold Call, SMS and Voicemail)

  • Step 1: Voicemail & Email
  • Step 2: Phone Call & SMS
  • Step 3: Phone Call & Email
  • Step 4: Email
  • Step 5: Phone Call, Voicemail, SMS & Email

Leave 2-3 business days between each step. In the event you go through an entire cadence block without a response, repeat all steps three weeks later. Repeat the cadence block two times total before removing the contact from your prospect list.

The above cadence is efficient and effective for a few reasons:

  1. Emails and SMS can be automated and templated while still being hyper-personalised
  2. There are a total of 11 touchpoints over two weeks
  3. The SDR only has five steps which means they don't waste too much time on any single prospect

03. Warm Calling

Warm calling is far more effective than cold calling and involves connecting with leads that have already interacted with your business. The leads are typically sourced from marketing efforts including referrals, events and inbound marketing such as blog subscriptions, content downloads, web leads and live chat.


Referrals have the highest conversion rate of all lead categories. This is because referrals are typically passed on by customers that recommend and trust your brand. On top of the trust that has already been built, referrals are ready to buy making their sales cycles shorter.

Event Leads

If you've held a webinar or event, it's likely that intention was to generate leads by offering value upfront. The exchange of value in exchange for contact details create warm leads that already trust your business. These warm leads have a higher conversion rate than cold leads that were prospected.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound leads are generated through marketing efforts including paid advertising, content marketing, social media and search engine optimisation. Inbound leads are typically collected via inbound phone calls, web form submissions and live chat conversations.

For the group of leads that have expressly asked for you to contact them, these are potentially the hottest leads outside of referrals. Reason being, they're already in the buying phase and have already expressed a level of interest.

Those leads that have downloaded content or subscribed to a blog are colder leads (or competitors!) and thus have varying levels of interest. Calling these prospects allows you to further nurture them and generate interest in the solutions your business has on offer.

04. Outbound Email

Email prospecting follows a very similar process to cold calling. In our experience, email prospecting is extremely effective when bundled with another channel like LinkedIn or phone calls. This is partly why we already included emails as part of the example cold call cadence provided earlier.

At Fide, we use a combination of email and LinkedIn to set appointments for most of our clients. We've found that it's a cost-effective way to generate booked meetings for B2B sales teams and both predictable and scalable. You can find out more about our appointment setting service here.

Although cold calling puts you in front of a prospect instantly, it can be intrusive as you're literally interrupting someone's day. As a result, email can be used to quickly warm up a prospect before a call. On top of that, many prospects simply prefer to communicate via email.

If you'd like to find out more about how to prospect using email, check out our Guide to Email Prospecting and Outreach.

05. LinkedIn Outreach

LinkedIn is the most-used social media platform for professionals and has been a staple for B2B sales teams across the world. Not only are you able to communicate with your ideal customers but using a tool like Salves Navigator allows you to easily find prospects that match your ICP.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

Sales Navigator is an add-on tool to your LinkedIn profile and shouldn't be confused with LinkedIn premium. Sales Navigator allows you to create advanced search filters, receive real-time updates on contact information and very quickly build a database of leads. For those profiles you haven't connected with, you can also send InMail messages.

Social Selling Index

When conducting outreach via LinkedIn, one of the first things your prospects will do is check your profile. The quality of your profile and the way it has been setup can be the difference between a prospect booking a meeting with you after the first message and a prospect not even accepting your connection request.

LinkedIn's Social Selling Index tool gives you a score of how well you build relationships on the platform. You can see how you compare to your network plus similar people in your industry.

When combined with Sales Navigator, you're able to setup yourself for success by unlocking insights that you otherwise would never see.

Prospecting Best Practices

To close of this article, we wanted to go through two big tips that'll help with your prospecting efforts.

01. Quality is as Important as Quantity

A lot of teams put too much focus on the quality of their prospects and try to qualify them before even reaching out. This leads to very small prospect lists and not enough leads. The size of your list is extremely important and you shouldn't worry too much about whether they're perfect so early on in the sales cycle.

Using an SDR team dedicated to prospecting is a good start as you then have a team whose sole purpose is to generate leads. Another way to do it is to outsource the SDR or prospecting role to an appointment setting agency as they'll have the team, tools and technology to do it at a larger scale than most businesses.

02. Automate with a Human Touch

Outbound emails should be very personalised but never manually sent by a sales rep. There are a myriad of cold email and sales engagement tools that help automate email sequences whilst allowing for deep personalisation. The amount of time saved by using these platforms far outweighs the cost.

For phone calls, auto-diallers can be great and so can pre-recorded voicemails. However, we're personally not fans as personalisation is key to a successful outbound campaign.

Take Control of Your Prospecting Strategy

The example strategies we've outlined above have all been used by Fide for its clients and itself. We strongly recommend to give each a go before dismissing them and never exploring their potential. From there, optimise your efforts so that you find the most efficient way to generate new business.

Fide helps many Australian B2B businesses build prospect lists and set appointments for a variety of industries. If you'd like assistance or want to find out more, don't hesitate to reach out.

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