B2B Sales

13 Prospecting Methods That Will Help You Land The Right Clients

It is often better to attempt contact with 25 high-potential leads than with 50 long-shots. When prospecting, you want to invest your time in those leads who fit your target audience — those who would be genuinely excited to learn about your solution’s capabilities. 

When you implement prospecting strategies that find these delighted clients, you will have a full pipeline and shorter sales cycles. 

Then, even though you may have fewer opportunities, the ones you do have will be more likely to close. 

So, in this post, we will go over 13 prospecting methods B2B salespeople use to land the right clients. 

After reading, you will come away with some new methods to add to your repertoire and potentially an upgraded understanding of what makes a prospecting method effective.

What Does the B2B Sales Process Look Like? 

A B2B sales process is a set of sequential steps designed to convert a lead into a buyer. A good B2B sales process is repeatable. You can use it over and over again for each new prospect that bravely steps foot into the customer journey. 

And that repeatability is key, as it allows you to assess and tweak your process, forever improving its success rate and, consequently, your sales numbers. 

There are 7 main steps in most B2B sales processes:  

  1. Prospecting and sourcing leads.
  2. Connecting with leads.
  3. Qualifying leads.
  4. Presenting the offer.
  5. Overcoming objections. 
  6. Closing the sale. 
  7. Following-up until they sign. 

As you can see, the first step in the B2B sales process is what we will cover today — prospecting

Prospecting is the act of finding and reaching out to potential buyers. 

Its goal is to call on accounts and decision-makers and see if they are interested in your offering. Of course, many won’t be. But, the ones that are will enter stage 2 of the sales process. 

Prospecting Steps

Prospecting is a micro-version of the sales process. Here is how you should go about it.

1) Define Your Ideal Customer Profile

First, you have to know what attributes make someone a good sales target. 

Do this by creating an ideal customer profile (ICP), which gives a categorical description of a customer (or company) who will receive the most value from your solution. 

These will be the leads you spend your time searching for. 

2) Find Companies That Fit Your ICP

Second, you have to find the companies that fit your ICP, either through a lead-generation software or through your own research. 

For instance, if you sell Legal software, these best-fit leads might be mid-sized law firms. These are the kinds of companies that you will focus on in further steps.

3) Create a List of Decision-Makers at These Companies

Third, you should create a list of the decision-makers at these best best-fit companies. They are the ones who have the final say in the purchase, so it saves you time if you talk to them first. 

Use your buyer personas to guide your search for the decision-makers. If you sold cybersecurity software, the Head of IT would probably be your decision-maker. 

The list should also include their contact information and any other pertinent information about them. This will help you streamline the outreach part – the next step. 

4) Start Initial Outreach

Lastly, it is time to reach out to these presumed decision-makers. 

Through this final prospecting stage, you are trying to both connect with them and figure out if they are interested in your solution. If they are, you will guide them through the rest of the sales process. 

So, let’s move onto how to find these leads and make contact with them. Here are the 13 most effective prospecting methods that will help you land the right clients.

1. Emailing

Email prospecting is when you send a cold email to a lead to see if they are interested in having a sales conversation about your solution. 

Since your prospecting emails will be going to cold leads, most of whom have never heard of your brand, you will encounter a lot of rejections or unopened emails. But, don’t let this discourage you. It is part of the process. 

Assuming you are sending your emails to decision-makers at companies that fit your ICP, two things are key when it comes to sending successful prospecting emails.  

1) You Need to Personalize Your Emails. 

A personalized email is more likely to receive a response from a lead than a generic one. To personalize the email, you can use insights from the research you have done on the company or person. You can bring up responsibilities, pain points, or motivations specific to their position at the company. 

You could also take it a step further and bring up something more personal you learned about them. Try mentioning their place of education, a blog post they wrote, or a past experience you both have in common. 

Here is an example of a personalized prospecting email that could come from a Content Marketing Agency or an SEO Agency.

Hi {Name},

Congratulations on your new role as VP of Marketing. From what I saw on your LinkedIn profile, it looks like you have done a great job developing your career at {company}.

If there are ways I can help you get your company’s message out to more people in my network {title of people they’re trying to reach}, please let me know. I’m a fan of what you are doing over there and am happy to help. 

Also, do you have an SEO or content marketing person on your team?

This email succeeds because it builds rapport.

It shows you did your homework, offers a helping hand free of selling intent, and closes with a temperature-check – seeing if the lead needs help with content creation. 

2) You Need to Follow up. 

Most leads won’t reply to your first email. In fact, according to research done by woodpecker, the first follow-up email actually has a 40% higher reply rate than the initial email. 

To illustrate this jump, the initial email might see 6% reply rates, while the second email sees 8.5% reply rates. 

That is why it is so critical that you follow up. If you don’t, you will be missing out on potential buyers who just forgot to reply or just needed an extra nudge. 

Best practice states that you should send at least 5 follow-up emails to a cold prospect. 

In each of them, you should try to provide value, such as an industry article that they might find useful, or an e-book your company wrote about an aspect of their job. 

Here are some examples of great follow-up emails, along with some tips on how to craft your own. 

2. Cold Calling

For many, cold calling is one of the scariest prospecting methods. But it isn’t as hard as it is made out to be. 

You are simply trying to inform businesses that you can help them solve a problem. When done right, it’s altruistic, not self-serving. 

The goal of cold calling is straightforward. 

Spark interest in cold leads and secure a meeting with them to talk more in-depth about your product or service. 

The hardest part is opening the cold call. The rest falls into place. So let’s go over it. 

How to Start a Cold Call

First, you have to dissolve any uncomfortable uncertainties your recipient might be feeling. Do this by stating who you are and where you are calling from. 

During this opening line, speak slowly and clearly. 

The first thing on anyone’s mind when they get a call from a strange number is “who is this and what do they want?” Relieve these defensive feelings by giving them what they want right off the bat. 

Mike Weinberg, B2B sales consultant, recommends saying something like this:

 “Hi {Name}, my name is {Name}, and I head up new business for a company called {Your Company Name}. How is your day going?” 

After any small talk, state your reason for calling. 

Here, you want to come across as a problem-solver who helps companies just like theirs. To do this, mention a couple of pain points that are prevalent among your best-fit companies. You could also mention pain points relevant to their position. 

“The reason for my call today is because a lot of {Their Company Type or Their Title} are struggling with {Pain Point 1} and it’s causing them to {Pain Point 2}.” 

Then, wait for a response. 

Sometimes, the pains you mentioned will get their attention. From there, it’s time to continue the conversation, where you briefly explain how you help. 

Now, ask for a meeting. If they say no, ask again politely. Sometimes they will say yes, and you have earned yourself a sales opportunity. 

If you want to learn more, here are some cold calling best practices

3. LinkedIn Outreach

LinkedIn outreach is similar to email outreach. You write messages to leads through the LinkedIn platform. Through these messages, you are trying to form a connection with the lead and to see if they might need your help. 

If they do, you will have converted a lead into a prospect. 

However, LinkedIn prospecting differs from email because you can use other social selling tactics to aid in your relationship-building. These include: 

  • Commenting on a lead’s post. 
  • Sharing your own articles on LinkedIn. 
  • Replying to a lead’s comment. 
  • Sharing a video that attracts attention from your leads. 

Through LinkedIn, you can slowly develop relationships with your leads until, one day, they actually respond to your LinkedIn message and accept a meeting to go over your solution. 

Pro Tip: Play the Long Game.

When you first start interacting with a lead on LinkedIn, try to stay away from salesy speech.

Most people on the platform aren’t looking to buy something. 

They want to connect with and learn from people in their industry. So, your first message should be about why you want to connect with them. 

Then, over the next few weeks, provide them with value through any of the tactics mentioned above. 

After that, you can make your request. 

Check out this post to learn more about social selling

4. Twitter Outreach

Social selling is gaining traction in the B2B world. In fact, 78% of salespeople who use social media perform better than those who neglect it. 

If used correctly, Twitter is a great addition to your prospecting repertoire, as it can help you build more personal relationships with potential buyers. 

Here are 3 best practices for prospecting with Twitter.

1) Set up a Twitter Profile With Business in Mind

You want your profile to give off the right impression. You should come across as professional, and it should be easy for your followers to tell what your brand does and whom you help. 

Use your bio for this. In it, write who you help and how. 

Also, include your company website so people can click on it and check out what you do.

Lastly, make sure you are active on Twitter, posting content as often as you can. That builds your reputation. 

2) Be Proactive to Find Customers

With Twitter, you can see what people are talking about. This allows you to spot individuals’ interests. 

Those who are interested in your industry or service category make good leads. 

Do this by searching for hashtags relevant to your business. If you sold marketing tech, you might follow #martech, #emailmarketing, or #nurturecampaigns. 

You can also check out your competitors’ profiles and review their interactions to find possible leads. 

3) Don’t Sell Too Early

Twitter, like LinkedIn, should mainly be used to cultivate relationships with potential buyers. 

Do this by tweeting interesting questions, helpful answers, or valuable content. You can also reply to or share their tweets. 

After a long enough interval (a couple of months), you can message a follower. Be sure to personalize it by recounting an interaction you two shared, or else it seems forced. 

5. Facebook Groups

Facebook groups can be goldmines for finding prospects who have interests that align with your product or service. 

Join Facebook groups in your industry, for it will contain people that might need your help.

For example, if you were selling Human Resources (HR) software to startups, you might join the Human Resources Discussion Group, where they discuss HR tips, procedures, tools, and trends.

Since these groups are usually private, there is a possibility of being denied entrance or booted from the group. To avoid this, make sure you restrain any desire to pitch your product in the group. 

Instead, start group conversations, give your opinions on issues, and share useful content

Continuing with the prior example, you might share your article about the increasing role of technology in Human Resources. Although it is a lead generating tactic, the group members won’t see it as self-serving if the article is informative and relevant. 

Just make sure you don’t hog the feed with your posts. Let other members start some topics too. 

6. Quora

Quora is an underrated way to prospect for leads. It is a forum where people ask questions and other people answer those questions. 

If someone asks: “How many stars are there in the sky?” a physicist, putting off their dissertation, might supply an informed answer. 

Of course, there are also questions in the business sphere. 

So, you can use the platform to find questions relevant to your solution or industry, then give a well-formulated answer, thereby building your reputation as an expert. 

To find those questions, join a quora space – kind of like a group on Facebook. The spaces span from personal development and sales to Star Wars memes. 

Example of Prospecting with Quora 

Let’s say you sold property management tech to property managers in NYC. In a property management quora space, you might see a question asking about a new inspection mandate passed by the government. 

If you know the answer to this question, provide an answer

If your answer was helpful and receives upvotes, it will sit at the top of all other answers pertaining to the question. 

So, whenever someone else types that question into Quora, or types it into Google and goes to Quora’s page, they will see your answer. 

To capitalize on people reading your post, put your company website in your answer. People might click it to see if you can help them with any problems. 

Also, if they seem like a good fit, reach out to the person who posed the question to see if you can help them in any other way. 

Quora is a great place for establishing expertise and finding people who need help with a problem you solve. 

7. Webinars

Webinars are great for attracting interested and qualified leads to your brand. This is especially true if you give a webinar that will offer solutions and advice for common pain points in the industry.

Some of the best B2B webinars are those that bring on specialists in a certain area of interest for their target market. 

For example, if you were selling content marketing services and have an audience interested in improving their SEO after Google’s new update, you might bring on an SEO specialist who is known around the industry. 

Webinars are effective for prospecting because attendees sign up and give information that helps you reach out to them and personalize the conversation. 

You can also use webinars to demo a new feature of your product that helps solve a specific problem for many of your clients. 

They usually have to provide their name, phone number, email address, company name, etc. If there is any other information you would like to have, ask your marketing team to include it in the sign-up form. 

Pro Tip: Make sure you offer a replay option — on average 60% of people will miss the live

Recording a webinar will also be useful as a potential source of future content, such as videoclips for YouTube.

8. Referrals

Did you know that 84% of B2B decision-makers start their buying process by asking their peers for referrals? 

That is because it helps the decision-maker overcome their biggest concern when making a purchase — whether the solution will actually work.

So, it is a good idea to earn some referrals from your clients. Not only will it provide you with more leads, but those leads will also close faster and stay with your company longer. 

To win referrals, the first step is to figure out which clients are happiest with your solution.  Perhaps your account management team can point you in the right direction. 

Or, you can look over engagement analytics and account histories to find some happy customers. 

To make sure they are actually enjoying your service, send them an email to gauge their satisfaction. This could be asking for a rating from 1 to 5 or for a verbal explanation of their experience so far. 

Then, if they respond positively, ask them for a referral, like so: 

Hi {Name},

Congratulations on your new role as VP of Marketing. From what I saw on your LinkedIn profile, it looks like you have done a great job developing your career at {company}.

If there are ways I can help you get your company’s message out to more people in my network {title of people they’re trying to reach}, please let me know. I’m a fan of what you are doing over there and am happy to help. 

Also, do you have an SEO or content marketing person on your team?

9. Direct Mail

Direct mail’s success depends on your type of company. Mass mailing brochures, gifts, and postcards can be too expensive for some. 

However, when used sparingly, direct mail can give you that personal touch you need to win over a non-responsive lead. 

If you have repeatedly cold-called or emailed a high-value decision-maker but received nothing in return, why not send them a brochure with a hand-written note and some cozy socks with your company’s logo on them? 

Who knows. Upon opening the package they might smile and decide to give you a chance. 

You can also send direct mail to leads who took an action that suggests interest. Maybe they attended a webinar or downloaded an e-book about your solution. 

If your follow-up emails aren’t working, maybe your postcard will instigate a response. 

10. Conferences/Event Prospecting

Industry conferences and events are packed with potential clients. And unlike most other prospecting methods, they allow you to talk with these potential buyers face to face, making it far easier to build rapport.

Of course, you don’t want to speak with every attendee, for that would be a waste of time.

Instead, you want to focus your efforts on the people who are most likely to buy your solution — those who fit your Ideal Customer Profile. 

If you have a booth or exhibit at the conference, this is easy to do, as most of the people visiting your booth will have heard of your brand or are interested in your solution. 

However, there are other ways to bring a little strategy into your conference prospecting. 

For one, most conference organizers provide you with a list of attendees. Each name comes with information such as company name, title, etc. 

With this information, you can form a list of your own — the best-fit leads to reach out to, both before and during the conference. 

Before the conference, ask these leads if they would like to meet with you or another sales rep at a predefined location and time for a quick demo or conversation. 

And at the event, when you are not in meetings, be on the lookout for the people on your list — they wear name tags. 

If you spot one, don’t hesitate to introduce yourself and start up a conversation. Other than the free lunch, making connections is why they came. 

11. Content

The people who interact with your company’s content — blog posts, videos, case studies — are often potential prospects. So, the more helpful content you create, the more qualified leads you will attract. 

Content marketing is in its heyday. In fact, 71% of B2B marketers use content marketing to generate leads. 

Content is especially useful for prospecting if it requires readers to input their information such as title and contact information. 

This will help you match them with your ICP, so that you are only reaching out to those who are a good fit. 

For instance, imagine someone filled out a form and read your company’s case study. From what you can tell, they seem like a good fit. 

So, you give them a call and see what they thought. 

Salespeople often worry about being creepy when doing this, but most prospects don’t see it that way. 

They understand you have a job to do, and, depending on how bottom-of-the-funnel the content is, they might be considering purchasing a solution like yours. If they are, you might be able to answer some questions for them. 

When you reach out, state why you are calling and ask if they need any help, like so: 

“Hi {Name}, I noticed you read our case study on reducing operating costs, and I couldn’t help but wonder if you needed any help in that area. Was I correct?” 

If they sense you are trying to help, they will likely engage in a conversation with you about why they read the content. From there, you can assess whether they are qualified and interested. 

12. Industry Publications and Associations

Industry publications and associations are magazines, reports, journals, and news written for a particular audience. Therefore, they are great places for finding prospects in your target market. 

You can easily find the publications relevant to your industry by typing “best {industry} publications” into Google. 

Most of them will have directories of members on their websites. These members are great leads. You can also find contributors, advertisers, and partner organizations within the associations or publications. 

An added bonus of prospecting through publications is that you acquire industry knowledge that will help you build rapport and start conversations with leads. 

Pro Tip: Follow all of the top industry publications in your field. Read a few articles a day.

Bringing up industry topics is one of the best ways to build rapport with a client at the beginning of a demo or presentation. It also demonstrates that you are an expert, which grows their confidence in your ability to help them. 

13. A GDPR-Compliant Prospecting Tool Like Soleadify

A lot of B2B salespeople struggle with managing their time while prospecting. It’s really time-consuming to do it all on your own.

You have to find leads, research them, weigh their likelihood to buy, and reach out to them, especially when most of the leads won’t answer your outreach or don’t need your solution. 

That is why a lot of salespeople automate the first steps of the lead generation process by using prospecting technology. 

Soleadify is one such tool. 

It automatically generates lists of qualified leads for you to call or email. And it makes the pre-outreach research super easy by providing you with up-to-date, GDPR-compliant, information about each lead and their company. 

With it, all you have to do is feed the system your Ideal Customer Profile details. It will then use that information to find you vetted companies and their related decision-makers. 

Then you can begin your outreach, confident that those whom you email or call will respond favorably. 

Not to mention, a prospecting tool makes the job more fun, as you and your team get to spend more time talking with prospects and less time combing the web for leads. 

Prospect With Purpose

Prospecting is sometimes the most frustrating part of sales. But if you stay consistent, using these methods each day, you will find yourself bringing tons of interested leads into your pipeline. 

And if you take a smart approach to prospecting, focusing on companies that match your Ideal Customer Profile, you will have more fun and interesting conversations with the decision-makers. 

They will likely be interested in solutions like yours, or at least your company’s mission in general.