2019 Success in B2B Sales Prospecting

By Andrew Hiban

Without a doubt, prospecting is the most challenging part of any sales cycle. Most reps put forth a ton of effort, but see little in return. Most online sources suggest you should only find a 1-2% success rate for scheduling cold appointments, but is that really true?

Part of why prospecting is so dang hard these days is due to the sheer volume and frequency of “sales attacks”. Think about the prospect you are about to contact; that same person is getting bombarded by hundreds of other vendors from various industries. This creates a ton of white noise, making it impossible to stand out even when you have a compelling story to tell. To top it all off, there is a lot of bad prospecting out there, which ruins it for the premium brands. People are starting to become intolerant of cold calls and cold emails, period.

So how can I thrive and be successful in 2019 as a Sale Development Rep or BDR?

Make prospecting more human

When your prospecting, the odds are always stacked against you, but there are small tweaks you can make to your approach to gain an advantage. Psychologists suggest humans remember visuals better than text, specifically colored images and people. By simply adding a photo to your email signature, you can show prospects you’re a real person and not a faceless sales robot. It’s a minor change, but certainly makes a difference and adds personality. Don’t be afraid to bug marketing and ask them for a more modern email signature. Push yourself this year, and think about additional things you can do to add life to your strategy, and it will help separate you from the pack of hyenas killing your prospects.  

Personalize your communications

To some extent, prospecting is a game of numbers; however, quality always wins over quantity. Bulk emails and marketing automation are a functions of a digital marketing team, not sales. The most effective approach for cold sales emails is personalizing your outreach. Personalization has a positive impact on a human brain, and is a great way to warm up a stale or cold email. Try to find an uncommon commonality, leverage mutual connections, and even compliment or congratulate your prospects when appropriate. LinkedIn and chatting with gatekeepers is a great way to get some of your sales ammo. Personalization not only helps you stand out, but it slows you down in a good way, making you more intentional and effective.

Use the right technology

If your using spreadsheets or struggling with your CRM, you are not alone. In order to run a successful micro campaign, you need to leverage the right technology. A “Sales Engagement Platform” like Salesloft or Outreach.IO helps sales development teams become more organized through the use of sequences. Good technology like SEP’s help you become more self aware of your activity and performance, and allows you to automate routine and manual tasks. A benefit your manager will love is that it will become impossible for a prospect to fall through the cracks. Ask your marketing team to check out AI Sales Bots like Drift, which helps you get in front of more qualified opportunities. Also, if you haven’t enabled prospect self scheduling yet, make that a 2019 priority.   

Stand out from the crowd

There is no way around it, if you want to succeed you need to stand out and silence all the noise. There are hundreds of people going after you prospects at any given time, and their inbox and voicemail boxes are full. Try to think about what everyone else is doing, and do the opposite. Some of the most successful reps are using personalized video content embedded in their emails to get prospects attention. Check out Vidyard, they have a free option, and most sales teams see a 500% increase in scheduled appointments as a result of using the technology. Sales teams are also starting to sprinkle GIFs and memes into their email strategy, because visuals are processed 60,000 times faster then text, and most people have a sense of humor. Getting someone to crack a smile in the workplace may be a creative way of differentiating your efforts. Bottom line, there are a lot of successful techniques out there to explore; don’t be afraid to be a pioneer. Once everyone adopts a certain tactic, it loses its effectiveness.  

Expand your sales channels

Email and phone calls have become the most crowded channels for sales prospecting. Some of the top reps have started expanding their efforts to greener pastures, creating a multi pronged approach. If your in the b2b space, LinkedIn is the next logical place for you to explore. Tools like Sales Navigator allow you to view profiles, connect and drop InMail messages quickly and easily, complimenting your existing activity. If a prospect is getting 100 emails a day, they may only be getting 1 LinkedIn message or request per day, which is 100 to 1. The chances of being noticed and getting a response increase exponentially when you explore “roads less traveled” by other prospectors, as long as it’s rich with your targets and personas. Ask your marketing team to do some market research and provide guidance to support your expansion.

Test, test & test

Most people assume campaign testing is only a marketing function, but its not! If you are spending time architecting a pitch, email content and other campaign elements, why put all your eggs in one basket? Successful sales reps repackage and repurpose existing marketing materials with a new and creative spin, but the star performers come up with different versions (A/B) and perform experiments. Try splitting up your target list and test different subject lines, body copy, pitches, and the use of images/video and links. If you’re always testing, you will be able to kill bad ideas quickly and pour gasoline on the winners. Focusing more time on what is working and becoming smarter overtime is how the top achievers operate.