7 min read

The New Rules of Sales Prospecting

By Scott on April 12, 2018

Topics: Lead Generation

When was the last time you made a purchase from a cold call without any prior engagement with that company?

Times are changing, and sales prospecting isn't what it used to be. If your traditional sales process is yielding less than it used to, maybe it's time to adopt the new rules of prospecting.


What is Sales Prospecting?

Sales prospecting is the search for potential buyers. Just as gold miners once set out to California to "prospect" for gold, sales reps set out to prospect for new customers to drive business.

Prospecting supports the sales process by filling your sales pipeline with qualified opportunities. In modern sales organizations, often times it’s Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) work to create a consistent stream of new opportunities for account executives to work on...but AE’s should be prospecting too!

How has sales prospecting changed?

Today, prospects are getting bombarded by inauthentic emails and cold calls. Fewer people are using the phone for voice calls. They prefer to use iMessage, WhatsApp, and SMS to exchange important snippets of information quickly from people they already know and trust. People spend more time than ever on LinkedIn and other social media platforms. And they would rather Google the answer to a question before asking another human being for help.

In order to sidestep short attention spans, it's essential for salespeople to find new ways to integrate compelling media into their sales process, such as video and live chat..

We use Vidyard a ton here for that.

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Another notable trend in B2B sales is following the account-based sales model instead of the lead-based model. Lead-based prospecting is the traditional method where SDRs attempt to blast large volumes of leads hoping their messages arouses interest without a ton of customization.

In the account-based model, SDRs may work individually or collectively to break into a larger target account that is often pre-defined by executive leadership. Account-based sales development can have a high rate of success when teams work together and your messaging resonates.

Reaching the Right People

It’s time to stop guessing when approaching an organization

The first step is to develop an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). Take an in-depth look at your existing customer data. Do you spot any trends?We talked more about this in our article on creating a sales plan.

Try to create three or four profiles that are representative of your prospective buyer. Using this data, you will be able to step into your customers' shoes rather than make assumptions.  Most importantly, it helps sales reps focus on the right people within an account and priorities they care about.

Using the account-based prospecting model, identify three to five contacts per account which match your ICP. You should approach at least two people per account simultaneously. Approaching the same account from two different angles creates synergy and maximizes your chance of creating an opportunity or reaching a decision-maker.

And when you do finally set a meeting, make sure you celebrate with your team using Troops.ai opportunity stage change workflow!


Your CRM is the lifeblood of your sales process. Make sure that whatever customer profiles you build can be defined in your CRM and sales automation tools.

Build An Outreach Cadence

A sales cadence is a sequence of activities in your sales process that teams follow while engaging with leads and target accounts. It's a way to pace follow-up activities so that no leads fall by the wayside. Have you ever heard a salesperson say, "Um, I think I followed up with that account...?" A sales cadence keeps everyone tightly aligned to a pre-defined process.

There are tools available to help you keep a pace and hit your numbers. Take a look at Outreach.io and Salesloft.

Experience says it takes seven to 15 interactions with a prospective buyer before getting a meeting! If you hit them with the same message the same way, it will take you even longer — and you'll likely drive them crazy. Sometimes, it's just a matter of reaching them at the right time.

Like a boxer approaches his opponent with a combination of jabs, hooks and uppercuts, you should approach your new prospects with multiple messages and mediums. The right combination can turn cold prospects into hot prospects in just a few steps.

These are some outbound sales methods to incorporate into your cadence:

  • Phone calls
  • Emails
  • Voicemails
  • Social media messages
  • Text messages
  • Video calls
  • Voice messages
  • Postcards
  • Event invitations
  • Personalized videos

See how creative you can get! With a multi-medium, multi-touch approach you'll have prospects thinking

Wow! This person is a force of nature!

As long as you are adding value at every step, and not just talking about your product or service, then you should have no reservations about aggressively prospecting into an account. Here is an example outbound cadence:

  • Day 1: Send an email
  • Day 1: Call, leave a voicemail
  • Day 2: Connect on LinkedIn with a note
  • Day 2: Call ghost (no voicemail)
  • Day 3: Email follow up
  • Day 5: Send a personalized Vidyard video
  • Day 6: Call, leave a voicemail
  • Day 7: Move on!

Not getting any responses? Simplify your marketing efforts by adding the nonresponsive contact to an automation.

Who Should Be Prospecting?

Obviously, if you have a sales development team they should be doing the prospecting. But account executives should be filling their own pipelines, too. In fact, everyone at your company should be helping fill the pipeline when they can.

The hardest part of sales today is getting a meeting. Account executives can own their own destiny if they prospect to fill their pipeline with potential customers when not actively selling.

We are starting to see a new trend develop:

Some sales managers are claiming that older, more experienced account executives are getting out-performed by new account executives who have a sales development history. The newbies are more comfortable with pipeline building.

If your sales team wants to keep up with the competition, they should all be prospecting. No more whining if your prospect lists dry up. Get busy!

Is there anyone else who should be prospecting? Yes. Everyone at the company!

The C-suite, VPs, managers, and anyone with a business card should be opportunistic and always be looking for a chance to set up a meeting. The sales team can take the reins once the connection is made.  But it would be foolish to overlook the power of your immediate network!

Companies should have set sales playbooks that require the least amount of executive work possible so that executives can open deals.

Establishing Prospecting Success Metrics

You won't be able to come out of the gate with perfect metrics. You'll need a test period to start which really just comes down to volume and effort. Establish some baseline metrics and then work backward to understand how many activities you really need in your sales cycle.

It's important to be realistic. Build out a full sales funnel equation to determine whether hiring dedicated sales development reps make sense or not. You can use current data such as close rates, average customer value and opportunity creation metrics to build a case. Typically average customer value will be the number one determinant of whether it makes sense to hire resources dedicated to sales prospecting.

When you crunch the numbers you might find that the cost of hiring Sales Development Reps doesn't lead to positive ROI. You may find that it's better for you to have full cycle Account Executives or an inbound marketing model to hit your desired ROI. Every sales organization is different, and you can win many different ways

Healthy competition is great for sales teams, so create a culture of sharing wins and losses. You can use Troops to share sales metrics in Slack daily. Try building a contest to reward top performers or the biggest deal winners. Add some life back into your sales process!

The New Rules of Sales Prospecting

Final Thoughts

Old methods are slowly fading as a new generation requires a different kind of sales interaction. But just as frontiersmen made frequent journeys to the mountains to stake their mining claim, you can strike gold by establishing a prospecting cadence. Don't be afraid to mix it up and add something new to your sales process. Get creative, and win new business!

Further reading: See how Troops can decrease lead response time and improve lead-to-opp conversion rates with real-time Salesforce lead notifications.




Written by Scott

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