The Dos and Don'ts of Sales Prospecting with Technology 

What You Need To Know Before Leveraging Technology To Improve Your Prospecting Process

September 2014

 

Technology has both simplified and complicated the sales prospecting process. On the one hand, social media, blogging, and email newsletters are an efficient way to reach a greater number of prospects. Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms have the capability to help you track, manage, and analyze your leads. On the other hand, these tech tools add crucial steps to your sales process and require consistent use in order to be effective.

 

“We all know what it means to prospect,” says Craig Wortmann, founder of Sales Engine, a sales training and consulting firm in Chicago, Illinois. “We have to find leads and build a capital funnel. We have the knowledge on what prospecting means, but do we have the skill and discipline to do it effectively?” Here are the dos, and don’ts, of using technology in your sales prospecting process.

 

Do Record Prospecting Activity in a CRM

The original CRM was pen and paper. Then, Excel became the go-to prospecting tracker. Today, there are dozens of CRM platforms on the market that are built specifically for small to midsize businesses. Whether you use Base, Act!, SugarCRM, or Salesforce, these tools can help you and your sales reps record and track how many emails or calls have gone to each prospect, and the frequency of touches, number of newsletters sent, and what the response has been. You can record conversation notes and what type of fit the prospect is for a particular product or service, as well as review data analytics to help you understand what is happening at the top of your sales funnel.

 

Don’t Use CRM Inconsistently

Before subscribing to the idea that a new social networking strategy or a new CRM app is going to revolutionize prospecting at your company, there is one fundamental skill that has to already be in place—discipline.

 

“I believe it’s a missed opportunity when I see small businesses that have the sales technology and just don’t use it,” says Wortmann. “They just don’t enter data consistently, or the information goes into the CRM and nobody uses it for analytics or reports. You can have the greatest tool, but if you don’t have the discipline to create a cadence to your prospecting, then the tool’s not going to do anything for you. You have to set up a rhythm by which you reach out to the contacts you believe are leads. If you have 50 or more prospects, you need technology to track that cadence.”

 

Do Use Social Media for Inbound Leads

Your online presence is incredibly important to your company’s prospecting process. While your interests in kayaking and baking may be very interesting, they aren’t going to get you top of mind for people potentially in need of your products or services. And hard-selling or posting offers can be a turnoff and get you more Unfollows, Dislikes, and Unsubscribes than leads. “With social media, blogs, and newsletters, think of it as giving your brain away,” says Wortmann “Just as if you were chatting offline, you should be gracious and humble. The more you can give to your prospects in terms of insights and education, deepening their understanding of your business and industry, the more followers you’ll turn into prospects. You have to earn the right to talk to prospects. Don’t assume all you need to do is talk about your firm and suddenly leads are going to stick like glue.”

 

Another tip to keep in mind is that your offline presence and your online presence should feed each other. Take opportunities to speak in front of professional organizations, classes, and other groups. Share your knowledge and let participants know how to find you online (Twitter, blog, and so on). When you meet people at networking events or someone introduces you to a prospect, make it easy for them to connect with you online. Make sure you share any speaking engagements online, and let your online audience know which networking events you’re attending. This will increase your following and the number of touch points per prospect.

 

Don’t Pitch Prospects Found Using Social Media Without Their Permission

If you find that you are getting traction with specific followers, the next step is to get them into your CRM so you can begin your disciplined prospecting process. 

 

“If someone is re-Tweeting you every week, direct message that person and say, ‘Hey, I see some of our posts have been resonating with you. Would you mind giving me your email address so I can send you our newsletter?’” says Wortmann. “Now, you have permission to put the contact information into your CRM and now you are back to prospecting. You can send even more valuable information when you have contact beyond social media.”

 

The bottom line for implementing technology to improve your sales prospecting is that no matter what bells and whistles are available to you, they can help only if you use them correctly and consistently.

 

Topics: SMALL BUSINESS

 

 

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