In an outbound sales process, sales prospecting requires the sales team, usually sales development reps, to find, contact, and nurture prospects from scratch. Whereas in inbound sales, leads come through the marketing team and already show signs of interest, in outbound, prospecting is required to find potential customers and start a cold conversation.
The sales prospecting process isn't selling. It is about understanding the challenges faced by potential customers and becoming a valuable resource for the prospects. Sales prospecting essentially has two phases.
In the initial research phase SDRs find companies that match the ideal customer profile of the company. This means researching companies and finding data on their industry, size, current funding, and location. If these criteria match the ICP, they can then be added to the prospect list for later nurturing. The SDR will then be tasked with finding the correct individuals at each company to reach out to.
Here, they will research their roles and seniority to find the right people, then find their email address online. This research can be performed manually, or through data tools that aggregate this information for SDRs into a single, searchable database.
After that comes the outreach phase. SDRs reach out to individuals they've identified in research, usually by “cold” email. A cold email is one that is unsolicited—i.e. the prospect doesn't know they are going to receive it. SDRs will use the information gleaned through research about the prospect and the company to put a compelling value proposition in the email to show how the prospect could use their tool. This initial email will end with a call-to-action to either set up a call or email the SDR back for more information.
The outreach phase will then continue with more touches as the SDR sends more content and information to the prospect to help them solve their challenges, guiding them toward the SDR's solution. Once they are interested in the exact solution, the SDR will hand over the prospect to an AE as an Opportunity to close.
Both of these include the qualifying component of the SDR role. Ideally the research phase should highlight only companies that match qualification criteria for the company. This list will then be honed further during nurturing, eliminating prospects that aren't interested in the product at that time.
Perspectives on Sales Prospecting
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