How to prospect?

Hi everyone! I’m new to sales, industrial machinery sales in particular, and am really struggling with prospecting. I’m aware of some of the ways to do find new prospects, like cold calling or through networking, but I don’t know how to go about each method. I feel awkward straight contacting people and introducing them to my products, and it usually gets uncomfortable for everyone involved. Any tips on best prospecting practices or things to consider when prospecting? Thanks a bunch!

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Hi EZhou,

First off congrats on the new job and for taking on a sales roll. Industrial Machinery is not easy. But you overcame it and now have the job. Second you need to get past that awkward feeling because if you are selling products they need, then the prospects needs to meet you.

I’ve been selling for a long time and have had to realize that I’ve had to reinvent myself a few times. With different products, different companies and different customers, your style of selling will change for sure.

First always remember that every door you knock on will have an outcome, you need to pursue those outcomes. You might find a new friend, a customer or info where you should be headed. Even if the the prospect says no then you know were you stand.

The very best way to find your prospects is through LinkedIn. Just search for the title of your prospects. Such as “maintenance manager” or “facilities planner” for example. Then you can narrow your search from that list. Start connecting with those contacts and build your network. When calling for your appointments I find it helps to say, “so & so recommended I call you”. (Use a name they are connected with on LinkedIn). Maybe use a service like LeadGibbon to get their email address as well. Build your list so you can start marketing to them besides your email to introduce yourself.

It is a process but remember you’re selling something they need and you are the connection for them to get it. If you are polite and listen to what prospects tell you, then you can help give them what they need.

Good luck and let me know if I can help in any way.

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Firstly, welcome to sales! Personally, I get the highest success rates from referrals because prospects tend to be a lot more receptive when we have a common connection. I would advise to only ask for referrals when you’ve built up enough rapport with the client. Regular check-ins, or just little things like sending holiday greetings help to maintain good relationships. Trading leads with other salespeople who sell to similar, but not identical people as you, also works well. Like contacting someone who sells home appliances if you sell interior decor, for example. I also do a lot of cold calling, which definitely isn’t the most effective, but the point of cold calling is not to sell, but to land an appointment. So just make sure you sound enthusiastic and make a point of painting a clear mental picture of how your product can help the prospect. Good luck!

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Thanks so much for the advice @JobSiteSafety and @KHall; I really appreciate it! Will put these into practice.

Hi EZhou, as @JobSiteSafety said, it is essential to overcome that sense of awkwardness in sales. I know it can be difficult, especially since you are new to the field. When I began my career in sales, practice was essential. You can ask a coworker or a friend to listen to you practice a cold call or even to do a role play with you. It helped me feel prepared for actual prospecting, because I had a set outline of what to say. Another tip is to research your prospects before you meet or call them. Knowing some background information about the company and the prospects themselves will boost your confidence and ease you into an effective conversation. The prospect will also feel more comfortable talking with you when you come off as knowledgeable and confident. Rejection is a big part of sales, and it is important to be able to handle it in this field. Obviously, every cold call you make is not going to go perfectly. You’re still learning, and you have room for mistakes! Best of luck to you and remember to stay positive!

Hey! This is all great advice. I’d like to add that for cold calling, many new reps get bogged down trying to get it “just right” that they’ll over think every lead for like 20 minutes, just to leave a voicemail. Picking up the phone and actually making calls is the way to go.

Hi EZhou! Prospecting is tough when you start out, but set some time aside an make a daily goal! Take thirty minutes of each day (or even an hour) and set a goal. What might be good for you is finding 20 strong prospects and sending them LinkedIn InMails. This can warm you up before your phone call. When you do make that call, remember that you don't need to sell right off the bat. You can break the ice with some natural conversation and get to know more about them, their company, goals, and needs. Once you have some good info, go ahead and set up a time to chat over the phone or an appointment to meet up and get to it. I'm really hoping that this info helps out!

Since you are in the B2B industry, there cannot be a better place for prospecting than LinkedIn for finding sales leads. The website is the data center of all businesses, businessmen, and other professionals present on the web.

Moreover, there are tools like Aeroleads that have further stimulated the lead generation process by making people’s contact information on LinkedIn easily accessible at low prices. B2B marketers are making use of the strategy of generating leads through LinkedIn without the prospect signing up for it and running marketing campaigns for them. This is also one of the better strategies since it is rare for businessmen to signup for marketing emails.

Moreover, the LinkedIn search and search filter functionality makes it easier for anybody to generate relevant leads since they refine the search query to produce relevant search results and Aeroleads provides the contact information of everyone that appears in the search results. The researcher can even individually select the search results that are deemed to have a higher chance of conversion and a separate contact list of those selected prospects is built automatically.

All of these functionalities of using tools for generating leads from LinkedIn and the platform’s vast database of businesses make it the perfect place for generating B2B leads.