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20 Highly-Effective Sales Prospecting Techniques for 2021

20 Highly-Effective Sales Prospecting Techniques for 2021
Jenny Keohane
Jenny Keohane

Jenny Keohane

19 min read0 reads
Cold Calling, Cold Emailing, Sales Prospecting 

Contents

  1. Sales Prospecting Techniques For Cold Emailing
  2. Sales Prospecting Techniques For Cold Calling
  3. Sales Prospecting Techniques For Social Media
  4. Conclusion

Gone are the days of picking up the phone, dialing the next number on your lengthy list of prospects, and making an instant sale.

Consumers today are more skeptical than ever. And this has made it incredibly difficult for salespeople to get their foot in the door with new leads. As a result, sales reps are having to rework the way they reach out to prospects.

In today’s consumer-savvy age, successful sales prospecting techniques range from a variety of methods using a variety of channels.

From social media to cold outreach to referrals, the methods are endless. But what’s really moving the needle in 2021?

Let’s look at 20 highly effective sales prospecting techniques that’ll help fill your pipeline and get your sales process moving.

We’ll cover sales prospecting techniques for:

Sales Prospecting Techniques For Cold Emailing

1. Ask for Referrals

Asking for referrals is one of the most powerful sales prospecting techniques today. Why? Because word-of-mouth is the most trusted source of information.

Studies show that 93% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family over anything else.

Sales prospecting techniques: word of mouth

Past and current satisfied customers are your best referral source. Before reaching out, make sure you 1) have a good relationship with them and 2) you’ve helped them just as much as they’re about to help you.

Another key to successfully getting a referral is timing, such as the customer has just achieved something substantial using your product/service. When asking for the referral, remain polite and personable.

2. Go Behind the Scenes

Consumers today crave a human connection with the brands they invest in. This might seem contradictory when you consider that most purchases are made on a computer behind the anonymity of a screen, but it’s the truth.

We’re social creatures, and we’re far more likely to buy from someone we like and can relate to than someone who’s stuck on the sell, sell, sell carousel like a robot.

The key to this is showing your human side.

One great way to do this is to use video to create as much of a human connection as you can behind the veil of a screen. This can include creating short, useful videos such as product demos or videos highlighting the benefits of your solution.

Here’s an example:

Sales prospecting techniques: use video

Don’t worry about making your videos look professional – your prospects are far more interested in seeing you and what you have to say.

cursor-clickAre recipients engaging?Get notified when recipients read your emails, click on links, and view attachments

3. Reference a Hiring Pain Point

Check the open job listings on your prospect’s company’s website to see if they’re hiring anyone. This will indicate pain points that have prompted them to look for help in that specific area.

Use this as leverage to bring up the issues your prospect is experiencing, and then offer a more immediate solution than a new hire.

Here’s an example of how you can do this:

Sales prospecting techniques: use hiring pain points

4. Dig Deeper: Understand the Psychology of Sales

Understanding the psychology of sales is one of the most effective sales skills to have and can play a huge role in your sales prospecting techniques.

Emotion drives purchases. And if you can further understand these emotions and reasons as to why buyers act, you’ve unlocked a secret weapon.

One step to master this is understanding Cialdini’s six principles of persuasion:

Sales prospecting techniques: 6 principles of persuasionHow to use these principles in sales:

  1. Reciprocity: Provide your prospect with valuable information or insights.
  2. Scarcity: Create a sense of urgency like limited-time offers and discounts.
  3. Authority: Establish yourself as an authoritative figure and expert in your field.
  4. Commitment: Have prospects commit to something small such as a free guide.
  5. Consensus: Use social proof such as case studies and testimonials.
  6. Likeability: Ask questions, make connections, and build rapport.

5. Never Underestimate the Power of Data

The proof is in the pudding. If you’re not measuring the success of your cold emails, you’re losing out on invaluable data insights that’ll help improve the performance of your outreach.

The first step is to ensure you have a tool that measures when your emails are opened and how exactly prospects are engaging with your emails.

Let’s look at Yesware.

Yesware reports on your daily activity, engagement data, and outcomes to help you understand what is/isn’t working in your prospecting efforts.

The tool tracks all opens, link clicks, and time spent on attachments. It also indicates your highest-converting email templates and campaigns.

Sales prospecting techniques: use Yesware data - Template by Template report

Use this data to figure out what sales prospecting techniques resonate and what you can do to enhance your messaging and content.

How you can dissect the data:

  • If the recipient didn’t open your email – your subject line isn’t engaging enough.
  • If the recipient opened your email but didn’t respond, your message’s content didn’t resonate with them.
  • If the recipient opened your email and clicked on a link or attachment but didn’t respond – your message resonated and they wanted to learn more, but then some hesitation sank in or they weren’t ready to make a decision just yet.

Knowing this information will not only help alter your prospecting strategies but also shape your follow-up email.

If the recipient engaged with your email but didn’t respond, send your best case study or form of social proof to give them that extra nudge to feel comfortable to take the next step.

To get started, here are 20 prospecting email templates — personalize these templates for your recipients and measure what resonates. Make adjustments and keep re-iterating based on recipient engagement.

6. Leverage The Power of Social Proof

Social proof is one of the most powerful persuasive techniques for getting recipients to take action.

We base our judgments on other people’s. This is why customer names and testimonials from people similar to us make us more likely to buy.

How to do it:

  • Mention three recognizable company names that use your solution
  • Include a quote from a customer in a similar role to your recipient
  • Provide social proof at the end of every email you send

Here’s an example of social proof at the end of an email for additional persuasion (plus company names included): 

Sales prospecting techniques: social proof

7. Always Follow Up

Always, always follow up. Follow-ups can turn a cold email that goes unanswered into a mutually beneficial conversation that leads to a close.

When it comes down to it, not following up on your cold email means you’ve given up. And by doing so, you significantly decrease your chances of getting a reply.

In our sales follow-up statistics study, we found that the most successful cadence based on replies is six touches in the span of roughly three weeks.

The follow-up cadence chart below shows the average cadence used by reps who received replies vs. those who didn’t.

Sales prospecting techniques: follow-up cadenceWhat the data predicts is the most successful follow-up cadence:

  • Follow-up #1: 3 days
  • Follow-up #2: 7 days
  • Follow-up #3: 11 days
  • Follow-up #4: 15 days
  • Follow-up #5: 19 days
  • Follow-up #6: 22 days

Here’s an example of a follow-up email that redemonstrates the value of your offer:

Hi {First Name!},

I know you’re busy so I wanted to reach back out about my earlier request — have you had a chance to review the {!What you sent over} that I sent over {!When you sent it}?

{!1 sentence summarizing what you have is new, comprehensive, or groundbreaking}

{!Finding 1}

{!Finding 2}

{!Finding 3}

And more… Reattaching the {!Report or other source of further info}.

Thank you for your time and looking forward to your feedback,

8. Send Multi-Touch Email Campaigns

Email campaigns are a great way to reach multiple potential customers at once. But this doesn’t mean you should utilize the outdated practice of spray and pray.

When sending prospecting campaigns, you should be reaching out to a targeted audience with highly personalized messaging.

In fact, a cold email study conducted by Drift found that the killer combo is using personalization with smaller audiences.

Sales prospecting techniques: personalized campaigns

Sales tools and automation make personalizing emails to multiple recipients much easier.

Let’s look at Yesware.

Yesware’s campaigns feature allows you to send multi-touch multi-channel emails that include email, call, and social touches. You can insert email templates into your touches and highly personalize each touch with merge fields.

Sales prospecting techniques: send multi-touch campaigns

The touches will send automatically according to your preferred time period and will get removed from the campaign if they respond. This makes email prospecting a breeze.

chart-barProspecting made easyPersonalized multi-touch, multi-channel campaigns with email, calls, and social touches

Sales Prospecting Techniques For Cold Calling

9. Pick up the Phone – But Keep It Warm

According to research by Rain Groups, calling warm prospects is the most effective sales prospecting method with 51% of the 489 sales teams surveyed agreeing.

For many salespeople, this feels a lot more comfortable than cold calling because a connection has already been established.

In order to turn cold prospects into warm ones, they need to have a prior idea about who you are and what you’re offering.

To do this, you might ask to get recommended by a shared connection or interact with them on social media to create that initial spark. It’s then up to you to keep that fire burning.

10. Use Trigger Events to Be Relevant

One of the secrets to successful outreach is great timing. If you know your prospect is in the market for your solution, you’re far more likely to attract their interest.

There are plenty of publicly available resources that can help you distinguish if a company is ready to buy.

Search recent news on your prospect and set up Google Alerts to keep tabs on future updates.

In your research, look for clues like:

  • Funding: When companies close new funding rounds or report strong annual revenue, they’re much more likely to buy from you — because they can afford the investment.
  • New executive hires: New C-suite hires are often looking to get great results for the company and are open to innovation.
  • Company expansions: Opening new offices is a sign of strong company growth that can indicate readiness for continued investment.
  • Major company news: Significant company milestones, such as winning a large contract or releasing a major product update, can be an opportunity to congratulate and start a conversation.

11. Pay Attention to Your Talk/Listen Ratio 

Various studies have found that top-performing sales reps listen more than they talk.

Sales prospecting techniques: discovery call talk/listen ratio

On a cold call, it’s hard to resist the urge to start ranting about how great your product/service is and why it’s a good fit for the person on the other end of the phone.

But you must resist. The key is to ask open-ended questions that’ll get the prospect talking as much as possible. It’ll 1) make them feel valued and understood and 2) allow you to gain valuable insights into your prospect’s needs so that you can tailor your solution around why it’s a good fit for them based on what they say, not you.

If you can achieve this ratio, the prospect will undoubtedly look back on the conversation in a more positive light.

12. Prepare a Strong Opening Sentence

When making cold calls, you have about ten seconds to prove that you’re worth talking to. In the first 10 seconds, you have to differentiate yourself from other callers.

After introducing yourself, turn the focus to your prospect by weaving in your research and personalizing the call.

Here are some strong opening sentences that focus on your prospect, not you.

“I saw your post about _____”

“I noticed you manage _____”

“Congratulations on _____”

“Great insights on _____”

“I’m inspired by the work you’ve done on _____”

You can make sure you do this by filling out a spreadsheet before the call and writing out a custom sentence for each prospect. That way, when you enter each call you have a personalized and catered sentence for each recipient ready to go.

Sales prospecting techniques: personalized sentence for the beginning of a cold call

13. Always End The Cold Call With Next Steps

Never hang up without discussing the next steps. 

End the call with “when should we reconnect to discuss ______?” then send a calendar invite for the follow-up call. This will ensure nothing slips through the cracks.

If you get into a habit of ending your call with this question, then immediately sending a calendar invite, you’ll avoid the tedious follow-ups of figuring out when your next meeting is.

You can ensure that you don’t forget this by including “Next steps” in your calendar invite. Here’s a basic outline for a meeting agenda:

Proposed Agenda:

  1. Company Goals & Initiatives
  2. Overview
  3. Next Steps

Sales Prospecting Techniques For Social Media

14. Show off Your Expertise

The term “thought leader” isn’t just a buzzword doing the rounds.

It refers to someone who is looked up to as an expert in their field. By doing so, you instantly become a trusted resource. And we all know that trust is a vital ingredient of successful conversations with prospects.

This will immediately build up your credibility and get potential customers more willing to talk to you.

How to do this: Share high-quality content that is relevant to your audience such as industry-related articles, tips, and studies. Then, get involved in the comments and discussions around the topic.

For example: Casey Considine, CSM at Yesware, does a great job at continuously informing her audience of helpful tips, insights, and resources.

Sales prospecting techniques: thought leader

15. Join LinkedIn and Facebook Groups

With LinkedIn and Facebook Groups, you’ll instantly be connected with professionals in your industry.

Within these groups, you can engage with members, answer questions, and share useful information, which helps establish you as an expert.

Once you build connections, your prospecting efforts will be easier and more natural — you can immediately warm up your cold outreach. 

To find relevant groups on LinkedIn, simply enter your keywords into the search bar and filter the results to show “Groups”.

For example, if you sell software to financial advisors, search for groups that focus on that target market. 

Sales prospecting techniques: LinkedIn groups

Do the same on Facebook to seek out even more relevant prospects.

Sales prospecting techniques: Facebook groups

16. Connections Breed Connections

The more connections you have, the more connections you’ll make.

A good rule of thumb is to always connect with customers you close deals with or someone you meet professionally. 

This will help you get quality referrals. Also, when reaching out to prospects, it immediately warms out your outreach when you have a mutual connection. And better yet, it’ll help you spark conversation with prospects right from the get-go.

It’s a win-win for warming up outreach and building rapport.

user-groupGet LinkedIn in your inboxSend connection requests and InMails right inside your inbox

17. Use LinkedIn to Map Out Organizations

When identifying leads, it’s important to map out the organization. By using LinkedIn, you can better understand the team layout, departments, who the decision-makers are, etc.

This will give you a clear picture of how the organization is laid out. After you map out the organization, pick 2-3 stakeholders (which is necessary for B2B sales), add to your CRM, and start to reach out in a personalized way.

Then, use pieces of personalization from their profile to show that you’ve done your homework. 

Tip: 40 ways to use LinkedIn for sales here.

18. Find Potential Customers Through Twitter

Many sales professionals don’t even consider Twitter as a prospecting tool.

And they’re missing out — because it’s one of the most powerful prospecting tools at your disposal.

Not only can you find your ideal contacts, but you can also see a more personal side of them that they might not share on more professional platforms like LinkedIn.

The best place to start is Twitter’s Advanced Search. For example, if you’re selling a tool that makes it easy for marketing teams to repurpose content, you’d likely want to reach marketing team leaders:

Sales prospecting techniques: Twitter advanced search

When your results come up, choose “People,” and you’ll instantly see a list of potential prospects:

Sales prospecting techniques: Twitter

19. Find Potential Customers Through LinkedIn

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a great tool for lead generation. This is a paid-for tier of LinkedIn.

With LinkedIn Sales Navigator, you get the “Advanced Search” feature to search for leads based on finely tuned search criteria and save them to lists to follow up on later.

Here’s an example of how detailed the search functionalities are with “Advanced Search:”

Sales prospecting techniques: LinkedIn advanced search

Sales Navigator will also recommend leads for you, based on your prospecting activity. It’s an easy way to rapidly spin up a long list of potential prospects.

20. Be Social on Social Media

If you’re the kind of person who only posts about your offering and selling it on social media, it’s time to stop. You’re essentially screaming into the void by doing this.

Research shows that sales teams that regularly tap into social selling are 40% more likely to hit their revenue goals than those that don’t.

Take heed of the “social” part of social media and get involved in discussions about your industry and product.

Conclusion

Sales prospecting doesn’t make a lot of salespeople jump up and down for joy. But it doesn’t have to be such a struggle.

By using the sales prospecting techniques we’ve laid out here, you can form a strong process that gets you regularly talking to potential customers and identifying good fits. You’ll reap the rewards through compensation and better buyer conversation outcomes.

See what works for you and your team, continue to try out new techniques, and you’ll reach sales prospecting success in no time at all.

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