How do you draw up an effective sales prospecting plan?

Plan de prospection commerciale

Sales prospecting is one of the most important phases in the sales process, but also one of the most difficult. To do this, you need to follow an effective sales prospecting plan.

Statistically, almost half of all salespeople say that prospecting is the most difficult part of their job.

But why is it so difficult? What about you? Do you also find it difficult to prospect new people?

In any case, the more leads you generate, the greater your chances of closing a sale, and prospecting remains one of the best ways of achieving this.

So how do you draw up an effective sales prospecting plan? And what tools will you need? Let’s find out together !

What is a sales prospecting plan ?

As a reminder, sales prospecting is the process of finding and making contact with new leads and prospects. The idea is to bring them back into the sales funnel to finalize a sale and, ideally, build brand loyalty.

Qu’est-ce qu’un plan de prospection commerciale ?

Source : Point Fluent 

At first glance, a “lead” could be confused with a “prospect”, but there’s a nuance that shows the difference between these two terms.

When we speak of a lead, we’re referring more to a person who has already actively expressed an interest in a product or service.

Take, for example, the case of an Internet user who has downloaded an eBook or subscribed to a newsletter without any real prior interaction with the brand. This is clearly someone who is genuinely interested in the company’s products or services.

The prospect, on the other hand, is someone who fits the profile of a perfect customer, but who hasn’t yet shown any real interest.

The prospecting plan will consist of a series of progressive steps to attract new customers, including these prospects. In other words, it’s a plan of successive actions to identify better sales opportunities for a company.

These actions include outbound calls, prospecting e-mails, SMS campaigns and many others.

 

Why create a prospecting plan ?

A prospecting plan allows you to :

  • Have a checklist to organize the various actions to be taken
  • Improve sales productivity by providing access to invaluable tools such as a prospecting list, prospecting calendar, sales script, etc.
  • Better manage your company’s internal resources for an efficient prospecting campaign
  • Generate new leads in your sales funnel

In short, a prospecting plan serves as a sort of roadmap for the coherent management of the various actions involved in a prospecting campaign.

Why is sales prospecting important for a company ?

Although prospects represent an excellent opportunity to increase your sales, they don’t usually take the first step.

In other words, it’s not a matter of setting up your business and crossing your arms in the hope that prospects will come to you. It’s up to you to go out and find them. And that’s why prospecting is so important in the life of a commercial enterprise.

First of all, it has to be said that customers are quite receptive to prospecting. Statistically, 82% of buyers remain in favor of appointments when a salesperson contacts them first, and 71% like to listen to salespeople’s sales pitches at the start of a buying process.

These favorable figures are bound to improve sales productivity. According to a recent study, salespeople who put the most effort into prospecting manage to generate almost 3 times as many sales appointments as others.

KPI prospection téléphonique

Source : RainSaletraining 

While it’s true that not every appointment leads to a sale, a good prospecting strategy does increase the chances of closing new sales.

It allows you to identify and attract genuinely interested people who will be more inclined to buy your products. And that’s what every sales company wants.

How do you know when a prospecting plan isn't working?

Sometimes, despite all the marketing efforts that have been made, a company can experience significant periods of poor sales. In such circumstances, the first thing to do is to suspect the problem in the sales prospecting plan.

Here are some common reasons why your prospecting plan isn’t working and needs to be reviewed :

  • You meet a lot of prospects, but generate very few customers: This is a conversion problem. Are your sales reps complaining that they have lots of prospects, but no success in getting them to buy your products or services?
  • You notice a certain lack of alignment between your marketing efforts and sales: The tools your salespeople use don’t really impact the company’s revenues.
  • Your sales force spends more time entering data than “working”: It’s true that a salesperson also has to read documents, sort information, fill in forms and so on.
    But when all these tasks take up more of his time than interacting with prospects, such as making phone calls or responding on social networks, it’s clear that there’s a deficit in the work balance.
Comment savoir quand un plan de prospection ne fonctionne pas ?

Source : JournalDuNet

And it needs to be revised so that your sales people can really do their job : attract new customers.

  • Your sales force is groping for answers : When your salespeople don’t know enough about the customer profile they need to prospect, there’s little chance of converting them into customers for your company. What size companies should you target? What are the sectors and common difficulties of your target audience? All this needs to be clearly established for successful protection.
  • Your salespeople jump from one business activity to another : For example, your sales reps might start a teleprospecting activity, then start others, then try to stop some of them, without really seeing anything through. It would be more efficient for them to concentrate on a specific sales activity at specific times of the day.

Your salespeople find it difficult to pinpoint prospects’ weak points so as to be able to hook them : As a salesperson, it’s important to determine how your products or services can really solve prospects’ problems. It’s an approach that catches on quickly and encourages prospects to consume your products.

How do you create a successful prospecting plan ?

For successful prospecting, here are a few important steps to follow:

Define your initial objectives

As with any project, a good prospecting plan starts with well-defined objectives. Why did you want to carry out a prospecting campaign? To further develop one branch of your business? Increase your revenues? Build customer loyalty? Increase your address book?

What do you really want? Work it out before you start. But it’s also important to be realistic. Excessive goals can lead to frustration and a poor assessment of your prospecting plan.

Comment réussir son plan de prospection

Source : Comexplorer

The recommended method is the SMART method, for setting goals that are ambitious, but attainable enough to be achieved within the given timeframe.

Define a target audience for your prospecting campaign

Before you expect your sales reps to bring in high-quality prospects, it’s only natural that they should know in advance what those prospects look like. And admittedly, this is a tricky task, since there are many different types of people, companies and industries.

So, where do you start? Well, if you’re an existing business, I suggest you start with your own database. Who are your most important existing customers? Who are your most and least profitable customers? Which would you describe as your worst customers? Create profiles for each of these groups, noting criteria such as :

  • Demographic information (age, gender, marital status, average income, sector of activity, etc.);
  • Psychological information (hobbies, preferred social networks, decision-making processes, etc.);
  • Challenges, difficulties, objectives, etc.
Guide de prospection.

Source : OpenClassRoom

Once the profiles of each group have been established, the worst customers will be avoided when prospecting, so as not to waste time. The least profitable will be ranked at the bottom of the priority scale, and the most important customers will be the profiles to focus on.

If you don’t have an existing database, you can also build your target audience by identifying the problems your products can solve, and listing all the types of prospects likely to encounter these problems.

This way, every member of your sales team will know exactly which prospect profile to approach.

 

Propose a prospecting file

After the previous step, you can clearly identify the types of prospects most likely to consume your products. These may be recent or old contacts you’ll need to follow up, or new prospects you’ll need to find.

To make your team’s task easier, it’s a good idea to prepare a prospecting file listing the prospects you’ve met, along with important information such as their contacts, their field of activity, etc.

How do you set up a prospecting file? Well, there are ready-to-use paid files on the market, but it’s always better to create your own prospecting file based on the objectives you’ve set and the data you’ve collected.

Fiche de prospection

Source : BizTree

Whatever the case, the most important thing is to keep your prospecting data up to date, so that you can contact prospects when the time is right.

To make it even more practical, you can import all this data into CRM software for better customer relationship management.

Choose the right prospecting form(s) for your budget

You’ve defined your objectives, your target audience and a prospecting file. The next step is to decide which prospecting channels you feel are most appropriate for your prospecting campaign.

In fact, there are several prospecting techniques that can be used to achieve your objectives. These include :

  • Cold emailing : This technique involves sending prospecting emails to potential customers. It’s often used in professional marketing, and enables you to reach a large number of people.¬†¬†
  • Social selling : This prospecting technique involves using social networks to find new prospects and get them to buy your products or services.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) : This is also a form of prospecting that involves attracting customers from the first pages of search engines such as Google, Bing, Amazon and others.

 

By using the right optimization techniques for each search engine, you can succeed in getting your sales pages into the top results when potential buyers search for your products on the Net.

  • Teleprospecting : This is a form of prospecting that essentially involves telephone calls, with the primary aim of arranging a sales meeting with potential customers.
le(s) formes de prospection à utiliser en fonction de votre budget

Source : Worksafe 

  • Advertising : When you have the financial means at your disposal, advertising can also be an excellent prospecting tool. Whether it’s advertising on search engines or traditional advertising, it’s also an important lever in sales prospecting.
  • Physical meetings : Prospecting can also be physical. For example, you can organize seminars, symposia or trade fairs to present your products, and take advantage of the opportunity to collect contacts from attendees so you can follow up afterwards.

This list of prospecting channels can of course be adapted to suit your niche, your target and your resources.

Develop your prospecting script

The prospecting script is the sales pitch that your sales reps must develop once in contact with prospects.

It needs to be carefully crafted, because we live in an age where one misplaced phrase can sink a deal and undermine all your efforts.

Conversely, a good script seduces prospects and takes them further down the sales funnel.

But at the same time, some sales reps aren’t too keen on the idea of using prospecting scripts under the pretext of sounding like robots and making a less authentic presentation to prospects.

What you need to know is that a well-written sales script increases the efficiency of your sales team, leading to higher conversion rates.

Prospecting can be stressful at times, and having a well-crafted script will make your sales people naturally more confident with customers.

Instead of constantly looking for what to say, they’ll be able to focus much more on listening to the customer and tailoring the conversion to their personal needs.

So, how do you create a good prospecting script? Well, whatever prospecting channel you choose, it’s important to keep the following factors in mind:

  • Let the prospect express himself and present his own needs and expectations : This means taking a special interest in each prospect, asking what you can do for them or what they need. It’s a way of getting prospecting off on the right foot.
  • If the context allows, adapt your script to the prospect’s needs.
  • Anticipate the questions frequently asked by your former customers : Addressing certain questions before the prospect even asks them demonstrates your expertise and adds credibility to your presentation.
  • Present the strengths of your products or services : This is the main purpose of a sales script. This is your business, so find the right words to value your product and present all the reasons that the prospect would benefit from buying it.

To help your sales reps get to grips with the script for a brilliant presentation, you can simulate in-house prospecting sequences and discuss all eventualities together.

Allocate prospecting tasks to your sales team.

This stage allows you to allocate the various prospecting tasks so that each member knows exactly what he or she has to do and the means at their disposal to achieve it.

This stage can vary from one company to another, depending on the resources available, the internal organization and the experience of each member of the sales team.

In any case, it’s important that everyone is involved, and that remuneration conditions are clearly established from the outset.

If you’re using prospecting software, it’s also important that the people who will be using it are properly trained.

This will also be an opportunity to teach them the company’s values, since they are the ones who will be communicating its image to your audience.

Use automation to perform certain repetitive tasks

The first reason why prospecting can be time-consuming is manual data entry.

Although there are several automation solutions available today, many sales reps still use Excel spreadsheets to organize their prospects’ data.

It’s true that data entry is an integral part of prospecting, but for reasons of productivity, it doesn’t have to take hours.

Today, there are automated solutions that automatically record and organize the information collected during your prospecting without you having to enter it by hand.

Gagner en productivité

Source : IphoneSoft

You also have tools like Onoff Business that give you access to your call history with your prospects directly on a single space for better follow-up.

You can also opt for email automation solutions that will save you precious time while keeping your prospects engaged.

In other words, you can take advantage of automation to speed up certain repetitive tasks in your prospecting strategy and gain in productivity.

 

Define a prospecting calendar

It’s important that your prospecting campaign fits into a precise schedule. How much time should you allow for this?

It all depends on your niche and the length of your sales process. In any case, the timeframe should be long enough to achieve the objective, but not so long as to plunge the team into a kind of monotony.

For a better estimate of time, you can assign a deadline to each of the actions carried out, so that you can keep better track of them and make readjustments if necessary.

Calendrier de prospection.

Source : My Biz Dev

For example, let’s say you’ve initially planned a 3-month prospecting period, with the aim of making 10 sales appointments per month.

But already in the first month, you manage to get 15, in which case the planned timeframe can be revised upwards.

And if, on the other hand, you only manage to get 5 appointments a month, perhaps the deadline was set too high and needs to be revised downwards.

Monitor the performance of your prospecting campaign

Once the prospecting calendar has expired, it’s time to assess whether or not your objectives have been achieved. There are several reporting tools you can use to assess the effectiveness of your prospecting campaign.

Taking teleprospecting as an example, VoIP telephony solutions such as Onoff Business give you real-time access to the results gathered by your sales team.

The tool generates a complete and detailed analysis report providing valuable information such as :

  • Number of calls made
  • Number of calls answered by prospects
  • Number of missed calls
  • Call duration¬†
  • Number of appointments generated
  • Etc.¬†
Analyses statistiques

All this combined in a single interface to give you a global overview of your telephone prospecting. This makes it easier to analyze the performance of each member of your sales team.

This Onoff Business analysis data can also help you make decisions to improve your prospecting strategy and achieve better results.

What’s more, the tool features automatic recording of call data to make your sales force’s job easier.

 

Set up a follow-up plan for a better CRM.

Once you’ve assessed the effectiveness of your actions, our sales prospecting plan isn’t over just yet.

The final step in the process is to put in place a follow-up plan for better customer relationship management.

Even if you’ve attracted a new customer to the point of making a sale, it’s still a good idea to keep in touch.

You could, for example, send them a personalized message to thank them and invite them to share their feedback on your product.

You can then take advantage of this proximity to share your next promotional offers or news.

Frequently asked questions


What is a sales prospecting plan ?

A sales prospecting plan is a set of successive actions to be taken by a sales team to generate new qualified leads.
 

Why draw up a sales prospecting plan ?

A prospecting plan serves to :

  • Benefit from a checklist for organizing your prospecting activities
  • Increase the productivity of your sales team by providing them with better working tools such as a checklist, a prospecting calendar, a sales script, etc.¬†
  • Manage company resources effectively for an efficient prospecting campaign¬†
  • Attract new prospects into your sales funnel.

What are the different stages of an effective prospecting plan ?

  • Define your initial objectives
  • Define a target audience for your prospecting campaign
  • Propose a prospecting file
  • Choose the form(s) of prospecting to use according to your budget
  • Develop your prospecting script
  • Distribute prospecting actions with your sales team
  • Use automation to perform certain repetitive tasks
  • Define a prospecting calendar
  • Monitor the performance of your prospecting campaign
  • Set up a follow-up plan for a better CRM.

What are the different types of commercial prospecting ?

Commercial prospecting is a set of actions designed to identify and contact potential buyers, with the aim of converting them into customers. It’s a highly effective strategy that comes in many forms :

  • Cold emailing
  • Social selling
  • SEO referencing
  • Telemarketing
  • Advertising
  • Physical meetings (seminars, symposia, trade fairs, etc.)


When should I review my sales prospecting strategy ?

Here are some signs that your sales prospecting plan should be reviewed :

 

  • You reach a lot of prospects, but don’t generate enough customers
  • Your salespeople’s work tools don’t really impact company revenues
  • Your sales force spends more time entering data than prospecting for new customers
  • You don’t have a clear idea of your target audience
  • Your sales force has difficulty convincing prospects to buy.


Why is sales prospecting important for a company ?

Salespeople who actively invest in prospecting manage to generate almost 3 times as many sales appointments as others.

What’s more, 82% of buyers remain open to appointments when a salesperson contacts them first, and 71% like to listen to salespeople’s sales pitches at the start of the buying process.


Conclusion 

Sales prospecting is an excellent way of attracting new prospects and converting them into loyal customers. But to really make the most of it, it’s important to develop a well-structured plan. Throughout this content, we’ve covered 10 important steps you can follow to build an effective prospecting plan and improve your sales.

Overall, an effective prospecting plan starts with well-defined objectives and a profile of targeted potential customers.

Then it’s a matter of choosing the most relevant prospecting channels according to your sector of activity, your target audience, your resources and the experience of your sales people.

This involves proposing a sales script and a sales action plan spread out over a timetable, with deadlines that can be adjusted according to the difficulty of the objectives.

Finally, as with any sales project, it’s important to be properly equipped to monitor the results achieved during your prospecting campaign, and to put in place a good follow-up plan to ensure a long-term relationship with your customers.

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