The Comprehensive Prospecting Guide for B2B

Prospecting for B2B involves defining, identifying, reaching out to, and converting potential customers into clients of the company. Contact is made through a number of different sales and marketing activities, including email marketing, content marketing and PPC.

Sales Prospecting

What is Prospecting?

Sales prospecting is about identifying prospects and potential buyers, targeting them and leading them into the sales funnel. The sales funnel symbolically represents the individual steps that a potential customer goes through in the sales process.

A prospect is a potential customer who belongs to the target group and is interested in the company's solution.

For a contact to be considered a prospect, it must meet certain criteria in advance:

  • has a need that can be satisfied by the company's solution

  • has shown interest in the company's solution or related topics

  • fits the target group, including the associated company criteria

Prospecting starts with the prospect's need and actively leads him through the sales funnel. If the contact qualifies as a prospect or as a sales qualified lead, it is suitable for further processing by the sales department.

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Why is Prospecting Important?

Especially in the B2B area, the potential customers are often manageable. It is therefore all the more important to concentrate marketing and sales efforts on those contacts with the highest probability of closing a deal.

Prospecting Thus Brings the Following Advantages:

Already during the generation of attention, targeted marketing activities can be used to measure what the potential customer is interested in and whether he is therefore a possible lead to be worked on further.

Furthermore, the marketing measures show whether the campaigns and content used reach the target group and support them on their customer journey.

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With the help of sales prospecting, only those contacts that are promising are continued in the sales funnel. With each step of the sales funnel, unqualified contacts are dropped.

This selection of qualified leads at each stage of the funnel also accelerates the sales process. Available resources can be directed to a few, select leads instead of getting lost in the shuffle with wasted leads.

Interested, engaged contacts become loyal and long-term customers. Prospecting thus helps to find customers who are also convinced of the company and the solutions in the long term.

All in all, prospecting helps you find not only more but more importantly the right customers.

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The criteria for an optimal Sales Qualified Lead for B2B companies compactly summarized in a whitepaper.

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What Is the Importance of Prospecting?

The goal of prospecting is to identify and contact potential customers. This is primarily done on the basis of a certain similarity or match with existing customers. Accordingly, with a high profile similarity, the probability that a contract will be signed increases.

The overriding purpose of prospecting is therefore the initial contact and the introduction of new and sales-relevant potential customers. Depending on the information density and profile, the status of a prospect and the associated marketing effort can vary.

The following prospect groups can be observed accordingly:

Group 1: Hot Prospects (Sales Qualified Leads)

Prospects with an immediate need and background knowledge of the company's own solution. Here, the company can start directly with consulting by a sales representative, since there is an acute need.

Group 2: Warm Prospects (Marketing Qualified Leads)

Prospects with a future need. Here there is an opportunity to provide today's prospects with further information so that they can become tomorrow's hot prospects.

Group 3: Cold Prospects (Leads)

Prospects with a need that is still unclear. This group is still a long way from being contacted by sales and is just now coming to terms with their own need. A lot of clarification work is still needed here.

These three groups already show the different efforts that are necessary to sell a product or service to the contacts without much analysis.

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Marketing by Effort

The more unknown the company and its product(s) are, the more the effort to market the products increases. This is due to the fact that the clientele must first be convinced before a purchase is made.

This persuasion work must be carried out as economically and cheaply as possible in the interests of the company, because if there is a great deal of uncertainty as to whether a customer will actually buy something, it is uneconomical to invest a lot of time and money. Therefore, it is necessary by means of targeted marketing to address the correct customer group.

This means for example:

  • A user who is already familiar with a product does not need to be told the complete story behind the product. Here it is about convincing the user why this solution suits him better than others.

  • A user who only knows his own need but not yet the solution of the product, must be told even more about the theory and details of the solution to get his attention at all.

Want to Make Your Prospecting More Efficient?

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Contemporary Digital Marketing

In today's modern age, it is especially easy and relatively inexpensive to reach many people. Because almost everyone uses electronic devices and social media on the Internet.

Therefore, with simple means, it is possible to track what individuals are searching for and which websites they are on (tracking). This makes it easy to serve personalized ads to encourage contacts to buy.

This can be done at different levels:

  • Advertising, based on the words entered in the search engine

  • Definition of target groups according to age, occupational group, gender but also according to user behaviour

  • Regional campaigns with focus on a specific geographical area or language region

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Who is Responsible for Prospecting?

In sales, finding potential customers is the most difficult task. Almost half of all salespeople(42%) say that prospecting is the most difficult phase of the sales process.

That's why you should have a group of experts in your company who don't care about anything but prospecting. In this regard, this group represents a key central role in the form of specially trained professionals.

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Why it Is Becoming More and More Difficult to Be a Salesman

With the help of the Internet and various forums, more and more potential customers are informing themselves independently. This is possible mainly because forums exist on specific areas and topics and some experts also participate in them, thus making specialist knowledge and insider information available to the readership (free of charge).

Forums are not the only way to get information. According to one survey, 52% of B2B buyers turn to social media to make a final buying decision.

Here they meet not only subject matter experts, but also customers who have already gained experience with the products and services.

In this context, a study shows that 60% of B2B customers only want to contact a sales representative in the consideration phase and after they have already informed themselves.

Therefore, it is important for any company to acknowledge this behavior and listen to the prospects or potential customers, advise them and also successfully assist them with solutions.

For this to happen, it is necessary that this work is carried out consistently, with the highest quality and with precise content. This is done either by a specific (specialist) group taking on these tasks, or by the sales staff only taking time for this, for example daily or weekly.

Prospecting and the Sales Funnel

The symbolic meaning of the sales funnel has already been explained. But what exactly does the sales funnel say in the field of prospecting and how is it successfully applied so that higher sales can be generated?

In general, the sales funnel can be divided into three sections:

Top of Funnel: Leads

In this, top stage, specific channels are used to inform potential customers about topics related to the products and services. The first stage is reached when potential customers look at the information provided about the product or service.

Middle of Funnel: Prospects

In the second step, the leads become qualified prospects. They are interested in the product because it meets a specific need and the lead fits into the company's target audience.

Bottom of Funnel: Customers

In the last step, the prospects become customers by agreeing to a contract and developing into loyal customers over a longer period of time.

Contacts are lost at every stage of the sales funnel, leaving only those people who show active interest and belong to the target group.
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Methods for Prospecting

Around 50% of working time is lost in sales prospecting for new customers. It is therefore important that this phase is carried out as efficiently as possible. To ensure that the first and second steps in the sales funnel are also carried out as efficiently as possible and with the greatest possible proximity to the customer, two possible methods are outlined below.

These two methods can be used variably depending on the size of the company and the products or services offered and can also be combined with each other.

Active Prospecting

This is where you as a company actively approach leads. That is, the people who are in the first stage of the sales funnel and approach them. You do this by calling them or actively writing to them.

Active prospecting is therefore about directly building personal relationships and managing a prospect from A to Z.

Passive Prospecting

The passive approach is this, for example, you take action on the internet. Here you can create a company blog and show presence in social media and offer (partly) free information.

Another way to take passive action is to use paid advertising strategy pay-per-click (PPC). This involves setting a budget and possibly a target audience consisting of some criteria. The aim is to bring out the website of the advertising company and thus increase contact with the company or even sales.

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The Role of Data in Prospecting

Data is literally the be-all and end-all of successful prospecting. Advertising, analytics and usage data are valuable sources of information for targeting potential customers.

For prospecting to work successfully, very little data is required.

In the first step, it is often sufficient to know who visits which pages and what content is searched for on the web. But geodata to place local offers can also be important.

In addition to this automated data, at least name and email are required. Because this allows personalized content to be created and sent, this also increases the likelihood of a purchase.

Automated Prospecting

In order for B2B prospecting to be as successful and efficient as possible, certain parts of the prospecting process can be automated. Particularly time-consuming and cost-intensive work can thus be handled more efficiently.

Keep directing the attention of prospects, leads and customers to your headquarters: your website. Optimize your website by creating content that is SEO-friendly and thus easier to be found by search engines. With appropriate tools you can evaluate your visitors. With cookies, you can collect further data and also place targeted advertising.