13 minutes
January 16, 2024

Sales prospecting: 9 techniques that actually work

Explore effective techniques for overcoming the challenges of the evolving landscape of modern sales prospecting, and learn how to use them to excel in your sales efforts.
Joerg Koehler
VP of Marketing
Table of Contents

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Are you struggling to break through the clutter and connect with potential prospects in today's competitive landscape? You're not alone. The challenges of modern sales prospecting can feel overwhelming, especially if you're new to the world of sales or if traditional techniques have yielded diminishing results. In this era of digital transformation, sales prospecting has evolved significantly. The old-school approach involved long lists of accounts and contacts, generic and impersonal outreach, and a "spray and pray" mentality. But times have changed.

Modern sales prospecting leverages technology to identify specific signals that tell you when to engage with specific accounts by determining who’s actively in the market. These signals include a range of details about your prospects’ patterns and purchasing behaviors, such as  buyer intent data and sales triggers like job changes. This insight makes it easier to create highly personalized outreach tailored to your company's prospect personas via a multi-channel approach that includes platforms like email, phone, and social media. 

Whether you're seeking to boost your email open rates, increase your sales productivity, or stand out in a crowded tech industry, mastering some essential prospecting strategies can help you thrive.

9 sales prospecting techniques that work

Finding the right approach to sales prospecting is the cornerstone of success in today's competitive market. To help you navigate this dynamic landscape, we've compiled a list of nine highly effective sales prospecting techniques. These strategies are designed to enhance your outreach efforts, improve response rates, and facilitate successful sales interactions.

1. Ask for referrals

One of the most significant challenges in sales prospecting is breaking through the initial barriers of trust with potential clients. Building trust is essential, as it significantly influences a prospect's decision-making process. This is where asking for referrals becomes invaluable. Referrals come with a built-in level of credibility. When you're referred by someone the prospect already knows and trusts, you're more likely to get a warm reception, making it easier to start a productive conversation.

Asking for referrals is a straightforward yet highly effective technique. It involves reaching out to your current satisfied customers or professional network and politely requesting that they refer you to potential leads who may benefit from your products. When a happy customer vouches for you, it not only introduces you to their network but also implies a level of trust and satisfaction with your offerings, which can pique the interest of the referred prospect.

Here are some practical ways to ask for referrals:

  • Reach out to your existing clients or your network connected to the prospect and express gratitude for their business
  • Ask if they know anyone in their network who might benefit from your products
  • Offer incentives or discounts as a token of appreciation for successful referrals
  • Make the referral process as easy as possible for your satisfied customers, providing them with the necessary resources or contact details

Building trust through referrals is a powerful way to kickstart your prospecting efforts. Another effective approach involves leveraging social media, a platform where trust and relationships play a crucial role in engaging with potential leads.

Ready to Supercharge Your Sales Prospecting Skills? Watch our webinar: Proven Prospecting: SDR Workflows and Strategies that Deliver Pipeline.

2. Reach out on social media and online communities

Modern prospecting offers the benefit of personalized communication with prospects, but digital noise makes it challenging to reach them. Potential customers are bombarded with promotional content daily, making it increasingly difficult to capture their attention and establish meaningful connections. The ability to cut through this noise and engage effectively on social media and online sales communities can be a game changer in today's prospecting landscape. 

These platforms offer not only opportunities for outreach, but they also provide spaces to socialize, contribute to discussions, and build relationships, all of which can lead to finding potential prospects. Reaching out on social media is a fundamental element of a multi-channel prospecting strategy. It involves using platforms like LinkedIn, X, or Facebook to connect with potential leads, share valuable content, and start conversations. This method goes beyond traditional selling; it's about being present, relevant, and helpful.

Here are some ideas for implementing this technique as part of a multi-channel approach:

  • Identify relevant social media platforms like LinkedIn and other online communities—such as the CRM and Sales Hub on HubSpot Community—where your target audience is active
  • Build a professional and engaging profile, highlighting your expertise and value proposition
  • Regularly share insightful content, including industry news, tips, and thought leadership pieces
  • Engage with your network by commenting on posts, joining discussions, and offering solutions to common challenges
  • Initiate private conversations with potential prospects who have shown interest or engagement with your content
  • Optimize your LinkedIn page and other pages for sales purposes

Becoming an active and respected presence on social media is not just about outreach; it's about establishing yourself as a thought leader in your industry.

3. Be a thought leader

While finding the right prospects can be a daunting task, especially in a saturated market. An even bigger challenge lies in resonating with these prospects and making your offerings stand out. By becoming a thought leader in your industry, you position yourself in a unique way to understand and appeal directly to your ideal customer personas.

Being a thought leader means that you're not just selling a product or service; you're selling knowledge, insights, and expertise. Thought leadership revolves around consistently producing valuable content, sharing innovative ideas, and establishing credibility within your domain. When your prospects recognize you as an expert, they’re more inclined to trust your brand and solutions. Here are some ways to become a thought leader in your industry:

  • Engage in webinars and podcasts: Sharing your expertise in online webinars or podcasts can significantly increase your reach. By discussing industry-specific challenges and solutions, you resonate with potential prospects.
  • Write insightful articles: Start a blog or contribute to industry-related publications. Diving deep into topics that target your customer personas can help attract the right audience.
  • Host workshops: Organize workshops or seminars that showcase your solutions in action, offering real-time value and engaging directly with potential clients.

Understanding and addressing your prospects at a deeper level, as a thought leader, creates a strong foundation for personalizing your conversations with them. This, in turn, fosters trust and encourages mutually beneficial interactions.

4. Send personalized emails

Generic sales emails often lead to decreased engagement and low response rates, and it’s easy to see why. Your prospects likely receive dozens of cold emails from SDRs and AEs, and chances are, each one looks just like the one before it. Leveraging the right strategies and tools to create personalized emails can help you tackle this issue head-on.

Personalizing emails involves much more than addressing the recipient by their first name; it's about crafting content tailored to their unique needs, interests, and pain points. A truly personalized email demonstrates that you've taken the time to research and understand the prospect, ultimately fostering trust and improving your chances of eliciting a response. Here are some ideas for writing personalized emails that capture your prospects’ attention:

  • Segment your list: Group prospects based on specific criteria like industry or job role. This allows for more tailored content.
  • Use behavioral triggers: If a prospect has recently interacted with your website or downloaded a resource, mention this in your email to show attentiveness to behavioral triggers.
  • Leverage artificial intelligence (AI): Allow AI to generate a personalized email draft, then add your unique touch before sending. This combination ensures efficiency without sacrificing personal connection.

With the power of personalized emails, you not only establish a rapport but also set the stage for more dynamic engagement methods, like incorporating video content.

A good personalized email should answer four questions: 1. How is the prospect special to you? 2. Why are you emailing the prospect? 3. Who are you? (a value prop for that specific title, not your name and title) 4. What do you want your prospect to do with your email? 

5. Engage prospects with video

Today's digital environment often feels impersonal, with prospects being flooded by text-heavy content that lacks human connection. This detachment can result in lost engagement and missed opportunities. Using video in your prospecting efforts offers another solution for initiating more authentic and memorable interactions.

Engaging prospects with video involves integrating visual content into your outreach strategies. Video has the unique ability to convey tone, body language, and emotion—elements that plain text often fails to capture. By presenting information in a visually appealing and personal manner, prospects are more likely to resonate with your message, understand your offerings, and feel a connection to your brand. Here are some ways you can use video to appeal to your prospects:

  • Personalized video messages: Instead of a standard email, send a video introducing yourself and addressing the prospect's specific needs or pain points.
  • Product demos: Showcase your product's features and benefits through a comprehensive video. This gives prospects a clearer understanding of its value.
  • Customer testimonials: Share authentic video testimonials. Real-life experiences can significantly boost credibility and trust.

After establishing that initial connection through video, you'll find that warming up cold leads becomes a smoother process.

6. Make warm calls

Cold calling, despite its challenges, remains a vital component in the prospecting arsenal, especially when powered by sales prospecting tools that furnish SDRs and AEs with quality leads. However, the obstacle faced by many is the “coldness” itself. In a world saturated with outreach, breaking through that initial barrier of unfamiliarity can make all the difference. With a sales intelligence platform, you can elevate your approach by gleaning insights about a prospect's position and company—turning that cold call into a warm one.

Warm calls differ from cold calls in one fundamental way: there's an existing touchpoint or knowledge about the prospect. This prior interaction or information could stem from a previous email, a shared connection, or simply having in-depth knowledge about the prospect's needs and challenges. Warm calls leverage this prior context, allowing for a more personalized and engaging conversation from the get-go. Here are some ways to warm up those cold calls:

  • Research your prospects: Before dialing, spend a few minutes learning about the prospect's role, company objectives, and any mutual connections.
  • Reference past interactions: Start the call by referencing a previous conversation or email exchange, instantly reminding them of the established connection.
  • Tailor the conversation: With the data at hand, shape your dialogue to address their specific needs, showcasing how your solution aligns with their challenges.

By transforming cold calls into warm calls, you not only elevate the conversation but also increase the likelihood of a favorable response. And once you've bridged that initial gap, the importance of timely and  strategic follow-up becomes paramount to nurture and solidify the budding relationship.

7. Always follow up

Many sales professionals have experienced it: a promising conversation that unexpectedly goes cold. Maintaining momentum and ensuring that prospects remain engaged throughout the buying process can be difficult, especially if communication is inconsistent. With a multi-thread approach, you can navigate this obstacle. By understanding who occupies roles such as buying, influencing, and decision-making within an account, you can tailor your follow-up strategy, ensuring you're reaching out to the right people in the most effective manner.

Following up involves re-engaging with prospects post-interaction, whether it be after a call, meeting, or email. It's an opportunity to reiterate value, address queries, or simply keep the conversation alive. The magic of follow-up lies in its frequency and relevance. Here’s how to achieve this:

  • Create a follow-up sequence: A successful sale typically requires multiple well-timed follow-ups. While yours may vary based on factors like first meeting results and method of contact, 2021 research from Yesware found that the most successful cadence based on email replies is six touches within three weeks. 
  • Determine who to contact first: Contacting the right person at the right time is crucial to moving closer to a sale. This might be your initial point of contact or someone else you connected with, such as a department manager who joined your first meeting with your prospect. 
  • Tailor your message: A decision-maker might need ROI data to determine the financial value of your product to the company, while an influencer could benefit from a product demo or user testimonials that show how—and why—other professionals like them use your product. Regardless of who you contact, always personalize your message.
  • Use a multi-thread approach: Engaging multiple contacts within an organization is key to hedge against unforeseen changes or obstacles. It’s important to mix up your contact channels, too, especially if you’re not getting replies when using a specific method.

Even with successful follow-ups, sometimes having the support of former champions of your brand or product lends credibility to your sales efforts and helps solidify new leads.

8. Target former champions of your product who moved to new companies

The constant movement of professionals between companies can sometimes disrupt existing client relationships and make sustaining them a challenge. However, this change can also open doors to new opportunities. Reconnecting with advocates of your product who have transitioned to other firms can be a strategic way to tap into new markets.

This method revolves around identifying and reaching out to those who have had a positive experience with your product or service in the past and have since moved to a different company. These former champions already understand the value you bring, reducing the need for extensive onboarding and simplifying the sales process. Here are some ways you can target them while prospecting:

  • Maintain an updated CRM: Regularly update your CRM to keep track of key contacts and any changes in their professional roles.
  • Send a personalized message: Reconnect with a tailored message that references their positive past experience and inquires about potential needs in their current role.
  • Offer a refresher: Propose a short demo or presentation to reintroduce your product, addressing any updates or improvements since they last engaged with it.

As you cultivate these rekindled relationships, it's equally crucial to stay attuned to buying signals, ensuring you reach out at just the right moment in their new journey.

9. Trust the right buying signals to guide your prospecting

In sales, timing is paramount. Engaging too early can be off-putting, while reaching out too late may mean missing out on a prime opportunity. Recognizing and acting upon the right buying signals is crucial to optimize the sales process and connect meaningfully with potential clients.

Buying signals are cues or indicators that a prospect is ready to make a purchase or is leaning towards a buying decision. These signals can range from explicit actions, like downloading a white paper or requesting a demo, to more subtle signs, like increased website visits or engagement with your content. Here’s how to recognize these signals:

  • Monitor digital footprints: Track a prospect's interaction with your website or content. Frequent visits or downloads can indicate heightened interest.
  • Leverage intent signals: Look for buyer intent signals from vendors like G2 and Demandbase to determine prospects who are actively in the market for what you offer, such as those who have researched products like yours or compared you to a competitor..
  • Engage on social media: Keep an eye on prospects who actively engage with your posts, or share industry-related content. Their activity can provide insights into their buying intent.

To most effectively capture and respond to these cues, the right prospecting tool is indispensable.

Build your pipeline through better prospecting with LeadIQ

The modern sales landscape is both dynamic and competitive, making it imperative for professionals to adopt personalized, well-timed strategies. Finding the right sales prospecting techniques isn't just about increasing numbers; it's about reaching the right audience at the perfect moment. With a myriad of channels and shifting buyer behaviors, the challenge lies in pinpointing those genuine opportunities amidst the noise.

LeadIQ is your go-to resource for finding and connecting with your ideal prospects. Our powerful tool enables you to create a simple, effective prospecting workflow that sources the right data at the right time, eliminates redundant tools and tasks, and prospect at scale without sacrificing quality By integrating with key sales platforms like Salesforce and Outreach,  LeadIQ ensures you have the most up-to-date contact data right at your fingertips, syncs it seamlessly to your CRM in a single click, and provides real-time data enrichment to ensure accuracy. Coupled with real-time notifications about pivotal sales triggers like job changes, company updates, and buyer intent and the power of Scribe's advanced AI to craft tailor-made messages, LeadIQ offers an unparalleled advantage in sales prospecting.

Don't let opportunity slip through the cracks. Discover the secrets of the modern sales landscape and elevate your prospecting game by downloading our ebook: The Modern Prospecting Workflow.