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4 Essential Elements of a Winning Prospecting Strategy

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Written by Mike Schultz
President, RAIN Group

There are few areas of selling filled with more uncertainty, challenges, and conflicting advice than prospecting.


Success in sales prospecting requires breaking through the noise to capture buyers' attention and influence them to meet with you. Which begs a few questions:

  • What does capture buyers’ attention?
  • Do buyers want to hear from sellers, and if so, when?
  • How should sellers reach out and connect with buyers?

Through our study, Top Performance in Sales Prospecting, the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research has worked to answer these questions and uncovered what works and what doesn’t, based on feedback from sellers and buyers.

This large, global study included 489 sellers who outbound prospect, plus 488 buyers representing $4.2 billion in purchases across 25 industries. We analyzed results across industry, company value-focus, buyer title, company size, prospecting maturity and success, brand cachet, and geography.

Most importantly, we studied the actions of Top Performers—sellers with the best prospecting results.

Our takeaways from this research provide actionable data to help you break through to executives and win more sales. In this article, we provide some of the most interesting findings focused on results of Top Performers, and the four categories Top Performers all had in common.

Top Performers Generate More Meetings and Win More Sales

Before we get into the “how” of becoming a Top Performer in sales prospecting, let’s look at the surprising difference of what Top Performers are able to achieve compared to The Rest.

  • Top Performers generate 2.7X more meetings with target contacts than the rest.
    If you want to achieve more engagement, generate more meetings, and deliver more demos, follow the lead of Top Performers.
  • 100% of Top Performers say they achieve high-quality outcomes from the sales meetings they set vs. only 55% of The Rest.
    One of the biggest complaints from sellers is that their meetings don’t go anywhere. They spend time and energy to get the meeting, and the process doesn’t end in a sale—or even a stronger relationship that could, ultimately, lead to a sale. Want higher quality meetings? Prospect the way Top Performers do.
  • 81% of top-performing organizations met or exceeded their sales goal last year compared to just 56% of The Rest.
    Learn how to prospect and sell like a Top Performer working for a top-performing organization—and you’ll be more likely to meet your sales goals.

  • Top Performers report win rates on proposed sales of 48% compared to 37% for The Rest.
    Every sales win starts with a conversation. Mastering prospecting and sales conversations will set you up to succeed like a Top Performer.

4 Keys to Sales Prospecting Success

How do Top Performers achieve such impressive success?

They all have WAVE in common. When a component of WAVE was missing, their likelihood of being a Top Performer dropped significantly. WAVE stands for:

  • Winner’s Mindset
  • Attraction Campaign
  • Value
  • Execution

Winner’s Mindset

Do you LOVE prospecting? Really love it?

Top Performers do.

They report feeling more energy after prospecting, while The Rest say it’s their least favorite part of sales.

Your mindset drives your behavior, actions (or lack thereof), and interactions. You need to have perseverance and energy to succeed in prospecting. And how you feel about prospecting... that’s up to you. Why dread it? Change your mindset.

View prospecting as a challenge that motivates you to do your best. Then get into it—really get into it—and you might just find yourself in the zone, having successes, and enjoying it.

Attraction Campaign

An attraction campaign is a sequence of customized content and messages sent to buyers over a specific time period for the purpose of generating a meeting with them.

It takes an average of 8 touches to break through and generate a meeting with a buyer. These touches should be delivered across channels through coordinated campaigns.

Note, however, that these are not marketing campaigns. This is what sales people do, themselves, by hand (perhaps with some automation help, but at least significantly customized by the seller for each individual buyer).

Reach your buyers through social media, customized emails, direct mail, and, of course, by phone.

Value

Top Performers provide value in each of their touches. In fact, Top Performers capture buyers' attention with the following customizations:

  1. Primary research relevant to the buyer’s business
  2. Content 100% customized to the buyer’s specific situation
  3. Descriptions of their capabilities tailored specifically for a buyer so they get the impression they were crafted just for them
  4. Insights on the products or services to solve business problems based on who they are, the industry they're in, or something else that’s directly relevant to that buyer
  5. Best practices based on the seller’s area of expertise

The value Top Performers provide in the prospecting phase puts them above The Rest.

Execution

Once you know what to do, it’s time to do it. Execution is where the rubber meets the road. Nowhere in selling do sellers need more focus, discipline, and execution intensity than they do in prospecting.

You must maximize your time and energy for prospecting success while also using your best prospecting skills to impress buyers. Do this and you will generate more meetings at a more consistent rate.

While prospecting is hard, Top Performers follow the WAVE roadmap to success. If you want to not only generate more meetings, but also win more sales, do what the Top Performers do.

RECOMMENDED READING >> 21 Powerful, Open-Ended Sales Questions

Topics: Sales Prospecting