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4 Common Mistakes That Can Derail Your Virtual Prospecting Efforts

Mar 12th, 2021

Salespeople who want to be successful need a steady stream of new opportunities entering the pipeline—a combination of new clients and existing accounts.

But these days, with people working, buying, and living virtually, that’s easier said than done. The organic opportunities sellers may have taken for granted before have all but disappeared, and making new connections with buyers is not as easy as it used to be.

In a virtual world, if sellers want to fill their pipeline, they need to be proactive and deliberate in their efforts. They can no longer rely on trade shows or networking events to meet people.

Some sellers have successfully adjusted to this new all-virtual world, and as a result, have successfully built a robust pipeline. Others, however, are making four common mistakes that are hindering their prospecting success.

Let’s review each one, and what those sellers should be doing differently.

Mistake 1: Wrong mindset

Selling is often all about having the right mindset. That’s especially true when it comes to proactive outreach. Top Performers—winners—know you need to be focused and set goals, and believe you can achieve them. Unfortunately, many sellers don’t have that winner’s mindset when it comes to prospecting, and as a result, opportunities are passing them by.

In fact, one third of sellers say that prospecting is the least appealing part of what they do in sales. It’s critical to increase motivation to execute prospecting successfully.

In the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research’s study, Top Performance in Sales Prospecting, we found that 82% of buyers accept meetings at least sometimes with sellers who reach out. Just as significant: When account managers reach out to buyers proactively, client satisfaction goes up—way up. In fact, they report 83% significantly better satisfaction.

But most important, 71% of buyers say they want to hear from sellers at the earliest part of their buying process—the time when they’re just forming ideas. That’s right, sellers aren’t being intrusive; these buyers want to hear from sellers.

If you can shift your mindset, your motivation to prospect will improve and so will your results.

Mistake 2: Inconsistent and disorganized outreach

To gain the attention of today’s busy buyers, a periodic email or LinkedIn request won’t work. It’s not enough to break through the massive amounts of noise. You need an Attraction Campaign: an organized sequence of messages, deployed across multiple communication channels, that include a strong value-based offer that will compel the buyer to act.

Start by creating a list of the people you want to meet with. Focus on existing buyers and accounts, past buyers, past opportunities, members of your network, and high-value targets. Once you know who you’re targeting, the next step is to organize these people appropriately, and create an offer that’s customized for each buyer, their industry, and their business situation.

Then, identify how you’ll reach out, and how often. Don’t worry about overcommunicating. Our research shows that 43% of buyers who accept meetings are comfortable with sellers contacting them five or more times before getting through. Create a sequence of communications that includes email, LinkedIn, and phone—and of course, be sure to personalize each message.

Finally, make use of tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator so you can further customize your messages with relevant information and value. Knowledge is power.

Mistake 3: Little to no value being offered

Too often, buyers receive a message from a seller and say, “So what?” That’s because the seller offered little to no value beyond their sales message. Think about your communications from the buyer’s perspective.

What they are looking for?

What’s in it for them?

The more effectively you can answer the questions of why the buyer should act, why they should do it now, and why they should trust you, the more effective you’ll be at grabbing the buyer’s attention and compelling them to meet with you.

Create a customized message that references a “trigger event” that inspired you to reach out—a mention of the account in the news, perhaps, or the buyer’s changed role, or simply a piece of content they shared on LinkedIn.

Then substantiate why the buyer should trust you and finish with a strong call to action. Equally good is if you can provide a proactive trigger event—such as a piece of content that helps you communicate your expertise, and that would benefit the buyer.

Mistake 4: Poor management of time and energy

If you’ve done all this groundwork, you don’t want to waste that effort. Unfortunately, where most outreach efforts tend to fall apart is in the execution stage, because many sellers lack the focus and discipline to consistently prospect.

Two-thirds of organizations report that their sellers do not dedicate enough time or energy to prospecting. This is the top sales prospecting challenge.

Top Performers make proactive outreach a regular, measured part of what they do. They put specific tasks in their calendar and carve out time on a regular basis for prospecting activities. That way their time is already blocked off, and prospecting outreach becomes a habit.

Do This, Not That

Instead of falling victim to the four all-too-common mistakes shared here, follow the four-step WAVE to fill your pipeline with quality opportunities:

  1. Have a Winner’s Mindset.
  2. Create an Attraction Campaign.
  3. Add Value.
  4. Execute well.

Following these four steps will ensure that your virtual prospecting efforts are more successful.

About the author: Jason Murray is Chief Sales Officer of RAIN Group, a Top 20 Sales Training Company that delivers award-winning results through in-person and virtual sales training, coaching, and reinforcement. He and RAIN Group have helped hundreds of thousands of salespeople, managers, and professionals in more than 75 countries transform their sales results and unleash their sales potential.