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Prospecting new customers: set up your business strategy

Check out the best tips and techniques to attract more buyers with sales prospecting!

Sales prospecting - Image of a horseshoe-shaped magnet attracting three people icons representing the prospecting of customers

Does your company have a strategy for prospecting customers? Does your sales team go after new customers or do you simply wait for them to show up?

How you approach people interested in your products or services can define the future of your business and ensure more sales.

However, just following your intuition or betting on the same approach strategies for all users can greatly diminish the chances of your business thriving.

This is because each person who comes into contact with your brand has very different needs, objections, and desires. Therefore, you can’t expect that a single strategy will have the same effect for everyone.

You might be wondering what you should do in each specific situation. This is exactly what we are going to talk about today!

Keep reading and learn everything about prospecting for customers and how to implement this process in your business.

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What is prospecting? Who should prospect for customers? What is a sales funnel? Why is it important to have a sales funnel? How does lead scoring help in prospecting new customers? What’s the difference between active and passive prospecting? Step-by-step process for effective sales prospecting Best prospecting methods and techniques
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What is prospecting?

Customer prospecting consists of contacting your business’ potential customers and thus, increasing sales.

This is the first contact that the sales team will make with your persona. In this process, the sales team becomes closer to the audience and prepares approaches to insert them in the company’s sales funnel

And, in order for this strategy to provide results, it’s very important to carefully define your customers’ profile and identify which of them are truly interested in the products and services you’re offering.

Some users aren’t ready to close a deal yet or have no interest in your solutions. In other words, investing your efforts in them can be costly and inefficient.

But don’t think that only new businesses need to prospect for customers. Even successful companies have this process in their schedule.

This is because, in the business world, you can’t rely solely on the customers you already have. And if they are no longer the company’s customers, revenue can drop.

In this sense, keeping the sales funnel fed with new leads through customer prospecting is essential.

Who should prospect for customers?

Because this process is closely linked to a company’s sales, many people believe that the person responsible for prospecting customers should be the salesperson. 

However, when we talk about prospecting, we’re referring to initial contact with the customer. In other words, a very delicate moment that can define the impression they’ll have of your company.

If this first contact isn’t planned carefully so as to deliver a positive experience, this lead might never contact the brand again.

So you can see that customer prospecting is a job that must begin well before the sale, right?

This is what we call brand awareness. People need to get to know your brand and be enchanted by the solutions you present and then make the decision to buy.

In order for this step to be performed well, and bring the desired results, it’s important that the person responsible for it knows your business in-depth. 

During the pre-sales stage, customers should be introduced to your company in the most comprehensive and positive manner possible. It’s important that they identify valuable opportunities that add value.

Of course, the salesperson can also perform this duty. But believing that it’s only the salesperson who must prospect new customers can make you miss precious opportunities during the phase of delighting potential customers.

Therefore, invest in customer-prospecting strategies from people’s very first contact with your company. 

What is a sales funnel?

We can’t talk about customer prospecting without mentioning the sales funnel. What is the concept of a sales funnel, anyway? Well, it’s a strategic model capable of showing the journey taken by a customer until the sale is made – starting with the first contact with the brand.

In other words, this pipeline is the representation of the customer’s path until the purchase is made – and in some cases, beyond it. The process leads the customer from the moment they become familiar with the solution offered by a brand.

Don’t forget that this entire path up to the purchase is not uniform. In other words, there are certain stages that reveal how close a person is to make a purchase. Besides the discovery, there’s the consideration of the solution, the decision to buy, and sometimes, customer loyalty.

Prospecting comes in when a sales funnel assists in the first contact with the potential customer. At the same time, prospecting allows you to keep the funnel always fed with new leads.

Why is it important to have a sales funnel?

As you can see, the main goal of prospecting is to insert new customers into your company’s sales funnel.

And in order for this process to be successful, it’s necessary to identify where each lead is in the purchase journey.

A consumer who’s still discovering that they have a pain isn’t ready to close a deal, for example. This way, you can target offers that are more assertive to the audience that already demonstrates they are ready to buy.

In this sense, it’s important to understand the 3 stages of the sales funnel.

Top of the funnel

People at this stage haven’t discovered that they have a problem yet. Therefore, there’s no point in trying to sell your product without first making them aware of their needs.

You must pique the curiosity of these users and make them recognize problems that they hadn’t realized yet. 

To this end, investing in educational content with clear and accessible language is the best approach for this audience. 

The better this first contact is, the more chances these people have to advance to the next stages in the funnel and become customers. In other words, pay careful attention to this stage for the good prospecting of potential buyers.

Middle of funnel

At this stage, users have already recognized that they have a problem and are interested in finding solutions for it. 

Here, you can present your product as an option, but remember that the lead isn’t ready to close the deal yet.

This is the time to offer more information, to convey trust, security, and to get closer to users.

Additional technical content explaining possible solutions for these users’ problems is ideal in order to delight them.

Bottom of funnel

It’s time to invest in content that is more direct and show your business’ unique features in relation to the competition.

Bottom of funnel leads are at the buying decision stage. Therefore, unlike the previous stages, you can talk directly about your product. 

At this stage, you don’t run the risk of “scaring off” the customers, because they will already be ready for this kind of approach.

Thus, this is the ideal time to make an offer that leads these users to the sales page.

How does lead scoring help in prospecting new customers?

Do you know what lead scoring is?

A method scores your company’s leads according to their potential to make a purchase.

This score is assigned based on the comparison of these users with the brand’s persona. The more similar these profiles are, the higher the lead’s score, and the better prepared they’ll be to become a customer.

In addition to the profile, lead scoring also considers every user interaction with the brand, such as accessing the blog, downloading rich materials, or subscribing to a newsletter.

Thus, a “hot” lead with a high score is someone who has a profile similar to your ideal buyer and shows interest and engagement with the brand.

This strategy allows you to identify which users are most likely to do business with your brand and which ones still need to be nurtured.

The sales team can use this information to contact only hot leads, and no longer waste time with unqualified leads.

What’s the difference between active and passive prospecting? 

Before we get into the subject about the differences between active and passive prospecting, we should understand the concept of each one, don’t you agree? Well, both are part of a communication strategy with the objective of sounding out, studying, and creating a connection with the customer. 

However, many businesses fail when it comes to prospecting, simply because they’re unaware of the existence of these two forms of contacting the consumer. 

Therefore, let’s get to the definitions! Active prospecting is a process aimed at finding leads for the business. In other words, the professional responsible for prospecting needs to actively search for ideal customers. 

This search can occur through various channels, depending on where consumers are located. Generally speaking, active prospecting has routes, such as cold calls, emails, door-to-door, and others. 

An interesting point of active prospecting is the speed of response. In other words, it’s possible to contact customers quickly, and at the same time, the customer’s response also occurs quickly.

Passive prospecting, on the other hand, waits for the consumer’s initiative, but this doesn’t mean that a brand should sit back and wait for customers to contact it. In fact, in this form of customer prospecting, the sales and marketing departments need to create strategies together in order to attract the best leads.

One of the advantages of adopting a passive strategy is that customers already come into contact with the business knowing what they want. Based on this, the brand must make an effort to convince them that its solution is the ideal one for making a purchase. 

The great allies here are the social media and the institutional website, because it’s through them that a consumer searches for information about a product or service. 

So far, you’ve learned about a few differences between active and passive prospecting, right? Later on, we’ll talk about the specifics of such prospecting, such as inbound sales. 

Inbound

Inbound is synonymous with passive prospecting, and as we mentioned earlier, this strategy requires that customers go after the business through efforts to attract them. In fact, the four pillars of inbound sales are attraction, conversion, sale, and enchantment.

In the first stage, the goal is to obtain qualified traffic to the brand’s channels. In other words, make unknown users become regular visitors by offering relevant content in exchange for their personal information. 

During conversion, the goal is to transform such visitors into qualified leads, turning them into real sales opportunities. 

The sale is the right stage for closing the sale after nurturing the leads generated during the previous stages. Enchantment is a new stage aimed at delighting the customers who have made the purchase – the goal here is to turn them into a brand promoter in order to attract more people to your business. 

Outbound

Outbound, on the other hand, is characterized by active prospecting and approaches customers with the ideal profile. There are several ways of carrying out an outbound strategy, not being restricted only to telemarketing. Other ways include the following:

  • Billboards and banners
  • Radio, TV, and YouTube ads
  • Facebook Ads and Google AdWords

This category has several advantages, such as a faster ROI, because outbound can reach the brand’s audience from the moment it decides to prospect, while inbound SEO has a medium to long-term return. 

Besides, the results are easily measurable, something that helps in the decision-making process. 

Another issue is the facility of finding professionals in the area, since prospecting actively is a traditional sales method that has existed for millennia.

Prospecting by referrals

Consider this situation: each of your customers refers a new customer to make a purchase with your business. Wouldn’t that be ideal? That would double your number of customers and your revenue. 

In fact, this is the main goal of referral prospecting, or word-of-mouth marketing. But this doesn’t mean waiting around for your customers to recommend you. You have to take action to instigate this action. 

A good idea, for example, would be to send an email announcing a benefit program through referrals. This way, those who refer a customer can win discounts and exclusive giveaways from your business.

In other words, the brand establishes actions to influence the occurrence of referrals. 

Prospecting through partnerships

This customer-prospecting model is a little different from everything we’ve talked about so far. In other words, you use partnerships with other brands to sell your product, generating a commission from this partnership. 

Using prospecting through partnerships might be more advantageous for certain businesses that are unable to expand their commercial sectors, for example. In addition, partnerships are a great help for products that require greater complexity in order to sell. 

With this, the investment that would be earmarked to prospecting strategies by the commercial team, can be used to establish a relationship network with other brands. 

However, remember that it’s important to choose partners considering your target audience and niche.

Step-by-step process for effective sales prospecting

Now that you know the importance of the process of prospecting for potential customers, here is a step-by-step guide for you to build your strategy.

1. Conduct a market research

For starters, carefully research the market in which you operate.

Studying your competitors in depth allows you to better understand your business’ strengths and weaknesses. In addition to discovering which audience demands are not being met.

By identifying gaps in your niche, you can work to make your product fill these gaps and stand out from the competition.

In other words, it isn’t necessary to offer a completely innovative product. All you need to do is present a solution that the market lacks in order to create a major competitive edge.

2. Think about the solutions your product offers

In order to sell your product, you need to think about the solutions it offers to consumers. 

It’s important to know that people don’t buy something just because it’s innovative, of high quality, or because it’s trending. Consumer behavior has changed and today, they need to recognize the advantages they’ll obtain when buying a product.

Therefore, in order to obtain results, it’s essential that you offer more than just a product to be bought. You need to provide answers to your audience’s problems.

To get people to identify the benefits of becoming a customer of your business, you can adopt a few strategies. We’ll mention some of these actions so you can understand them better.

3. Create a blog

A blog is an excellent channel for you to share content, educate your audience, and attract customers.

Invest in educational posts that answer your audience’s questions, especially to break down the objections of users who are at the top of the sales funnel. 

Think about topics that are related to your product and the niche in which you operate, and that are interesting to the people who have the potential to become your customers.

By providing quality service to users, you allow them to recognize your authority on the subject, connect the information presented to their own reality, and identify problems that can be solved precisely by your product.

(You don’t know how to start a blog? Check out our post that teaches you step-by-step instructions on how to create your blog).

4. Create a YouTube channel

Having a YouTube channel is another strategy for prospecting customers and, like the blog, helps educate your audience.

Besides being a simple and inexpensive means of communicating with people, video content is easily consumed by the audience, which can help you reach a larger number of customers.

Offering short solutions in YouTube videos makes people identify the advantages they will obtain when they buy your product. 

Therefore, invest in attractive content, such as tutorials, demonstrations, and samples of what your product can solve.

And don’t think that this type of content is only useful for those at the top of the funnel. Leads that are more qualified can also benefit from livestreams or content that is more technical.

5. Develop rich materials

Distributing rich materials is another way of nurturing the relationship with your customers.

You can create ebooks and infographics, for example, with topics relevant to your market so that the audience gets to know and identify with your brand. 

The more quality content you can deliver to people for free, the more open they’ll be to your future approaches.

In addition, rich materials are great for increasing brand authority. After all, with this type of content, you can offer more in-depth and useful information to your audience.

Would you like to become a benchmark in your niche?

Check out the tips Thais has left in a video from our Hotmart Tips series:

6. Offer the right content

There’s no point in creating various types of content if it doesn’t reach the right people, and especially at the right time.

Therefore, before you start sending free content to everyone who has shown interest in your brand, think again about the sales funnel stage.

For leads that are at the top of the funnel, invest in blog posts and articles, introductory e-books, and videos with simple, practical solutions.

The important thing is to offer less specific content, since at this stage, you’re still just piquing people’s interest.

Those in the middle of the funnel are looking for the best solutions to a problem they’ve already identified. Therefore, the ideal is to invest in content that clarifies doubts and solves their objections.

Case studies, customized newsletters, tools that offer simple solutions, and free diagnostics are a few examples.

For the bottom of the funnel, the potential customers already know that they have a problem and that your business offers the perfect solution to solve it.

At this point, you can offer product comparisons, success stories, or a free trial of your product, which can be decisive in closing the purchase.

Knowing your customer well makes it easier to develop the ideal content for each stage and increase conversions.

7. Use social media

Be present on social media, especially in those that are mostly accessed by your persona.

Keeping your profiles up to date and sharing content that is relevant to your audience helps you prospect customers and understand their preferences.

One of the positive points of social media is that they allow you to communicate and interact with your audience. 

This strategy facilitates the recognition of your authority within the niche in which you operate, and allows you to create a recurring relationship with your potential customers.

But be careful not to create profiles on every social network available! Think about the ones that your potential customers use the most and focus on them. One tip is to base it on your persona’s browsing behavior.

Maintaining an active profile on various social networks is a difficult task, especially if you work alone. After all, just creating your company’s page isn’t enough; you need to keep it active with posts and interaction with your audience.

8. Ask for social proof 

No one is better suited to promote your product than a customer who has already bought from you, right?

People are much more likely to trust a business after knowing that a friend or acquaintance has had a good experience. 

Creating share buttons on a post and asking your customers to rate their experience are some of the ways to expand your brand’s reach. 

If your customers are satisfied with your product or service, they won’t hesitate to refer you to people they believe will also benefit from it.

Another interesting way to do this is to record testimonials from people who have had good experiences buying your product and insert them on your sales page. This helps increase engagement and encourage new buyers.

Thus, when someone has doubts about whether or not to buy your product, they can see the benefits of the purchase from someone who already has access to what you’re offering.

9. Keep in touch with your customers

By prospecting customers, you can discover a base of people who show interest in your business, be it through social media profiles, emails, blog, and even a YouTube channel.

Keeping in touch with these users facilitates engagement with your brand and increases the chances that they’ll feel secure to make a purchase. 

This technique is known as lead nurturing and works as an incentive for that potential consumer to move forward in the buying journey.

One of the possibilities to nurture these contacts is to create an email list. Through it, you can forward periodic information and keep them engaged with your business. 

This is also a great way to keep communicating with those who have already bought your product and are therefore more likely to make a new purchase.

By keeping in touch with customers and people who are still getting to know your brand, you show that you care about them and want their experiences with your product to be the best possible.

10. Conduct tests 

The techniques used, even if they have been based on a customer survey, won’t always bring the desired effects within the stipulated period. 

Don’t be discouraged by these difficulties. Always seek to improve your strategies to be increasingly assertive in your actions.

When you think of giving up, remember that people aren’t always ready for what you’re offering at that very moment. But in the near future, they may recognize a new problem and look up your business again.

So be patient and dedicate yourself to understanding the reasons that are hindering customer prospecting, and then make the necessary optimizations.

11. Analyze your actions

To know the results of the strategies you’re using in your customer prospecting, analyze the results of all your actions.

Especially in the early days of a business, when you still don’t know what works well, it’s common to test various ways of approaching and contacting customers. 

Measuring the results of all the strategies used is the way to help you understand what generates the most audience engagement and, consequently, increases the number of sales.

Tools like Google Analytics, for example, can help you identify the origin of your results.

Best prospecting methods and techniques

Having a well-structured customer prospecting process isn’t as difficult as it sounds. But you have to be careful and avoid improvisation.

In this sense, knowing some of the main prospecting methods can help you choose the most appropriate approach for your business.

Below, you’ll find a few processes you can use to contact potential consumers:

Commercial Intelligence

Commercial intelligence is one of the most important activities within a customer prospecting process.

It consists of capturing and analyzing data about all the elements that influence the business to plan strategies that are more efficient.

This data helps outline the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), which gathers the characteristics that define the customer profile that is most interested in the company’s products and services.

With the ICP, the business intelligence team is able to generate lists of qualified leads, which are more likely to close deals.

Cold Calling

Cold calling is perhaps the most traditional method for prospecting new customers.

This sales tactic consists of contacting leads by phone calls. And, from there, identify the needs of this customer and collect information to find out whether or not they qualify as a potential customer.

Although it may seem like an invasive method, it’s quite effective, especially if you can draw the potential customer’s attention to the value of the solutions you offer.

But be careful! Don’t confuse cold calling with telemarketing. The goal here is not to force the sale of a product or service. It’s an initial contact with the lead, to direct them to get to know and approach the company.

Cold Mailing

Finally, there’s cold mailing. And as the name suggests, this customer prospecting strategy consists of contacting users by email.

This type of approach is considered less invasive than a phone call attempt since the prospect can read and respond to the message whenever they want and are able to.

In addition, it allows you to blast many messages, speeding up the work.

However, with inboxes becoming increasingly crowded, you need to grab the user’s attention with personalized, creative messages that offer value.

Keep improving your customer support

When you prospect for customers, you must be prepared to lead them to the next stage of the buying journey until they actually make a purchase. 

After getting to know your customers in detail and piquing their interest in the solution you have to offer, it’s time to start the sales process.

This transition also deserves your full attention and care. If it isn’t planned or executed properly, it can ruin all the work you have put into prospecting those potential buyers.

Therefore, to make the buyer’s journey complete, make sure you check out our tips on how to make your first sale online.