The Revival of Sales Prospecting

by in Marketing

bookThere’s much debate about what contributed to the demise of Willy Loman, the traveling salesman in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman”. Ridden with feelings of guilt, failure, and glum, it’s clear he failed to meet his own expectations. But, to be fair, he wasn’t all to blame. He was deprived of effective tools for sales prospecting. Targeted emailing, marketing campaigns, and social media were foreign concepts at the time.

On a positive note, much progress has been made since the late 1940’s. And what’s more? Much is on the horizon in terms of new trends that will have a massive impact on salespeople’s ability to target qualified prospects and move them through the sales cycle. Three notable shifts are unfolding:

1. From offline to online interaction 

It’s not that long ago that reps hinged on phone calling lists to conduct prospect outreach. Times have changed, but proper vetting still remains a challenge. Many reps are drawn to social media. LinkedIn and Facebook are today’s go-to platforms for prospecting. Over the next few years, expect reps to increasingly turn to Twitter. According to studies, B2B companies that leverage Twitter obtain twice as many sales leads as their non Tweeting counterparts). Also expect to see companies adopt new tools to supplant their prospecting efforts such as social media mention tools that pinpoint when prospects mention or comment on a brand. You can be sure that the most effective reps will dabble with ephemeral messaging apps such as Snapchat. Already, ephemeral messaging has proven effectiveness in heightening brand engagement.

2. From one-size-fits-all to personalization

Even today, 42% of sales teams feel they don’t have the right information before making a sales call. Thanks to the proliferation of big data and advancements in web crawling technology, reps are quickly being inundated with information about prospects. In upcoming years, there will be even more sophistication with respect to actionable data. At Node, we’re already helping our customers combine multiple data sources such as firmographic and demographic data, social network footprints, and behavioral data to populate account details with critical arsenal. Our customers are then able to craft messages that truly resonate with prospects and ensure that sales prospecting communications are deeply personal.

3. From “spray and pray” to predictive

57% of buyers have already made a buying decision before engaging with a rep. Over the next few years, sales reps will increasingly turn to machine learning to gather sophisticated market signals that indicate changes in buying propensity. Doing so will eliminate much of the guesswork out of prospecting and help sales reps effectively zero in on when prospects are moving along the sales funnel. Empowered by this new enchantment, sales reps will inevitably shift focus from inbound to outbound sales.

Today’s Willy Lomans of the world are on the cusp of a new reality. If there are any playwrights whose ambition is excited by the shifts outlined above, the time is ripe to start working on a sequel to “Death of a Salesman”. 

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About The Author

Rebecca Hinds
Rebecca Hinds - View more articles

Rebecca Hinds graduated from Stanford University in 2014 with a M.S. in Management Science and Engineering. In 2013, Rebecca co-founded Stratio, a semi-conductor company developing infrared sensors. The company was selected by the Kairos Society as one of the 50 most innovative student-run businesses in the world.