Sales prospecting is probably the most crucial steps in the sales funnel for any organization. Filling pipelines with leads is the focus of all sales teams from big organizations to startups. Any sales manager will tell you that “sales is a number game”, if you don’t have enough leads in your pipeline, you won’t be able to hit your targets. Although so important, many companies still fail at having a structured approach to sales prospecting.
What Exactly Is Sales Prospecting?
Sales prospecting is the act of recruiting or seeking out new customers for a business.
Prospecting is a common role of a salesperson. It is associated with a goal of increasing the customer base of the company and generating new revenue streams. (Reference.com)
Prospecting per se is not the most exciting thing to do as a sales rep. It translates into sitting hours in front of potential leads lists and research contacts. It’s a little bit like a puzzle at the beginning. You start with a piece and no other information. By the time you have finished, you should have a clear image in front of you.
Thanks to the latest technological advancement, some of the manual work has been automated. Today, sales reps have a wide variety of sales prospecting tools available to improve their performance.
How Effective Can Technology Be In Sales Prospecting?
Businesses using automation in this process have seen a 451% increase in qualified leads. Automation, in any field, has seen a steady rise over the past few years. Identifying high-quality leads is a pain point for most businesses. Increasing efficiency in the first step of the sales funnel will consequently increase the capabilities of bringing in more qualified prospects.
Companies that succeed in prospecting will generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% less cost than the competition (Forrester Research). So, if you are getting a lot of no’s, there might be something wrong in your prospecting activity.
Are you willing to take a chance and lose sales opportunities? As a CEO or sales manager, one of your main responsibilities is to provide your team with the best tools to achieve success.
When talking about sales prospecting tools, you can find a lot of options in the market. Here below are the best FREE options for your sales reps to start with and achieve scale at the prospecting game.
Sales Prospecting Tools For Finding Leads
The first step in sales prospecting is to identify the company prospect and gather as much information as you can. Anything related to those companies will help your reps do a better job of reaching out. The below tools will give your team more ways to gather the details needed and create a clearer picture.
Yes, LinkedIn! This is still the first place for any sales rep to look for qualified leads. In case you have the resources, having access to the premium service might actually help your team better. LinkedIn Sales Navigator has interesting features, such as in-depth research and the possibility to save “leads” without adding them to your network – nothing worse to add to your network someone you don’t know with no message attached! Having said this, the free version offers enough for basic sales prospecting activities.
This is an online database of companies in different industries. Important information can be extracted, such as funding, date of establishment, category, and organizational structure. After you have added all the filters you need, you can also export the list to work on it offline. Crunchbase can be used as a further tool to enhance information gathered on LinkedIn, for example, to get a better picture of the company you are about to approach.
Another free database that allows sales reps to find out which technologies prospects are using. Very useful if your company is looking to sell specific tech solutions. What’s best than knowing what software your ideal customer is using? Are they using a competitor’s solution? Your reps will have the advantage of getting insider information on your prospect before the call.
A free database with limited usage. This tool allows your team to get an understanding of what technology has been used to build your prospects’ website (slightly different from Siftery). BuiltWith gives your organization sales intelligence that can be used immediately to shape your sales pitch. NOTE: If you want access to more features, there’s a price planning in place.
Sales Prospecting Tools For Finding Email Addresses
The next step in the prospecting activity is to find the right email address. In some industries, sending cold emails might not be the best approach, but in today busy world, emails tend to be the preferred first point of contact with a prospect. Finding email addresses though is part of the sales prospecting activity your team has to go through.
This tool helps you identify a prospect email address. All you need is a company domain. It used to have a great integration with LinkedIn, unfortunately, that’s not anymore available. Your sales team will get 100 free searches per month. To help build up the confidence of sales reps there’s also a “confidence score” that shows how likely that email address is correct.
This is by far the most accurate tool my team has been using in the past couple of years. The paid version can be integrated with your sales CRM making the data entry part much simpler. There is, however, a free integration with Gmail or Outlook and you can use it, with some limits, before you (if ever) decide to go for the premium service.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator Lite (Rapportive)
Rapportive has been one of the first tools that would track social media accounts to verify someone’s email. In 2012 it was acquired by LinkedIn. The plugin stayed alive for few more years, until last year when it was rebranded as LinkedIn Sales Navigator Lite. The functionalities are the same as before the rebrand.
It’s another email research tool. It gives you access to 50 searches per month for free. It also has a chrome extension to be seamlessly integrated into your working environment. The basic version offers you the possibility to save prospects to a list, to keep everything under control.
Like most of other email finding tools, there is a paid version with more functionalities and a free plugin for your chrome browser that address basic needs. The way Datanize Insider works is pretty straightforward, highlight the prospect name, and boom, you get the email address. Of course, you can also export the information you find for your sales CRM.
This chrome extension helps you find both email addresses and phone numbers with a 97% accuracy! Although the website is particularly targeted for recruiters, your sales team can take advantage of the tools for sales prospecting activities as well. Here’s the website.
This tool aggregates a person’s social media account information and shows them in the sidebar of your browser. It allows you to get more context while preparing for outreach activities. Although interesting, the tool is less friendly than others, asking you to input few email addresses options and then giving you back which one is the most likely to be the correct one.
Sales Prospecting Tools For Email Cadence & Tracking
Once email addresses are found, your team needs to start planning when to send emails. Timing is everything in sales. The best time to send emails is morning and evening, and interestingly enough, there’s no best day.
In case your team operates globally there might be a need for sending emails at different times of the day, perhaps when they are not in the office becomes crucial to reach to prospects. Boomerang has a very limited free account (10 emails per month), but it is widely used and its integration with Gmail makes it extremely easy to use.
This is a good alternative to Boomerang. Gmelius is a complete email management solution for your sales team which adds many new functionalities to your inbox. It is compatible with both Gmail and GSuite. Like many other tools for email cadence, it also tracks emails and has reminders for follow-ups.
ReplyUp sends follow-up emails as regularly as requested. You can send emails directly from inside Gmail or upload lists into ReplyUp and send in bulk. It also has a “tracking email” feature. With the free account, you can send up to 10 emails per month.
MixMax is trying to replacing your company legacy tools by providing one tool for everything you need, analytics, automation and calendaring. It has integration with Gmail, GSuite, Salesforce and soon to Outlook. Your team can schedule meeting directly in the tool, offering options to prospects within the email.
Streak statement is “CRM, inside Gmail”. The tool has a lot of functionalities, some to be used as a CRM, some as an email enhancement for automation, tracking, and mail merging. It also has an iOS app to use it on the go. The free version allows tracking 200 emails per month.
This is yet another tool with a free option (5 emails per day) that allows your team to track and schedule emails as well as creating email templates to minimize efforts and optimize activities. It is integrated with Gmail and Outlook and tracks also any emails your team sense via iOS and Android.
Sales Prospecting Tools For Meetings Setup
The next natural step in your prospecting journey is to get you and the prospect ready for that meeting. Having the right tools to support you in this is crucial, as the pain associated with booking sales meetings is a reality for everyone. That back and forth to find the best time, place or phone number, and finally having the calendar invite sent to the prospect is a long and excruciating way.
When dealing with more than one person, finding the best time for everyone can be very complicated. Rally allows you to create a quick poll for the invitees and let them “vote” for the best date/time.
This tool integrates directly with your calendar. In this way, you can send your availability to prospects via email through a link or embed it on your website (in case that’s part of your strategy). The best thing is that it is integrated with Salesforce, GoToMeeting, Zapier and many more.
This tool also integrates directly in Gmail and Google Calendar, allowing to work from your email with no pain. You can share with your prospects few options and they simply need to select the most suitable for them. Thanks to its integration, once the prospect chooses the date and time, the tool adds it to your calendar.
Who hasn’t used Doodle to schedule a meeting or check availability, especially for a big group? This is a classic! Pretty much everyone I know has used it at least once in their life, which makes it easy and effective. It has integration with your calendar to facilitate even further the usage.
I believe a good combination of the above-mentioned tools will allow your sales team to achieve greater success in sales prospecting. In case you are a salesperson, I suggest to try them all, or as many as you can, until you find the one you like the most. There is no BEST tool (although I have few preferences). The only best tool is the one that helps you achieve success.
Do you have any other suggestions on top of the ones mentioned? What is your preferred tool for sales prospecting? Tell us more in the comment section below.