Prospecting is critical to any salesperson’s success. Unfortunately, you likely spend too little time doing it between all your other responsibilities. According to research, a sales rep spends just 10.7 hours per week prospecting. With so little time open for this important task, you’ll want to use it wisely. Developing a prospecting plan will help you do that.

What Should a Prospecting Plan Include?

Let’s look at the fundamentals and structure that will provide you a way to streamline and maximize your time.

Define the Ideal Prospect

Not every business in your area is a good fit for you to pursue. To narrow down your list, outline the key attributes that a strong prospect will have. Such a profile could include:

  • Targeting around industry, company size, geography or customer base
  • The current challenges the buyer has regarding advertising spend
  • Goals and motivations of that audience when it comes to advertising

Your ideal client will evolve, so this is something you want to keep updated. You can do that best by looking at your data. What types of accounts are successful? Try to find similar attributes in new advertisers to target.

Create a Qualification Checklist

Once you have your ideal prospect defined, you should develop a qualification checklist. Such a document will help further refine your list of companies worth pursuing. Before deciding to make contact, you can do some early reconnaissance using research tools to scope out the company. For example, if you learn the company is much smaller than your threshold, you may want to cut them from your prospect list.

Tools to use for this include:

  • Owler: A free alternative to Dun & Bradstreet that provides a company profile and lists its competitors
  • Statista: The stats company has a product called Company DB that allows you to search for businesses and obtain key company metrics.

Now that you’ve reduced your list, at least on paper, you are ready to make the first contact. This first interaction is a time to introduce yourself as well as further qualify them as good prospects.

Qualifications for a good prospect can range and change. Consider structuring it around the BANT methodology:

budget
Budget:
Do they have the money to advertise?

authority
Authority:
Is the prospect a decision-maker?

need
Need:
Does the company need advertising solutions?

timeline
Timeline:
Is the need urgent, and do they have a timeline?

Use Your CRM

If your sales team isn’t currently using a CRM, it’s something you should consider to help with managing prospects and customers. Spreadsheets and a Rolodex are not sustainable or scalable as prospecting tools. A CRM centralizes all information in one database. It not only contains contact information but also tracks interactions, organizes notes and more.

Find the Right Contact

Once you have an idea of the companies or types of companies you’d like to prospect, you’ll need to find the right contact. In B2B sales, there is often more than one decision-maker. Depending on the size of the company, that buyer will look different. It could be an owner, marketing director or other leadership role.

You’ll need to do some research to find out who is the best contact. You can do that by:

  • Searching on LinkedIn
  • Using contact finder tools like DatanyzeNorbert or Hunter
  • Viewing associations that your ideal buyer likely belongs to, such as trade or local community business groups

Prioritize the List

After initial research and qualifications, it’s time to prioritize. You can arrange your target list in several ways:

  • Focus on companies with a history of advertising with you that didn’t renew.
  • Pursue newly opened businesses that need a brand boost.
  • Direct your attention toward industries continuing to spend money on advertising.
  • Work on prospects where you have an in. For example, when studying the prospect on LinkedIn, if you have shared connections, you could ask for an introduction.
  • Concentrate on the organizations that likely have the biggest budgets, which you may confirm by company size, their previous ad spend with you, or their advertising footprint (i.e., brands you often see in digital, radio or TV spots).

Learn About the Decision-Maker

Once you have a priority list, it’s time to learn more about your target contact. These are things not obvious by just reading their LinkedIn profile. Here’s where more research tools can give you an advantage.

These resources can help you personalize your pitch:

  • Crystal Knows: This personality detection software analyzes LinkedIn profiles and provides insights on how to approach the buyer.
  • Google Alerts: Set up alerts via Google for the company name or buyer name to ensure you don’t miss any news about the business.

Additionally, visit the company website and social media profiles. Subscribe to their blog if they have one, too. It’s an excellent way to find out what’s happening and what’s important to your prospect.

Craft Your Pitch

It’s time to make contact, and that requires a pitch. You’ll find success when you lead with education and relevancy over a hard-sell approach. With all the information you collected on your target, you can speak to them very specifically about needs and solutions. Here are some tips on creating meaningful touchpoints:

  • Stay relevant and timely: Be prepared to talk about factors impacting their industry and what challenges they have that you can address.
  • Be authentic: When connecting with prospects, be yourself and lead from a place of empathy.
  • Help them; don’t sell to them: What can you say that will resonate with an advertiser that adds value? For example, instead of getting into the weeds about ad units and opportunities, offer them some data points on specific types of advertising like the rise of OTT (over-the-top) consumption if it’s not a channel they’re using. Another idea is to offer a quick evaluation of their current advertising strategies and how they can drive a better return on ad spend (ROAS).
  • Keep it casual: You’re just starting the conversation, so there’s no need for pressure or urgency. Be natural and let rapport grow.

Ready to Develop Your Prospecting Plan?

A prospecting plan is your blueprint for creating new opportunities. Using this structure, you can tailor it specifically to your style and needs. If you want more information on prospecting and research tools, be sure to watch our on-demand webinar, Research Rocks! How to Use Cool Tools for Selling Smarter.