Intelligent prospecting: ten strategies to increase your sales

Kit Smith

Posted on: April 1, 2022

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Category: Prospecting

Intelligent prospecting: Ten strategies to increase your sales

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We’ve reviewed over 32 million prospecting emails and distilled what we have learnt into ten strategies that will make your prospecting more powerful.

In this guide we’ll take you from the prospecting data you use through to the landing page and from deliverability to persuasive replies.

The smart money is on intelligent prospecting: get yourself tooled up here.

What is intelligent prospecting?

Intelligent prospecting is simply sales outreach that uses smart tools and techniques to boost results. It improves your ability to identify your ideal prospects, optimise your engagement, and maximise the success of your outreach.

By continually monitoring your results, you can iteratively amend tactics to focus on high-value prospects and optimise each stage of your prospecting process to create more, and better, sales opportunities.

Intelligent prospecting with email

In this guide, we focus on intelligent email prospecting. We do that for three reasons:

  • Email reaches decision-makers like no other channel
  • It drives higher ROI than any other channel (see our report)
  • We’re experts in email marketing!

We’ll reveal the intelligent sales prospecting tips and strategies that will work for you – and we’ll share the data that proves it.

Ten ways you can make your prospecting more intelligent 

Here are the ten strategies that you can use right now to make your prospecting more intelligent. 

They will take you from the start of your prospecting process – as you source data for your campaign – to the very end – as you apply new lessons learnt to your future campaigns.

Source live data

Prospecting data is a dish best served piping hot.

If you buy lists of B2B data, rather than sourcing it fresh, you quickly find that its shelf life is very short.

Within just 18 months, at least half of any B2B data that you purchase will be incorrect.

The facts and figures explain why this happens but the end result is that you risk damaging…

  • Your deliverability score
  • Your cost per contact reached
  • Your success rates
  • Finding prospects for outreach who have not already been approached multiple times

Intelligent prospecting takeaway:

A lot happens to B2B data in four years. Keep your data as fresh as a daisy. Read our guide to building the perfect prospect list here.

Optimise deliverability

The technical details of email deliverability might just cure your insomnia. But it’s really not something you should be sleeping on.

It’s a whole – very technical – can of worms, and if you like technical worms you can read about them in our (comprehensive) guide to deliverability.

Even with great contact data, get deliverability wrong and you risk being blacklisted. 

  • Your mail server account could be suspended
  • Your company’s domain could be shut down
  • And then you’re left prospecting by snail mail or carrier pigeon and let me tell you, the results are not good

For the non-technical, here are the factors to look out for:

Domain and IP reputation

Sounds technical already. 

But basically, at the heart of deliverability lies your sender reputation or how much you are trusted to not look like a spammer. 

Have a good reputation and your emails land in the inboxes. This builds up over time, so always be on your best behaviour.

Email engagement

How do people respond and engage with your emails? 

How many open them and click on links? How many unsubscribe, mark them as spam, delete them without reading?

All of this counts towards your rep. 

Email content

This one’s fairly easy to solve. Read our golden rules of writing prospecting emails, or our guide to cold email copywriting. Then get your quill out.

Invalid email addresses

I think we’ve been here before… make sure you have great prospecting data.

Intelligent prospecting takeaway:

Either get some clever technical IT developer types to work on your DNS, DKIM, SPF, ESP, ISP, and MX records, or get some outreach sales professionals to do it for you (*cough* Sopro *cough*)

Be human

The next sales intelligence tool thankfully requires no technical skills at all.

It is simply this: 

The best thing you can do when writing your prospecting email is to be human.

Don’t be a salesperson. Don’t go all-in on the marketing speak. Instead, try and sound as if you are a human contacting a human. Just for a quick chat.

Your prospect is not just a job title: they are a human being and will respond to messages that treat them as one.

That’s why a conversational tone works best.

Intelligent prospecting takeaway:

Get the lowdown on boosting your response rate by writing great prospecting copy here.

Don’t throw in the kitchen sink

We’ll keep this one short – which is exactly what you should do when writing prospecting emails. 

We are all chronically short of time. Make your email easy by getting straight to the point. 

No details. No lists of features. Your only goal here is simple – to excite enough interest for your prospect to agree to a quick chat.

For your prospecting email this means:

  • Stick to a short word count – around 150-words
  • Avoid jargon and use short words – easier to read
  • Keep your paragraphs short – easier to scan
  • Employ a short and sweet structure – four short paragraphs

Intelligent prospecting takeaway:

There’s data behind all of our recommendations. We outline our findings and best practices in our post ‘Go short or go home’.

Ask for just one thing

Adding links to case studies, videos or brochures feels like the right thing to do. After all, this sales and marketing collateral has taken a lot of work to produce and it’s designed to wow your prospects into action.

But intelligent sales prospecting realises that less is more. 

Securing a conversation with your sales team – in person or over the phone – is much more valuable than convincing someone to read your marketing collateral.

Intelligent prospecting takeaway:

Before inserting an attachment or link, ask yourself: would it be better to tell them this in person or for them to read it?

Never stop learning

Successful prospecting campaigns come from continually tweaking and improving. At Sopro, we’ve taken years of learning, thousands of campaigns and millions of emails to get where we are today.

Luckily, you don’t need to set up your own outreach email company in order to learn the same lessons.

We’ve published them all in The State of Prospecting 2022. It spills all of our secrets, from the best time to send emails, to which job titles to target, to the perfect email content.

Of course, you can always give us a shout and we’ll apply every one of them to your next campaign.

Intelligent prospecting takeaway:

Download The State of Prospecting 2022 – and find out how to get more from your email lead generation campaigns.

Optimise landing pages

Prospecting delivers more benefits than just the emails you get from people wanting to know more about your company. One of these is a significant spike in traffic to your website. 

To take advantage of this, make sure the link in your footer points to an optimised page.

This page should make it easy for prospects to find out more about your product or service. It should help move them along their sales journey with you.

Analysis of our campaigns tells us that 31% of all prospects who open your email will visit your website. So, it’s important that your landing page is primed for conversion.

Intelligent prospecting takeaway:

At least a third of the prospects who open your email will head to your company’s website. Make sure they see what you want them to see!

Send chaser emails

Amazingly, sales reps only follow up 30% of unanswered sales emails.

And yet three-quarters of prospecting responses are generated by follow up emails.

This has been the case for years, as our State of Prospecting report shows:

As you can see, the second and third email really drive the results. Intelligent sales prospecting doesn’t give up at the first hurdle.

Intelligent prospecting takeaway:

Your lead rate will be much lower than it could be without chaser emails. You can see how to write them in our step-by-step guide.

Reply quickly, reply well

If you’ve followed our eight steps so far, the replies are probably flying in. 

But you’re busy: nurturing leads, closing sales, and generally being an absolute sales legend. It won’t matter if you leave the reply until this afternoon, right?

Actually, the sooner you respond, the more likely you are to get a positive response. 

How soon is soon? Never leave a prospect waiting for more than an hour.

A quick response means you pick up the conversation while it’s at the forefront of their mind, and shows that they are important to you.

What about the replies that say “no thanks”? 

Do sales reps throw the towel in as soon as an objection is raised? 

Of course not, so it should be no different to how you handle a reply like this. Your reply shows that:

  • This was a one-to-one communication rather than a mailshot
  • You appreciate the time they have taken to consider your proposal
  • You understand their reason for not pursuing a conversation but…

Here’s the hard data:

We convert 13% of our polite declines into positive leads. 

Intelligent prospecting takeaway:

Always reply immediately to prospect’s emails, even if they say ‘thanks, but no thanks’.

Intelligent learning

So, there you have it: nine fairly simple ways to bring a little intelligence to your prospecting.

We’ve taken you from finding your prospects to converting them into leads, but there’s one more piece of smart learning that you should always apply to your prospecting campaigns.

And that, quite simply, is to continue to learn from your successes, take note of your failures and always apply any new intelligence you gain to every prospecting campaign.

We’ve shared a lot of our hard-won insight in the data that informs our State of Prospecting report.

But knowledge is not finite.

Keep learning, keep applying your learning and keep generating more new business.

Over to you!

Or, if you’d like to make this really easy, why not come over to us and we’ll apply the intelligence from 25 million prospecting emails to your outreach.

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