Cold prospecting: how to approach prospects

Cold prospecting: how to approach prospects

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The basics of cold prospecting, how to do it without being annoying, and best practices for approaching new potential customers.

Imagine this: you’re walking down the street, minding your business, when you spot someone with a clipboard. They make eye contact and now they’re heading straight for you… what do you do? I think most of us would cross the street, avert eye contact or even put in earphones and pretend we’re listening to a podcast. 

A lot of people hate it when a stranger comes up to them and strikes up a conversation. Your first thought is usually, “what do they want from me?” or “what are they selling?”. But that’s definitely not how you want to come off to potential prospects because they will either not reply or shut down the conversation. 

Only 2% of cold calls end up in a sales conversation. So, how can you actually approach cold prospects without them ghosting you? What can you say, and how can you start a sales conversation without just walking up to them in the street?

What is cold prospecting?

Cold prospecting, a type of sales prospecting, refers to reaching out to new potential clients without any prior relationship. That means the prospect has no prior knowledge of your product or service, and you’ll need to spend some time educating them about what your brand does and why it’s better than the others out there. So, it can take more time to convert these prospects than say, a warm or hot prospect. 

What are hot, warm, and cold prospects?

There are three different types of prospects.

  1. Cold prospects are those who have no familiarity with your product or service. They won’t be existing customers. 
  2. Warm prospects are those who have shown some interest or engagement with your product or service.
  3. Hot prospects are those who have demonstrated a high level of interest and are likely to make a purchase soon.

What is the difference between prospecting and cold calling?

When you’re looking at cold prospecting, it’s easy to get mixed up and think it’s the same as cold calling

Cold calling is a sales technique where a salesperson makes unsolicited phone calls to prospects who have not expressed any prior interest in the product or service being offered. Sounds similar to cold prospecting, right? The devils in the details and cold calling is all about calling them on the phone. Cold calling is just one method of cold prospecting. 

92% of consumers think unidentified calls might be fraud, and 79% of unidentified calls go unanswered. So, it might be worth taking a look at the other methods of cold prospecting. 

How to approach cold prospects’ best practices

There are lots of different ways you can approach cold prospects and how you go about it can be make or break. You want to nail down your prospecting process to give your sales reps the best chance of converting those leads when they come in! 

What are the best methods of approaching prospects?

We recently surveyed 359 B2B marketing decision makers to find out more on how people like to be approached. 

A bar chart showing 77% of B2B buyers want to hear from suppliers via email.

As you can see telephone ranked all the way down as one of the least favourite ways to be contacted, in fact four times as many people cited email to cold calling. Word of mouth and in-person events came in second but we know opportunities like that aren’t as frequent or available as email. 

See all our findings in The State of Prospecting 2024

How do you start a conversation with a cold prospect via email?

You want your prospecting activities to be fruitful otherwise you’re just wasting your time – and no one wants to waste time (and money)! So, how can you ensure you’re giving yourself the best chance? 

Before you send an email, you need to make sure you’re targeting the right people. Creating an ideal customer profile can help you narrow down who your target audience is. You can also use our market mapper to get a better idea of who you want to target and start narrowing down the right decision makers.

Do your research. You might be going in cold but you don’t want your prospect to know that. We’ve all been there, when someone comes up and says “Hi Steve!” at a work party and think I’m gonna have to pretend I know this person… If you know a bit about your prospect, they might assume they’ve heard from you before. 

Find out about their:

  • Company: how big is it? How long has it been around?
  • Industry 
  • Job title 
  • Location

Adding these personal touches into your email outreach will make it feel a lot more personal and is more likely to get a response. 

You also want to get an understanding of your prospects’ pain points. This way you can understand what they need and provide value in your email. The best prospecting emails focus on solution selling e.g. honing down on a prospects problem and selling them the solution to that problem. Ask yourself: what does my prospect really need?

And even though this is your initial email, you can still start building a rapport with your prospect. 

Closing a deal is obviously the ultimate goal but you can’t get there unless you add a next step – or in other words, a call to action (CTA) – this is usually to set up a phone call or a short demo. 

Cold prospect email example

Once you know who you’re targeting and why, it’ll be easier to draft a successful email template. 

This is just an example of an initial outreach email. What’s the old saying… if you don’t succeed, try and try again? In fact, at Sopro, we’ve worked out the best amount of times to try is four times – one initial email and three follow up emails. So, if you don’t hear back, don’t stop there, give them another nudge!

Level up your prospecting technique

The best way to prospect is to warm up a cold prospect is to reach out to them on other platforms. Social media is a great tool for cold outreach. LinkedIn Sales Navigator can help you connect with prospects on LinkedIn, and it can be as simple as just viewing a prospects LinkedIn before emailing them so they’ll be familiar with your name and your company. 

What are the best prospecting techniques?

So, to recap our top tips when reaching out to a cold prospect:

  1. Target the right people
  2. Do your research
  3. Offer value
  4. Build a relationship
  5. Add a CTA
  6. Follow up
  7. Reach out on multiple platforms to increase your chances! 

How Sopro can help you nail cold prospecting

Cold prospecting can help your sales team reach their sales goals by providing a reliable flow of leads. Sopro is a B2B sales engagement platform that takes care of the prospecting for you. We get leads into your sales pipeline and supply the tools you need to convert those sales leads. 

Book a demo to find out more. 

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