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The art of prospecting – creative ways to hit your biz dev targets

Posted on: July 7, 2021

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Category: B2B marketing

The art of prospecting – creative ways to hit your biz dev targets

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Prospecting gets a bad rap.

Sitting, sometimes uncomfortably, between sales and marketing – and often being kicked around like a political football or thrown about like a hot potato – prospecting is a job that rarely gets the love it deserves.

Admittedly, it can be tough to prospect.

Every year we seem to be competing against more sellers who are sending more messages.

HubSpot’s Industry Benchmark Data reveals that since January of 2020, sales email sends are up roughly 62%. (With the small matter of a pandemic to factor in, too).

 Sends may be up but response rates are down by almost 30 percent.

Prospecting is tough – and it’s getting tougher.

But we’re not here to pile on the doom and gloom. We’re here to bring good cheer.

We’ve herded our sales team into a think tank and siphoned off every last drop of creativity that we could find.

And it has been worth it: the juice extracted is the real amber nectar.

Never again will you groan at the prospect of prospecting.

Here are some insanely actionable, creative ways to prospect.

Have fun!

Get creative #1: Get referrals

Before we dive in to the ideas, here’s a quick reality check on why referrals are so important.

And yet, 40% of salespeople rarely ask for a referral.

Let’s find some ways to make getting high-converting prospects from referrals a bit easier.

Idea #1: Find referral partners

Work out which related-but-not-competing services are also required by your B2B target market.

  • Accountants may identify financial advice from an IFA, sales/marketing support or management training.
  • Marketing consultants may zoom in on market research, digital marketing specialists or branding and design experts.

By reaching out to these businesses you can either agree a tit-for-tat number of leads to provide for each other or settle on a commission-based approach.

Get really friendly with your partners and you can start hosting events or webinars together.

Idea #2: Scratching backs

It’s the blindingly obvious things that we so often miss:

The best way to get referrals is to ask for them – and the best time to ask is after a positive experience.

There is something else you can do, however, to increase the chances of receiving referrals – and this is to make sure you are a habitual referrer yourself.

Never miss an opportunity to mention a customer’s business in a positive light – make sure your contacts mention who sent them (or, better still, make the introduction yourself).

Idea #3:

A great way to warm up referrals before you even speak to them is by designing your own ‘introductions’ landing page.

Your customers and contacts can use this to forward you referrals.

Keep all the info really top line (just as you would in a prospecting email) but here’s the trick – personalise the page by adding a short video in which you explain why you are passionate about your offering and a couple of fun, humanising facts.

Finally, in case the prospect’s details have not been shared, include a strong call to action and offer valuable content in exchange for their name and email.

Get creative #2: Repurpose subject lines

How many newsletters have your marketing team sent out?

It’s a rhetorical question – no need to find out. However, you can bet your bottom dollar that they are analysing each subject line to see what works best.

Why not review their top performers and ‘borrow’ the subject lines for your next prospecting mails?

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

Get creative #3: Get visual

We are unabashed lovers of the plain text prospecting email.<link to plain text blog>

But – on occasion – we like to mix things up and add a visual element to our emails. Particularly if used in conjunction with humour and as part of a last-ditch attempt at contacting via a chaser.

Images can make people laugh – and they can make your email memorable.

They can also provoke a response – which is exactly what we’re after.

This one:

Received this response:

Steve. First, I was busy. Then you irritated me. Then you made me laugh. So, let’s speak sometime next week or the week after. Best wishes, Matt

And this one:

Got this response:

‘Give me a call Friday made me laugh – Barbara’

And all these visual thoughts lead us to…

Get creative #3: Get video

How effective would it be if you sent your prospects a quick explainer video that contained personalised fields just like your emails have?

Well, they’d average being between 2 – 5 times more effective than other ways of prospecting.

But, wouldn’t personalized videos take forever to produce and really eat into my budget?

Well, not any more.

Check out the service that Hopper can offer you.

Get creative #4: Get posting

It is estimated that the average professional receives 121 emails every working day.

This means to cut through the noise you are going to have to work really hard.

So, why not try:

  • A direct mail campaign running parallel with your email outreach
  • A hand-written note going out to your top prospects

Or, indeed, any combination of DM and email that you fancy?

The fact is, that while social and email are very busy spaces, our physical mailboxes have been given a rest. So, you can stand out easier by doubling up on your contact channels.

Get creative #5: Get social

Groups are an excellent way to prospect, whether you join in the fun online at LinkedIn or attend in-person meets (remember them?)

Make sure though that you are a real joiner rather than a vulture. Groups work best for those who work for them – so, show up to gatherings/post regularly.

Why not offer to speak at an event or organise a webinar?

Prospects will be much more likely to remember and trust you – which are a couple of big hurdles leaped.

Never try and pitch too early – join conversations first.

Get creative #6: Get them reading

Here’s an idea that combines two of the DM campaigns suggested above – namely, send a handwritten note and send a high-end, highly-personalised direct mail to selected prospects you have identified as a key target.

It requires a fair deal of background research.

Basically, for each prospect you identify a book that you think they’ll love and that your service answers.

Now pop it in the post along with a handwritten note saying, ‘I’ve found this really useful in dealing with X. Hope you do too.’

If it is sent tracked, you’ll know they have received it and can send a mail looking to schedule a call to discuss.

A marketing agency employed a variant of this tactic very successfully. They actually wrote and published their own 200-page book about how to promote your cosmetic surgery practice online yourself.

This was followed by a prospecting campaign aiming to have got surgeons interested in marketing online but wanting an agency to handle things for them.

Of course, the experts were right on hand when needed.

Get creative with your prospecting

Whether it’s the way you communicate, what you communicate or how you communicate, there are plenty of ways you can stand out from a busy crowd.

You just need to start thinking creatively and differently.

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