Understanding how to approach your prospects
Typically, you don’t want to employ a “shotgun approach” when targeting prospects. Instead, stay focused and prepare yourself to take a more “laser beam approach.” That means equipping yourself with knowledge about the prospect’s industry, strategy, and business priorities and understanding the prospect’s organization and role.
The 10-Step Targeting Approach
Following a consistent process is crucial for achieving prospecting success. Consistency ensures that all tasks and activities are standardized and efficient, which can lead to improved productivity, quality control, and customer satisfaction. A consistent process can also be easily replicated, which allows a company to scale its operations and expand its business more efficiently. Furthermore, consistency in the process allows for accurate data collection and analysis, which can be used to make informed decisions and continuously improve the process over time. Additionally, a consistent process helps to establish trust and reliability with customers, as they come to expect a certain level of quality and service from the company. In short, consistency in the process leads to better performance, results, and customer satisfaction.
Here, we provide a 10-step process you can use to target your prospects after researching and understanding their business, goals, and organization to tailor your approach and better assist them.
1. Pick the business challenge or opportunity to focus on.
This is about their potential and not about our Company. What are they likely struggling with? How can you help? There are several ways to identify which possibility to begin with. They are (in no particular order):
- The prospect’s challenge or case that you are the most knowledgeable of and comfortable with;
- As directed by sales leadership to focus on the following:
- The AE’s focus area and possibility/challenge they are most comfortable carrying through the sales process:
- The AE is very knowledgeable in and satisfied with the;
- The highest compensation for the AE;
- Highest velocity through the prospecting and sales process, through to close;
- The AE has the most reference-able customers for;
- Current AE sales contest or promotion for.
- The possibility or challenge that has a recent SDR contest or promotion;
- The company case study or example that has the most reference-able customers in your patch/territory/GEO/Industry;
- The possibility or challenge that you are most passionate about;
Whatever possibility you choose is not the point; the point is that you choose one so you can reduce the number of prospects to a manageable list, and you can spend time working on them because you will have to interact with them about this possibility for 15-20 touches over a long time.
2- Pick a buyer persona
Pick the role, position, and title of the prospect. It may seem obvious to focus on “executives”, but are you comfortable talking with executives or any of the roles, positions, or titles you select? Starting high in the organization is almost always best if you understand the expectations of the role, place, or tag you choose.
Here are some more points to ponder when selecting the best roles, positions, and titles:
– What business needs/requirements do the possibility you picked in step one above solve?
When prospecting at the C-Level, knowing this is fundamental to gaining interest from the C-Level to spend time with you on the phone or via email or voicemail. At any level of leadership, this could be top of mind; at the C-Level, it’s critical because it is key to getting the budget and resources involved for that C-Level to be successful in their role.
Are you aware that the prospect’s organization needs to solve the business problem the product, service, or solution solves?
Is this an industry, geographic, or regulatory problem?
Knowing this can help you group your prospects in the same prospecting campaign, and that will empower you to be able to reach out to more highly qualified candidates in the shortest period giving you more opportunity to get more AE handoff meetings set in a shorter period to be the high performing SDR you want to be.
To view the role profiles we have built, please visit the buyer roles section
3- Select a revenue size for the target company
Pick the annual revenue range of the prospect’s organization you want to target [or budget for the type of product, service, or solution for local, state, and Federal government, along with most not-for-profit educational institutions].
– This one seems simple, and it is not overly complex. Still, it needs to be addressed because knowing the prospect’s revenue [or budget] allows you to estimate the available funds for products, services, or solutions you want to propose. This way, you are not spending your time on prospects that do not have the budget or resources to execute the purchase, deploy the product, service, or solution, or maintain the product, service, or solution ongoing (this is key for our Company because we have a portfolio to offer and every sale to a customer can help or hurt the next opportunity at the same customer).
– The following is a simple, industry-standard analysis of a prospect’s potential budget for a product, service, or solution in our portfolio:
Find their annual revenue via Google Search, Financial websites, the Company’s annual report, or other sources.
Take their yearly income and multiply it by .03
0.03 or 3% is the baseline for the amount of revenue that the prospect’s Company will invest in IT each year, including people, technology, deployment, customization, and ongoing maintenance
To refine this percentage, search the resources mentioned above for a specific number or rate for the prospect’s Company or the average IT budget percentage for companies of their size and Industry;
Take the product, service, or solution you picked in Step 1 and search the resources above to determine the number or percentage of the IT budget you just calculated that the prospect’s Company would invest in for the category of the specific product, service, or solution you are focusing on. If you can’t find the prospect’s exact number or percentage, search for the portion that companies of similar size and Industry spend on the category.
You can find data-rich reports online that provide this type of analysis for various industries, such as the JMark Analysis of IT in the Healthcare Industry, found here. The prospect’s annual and quarterly reports, like this one, are a report found on the internet searching for the largest healthcare companies in the US that provide a lot of the data you need. It shows that as of April 2022, CVS is the largest in the Healthcare industry in the US and includes a summary of CVS:
Now you can dig into the links and find the information you need to complete your analysis to see if CVS fits the profile you are building to identify the highest value prospects for your effort:
There is a lot of data to help determine the budget and spending. It took less than a minute to find and 3 minutes to read, and you can also review it for information about CVS that you can use in your call scripts, voicemail scripts, and email templates that you will leverage for all prospects in the Healthcare Industry. In addition, by reading this information, you will gain more knowledge of the option (CVS in this case) and the healthcare industry in general. This will enable you to group your chances based on Industry and size while gaining knowledge of the Industry’s vernacular, challenges, and state.
To get to the percentage quickly, if you are already knowledgeable of the Industry you are focused on and know the % of revenue for the IT budget, you can search quickly by being very specific. For example, the following was found by searching for ‘how much do hospitals spend on cybersecurity,’ remember, hospitals are a sub-industry of the healthcare industry, so use the information as a guide. It may not strictly apply to the rest of the healthcare industry, but it is valid information. You are using the information to validate prospects and build credibility with the option when you begin executing your Prospecting System, so…
For planning purposes of market, Industry, or Company spending, always use the low end of any range. In this example, use 3% of the 3-6% range because if you focus on the high end, you may overestimate the potential budget and waste your time prospecting into organizations that have no means to pay for your product, service, or solution AND their internal resources for evaluating, purchasing (process), deployment (resources), and ongoing maintenance. Do not believe the adage of ‘selling through or past budget shortages because the company will increase the budget if the need is critical’ – not because the saying is not valid, it’s because for the adage to work, either the prospect’s Company needs to have a critical and unexpected event to cause the board to increase the budget or, if there is no critical event, you and the AE will have to fight hard and long to get to a deal to propose and then it will fall apart or take a year to 18 months to work through the prospect’s budget process.
That will waste all of your time, and you will not be able to focus on opportunities that are more ready to buy sooner. You also risk wasting the AE’s time and effort and, in addition to that costing our company money, you may lose credibility with the AE, and that may cause you issues in getting the AE to approve your S2 credit in the future. Finally, you must remember that building your Prospecting System is to help you save time and effort – yours, the AE’s, and the Companies by developing highly qualified prospects. Filling your funnel with unqualified candidates will only waste your time and effort and delay your getting S2 credit!
If you want more information regarding the product, service, or solution category, you selected for more clarity on the Healthcare Industry vernacular, challenges, and spending. For example, in searching for “Cybersecurity Insights in the Healthcare industry,” you will probably find a lot of reports from reputable sources. You can use those reports to glean more information specific to the selected product, service, or solution category in the Healthcare Industry (and the process in this step may help you decide on the Industry you want to focus on first)
4- Target a company size
- Usually, the more employees, the better, in most cases. However, don’t forget smaller organizations in your patch. They have the same challenges as the more prominent organizations. However, they will have or get the budget they need much more quickly than larger organizations if the product, service, or solution helps them make something, sell something, or mitigate risk, especially if they have regulatory issues that they need to address or a critical/catastrophic event they need help with.
- You can also leverage the minor organizations in your patch to practice your calls, emails, and voicemails– this is much less risky to you and the AE than practicing on your most considerable prospects and ruining a potentially profitable opportunity for the Company.
- His can help you prioritize your prospects into A, B, and C prospects. A’s being the best disunity, B’s being the second basis, the C’s being the third. as you work through your prospecting plan, mix it up and have A’s, B’s, and C’s in your daily call list. Why??? Because you may get faster responses from C’s before B’s and B’s before A’s. It will help you balance out your prospecting day and reprioritize prospects that are either not as qualified as your research uncovered or are ready t forward right away.
5- Select an industry to target
Unless you are assigned to only one Industry, pick a second geography in your patch.
If you can work across industries, then:
– Pick an industry that you are most knowledgeable of;
– Are directed by sales leadership to focus o the following;
– The AE is most comfortable carrying through the sales process with the;
- The AE is very knowledgeable in and comfortable with
- The highest compensation for the AE, if AE compensation varies by Industry
- Emerging markets and new markets the Company is targeting are good examples
- Highest velocity through the prospecting and sales process, through to close
- The AE has the most referenceable customers for
- Current AE sales contest or promotion for
– An industry that has a current SDR contest or promotion;
– An industry in the Company has the most referenceable customers in your patch/territory/GEO;
– An industry that you are most passionate about;
– Use a dartboard and pick one – which Industry you chose is not the point; the point is that you chose one so you can reduce the number of prospects to a manageable list and spend the time working.
Does this approach sound familiar? It probably does; it is the same approach as Step 1, picking the possibility you will focus on.
– Check Point –
You are halfway through building your prospecting approach, probably your first at the company, but maybe you have already attempted to target your buyers.
Perhaps you find this approach a bit challenging. But, if you’re following this approach, have confidence that you are learning a lot about your company’s products, services, and solutions, the industries, and geographies in your patch, and the customer value highly qualified prospects want and need – congratulations to you!
Your reward is a much smoother, less frustrating, and more rewarding prospecting process for you and more handoff meetings and opportunities to work through the sales process to close for the AE. At this point, you have picked the following:
- possibility or business challenge
- the role(s), position(s), and/or title(s)
- the annual revenue range;
- the range of the number of employees; and
- – the Industry or industries you will focus on with this prospecting method that makes the most sense for you and your account team and the shortest time to qualify opportunities
6- Select a business driver
Now you need to research the product, service, or solution you chose in Step 1 for your prospecting approach to identify and thoroughly understand the value of the product, service, or solution to the prospect (and NOT the value to you, the AE, or our Company). Your company’s products, services, and solutions have several value points to research and understand with regard to what your prospect’s organization is trying to achieve.
Business strategies are a company’s overall plans and actions to achieve its goals and objectives. To identify business strategies that lead to specific initiatives, you can use the following steps:
- Understand the company’s overall vision, mission, and goals. This will help you to understand the bigger picture and what the company is trying to achieve.
- Analyze the market and industry trends. This will help you understand the market’s current state and the opportunities and challenges the company faces.
- Identify the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis). This will help you to understand the company’s internal and external factors that can impact its success.
- Identify the company’s target customers and their needs and pain points. This will help you to understand the company’s value proposition and how it can meet the needs of its customers.
- Develop specific initiatives that align with the company’s overall strategy and address the identified opportunities and challenges.
Business drivers are the specific factors or activities that drive a company’s performance and growth. To identify business drivers that lead to company-wide initiatives, you can use the following steps:
- Identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) most important to the company’s success. This will help you understand the factors most critical to the company’s performance.
- Analyze the company’s financial and operational data. This will help you to understand the company’s current performance and identify areas for improvement.
- Identify the company’s key business processes and how they impact performance. This will help you to understand how the company’s internal operations and activities impact its performance.
- Identify the company’s key business partners and how they impact performance. This will help you to understand how external factors such as suppliers, vendors, and customers impact the company’s performance.
- Develop company-wide initiatives that address the identified business drivers and improve the company’s overall performance.
It’s important to remember that the process of identifying the strategies and drivers is not a one-time event but rather a continuous process that must be reviewed and updated regularly to respond to the changes in the market and organization.
7- Make informed assumptions about their environment
Creating an informed assumption and point of view requires objective and critical thinking and combining and interpreting data from multiple sources. Additionally, it’s essential to be aware of the data’s potential biases and limitations and be transparent about them.
Making an informed assumption and creating a point of view to share with executives involves several steps:
- Gather data and information: Collect relevant information from various sources such as industry reports, company financials, customer feedback, and internal data.
- Analyze the data: Use tools such as SWOT analysis, PESTLE analysis, or Porter’s Five Forces to analyze the data and understand the current situation.
- Identify patterns and trends: Look for patterns and trends in the data that can help you understand the underlying issues and opportunities.
- Make an assumption: Based on the data and analysis, assume a particular case’s current situation or potential outcome.
- Validate the assumption: Use additional research and analysis to validate and ensure that the data support it.
- Create a point of view: Based on your assumption, create a point that presents your perspective on the situation and the potential implications for the company.
- Communicate effectively: Present your point of view and the supporting evidence to the executives in a way that is easy to understand and actionable.
- Be prepared to answer questions and provide additional information: Executives may have questions about your assumption or point of view, so provide further information or data to support your argument.
8- Factor in the competition
here are several ways to research your competition, including:
- Analyzing their website and online presence: Look at their products or services, pricing, and marketing strategies.
- Reviewing their social media accounts: See how they engage with customers and what kind of content they share.
- Searching for news articles and press releases about them will give you an idea of their recent activities and any notable events or developments.
- Talking to their customers: Ask for feedback and opinions on their products or services to gain insight into their strengths and weaknesses.
- Spy on their ads: You can use tools such as SEMrush, Ahrefs, or SimilarWeb to spy on their ads, keywords, and backlinks
- Take a look at their reviews: check out their reviews on platforms like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google Reviews, etc.
- Industry reports: Research industry reports and market research studies to better understand your industry’s competitive landscape and trends.
- SWOT Analysis: Create a competitor research overview that includes information on the competitor’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT).
Identifying your competitor’s value proposition can help you understand what sets them apart from other companies in the market and inform your business strategy.
Examples of identifying competitor value propositions include:
- Low prices: Competitors may position themselves as offering lower prices than other companies in the market.
- High quality: Competitors may position themselves as offering higher quality products or services than other companies in the market.
- Convenience: Competitors may position themselves as offering more convenience than other companies in the market, such as home delivery or 24/7 customer service.
- Customization: Competitors may position themselves as offering more customization options than other companies in the market.
- Speed: Competitors may position themselves as offering faster delivery or turnaround times than other companies in the market.
- Innovation: Competitors may position themselves as offering cutting-edge technology, innovative products, or unique services.
- Experience: Competitors may position themselves as having more experience or expertise than other companies in the market.
- Sustainability: Competitors may position themselves as being more environmentally friendly, socially responsible, or ethically conscious than other companies in the market.
It’s important to note that a competitor may have multiple value propositions, and it’s crucial to understand the whole picture to make better decisions.
9- Other areas to focus on
Another focus area overage to build your other areas’ pipeline of highly qualified prospects so you don’t waste your time and energy on unqualified candidates. Let Marketing do that to convert those prospects into highly skilled MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads), sometimes called inbound leads.
Finding qualified leads without the help of a marketing team can be challenging, but there are several strategies that you can use to generate leads on your own:
- Cold Outreach: Reach out to potential leads via email, phone, or direct mail to introduce your products or services.
- Networking: Attend industry events, trade shows, and networking groups to meet potential customers and build relationships.
- Referrals: Ask current customers for referrals and offer incentives for leads that convert into sales.
- Personal Branding: Create valuable, informative content that attracts leads to your website and helps to establish your company as a thought leader in your industry.
- Social media: Use social media platforms to connect with potential customers, share valuable content, and engage with your audience.
- Public Relations: Leverage your company’s news and events to get media coverage and attract leads by posting or re-posting on your social channels
- Give Value: Offer value in exchange for contact information like white papers, ebooks, or webinars.
Keep in mind that each strategy may require some time and effort to get started, but you will have to be persistent and consistent to see results. Also, it’s important to have a lead nurturing and follow-up process in place to move leads through the sales funnel.
10 – Calculate how many prospects you need
Determining the number of prospects you need depends on how many S2 handoff meetings you want to produce. Here is some sales math to help you choose the correct number. Then, we will leverage technology industry norms to walk through the example.
As you track your progress, which you will uncover in a subsequent section, you can replace the industry norms with your actual performance making the number more meaningful. All questions need to be answered for the same period (last month, last quarter, last six months, last year: it doesn’t matter how long the period is, just that all questions are answered for the same period):
– What period are you using for your analysis: _________
– First, determine a self-defined S2 Quota (what’s in it for you):
- how much do you get paid per S2 credit (AE approved): $______
- how much do you want to make from S2 opportunities: $_______
- Divide to determine your, Self-defined S2 Quota. How many S2 opportunities do you need to be approved to achieve your goal: _____
- If your self-defined S2 quota is lower than your quota from your leadership, you may want to rethink your self-defined allocation.
– Second, determine your S2 Close Rate (# of handoff meetings per S2 Credit):
- how many handoff meetings have you set up for the AE and the handoff meeting occurred: _________
- how many handoff meetings have you set up with the AE that got approved by the AE for S2 credit: _________
- It doesn’t matter if you have been paid for it yet or not, only that it has been approved, and you will get paid for it you got paid in the same period
- Divide to determine your S2 Close Rate: ________%
– Third, determine your Meaningful Conversation Conversion Rate (# of meaningful conversations per handoff meeting)
- How many meaningful conversations did you have with highly-qualified prospects, not including handoff meetings with the AE, during the period that you are using for this analysis: _______
- A meaningful conversation is when you discuss with the prospect their business, their business needs, and business processes and ask questions from the questions section., The option provides valuable answers that help you qualify what you researched about them, their business, and their Industry.
- A meaningful conversation is not when you ask for time to discuss with the prospect; they hang up on you, tell you that they do not have time to talk, or consult the weather, sports, or other non-business related topics.
- How many handoff meetings have you set up for the AE, regardless if the AE accepted it or if the AE approved it for S2 credit, do not include rescheduled calls: __________
- Divide to determine your Meaningful Conversation Conversion Rate: ________%
– Fourth, determine your Connect Conversion Rate (# of connects per Meaningful Conversation)
- how many live calls and voicemail (not dials) follow-up emails did you send to prospects during the period that you are using for this analysis: ________
- Include all emails to anyone in the prospect’s organization, including gatekeepers, peers, and the highly qualified prospect
- We don’t count live calls and voicemails because we must email after every live call and voicemail so that we would double-count the connects. And you report each email in CRM, so you can be very accurate by simply counting all emails to the prospect organization before the first Meaningful Conversation with the highly qualified prospect you sent.
- How many Meaningful Conversations did you have during the period that you are using for this analysis: _______
- Divide to determine your Connect Conversion Rate: ________%
– Fifth, determine your Dial Conversion Rate (# of dials to first connect with a highly qualified prospect)
- how many dials did you make to the highly qualified prospect’s organization during the period that you are using for this analysis: ________
- These dials are before you made your first contact with the highly qualified prospect during the period that you are using for this analysis; and
- All dials, even if you didn’t leave voicemails.
- ·We don’t count voicemails for this purpose because you can’t leave a voicemail without a dial.
- how many connections did you have during the period that you are using for this analysis: _______
- Divide to determine your Dial Conversion Rate: ________%