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How to Do Virtual Sales Prospecting [Expert Strategies]

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March 24, 2024 Prospect, Sales Prospect
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How to Do Virtual Sales Prospecting

After the pandemic shook the world, the business landscape transformed a big time. Much like how sales professionals always adapted to new trends, the online shift during COVID-19 became the latest challenge to navigate.

Today, a majority of business interactions have migrated online, making it feel like trying to find a path in a new city with just a hint of where to go. 

Over 90% of sales professionals report that their team is either fully remote or works from the office part-time. Additionally, nearly all (96%) express the desire to continue working in this manner.

According to Salesforce, tools like video conferencing have skyrocketed in importance, with many believing this virtual sales trend is here for the long haul.

The pandemic has reshaped the business world in ways we never imagined. “We’re not going back to the old ways,” says business coach Anna Frandsen. “Despite the hurdles, many businesses have found success by embracing virtual tools, especially ones like Zoom, to boost their sales.”

So, how can you master this new sales era? Don’t worry; we’re here to guide you through the latest tips and tricks that work in this new sales world. Let’s get started with how to do virtual sales prospecting.

What is Virtual Sales Prospecting?

Virtual sales prospecting simply means finding and connecting with potential customers using the internet and digital tools. It’s like meeting new people, but instead of in person, you do it online.

Here’s an interesting figure: a significant 63% of sales professionals send at least one custom-recorded video on a weekly basis. Furthermore, nearly one-quarter of these professionals report sending at least one video each day. 

Imagine you’re looking for friends who share your interests. You’d go to places where people like that hang out, right? In the virtual sales prospecting framework, you’re looking for people who might be interested in what you’re offering.

You use your computer, phone, and the internet to do this. You might send them messages, emails, or even call them. It’s a bit like making new friends on social media, but with a purpose – to tell them about something you think they’ll find helpful or interesting.

This is prevalent because 63% of sales leaders believe that virtual meetings are equally or more effective than in-person meetings. Additionally, 75% of decision-makers believe that remote engagement serves customers just as well or even better than before the shift to remote work.

The goal is to start a conversation, just like when you meet someone new. You want to see if what you’re offering could be useful to them. It’s about being friendly and helpful, and showing them why your words are worth their time.

Evolution of Sales in a Virtual Environment

Evolution of Sales in a Virtual Environment

Sales technology has come a long way, but it used to be quite limited. Back in the 1990s, Salesforce Automation (SFA) was introduced, but it mainly helped financial executives keep an eye on the sales pipeline rather than aiding sales representatives directly. 

Then, in the mid-2000s, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems were developed for customer service and marketing, which didn’t bring significant benefits to sales teams.

However, it wouldn’t be accurate to say there was no progress in sales technology in the early 2000s. Amazon, for instance, started in 1995, and e-commerce emerged. 

While Amazon made $3 billion in revenue in 2000 (much less than Walmart), its revenue grew significantly over the decade. Nowadays, e-commerce makes up about 15% of U.S. retail sales.

Here’s an interesting fact from Vidyard: People tend to remember details from video emails 13% more than from text emails. Also, if a business-related video is less than 60 seconds long, about 66% of viewers watch it all the way through. This shows the power of video in communication.

The 4 Key Elements for Success in Remote Prospecting Campaigns

When it comes to remote prospecting, there are four essential elements that can make or break your campaigns –

Elements for Success in Remote Prospecting Campaigns

Targeting Prospects

So, who exactly are you reaching out to? The more you know about your audience, the better your message can be. 

You can’t customize a message to each person individually, but defining your ideal customer profile and segmenting prospects based on persona or industry can make a difference. 

When your message matches your target group, you’re more likely to get a genuine response. Plus, reps tend to remember and share stories better when they’re working with a smaller, well-defined group. It helps cut down on any mix-ups that could happen.

Pro Tip: Did you know there are tools that use AI to help you find and connect with your prospects? They can help you discover the best leads and even craft personalized cold emails.

Number of Steps

Now, how many times should you be in touch? It’s often more than you might think. Many sellers stop after just a few tries, but studies show that most prospects don’t really respond until after at least 10 tries. That’s why a lot of sales outreach doesn’t do so hot. 

The trick is finding the right tone. If you’re too pushy or act like they owe you something, you might get a quick response, but it won’t be the one you’re looking for. 

If you’re politely persistent, you can keep reaching out. This way, even if you don’t get them on the phone right away, they’ll start to recognize you and your brand.

Pro Tip: Take a look at your past data. It’s like having a cheat sheet. If you can find out how many times it took to reach most of your prospects who responded, that’s your new minimum. It’s probably more than you’d expect.

Timing Between Steps

How much time should you leave between each step? It’s a bit of a balancing act. 

  • Too aggressive, and you might come off as annoying. 
  • Too slow, and they might forget you exist. It’s like building your own personal brand as a seller. 

You don’t want to hit them with a bunch of messages and then disappear for a month. The clock resets, and you’re starting over. A steady pace is key.

Timing of Steps

When’s the best time to reach out? Well, that depends on the person. For some, a Sunday night email is a welcome sight, while for others, it’s a nuisance. Generally, though, you should aim for a good balance. 

Sales managers tend to check their email late at night or early in the morning. Executives might be more active after dinner or when they’ve put their kids to bed. Developers often start their day a bit later. 

Of course, it’s good to remember that different industries and job types have their own rhythms. Keep that in mind when you’re planning your approach.

Top 5 Outreach Types for Remote Prospecting

In these times of remote work, getting your prospecting game on point is key to sales success. Let’s dive into the top outreach categories that’ll help you connect effectively in this digital scene – 

Top 5 Outreach Types for Remote Prospecting

1. Email

Let’s start with email. It’s a standard method, but it’s also one that gets a lot of spam. So, the trick is to write an email that stands out from the crowd. 

You want a subject line and message that says, “Hey, I’m a real person with something valuable to say.” And, of course, you want a clear call to action that makes them want to respond.

Some Tips for Effective Email Outreach:

  • Consider what else might be vying for their attention in their inbox.
  • If they’re likely reading on mobile, keep it short and sweet.
  • Many folks initially sort emails on mobile but might go back to read them on desktop, so keep that in mind.
  • Time your emails for when they’re most likely to be seen.
  • Think about how your personal brand fits into the subject line.
  • You can even use AI prompts or automated tools to help craft your messages.

2. Phone Calls

Now, let’s get to phone calls. This is the most direct way to reach out. Unlike emails or videos, you’re having a live conversation. This means you can address any questions or concerns right then and there. 

Surprisingly, not many people use this method, probably because it can be a bit uncomfortable. But that’s precisely why it’s a powerful tool—few of your competitors are doing it.

Some Tips for Effective Phone Calls:

  • Always leave a voicemail. It’s a way to make your mark.
  • Have a script handy, but don’t be afraid to go off-script and sound more like a real person.
  • Invest in a good headset or earbuds for better call quality.

3. Video Messaging

Videos are a fantastic way to connect. They’re engaging and personal. When someone sees that “Play” button, it’s hard to resist. A video created just for them? 

That’s something special. It helps build that personal connection and trust. You can be yourself, more informal and candid. Videos are usually sent via email using tools like Vidyard Video Messages, but you can also send them via LinkedIn or other direct digital channels.

The simple inclusion of the word “video” in an email subject can boost open rates by 6%, a significant impact when dealing with large email volumes.

Incorporating videos in emails can lead to a remarkable 19% increase in open rates, as well as a notable 65% surge in click rates. Furthermore, it helps reduce unsubscribe rates by an impressive 26%. 

Some Tips for Effective Video Messages:

  • Choose the right type of sales video to create or share.
  • Opt for a dynamic video thumbnail—it catches the eye.
  • Show something with their name to prove it’s personalized.
  • If you’re not sure what to say, consider using a video prospecting template.

4. Social Media

Social media boasts a lead-to-close rate that’s 100% higher than outbound marketing efforts. This highlights the remarkable effectiveness of utilizing social platforms for lead generation and conversion.

According to the Social Media Examiner report, 66% of marketers who spend at least 6 hours weekly on social media see more leads. This highlights the importance of putting time into social media for better lead results.

Social media, especially platforms like LinkedIn, can be a great way to make additional connections. Remember, it’s not about hard selling, but about having conversations. 

Help others, and if someone does accept your request, don’t jump straight into a sales pitch. If you share more broadly, add context to your posts instead of just dropping links.

Some Tips for Effective Social Media Engagement:

  • Stay positive and helpful.
  • Let your personality shine through.
  • Keep it professional.

5. Direct Mail and Virtual Gifts

Did you know? 63% of Gen Z consumers are now more excited about direct mail compared to their sentiments a year ago.

Sending physical letters or gifts can be a powerful way to connect. There’s something about a tangible item that digital messages can’t quite replicate. 

However, in today’s world, it’s important to consider if someone is comfortable receiving physical mail or if a virtual gift would be more appropriate.

Some Tips for Effective Direct Mail and Gifts:

  • Handwrite your letters for a personal touch.
  • If sending a gift, make it something genuinely useful.
  • Clearly state who it’s from and why.
  • Always include a clear call to action.

How to Do Virtual Prospecting in Sales: Proven Strategies for Success in the Digital Era

Jumping into virtual sales prospecting can feel new and different. But with the right tools and approach, it’s a great way to connect with people. Ready to explore this online sales world? Let’s dive in.

How to Do Virtual Prospecting in Sales

1. Adapting to Technological Shifts

Do you know how your favorite apps on your phone are always getting updates to work better and faster? Well, just like that, in sales, there are new tools and tricks that can help you find and connect with potential customers online.

Nowadays, things might work a bit differently than before. There are new ways to search for leads, and smart tools to help you organize and manage your contacts. These tools can make your job way easier!

What You Should Do:

So, the first step is to get familiar with these new tools. This means being open to new sales analyst tools, platforms, and communication methods that can improve your prospecting strategies. 

Enroll in courses or training programs that teach you how to prospect and use new tools and technologies effectively. This could be related to CRM software, communication platforms, or data analytics tools.

Don’t be afraid to try out new tools and technologies in a controlled environment. Practice using them so you’re comfortable when implementing them in actual prospecting.

Talk to colleagues and peers with experience with the technology you’re trying to adapt to. They can offer crucial insights and tips. Many tools have customizable features. Tailor them to your specific workflow and preferences to maximize their effectiveness.

2. Overcoming Caller ID Barriers

One significant challenge is bypassing the Caller ID. With technological advancements, many individuals hesitate to answer calls from unknown numbers. As a salesperson, you must be wondering how to do sales calls. You need to employ effective strategies to ensure your calls are not ignored.

What You Should Do:

When making a call, it’s crucial to create an inviting and engaging opening. 

Imagine talking to a friend you haven’t seen in a while. 

When making calls, ensure that your Caller ID displays a recognizable and trustworthy name associated with your company. This way, prospects are more likely to answer as they can identify the caller.

Use technology that allows you to display a local area code when making calls. This gives the impression that the call is coming from a nearby location, increasing the likelihood of it being answered. It helps in establishing a sense of familiarity and trust.

3. Creating Compelling Value Propositions

Put yourself in their shoes and think about their biggest worries. A strong value proposition shows you get their challenges.

Having a solution with clear benefits not only answers their needs but also paves the way for a genuine chat.

What You Should Do:

When writing your message, focus on the benefits and solutions you offer. In other words, emphasize the “What’s In It For Me” (WIIFM) factor. 

Clearly articulate how your product or service can address their pain points and improve their situation. Paint a vivid picture of the positive outcomes they can expect to achieve by working with you.

Avoid using jargon or overly technical language. Show the ROI. Keep your message clear, concise, and easily understandable. Remember, the goal is to convey value in a way that resonates with your prospect, not to impress them with industry terminology.

Additionally, incorporate elements of storytelling into your message. Share success stories or case studies that highlight how your solution has positively impacted similar clients. 

4. Multi-Touch Prospecting Approaches

Relying on a single communication channel may not yield the desired results. This is where the concept of multi-touch prospecting approaches comes into play. It involves using a combination of outreach channels to engage with your prospects effectively.

One of the key advantages of employing multi-touch prospecting is that it allows you to reach your prospects through various mediums, increasing the likelihood of making a meaningful connection. 

While some may be responsive to emails, others may prefer a phone call or a LinkedIn message. 

You can use LinkedIn Sales Navigator prospecting which is a powerful tool for finding potential leads on the LinkedIn platform. It provides advanced search filters and features specifically designed to help sales professionals identify and connect with potential customers.

Read More: Alternatives of LinkedIn Sales Navigator.

What You Should Do: 

Start by segmenting your prospects based on common characteristics or pain points. This allows you to tailor your messaging to resonate with each segment. 

For instance, if you’re sales targeting a specific industry, your message may highlight industry-specific challenges and how your solution addresses them.

Next, determine the sequence and timing of your touchpoints. For example, you might initiate the campaign with an introductory email, followed by a personalized LinkedIn message a few days later, and then a phone call the following week. 

The goal is to create a cadence that maintains momentum without overwhelming the prospect.

5. Personalization in Virtual Outreach

To effectively personalize your outreach, start by conducting thorough research on your prospects. Explore their company’s website, review their LinkedIn profiles, and seek out any recent news or developments related to their industry. 

This information will serve as the foundation for crafting a message that speaks directly to their situation.

What You Should Do:

When reaching out, reference specific aspects that demonstrate your understanding. 

For example, you might mention a recent achievement of their company, a challenge they’re likely facing, or a shared interest you discovered during your research. This not only shows that you’ve done your homework but also establishes a genuine connection.

Additionally, consider the timing and context of your outreach. For instance, if you know that your prospect is in the midst of a specific initiative or project, tailor your message to align with their current priorities. 

This demonstrates that you’re attuned to their immediate concerns and can offer valuable insights or solutions.

Avoid generic, one-size-fits-all templates. Instead, craft messages that feel like they were specifically designed for the recipient. This level of personalization sets you apart from automated or mass-generated communications and signals that you’re invested in building a meaningful relationship.

6. Engaging Different Generations

Understanding these nuances and adapting your approach accordingly can significantly enhance your effectiveness in reaching a wide range of prospects.

  • Baby Boomers (Born 1946-1964)

Baby boomers often have a strong familiarity with email and phone calls. They appreciate direct, professional communication.

When reaching out to this generation, consider using more traditional channels like personalized emails or phone calls. Craft clear, concise messages that emphasize the value proposition and benefits.

  • Generation X (Born 1965-1980)

Generation X individuals are comfortable with a mix of email, phone calls, and text messages. They value efficiency and directness.

Utilize a combination of these channels, keeping messages concise and to the point. Highlight how your solution can address their specific pain points and offer a clear call to action.

  • Millennials (Born 1981-1996)

Millennials are highly tech-savvy and tend to prefer digital communication methods. They are open to various channels, including email, text, social media, and video calls.

Use a multi-channel approach, incorporating platforms like LinkedIn and video messaging. Focus on demonstrating the immediate benefits and practical applications of your solution.

  • Generation Z (Born 1997-Present)

This generation is entirely digital-native and heavily reliant on social media, messaging apps, and video platforms.

Engage with them on platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn. Incorporate visual content and interactive elements to capture their attention.

Remember, these are general preferences and may vary from individual to individual. It’s crucial to adapt your approach based on your prospect’s specific communication habits. 

Pro tip: Additionally, don’t make assumptions solely based on age – always seek to understand your prospect’s preferences through initial research or by asking open-ended questions.

7. Measuring and Adapting Outreach Effectiveness

Keep track of how many prospects engage with your outreach efforts. This includes opening emails, responding to messages, or answering calls.

What You Should Do:

  • Conversion Rates: Measure the percentage of engaged prospects who take a desired action, such as scheduling a meeting or requesting more information.
  • Pipeline Progression: Monitor how many prospects move through each stage of your sales pipeline as a result of your strategic prospecting efforts.
  • Closed Deals: Ultimately, track the number of prospects who convert into paying customers.
  • Sales Engagement Platforms: Use specialized software and platforms designed to streamline and enhance your virtual prospecting efforts. These tools offer features like email tracking, analytics, and automation, providing valuable insights into prospect behavior.
  • A/B Testing for Optimization: Experiment with different messaging approaches, subject lines, and outreach strategies to identify what resonates best with your target audience. 
  • Segmentation for Targeted Outreach: Divide your prospect list into segments based on factors like industry, company size, or pain points. This enables you to tailor your messaging to address specific needs and challenges.

8. Balancing Automation and Personalization

Automation tools and software tackle everyday jobs like sending emails, setting up meetings, and noting down chats. This means you can use your time better and focus on what’s important.

But remember, people like real, human chats. This is where making things personal matters. Changing your messages to fit each person’s needs shows you really care about helping them.

9. Customized Outreach for Maximum Impact

Consider this scenario: A potential client receives a generic, one-size-fits-all email. It’s clear that it’s been sent to numerous recipients. Now, imagine receiving a message that addresses you by name, acknowledges your unique challenges, and offers a tailored solution. 

Which one would capture your attention and resonate more with you? The latter, undoubtedly.

By using automation for routine tasks and reserving personalization for critical touchpoints, you create a powerful combination. This allows you to efficiently reach a larger audience while still ensuring each interaction feels meaningful and relevant.

Pro tip: Remember, the goal is to build relationships, not just close deals. Balancing automation and personalization helps you achieve this delicate harmony, setting the stage for successful and sustainable prospecting in sales. 

Best Practices for Virtual Sales Prospecting: 8 Tips for Virtual Sales 

The journey doesn’t end with the first successful interaction. It’s just the beginning. It requires consistent care, attention, and a genuine interest in the prospect’s well-being. Here is what you need to do – 

Best Practices for Virtual Sales Prospecting

1. Master It Yourself First 

Whether it’s Zoom, Teams, WebEx, or any other platform, ensure you’re well-versed in its functionalities. Avoid asking your prospects basic questions like how to share screens or use the chat function; instead, position yourself as the expert. 

This is crucial because your prospect might not be as comfortable with the platform, and you might find yourself doing some troubleshooting or tech support. 

Take some time to research these platforms if needed, so you’re well-prepared. Arrive at the call a few minutes early to familiarize yourself with the platform, ensuring a smooth and seamless meeting experience.

2. Make it Convenient 

Making it effortless for prospects to connect is a game-changer. Tools like Calendly bring that ease into play, letting them choose a time that suits them. 

Plus, those handy reminders ensure everyone’s on the same page. It’s a win-win that cuts down on cancellations and no-shows.

3. Staying on Their Radar

After that initial connection, it’s crucial to remain on the prospect’s radar without becoming intrusive. This can be achieved through periodic, valuable touchpoints. 

Share relevant content, provide insights, and offer assistance based on their specific needs and challenges. This demonstrates your commitment to their success, even if it doesn’t immediately lead to a sale.

4. Switch on Your Camera 

Always ensure your camera is on during virtual meetings. Letting prospects see your smiling face allows them to connect with your energy, building trust and rapport.

Encourage your customer to turn on their video as well. While they may or may not do it, asking shows your interest in connecting on a more personal level. Seeing their body language can enhance the connection. 

However, if they decline or feel uncomfortable, that’s perfectly fine. Don’t dwell on it.

If a prospect is hesitant about video, you can say, “Hey, would you mind turning on your camera, just so I can put a face to a name?” Most likely, they’ll oblige. 

And if they’re still unsure, you can suggest, “Could you turn it on for a moment, just so we can get to know each other a bit better? Feel free to turn it off after!” This gentle approach often helps in creating a more comfortable atmosphere.

5. Listening and Responding

Effective relationship-building involves active listening. Pay close attention to their concerns, feedback, and evolving priorities. When they reach out, respond promptly and thoughtfully. 

This not only shows respect for their time but also reinforces the notion that you’re genuinely invested in their journey.

6. Providing Value Beyond Transactions

Remember, relationships in sales go beyond transactions. It’s about becoming a trusted advisor and a valuable resource. 

Share industry knowledge, offer solutions to their pain points, and be a reliable source of information. This positions you as a partner in their success, not just a seller.

7. Timing is Key

Knowing when to re-engage is crucial. Stay attuned to significant developments in their business, changes in industry trends, or shifts in their priorities. When the time is right, reach out with relevant insights or solutions that align with their current needs.

8. Building Bridges, Not Just Closing Deals

Ultimately, nurturing relationships is about building bridges for the long haul. Even if a prospect doesn’t convert right away, the trust you’ve built holds significant value. This foundation can pave the way for referrals or partnerships.

Moreover, these initial interactions can lead to promising opportunities in the future. Think of it as planting seeds for a prolonged and beneficial collaboration.

Pro Tip: Make sure you have the right tools to find contact info for your target prospects. Swordfish AI provides accurate B2B contact details, including emails and cell numbers of decision-makers. Try Swordfish AI now.

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Conclusion 

In today’s remote work era, knowing how to do virtual sales prospecting is crucial for success. It’s important to target the right people. 

Even if you can’t customize every approach, having a clear picture of your ideal customer and using grouped approaches can help get better responses. 

Don’t give up easily; many responses come after trying multiple times. It’s also essential to get your timing right; how often and when you reach out can greatly impact your results. 

Use different ways to connect, whether it’s emails, calls, videos, social media, or even sending gifts online. Each method can help in its unique way. 

So, jump in and tackle online sales confidently!

FAQs 

What is the balance between automation and personalization in virtual sales prospecting?

Striking the right balance between automation and personalization is crucial. While automation tools streamline outreach, personalization ensures that each interaction feels tailored to the prospect. It’s essential to use automation for repetitive tasks and reserve personalization for high-impact touchpoints.

How can I nurture relationships for long-term success in virtual sales prospecting?

Nurturing relationships involves staying on the prospect’s radar through periodic, valuable touchpoints. Actively listen to their concerns, provide value beyond transactions, and know when to re-engage based on their evolving needs. Building trust and becoming a valuable resource are key components of successful relationship-building.

What are some best practices for engaging different generations in virtual sales prospecting?

To engage different generations effectively, adapt your communication style and channel preferences to align with their preferences. For instance, younger generations may prefer text-based communication, while older generations may favor phone calls or emails.

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