Prospecting is the first hurdle in the sales process and sets the stage for unprecedented success.
And sales prospecting is never-ending and always morphing as technology and the way companies do business changes.
To keep your pipeline full, you need to closely monitor those trends and change.
These 25 key sales prospecting statistics will help you stay abreast in today’s sales environment.
Sales leaders agree that effective sales prospecting is essential to a full sales pipeline and closing more deals.
- Almost 40% of sales leaders say that optimizing lead generation so salespeople can prospect better is a top priority to help them reach revenue goals, according to the Sales Performance Optimization study by CSO Insights, the research division of Miller Heiman Group.
- Yet 53% of them admit that the inability to generate enough qualified leads through prospecting will be a top barrier to reaching goals, the CSO researchers found.
Customers are prospecting you
Salespeople know it’s critical to research prospects before (and even after) reaching out. But don’t be mistaken: Customers are prospecting you, too. Quite a bit more than ever.
- About 45% of prospects said they want to identify their needs and evaluate solutions before they engage with a salesperson, according to the CSO Insights’ Buyer-Seller Gap study.
- More than 20% said they like to identify their needs, evaluate solutions and prepare to negotiate before they work with salespeople.
“If key buying decisions have already been made, the challenge for sellers becomes marrying their sales process with the buying process,” says Tamara Schenck, Research Director, CSO Insights, the research division of Miller Heiman.
- Almost 90% of consumers research companies online before making purchases, the United States B2C Ecommerce Country Report
- About 95% of B2B buyers research companies online before making purchases, the Accenture State of B2B Procurement study
- 71% of B2B buyers prefer to research and purchase online with the availability of a salesperson to answer questions via phone or live chat on demand, the Accenture study found.
The good news: Although prospects admit to “prospecting” on their own, they wouldn’t mind hearing from salespeople who are prospecting.
- 91% of prospects say they’d be willing to engage with salespeople early in their buying journey, according to the CSO Insights Buyer-Seller Gap group.
- Prospects are particularly interested in engaging with salespeople early in their buying when they’re new buyers (34%), making a risky purchase for the organization or themselves (21%) or making a complex buy that involves many people or departments (16%).
What prospects do
So there are plenty of buyers who are interested in being your prospects.
- 50% of buyers choose the vendor that reaches out or responds to them first, the InsideSales Lead Response Report
- More than 85% of buyers accept meetings with salespeople who reach out to them, according to the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research’s Top Performance in Sales Prospecting.
- Prospects will give an average of five to 10 minutes for salespeople to prove they have something valuable to them, the RAIN Group found.
- What proves your value while prospecting? About two-thirds of prospects agree they want to see descriptions of your capabilities, research data that are relevant to their business, content that’s customized to them individually, insight on how the solution will fix their problems and best-practice methods geared toward them specifically.
Essentials for emailing prospects
Email provides a non-intrusive tool to prospect. But it’s a tricky tool – getting mixed prospecting results, according to many studies.
- Only about 22% of sales email messages get opened, according to the Watson Marketing 2018 Marketing Benchmark Report.
- Personalized email messages get a 26% higher open rate than generic sends, the Experian Email Market study.
- Nearly half of all email messages are read on mobile devices (so you want yours to be mobile-reader-friendly), says the Watson report.
- About 60% of opened email messages are “read,” meaning they get eight or more seconds of attention.
- 20% of the opened email messages are “skimmed,” getting two to eight seconds of attention.
- The other 20% are “glanced at” or “deleted” within two seconds, the Watson report found.
- 70% of responses to web-generated leads are done via email, according to an InsideSales.com Lead Response Report.
The word on Web-generated leads
Inviting prospects to take advantage of something relevant – a white paper, research, product sample, etc. – online can increase prospecting success. When they accept, the two-way conversation begins, but only if you handle it effectively.
- Web-generated leads that are responded to with a phone call within five minutes are 100 times more likely to be qualified, a Lead Response Management survey.
- Yet, the average time it takes salespeople to respond to web-active prospects is about three hours, the InsideSales.com Lead Report found.
- Just 30% of companies respond with a phone call when they get a “hot lead” from their web content.
“Content that gets a lot of clicks can drive sales, but it rarely drives relationships,” says Robert Graham, author of Calling Early Customers. “Calling is significantly more personal than most other channels, and it can be a great way to start lasting relationships where everyone wins.”
The case for calling prospects
Calling prospects is a more arduous task, but it often pays off better than email.
- When salespeople used the phone to reach prospects, they out-converted email outreach by a significant margin – 8.21% vs .03%, Salesforce.com research found.
- Making phone calls to existing customers is the most effective prospecting technique, the RAIN Group Prospecting study found.
“In short, phone calls are the best tool for lead response because they are much more assertive and often enable live interaction with a ‘hot’ lead who has recently expressed interest in a company by completing a Web form entry,” says James W. Phillips, Lead Researcher on the InsideSales.com Lead Report.