Looking for a few easy, virtually-free ways to immediately connect with more prospects?
I’m willing to bet you just said “Absolutely — that’s a no-brainer.” Of course it’s a no-brainer. In fact, if you don’t start doing this stuff now, I’d question whether you have a brain at all.
But wait — there’s more. Not only are these 18 methods free or inexpensive to implement, some of them take only a few seconds to deploy and some will save you time immediately and every day.
To make it ridiculously simple for you to prioritize these methods, I’ve put them in sequential order — in other words, I recommend you implement number one before number two, number two before number three, and so on. The recommendations at the beginning of the list will not only provide value more quickly than the ones at the bottom, they’re easiest to implement. They also lay the groundwork for you to fully benefit from the recommendations lower on the list.
However, don’t stop after the first few. While the approaches at the bottom of this list might take slightly longer to bear fruit and require more ongoing effort, they’ll help you build a an-ever-increasing flow of qualified sales opportunities.
Let’s do this.
1) Understand your prospects’ interests before you speak with them.
Imagine owning a high-end retail store selling designer clothing, but not staffing the store with experts who can observe buyer’s browsing behavior and offer assistance. Crazy, right? Well, that’s pretty much the way most websites behave.
No matter how little traffic your website gets, there are people visiting it right now who could become great customers for you. Unfortunately, you’ll never have a chance to speak with them because your website isn’t optimized to capture these visitors’ interest and intent.
It doesn’t have to be this way, though. Free technology is available to monitor what pages visitors view on your site and when they view them. By implementing HubSpot’s free marketing software, Leadin, you can start monitoring how and when your leads interact with your website. And every time someone completes a form on your website, the tool will even send you an email with a link to the contact’s profile and visit history.
With this knowledge, instead of starting conversations with, “How can I help you?”, you can start with, “I bet you’re interested in learning about how we can help with X and Y” (X and Y are covered on the pages the prospect viewed on your website). Think that’s too creepy? Here’s another way to start the conversation: “Companies like yours are usually struggling with how to do X or Y. Are either of these an issue for you right now?”
2) Convert a higher percentage of your website visitors into leads.
Most websites convert only a very small percentage of their visitors to customers because they only offer one way for a prospect to contact the company. The majority of marketers put up a “contact sales” page on their website and call it a day.
This is a shame. Sticking with our retail analogy for another minute, the contact sales form is like a cash register. If you own a retail store, having a way to collect cash is a no-brainer, right? Yes. But what’s also a no-brainer is offering to help buyers find the right products based on their needs and interests.
It is entirely possible that some small percentage of the people who enter a store know exactly what they want, decide they want to buy, and walk up to the register to check out. But, I would argue that most people buying something want some help. Retail salespeople are trained to ask, “What can I help you with today?” at bare minimum, and the really good sellers will attempt to initiate a dialogue several times in several different ways. For instance, a high-end boat salesperson might say, “This boat is beautiful, huh?” and after a few minutes, “Are you looking for a sporting boat or a fishing boat?”
Similarly, your website should offer to help a visitor multiple times and in different ways as they browse the site. Companies can very quickly increase conversion rates by placing different offers on different parts of a website. For example, when TurbineHQ added just one additional conversation point to their site, the new call to action generated a staggering 26% of their conversions. The offer? A simple subscription box for their blog as shown below.
Leadin enables you to add more and different calls to action offers to your website pages. Simply create different offers that match the content of different pages on your website, and watch your conversion rates rise.
This approach is also a more buyer-friendly one. Since 2007, I’ve been asking business owners, “How many leads do you get through your contact us form?” and the answer is always along the lines of “a few per month.” Why? Most buyers aren’t ready to buy the first few times they stop by your website; they are in research mode. Match your offers to the different stages of their buying journey, and capture their contact information, so you can attempt to connect and influence them earlier in their decision process.
3) Track which of your contacts are in-market for your service.
Now that you’re capturing more leads, I expect you’ll be following up as quickly as you can and turning some of those contacts into customers. But not all will respond and most won’t lead to an immediate sales opportunity or turn into a customer right away. They may be in research mode just browsing your website, already using and happy with a competitive product, or just too busy to talk when you reach out. The timing just isn’t right.
Unfortunately, they might not call you when the timing is right and you probably won’t be lucky enough to serendipitously check in with them when the timing is right either. Unless … you track their behavior.
Once a visitor converts somewhere on your website, Leadin allows you to monitor when those leads revisit your website with no additional effort. Just sort your leads by the date they most recently visited your website as shown in the screenshot below.
I know many salespeople who start their morning calling the leads at the top of that sorted list and refresh their browser to get an updated view whenever they sit down to make calls throughout the day. And why wouldn’t they? These are prospects that are clearly in-market for their services.
One company even doubled their connect and qualification rates by calling leads on a timely basis. How much revenue has your company passed up by not doing this?
4) Connect with more prospects over email.
Crafting a well-written sales email takes a decent amount of time and effort. Unfortunately, most of that effort is unrequited; usually only a single digit percentage of prospects write back.
Smart salespeople don’t wait for prospects to reply, though. Just because a prospect doesn’t write back doesn’t mean they’re not interested. Prospects might not respond because they are too busy, working on a deadline, or they might simply get distracted and forget. In fact, if the messages are well-crafted, targeted to the right person, and personalized, a good percentage of recipients will open and read the email. They’ll consider the salesperson’s questions and insights — and might even click on links in the email to learn more.
Unfortunately, since they don’t write back, salespeople don’t know about their interest. Instead, they move on to another prospect, or blindly send follow-up email after follow-up email. However, while sending multiple notes and casting a wide net are critical to prospecting success, these reps miss the obvious opportunity to connect with those interested-but-too-busy-to-write-back prospects who are most likely to respond to the next attempt.
Once again, it doesn’t have to be this way. What if you knew when prospects were reading your emails and clicking your links? Using HubSpot Sales, you can monitor and receive immediate alerts (via email or your web browser) when your recipients open and click your emails.
How should you use this information to increase your connect rate? Smart salespeople make calls while their prospect is reading their email. If the prospect doesn’t pick up, they focus future email attempts on these evidently interested prospects instead of blanketing their whole list or giving up. By focusing on prospects who have read and considered your email, you can increase your response rate.
Don’t leave connecting to chance. Use this sales email tracking guide to ensure you have the opportunity to talk to as many prospects as possible.
5) Automatically track and organize every sales attempt.
The time between a prospect discovering a company’s service and purchasing it varies significantly. Some sales cycles are quick, but most sales funnel have a large number of opportunities that are months — and maybe years — old.
Unfortunately, as salespeople get overwhelmed trying to manage months’ or years’ worth of opportunities, they lose track of details and communication history. Worse, when salespeople change roles, change territories, or move on from a company, sales pursuit records are often lost, due in no small part to poor CRM documentation.
It would be a lot better if every email and phone call were automatically logged to the right contact and account in your CRM, wouldn’t it? HubSpot’s free CRM integrates with your email client (Gmail or Outlook 365), your phone system, and your rep’s calendar, to automatically capture every interaction salespeople have with their prospects. It requires zero extra effort, and nothing gets lost in translation.
6) Enter contact and company data into your CRM with one click.
Not only do salespeople neglect to log calls and emails into CRM, many of them don’t even bother entering contacts into the CRM. Most salespeople work out of their email inboxes, only entering contacts and companies once they’ve verified a deal (if at all).
In HubSpot CRM, contacts are automatically created upon an email send. Alternatively, salespeople can click one button in their email client to store the contact’s information in the CRM, as the images below show.
Company data is auto-populated if the organization exists in HubSpot CRM’s pre-loaded database of 19 million records.
With data entry completely automated, salespeople can spend more time actually selling instead of record keeping.
7) Connect with prospects on social media.
If your salespeople could attend a never-ending networking event where they could meet and have conversations with prospect after prospect, would you tell them not to go? Unfortunately, that’s what many companies do when they discourage social media use at work.
There’s no denying that prospects use social media at least occasionally. HubSpot’s Leadin or HubSpot CRM makes it easy to connect with, follow and message new leads on social by automatically surfacing prospects’ Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook profiles.
8) Find even more in-market companies visiting your website.
No matter how good your website is at converting visitors into leads, it won’t convert them all. Even top-performing websites only convert a single digit percentage of visitors. But, there is a way to discover who some of those anonymous visitors are, especially if you sell to bigger companies. When someone from a large organization visits your website, so-called “reverse IP lookup” software can detect their computer’s IP address and match it with their employer’s known addresses. This function is part of our paid HubSpot Sales Pro suite.
While the tool doesn’t provide the specific contact(s) from these companies visiting your site, it does tell you what they were looking at. Use that to take an educated guess about who might be visiting and reach out with a relevant message.
9) Schedule email responses.
Today, salespeople are heavily reliant on email during the sales process. But salespeople often respond during off-hours — early in the morning or at night. And this often means that when a prospect gets into the office, the salesperson’s message is buried at the bottom of an inbox avalanche.
Using HubSpot Sales Pro, salespeople can increase their chances of getting a response by scheduling email to send later, at the time when a prospect is most likely to open and read. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to maximize open rates by sending emails later.
10) Use email prospecting messages proven to get responses.
Have you ever had deja vu as you’re writing an email to a prospect? Thought to yourself, “I wonder how many times I’ve written an email almost exactly like this?”
Think about the amount of time each salesperson wastes typing the same thing over and over again. Now, multiply that by however many salespeople you have at your company. That’s a lot of time wasted.
It’s also worth noting that most salespeople aren’t exactly experts at writing prospecting messages that get responses. If the crappy emails I receive from salespeople are any indication, they’re probably succeeding despite their lackluster messages.
Want to invent one phenomenal wheel and call it a day? Check out some of our tested and true sales email templates here, and then create reuseable customizable templates using HubSpot’s free CRM.
For serious prospectors, the premium version of HubSpot Sales includes the ability to create and organize an unlimited number of templates and share them across a team. Template-level reporting will show you how often prospects open your email and click any links in the message. Use this data to identify templates that work, eliminate ones that don’t, and spread best practices across your team.
11) Automate customized prospecting campaigns.
Forty-four percent of salespeople give up after one follow-up, and the average salesperson only makes two attempts to reach a prospect. But 80% of sales require at least five attempts.
Why is this? Many salespeople are quick to move on to new leads, looking for the low-hanging fruit. Others just aren’t organized enough to follow up several times. Still others worry about being too aggressive. None of these are good reasons, in my opinion. To fill the top of their funnel with opportunities, salespeople must attempt to connect with every prospect more than once.
With Sequences (available in HubSpot Sales Pro), salespeople can schedule a series of targeted emails to send over time. Once a prospect responds, they are removed from the sequence. Never drop the ball on follow-ups again.
12) Queue up your calls for the day.
While email and social media are great ways to connect with prospects, nothing beats the phone for making meaningful, memorable connections. However, most salespeople are highly unproductive when it comes to telephone prospecting. Many companies report that sales reps need help identifying the right contacts to call, and research shows that eighty percent of leads marketing generates are either lost, ignored, or discarded. As a result of this disorganization, the average salesperson only makes eight dials per hour.
When you ask salespeople why this is, they’ll say that it’s hard to prioritize and keep track of who to call. This is where call queueing comes in. As reps go about their day, they can add hot prospects to a call queue, and stop wasting time thinking, “who should I call next?” If you’re effectively tracking who opens your emails and visits your website, call queuing is the key to prioritizing and connecting with these hot leads.
13) Eliminate the hassle of booking meetings.
As effective as the phone is at creating connections, the fact remains that most calls go to voicemail. This makes scheduling meetings a very frustrating process for busy salespeople and even busier prospects. Looking at a calendar, proposing a list of days and times, having the prospect look at their calendar, proposing more times … what a hassle.
Imagine automating that whole process so all a salesperson has to do is send a link to a public version of their calendar showing availability, allowing the buyer to book a time that works for them. That’s precisely what the Meetings tool within HubSpot Sales Pro does. Want to take it one step further? Use HubSpot Messages (see #14 below) to promote the link on your website, so site visitors can book time immediately from your website.
14) Initiate a dialogue when prospects are on your website.
We’ve already established that technology can enable salespeople to reach out to prospects when they are visiting your website or opening one of your emails. But they might not pick up or respond. Want to avoid the delay altogether?
Messages, a feature of HubSpot Sales Pro, works like a chat app for your website, directly connecting salespeople with website visitors.
If a website visitor has a question, all they have to do is click the chat window to get an immediate answer from a salesperson. In this way, messages helps your team not only book more meetings, but better meetings with interested buyers.
You can even customize the prompt so that it’s different on different pages of your website. If a prospect is on a page that talks about your pricing, you might write, “Can I help you figure out the right product and price for your needs?” But if they are reading a blog post about topic X, a message starting with, “I’m an expert at helping people with topic X. Would you like to have a conversation about whether investing more in X makes sense for you?” makes a lot more sense.
15) Review the conversations your salespeople are having.
The vast majority of sales conversations are never reviewed. Companies hire salespeople, train them for a bit, join a few of their calls, and then leave them alone to work on their own.
However, mastering sales is nowhere close to that quick or easy. Trust me: salespeople screw up lots of deals. They miss important details their prospects share. They miss buying signs. They spend too much time with unqualified prospects.
One of the most important thing any company can do to improve its win rates is to have sales managers or leaders review calls, consequently helping reps salvage deals and providing advice that they can use to become more effective. In field sales, it’s necessary to do physical ride alongs to observe reps. But, in inside sales, call recording makes sales coaching much more scalable.
HubSpot CRM automatically records calls reps make from the CRM, allowing sales managers to continuously review and coach. Too busy to coach your salespeople? Hire an external sales coach. If you want to annotate calls and build a library of best practices, try tools like ExecVision or Refract.
16) Publish content to expand your reach and engage your contacts.
The key to attracting and engaging prospects online is creating content that informs, educates, and entertains them. But content is not just for pulling in anonymous website visitors and converting them into leads. Once a salesperson is in conversation with a prospect, content can help them challenge the buyer’s thinking and educate them on potential solutions. In addition, original content reinforces reps’ expertise, compelling prospects not just to take their call, but to take their advice too. The problem? Most salespeople don’t understand or know how to leverage content, let alone create it.
I’m here to tell you that there’s no better time than the present to get started. While not every salesperson is a great writer, all top salespeople are great communicators, and certainly understand what it takes to take a prospect from uninformed to a happy customer. With a bit of help from their marketing team, they can at least share content that the company creates on social media, and in their 1:1 interactions with prospects. And with help from content creation services like Zerys, Blogmutt, or Contently, reps can turn rough thoughts, recorded calls, and company content into original material.
Once you commit to creating content, the next question becomes where to publish it. If your company has a blog and you’re using the right marketing software, contributing there will make your name known to website visitors, show you which of your prospects viewed your content, and help your company attract new leads — win-win-win. But if your company hasn’t invested in marketing software yet or doesn’t have a blog, publish on Linkedin. Assuming you’ve been connecting with good fit prospects during your career, your posts will be presented in their news feed. If your article is really good, it might even get featured in one of Linkedin’s topic pages where it’ll generate even more traffic. Linkedin Pulse also provides analytics that show you who liked, shared, or commented on your article. And starting a conversation becomes pretty easy after a prospect has read one of your articles.
17) Use surveys to understand and connect with more prospects.
When prospecting, most salespeople jump right into what their product does, how awesome it is, and why the prospect should talk to them about it. In effect, they declare, “I have a product to sell. Would you like to talk about buying it from me?” This approach is a recipe for failure most of the time.
A better way to pique the interest of a prospect is to ask them about the challenges they face (that you just so happen to have the ability to help them overcome). And what better way to ask them about their challenges than to invite them to participate in market research in exchange for a report that compares them to their peers?
Survey Monkey (which is free for up to 100 responses) integrates with HubSpot’s free CRM, automatically inserting a prospect’s responses right into your CRM contact record. With these tools, salespeople can invite prospects to take a survey, which gives the salesperson the ability to also start a conversation. Once the prospect responds, the salesperson has several dialogue openers at their disposal, as revealed by their responses. To further increase the number of sales touches a survey enables, you can include prospects in the design of the survey, distribute the report to them afterwards, and even offer to present the findings and provide recommendations.
Survey data is also useful when reaching out to new leads after the research has been completed. As Challenger Sale and Insight Selling point out, data-backed insights that challenge prospects to think about their challenges are fantastic conversation starters.
18) Use documents to connect to more contacts at your target accounts.
When calling on larger companies, most salespeople fail to call enough contacts within the account. Even when they do, they might not connect with more than one or two people. The problem is that most companies rely on more than one or two people to make a purchasing decision, and, it’s difficult for a salesperson to influence these additional stakeholders without having direct access to them, or even knowing who they are.
A great way to identify who these other decision makers and influencers are — other than directly asking — is to send documents to prospects that they are likely to forward to others. Documents, a feature of HubSpot Sales enables salespeople to upload a piece of content and get a sharable link. If the prospect forwards the document link to someone else, that new person is asked to complete a form, which in turn adds them to the account. In addition, reps also get data on what content is impacting sales success and what isn’t.
The Future of Sales Is Attracting Prospects to You — Not the Other Way Around
Many so-called sales “experts” will tell you that the inbound approach to sales and marketing takes too long to bear fruit. They’ll encourage you to sit down and cold call prospects, spend lots on direct response advertising and even mass blast uncustomized, unpersonalized emails to unsuspecting prospects.
At HubSpot, we believe the future of sales is about attracting prospects to you, but that doesn’t mean you can sit and wait for them to find you. The techniques above put your company and your salespeople in complete control over the number and quality of conversations they have. For smart salespeople who are ready to start implementing these methods, this future is now.
If you’re not using these 18 methods to connect with more prospects, what exactly are you waiting for? Are you waiting for your salespeople to start missing quota or your prospects to tear you apart on social media for your spammy sales ways?
Maybe budget is holding you back — but it doesn’t have to. With Inbound, it’s not about the size of your wallet, it’s about the size of your brain. All of these approaches to putting more opportunities in your sales funnel are enabled by free (HubSpot Leadin, HubSpot CRM and HubSpot Sales Free) or inexpensive, (HubSpot Sales Pro, Survey Monkey) products. Depending on how big your sales team is and how big your contact list is, you can get started for no dollars and even complete this list for a relatively small investment, especially when compared to the potential return.
So, how big is your brain?