What is B2B Prospecting?
B2B prospecting is a sales process where potential buyers (known as prospects) are identified, outreached to and converted into customers. Outreach is conducted via a number of different B2B sales and marketing activities, including cold calling, outbound email, content marketing and PPC.
This guide includes everything you need to know about prospecting for B2B sales, including strategies, methods, best practices and the latest tools to make prospecting easier.
Various sales and marketing activities play a role in B2B lead prospecting, which can be divided into outbound and inbound prospecting. Here are the best ways to engage B2B prospects. 👇
1. Cold calling
Cold calling isn’t dead. It works for booking meetings, especially among C-level and VP prospects. SDRs who call B2B prospects can explain the benefits of their product or service directly to the decision-maker and qualify them for future engagement.
That said, cold calling can be a real motivation-killer if reps don’t have prospects’ accurate phone numbers and need to navigate gatekeepers instead of having meaningful conversations. We’ve addressed that issue at Cognism by providing highly accurate mobile phone data (aka Diamond Data®) to deliver the best possible results with fewer calls.
So if you’re struggling to find mobile numbers with your current providers, choose Cognism. You’ll have plenty of mobiles to choose from! Cognism is a global leader in accurate cell phone numbers.
Cognism’s Diamond Data® is a premium phone-verified B2B mobile numbers database that comes with a 98% accuracy rate to ensure you reach the right person every time you call.
Our data team manually checks and validates the mobile numbers globally through several proprietary methods.
Our data research team will find and verify the correct mobile number of the B2B prospects that you want to reach within 48 hours.
It’s a new standard of data quality when it comes to intelligent B2B sales prospecting that eliminates inefficiencies and increases speed to connect rates.
We pride ourselves on providing CCPA and GDPR-compliant data for B2B prospecting.
We scrub all our mobile numbers against global DNC lists (in countries like the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Spain, Ireland, Belgium, Croatia, Portugal, Sweden).
As well as being the only provider that checks more Do-Not-Call lists than any other provider, we also:
- Notify our database and give them the option to opt out.
- Don’t hold any personal email addresses in our database. Expect B2B emails only.
From ZoomInfo & LeadIQ to Cognism
Drift has used Cognism's 98% accurate mobile numbers to enrich its existing data and book 70% of its outbound meetings. The investment was returned in under 30 days gaining an immediate buy-in from Drift’s CFO.
2. Outbound email
Email is a popular method when prospecting for business. Sales reps will send B2B prospects an outbound cadence to initiate a conversation. You can use email automation platforms to make this part of the prospecting process more manageable.
You’ll need a compliant B2B data list for this technique to work. Companies like Evalian and Younium have used Cognism’s data to win 67% more opportunities from outbound sourced deals and book 50% more meetings!
Hook your ideal B2B prospect! Check out Cognism’s favourite cold-calling resources. Get cadences, cold calling scripts and on-demand training.👇
3. Social selling
Business-to-business prospecting wouldn’t be what it is without social media.
Here's where social selling comes in. SDRs follow B2B prospects on social media, engage with them and develop relationships over time. LinkedIn is the B2B sector’s most popular social network.
You can learn more about social selling by clicking on these resource links:
4. Sales cadences
The combination of all of the above techniques is known as a cadence. SDRs deploy email cadences, LinkedIn messages and cold calls together. This method often increases the chances of a B2B prospect responding.
Here are some of our favourite cadence resources:
5. Sales demos
The previous four B2B prospecting methods aim to get prospects to agree to attend a sales demo. A demo is a live demonstration of a product or service conducted by a BDM and is an integral part of the sales process.
Look at these resources for insights into nailing your next demo:
Sales discovery calls and questions | How to conduct a sales demo | Admin: the unsung hero of closing sales | Ghosted? How to reactivate your closed-lost deals
Also known as pay-per-click or PPC. Paid is an online advertising strategy carried out by performance marketers. Companies pay a fee whenever a business prospect clicks on one of their ads. The goal is to drive traffic to websites/content and increase conversions.
Watch Canberk Beker and Tim Hughes unpack Cognism’s paid social strategy. They discuss how to create top-performing paid social ads and deep dive into our best creatives. 👇
7. Content marketing
Content is part of a marketing strategy that includes publishing relevant and valuable content. Another aspect is promoting it to your target prospects across your lead sources.
Content can take many forms, including blogs, videos, webinars, podcasts and eBooks.
To get the most out of content marketing, hosting informative webinars is a good prospecting idea. This tactic will bring in more inbound leads for your sales team to enter into a sales funnel.
You might also find our prospect marketing resources useful:
Tips for creating content that Google will love | Money keywords SEO strategy | Inbound vs outbound marketing | The best B2B marketing strategies | What is Account Based Marketing (ABM)? | How to build the perfect ABM campaign
8. Email marketing
Campaign marketers manage this B2B prospecting strategy. It involves planning and executing B2B marketing campaigns delivered to prospects via email. The goal is to convert B2B sales prospects who are ready to buy or nurture those who aren’t.
These prospecting activities aim to generate opportunities and feed qualified prospects to the sales team. They will then take over the final stages of the B2B prospecting process, such as conducting sales demos and closing deals.
To achieve the best results, you might want to explore investing in a B2B email list provider like Cognism.
You can improve your B2B prospecting efforts by signing to the latest sales insights from Cognism’s VP of Global Sales, Jonathon Ilett, and Cognism’s VP of US Sales, Frida Ottosson, to get:
- Actionable tactics and strategies that will help you achieve the next level of growth.
- Two emails a month, less than a 2-minute read each. No spam – value only 👇
Where to get B2B prospecting data from?
One of the reliable sources of data for B2B prospecting is company and contact databases that provide up-to-date cell phone numbers and email addresses for prospects. Providers like Cognism allow you to generate prospect lists in your target accounts thanks to the advanced filters (seniority, job title, etc.).
Additionally, you can use intent data and sales event triggers to prioritise prospects who are ready to buy. Then, you can sync the lists to your CRM.
Here is why 2000+ revenue teams choose Cogism as their B2B prospecting data provider:
- Accurate and up-to-date global contact database.
- The best mobile phone number coverage in the US.
- The most complete data in the EMEA.
- Manually verified mobile data with 98% accuracy and verification service on request.
- Unrestricted access to viewing and page-level exporting global data in all packages (subject to fair use).
- CCPA & GDPR compliance (including broad DNC lists scrubbing and notified emails).
- Sales triggers and firmographics in every package.
- Seamless integrations with your existing tech stack and workflows.
- Intent data powered by Bombora.
- Web app and browser extension (works over LinkedIn, CRMs, sales engagement tools, and corporate websites).
Why is B2B prospecting data important?
Data is vital to the success of B2B prospecting. It’s the bedrock upon which every sales and marketing prospecting activity is built.
SDRs require accurate and compliant data lists to make cold calls, send B2B prospecting emails, and contact leads on social media. BDMs need up-to-date data to gain insights into their prospects, conduct successful demos and close business.
Sales data is also necessary for inbound marketing. Performance, content and campaign marketers use data to research, optimise and analyse their work. A clear focus on data across the team creates a data-driven marketing mindset, leading to improved results.
A B2B prospect is any person or organisation who fits your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) but hasn’t yet expressed an interest in your company. It’s sales and marketing’s job to make the B2B prospect aware of your product or service and guide them towards customers.
In recent years, there has been significant growth in sales and marketing technology, especially in the B2B sector. Many tools and solutions assist almost any B2B prospecting task. Cognism is one of them and it helps to identify and reach out to B2B prospects.
Technology is an excellent driver of B2B prospecting. It can automate sales activities such as cold calling, outbound emails, social selling and sales cadences.
Marketing activities like PPC, content, and email marketing depend on technology. Without technology, B2B prospecting would not be nearly as effective, if not impossible.
B2B companies can also use technology to measure, optimise and report on prospecting activities. The insights that sales prospecting tools can give to sales and marketing teams are often invaluable.
There are two types of B2B prospects:
1. Sales prospects
Sales prospects are people or organisations who match your ICP and are deemed suitable for prospecting.
This group includes:
- Potential customers contacted by phone, AKA cold calling.
- A list of prospective leads contacted via outbound email.
- Prospects who sales reps connect with on social media.
- Prospects contacted via a combination of these methods. This forms the basis of a sales cadence.
2. Marketing prospects
Marketing prospects are those people or organisations who have expressed an interest in your company by engaging with content produced by the B2B marketing team.
- Registering for a demo via a CTA on your company’s blog.
- Filling out a form on your company’s website.
- Downloading a piece of content that your company has produced.
B2B prospecting is a process managed by sales and marketing professionals. They may work alone but more usually in teams.
The B2B prospecting process is most effective when sales and marketing are closely aligned. Sometimes, combining the two can create a larger, more successful revenue team.
A sales team focused on B2B prospecting is often split into two groups. These groups perform separate tasks as part of the broader sales strategy.
The two groups are:
- Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) - this group is responsible for identifying prospects, engaging with them and booking meetings.
- Business Development Managers (BDMs) - this group is responsible for conducting sales demos, closing deals and generating revenue for the business.
This approach has several benefits:
- It creates a robust and repeatable B2B prospecting pipeline - the SDRs develop opportunities for the BDMs to action.
- It empowers each employee to focus solely on one responsibility - meaning that they quickly become experts in their roles.
- It builds a roadmap for career development and progression - if an SDR consistently hits their sales targets, they will become eligible for promotion to a BDM.
In general, three categories of marketers manage B2B prospecting. The categories are:
- Performance marketers - this group is responsible for acquisition channels across paid search and paid social. Optimising new channels for growth and testing are some of their main tasks.
- Content marketers - this group is tasked with planning and creating authoritative and actionable content. Their mission is to publish content that leads the industry conversation and delivers ROI.
- Campaign marketers - this group executes multi-channel marketing activities, implementing campaigns that drive customer acquisition across various lead source channels.
What links these groups together is the belief that data and performance should be at the heart of decision-making. They demonstrate a capacity to use innovative strategies to drive growth and engagement.
To build a list for B2B prospecting that contains accurate names and contact details of potential customers in B2B, you’ll need a contact data provider like Cognism or ZoomInfo.
Just be sure to choose a GDPR-compliant prospecting data provider to avoid adding buyers on DNC lists to your B2B sales prospecting data lists.
For starters, it’s fundamental to the success of a business. Efficient B2B prospecting ensures:
- A consistently filled pipeline.
- An accelerated sales cycle.
- Better communication between sales and marketing.
- Improved outreach attracting quality leads.
- Optimised outreach and campaigns.
- More incoming revenue.