How to Prioritize Sales Prospecting Calls and Contacts

By Giuseppe D'Angelo, EMEA Business Development Manager, 3D2B

No matter how wide a customer base you can attract, sales managers and reps who say, “Oh, our team sells to everyone,” are setting themselves up for failure. The fact is, “everyone” is not your customer. It’s just not possible. 

Just as you segment your market, you need to prioritize your sales prospecting calls instead of trying to call absolutely everyone. A good calling strategy will help you keep existing customers happy and close as much new business as possible. 

Because time and resources are limited, top salespeople analyze their opportunities, target their markets, and segment their prospects. So, before picking up the phone, prioritize your contacts and call list.

Call Existing Customers and High-Priority Prospects First
Your existing customers should always be your highest priority. Not only does their loyalty deserve your attention, but they hold the best odds for repeat business. 

According to Marketing Metrics, you have a 60-70 percent chance of selling to your customer base, but only a 5-20 percent probability of selling to a new prospect.

Clients – whether phoning with a question, experiencing a problem with a product or service, or in the demo phase with a new product – should be at the top of your call list. Answer their questions, solve their problems, and follow up at every opportunity. Take care of their issues; then, use that opportunity to launch into new business.

Similarly, you need to stay in touch with your most promising prospects. Whether you’re calling with news about a just-released white paper, to alert them about a sales promotion or price change, or to ask if they have any questions, your call can help move the relationship forward. You already have a foot in the door; keep it there by letting top prospects know their business is important to you.

In both cases, you have buyer engagement. When you continue to build on that, you optimize your sales results. 

Use Qualification to Prioritize Contacts
Not all leads or prospects, whether inbound or outbound, are created equal. You know from experience that some industries, companies, contacts, and issues are a better fit and easier sell than others.

That’s why your sales prospecting process should include qualifying all new leads as they come in the door. Top sales reps use lead qualification to help them set their calling strategy. Here are three questions to ask. 

  1. What’s the prospect’s title? Perhaps you have a preference when opening a relationship with a potential buyer – whether that’s a C-suite decision maker, a middle manager, or someone working on the front lines. 
  2. What is the industry? Chances are you have more experience selling into select sectors. If you have an industry that is a steady source of sales, new prospects in this industry should make your shortlist.
  3. What’s their need? Regardless of what you’re selling, your products and services are going to be better suited to resolving specific problems. Focus on leads where you know you have the best solution. And, when outbound prospecting, look for the signals – company growth, expansion to a new location, recent acquisition, etc. – that indicate the timing is right. 

Prioritize the leads and prospects that best fit your criteria. These are your ideal customers. Your company will have a strong track record to support your call and a message – including statistics and case studies  –to help you make your case. Tackling these leads first may help you shorten your average sales cycle.

Sales Prospecting Pro Tip: Don’t Overlook the Whales
It’s tempting to want to call companies where you know you can get past the gatekeeper easily and make a quick sale. But you don’t become a top producer selling your budget-level solution or by building a customer base of one-time buyers.

Evaluate your opportunities. Focus first on prospects with the potential to buy your full-fledged solution or to become repeat buyers.

And then there are the long-time customers who haven’t bought in a while. Call them about a sale you’re running, a product upgrade, or an extension to your services. Reactivate your long-time customers by upselling and even cross-selling into new departments or locations.

To be a top producer, prioritize your sales calls by following up with existing customers and reinforcing your relationships with top prospects. Meet their needs first. Then build your new business strategy around prospects’ qualifications, needs, and potential.

Finally – and only when you’ve worked through your priorities – set aside a few hours or earmark a day or two a month to expand your reach into new markets with potential. This way, you’ll optimize your sales prospecting call strategy and book more business.

Giuseppe D’Angelo is EMEA business development manager at 3D2B.