Oct 26, 2020 Paul Sullivan

Top tips for successful b2b sales prospecting in 2021

Updated January 2024.

B2B sales prospecting has often been the bane of life for salespeople. Many companies bed in new sales staff by having two sales roles within a department: BDRs (business development representatives), who typically handle inbound leads and SDRs (sales development representatives), who focus on outbound activities.


Introduction to B2B sales prospecting
Technology in the sales prospecting process
Choose Chrome as your web browser
A standardised sales prospecting process
How to prospect for B2B opportunities

Introduction to b2b sales prospecting

Don’t confuse the two roles as being separate because of the inbound versus outbound thing, and if you are either of these salespeople, don’t quit reading yet as I’m just giving background context to this article. Whether your role is inbound or outbound, BOTH jobs have to prospect to some degree. It’s just that the inbound focused BDRs typically have “incoming” or inbound enquiries to manage and SDRs have to go and find the business themselves - aka “outbound” - through 100% cold hard prospecting. Either way, a solid sales pipeline of leads is what both aspire to create.

Sales pipeline generation

Sales pipeline generation is integral to the growth of your service or product business. Without sales, you are reliant on self-funding or funds raised through investors, therefore having a standardised sales process is hugely important - and the only way to scale your sales pipeline and sales team.

The days of having maverick salespeople doing things without structure is over, and it’s up to sales leaders to ensure the whole team has the same sales approach. By doing so, you can see where people need upskilling and provide a consistent customer experience that is scalable and measurable. You should focus on transitioning from traditional sales to consultative sales, diagnosing solutions rather than proposing them.

Now let’s take a look at my top tips for successful B2B sales prospecting in 2021.

Technology in the sales prospecting process

Real sales prospecting success comes from planning, hence my constant reference to having a standardised sales process. Before any salesperson decides to jump online and furiously search for prospects on LinkedIn, you need the right tools to get the best outcome.

CRM - Customer Relationship Management (Software)

CRM is the most crucial piece of technology in the sales organisation. Forget excel spreadsheets, especially when there is a great FREE option in the HubSpot free CRM. Now as a HubSpot agency, you could say there is a bias here, but any free tool that does what it should is worth suggesting. However, let me offer up some alternatives:

  • Salesforce
  • Pipedrive - free trial available
  • Insightly - free version available
  • Bitrix24 - free version available
  • Zoho CRM - free version available

The CRM enables your SDRs, BDRs and sales leaders to effectively log prospects' details, record deal progress, track email and phone communications (depending on the CRM) and easily connect with other sales and marketing tools within your organisation. You can build better reporting and upskill yourself or your team, primarily through the HubSpot CRM, which includes a certified training course in sales, marketing and sales and marketing tools. So this is our number one tip for sales prospecting in 2021.

Choose Chrome as your web browser

Using Google’s Chrome browser as your browser of choice is my number two tip for successful sales prospecting.

You have to choose Chrome as your operating system for browsing the web due to a large number of chrome extensions that will benefit your sales prospecting process.

What is a chrome extension?

Google says “Extensions are small software programs that customise the browsing experience. They enable users to tailor Chrome functionality and behaviour to individual needs or preferences.”

For you as an SDR or BDR, they will help you find contact details for those hard-to-find decision-makers in your target market companies. To find your extensions, you need to visit the Chrome Web Store, but I’ve listed the ones you need below and why:

  • Dux-soup - Dux-soup helps you create scalable LinkedIn outreach campaigns that connect with prospects, nurture relationships and deliver leads.  You can automatically send LinkedIn connection invitations, view, follow and endorse profiles, send InMails and messages - then follow-up your responses directly in LinkedIn or send new leads to your CRM.
  • Hunter.io - With Hunter for Chrome, you can immediately find who to contact when you visit a website. You can get the names, job titles, social networks and phone numbers along with the email addresses. All the data has public sources detailed in the search results.
  • Clearbit Connect - Find employee email addresses for any company and display useful contextual data for anyone who emails you. After installing Connect, the information of millions of companies and people will only be a click away.
  • ContactOut - ContactOut adds a powerful overlay on top of LinkedIn profiles. You'll see phone numbers, email addresses and links to social media profiles. They have 300m professionals from 30m companies in their database. All emails provided are triple verified and 97% accurate.
  • Klenty - Klenty is a sales engagement tool with multi-channel outreach capabilities that lets you send personalised emails, automated follow-ups, calls and tasks at scale for all your leads.
  • Snovio Email Finder - Find email addresses from LinkedIn profiles or websites. Validate email addresses with email verifier and message with Email Sender. Snovio is an easy-to-use email finder with an inbuilt email verifier, email drip campaigns and a lot of free tools. With Snovio Email Finder for Chrome, you can find your prospective leads’ emails, put them into mailing lists to get replies, and nurture leads automatically.
  • Snovio Web Tech Checker - The extension helps find out the technologies used to build a website or an app. It detects CMS, marketing tools, eCommerce solutions, JavaScript libraries, media servers, dev tools and more. You'll also get additional information about the website by simply activating the extension while visiting a website.
  • Builtwith Tech Profiler - The BuiltWith Chrome Extension lets you find out what a website is built with by a simple click on the Builtwith icon. BuiltWith is a website profiler tool. Upon looking up a page, it returns all the technologies it can find on the page.
  • Wappalyzer - Wappalyzer is a technology profiler that shows you what websites are built with. Find out what CMS a website is using, as well as any framework, eCommerce platform, JavaScript libraries and many more. Wappalyzer is more than a CMS detector or framework detector: it uncovers more than a thousand technologies in dozens of categories such as programming languages, analytics, marketing tools, payment processors, CRM, CDN and others.

All of these chrome extensions are great, and some overlap, but between them, the quality of contact detail varies, so I have them all at hand to provide an excellent cover. However, in addition to these Chrome extensions, we use a SaaS platform called Cognism.

Cognism works well in our tech stack as it syncs neatly with Hubspot CRM (and Salesforce). We've used several of their competitors over the years and their contact data seems to be extremely competitive with any of the extensions and performs better.

The latter chrome plugins help you understand what technologies a company uses by analysing the technology and software connected to the website. From website CMS to marketing pixels and marketing automation software, excellent knowledge to prime your questions as your prospect your opportunities and build your picture of the organisation. Ideal for SaaS sales teams.

For my third tip, we’ll dive into a standardised sales prospecting process.

A standardised sales prospecting process

So far, we have covered the technology you need to keep a record of your progress once you start prospecting with CRM. In addition to that, I have provided a range of Chrome Browser extensions that you can use to find contact information and technology used by a target business, perfect for B2B sales prospecting.

As my final tip, please think about standardising your sales prospecting service, and this is how you do it.

FACT: 50% of sales times wasted on unproductive prospecting

Break it into three stages:

Prepare your prospecting

Define your target market

Whilst many salespeople see the value to all businesses in their service or product, honing your target market benefits you and your prospects. The smaller the number of business verticals you focus on personally, the better you understand the incumbent business pain you become. Improving your ability to diagnose problems the business may be facing and therefore become a trusted advisor as opposed to a pesky salesperson. Another great reason why a standardised sales process is key to your success.

But to truly understand your target market, you need to develop your buyer personas. Organic profiles of your ideal customers so that you can learn about their pains, successes, frustrations, demands, problems they face and so on. By developing these key profiles for each buyer in the buyer's journey, you will be able to nail your prospecting time and time again.

By highly targeting industries and decision-makers, your prospecting will improve time and again, and your open rates of taking prospects to leads will increase your ability to convert.

How to prospect for b2b opportunities

Use Video

So this is my favourite part, and my first step is to say, use VIDEO!

Software like Vidyard or Loom will help you differentiate yourself from the crowd. With so many new platforms automating LinkedIn prospecting, too many emails are just words, so make this first contact count. Record your introduction to the prospect and send them a video. Video builds personal recognition and helps establish you as someone who does more from the outset.

Things to consider: be personable, use screen recording - if you are assessing their website, record your analysis and share that, same for social media or their content production. Show alternatives and their competitors if they are doing things better to show you've researched the business.

You can also see how many times the videos are watched, giving you an idea of how interested the prospect is in your idea and that can then be turned into a trigger event to pick up the phone and call them.

Use the telephone

Use the telephone. Yes. I said it, get on the phone and talk to people. It is NOT acceptable to simply said out hundreds of emails and then use that as a benchmark to gauge your performance. Use emails to introduce yourself and give reason to follow up with a phone call or use them to confirm agreements on a call or at a meeting. Remember if you’ve sent an email, you are now not cold calling somebody, primarily if you have used video to open your prospecting.

Have a standardised B2B prospecting approach

The outreach process also has steps to follow, which you can structure depending on how valuable the prospect is. Consider:

For High/Medium rated prospects - 10 attempts to contact the opportunity. A mix of Calls, voicemails, Vidyards/looms and emails.

For Low rated prospects - 5 attempts to contact the opportunity. Two calls/voicemails, Vidyard's in up to 3 emails.

For new leads/conversions on the website or company landing pages - call within 5 minutes. Connect and book an exploratory call and follow up by email.

This process can be tweaked to suit individual needs, but remember the current number of touchpoints to convert a prospect these days is around 12. That’s a lot of contact through direct, calls, social media, sharing content, etc. So the best prospects will be worth the wait IF you have a standardised sales process. If not, it could just be a waste of your time.

Closing summary

In this article, I discussed the tools needed for the sales prospecting process to work effectively and the things you need to put in place to build a dependable, scalable sales process. And ideas on what to look for when cold prospecting. Again, if you are an established SDR or BDR reading this and you have other points to add, drop us a note in the comment below, it all helps to develop better prospecting skills. We have written a far deeper deep dive into a fully standardised sales process and invite you to read it by clicking here.

If your prospecting or sales process needs standardising, or if you don’t have the right technology in place to support your sales team, please speak to one of our teams in confidence and start rectifying your problems.

Published by Paul Sullivan October 26, 2020
Paul Sullivan