5-Step Plan to Penetrate the Market in 90 Days (In Any Industry)

5-step plan to penetrate the market image
Sales Management

If you only had 90 days to penetrate the market and produce sales, what would you do?

While you could come up with a complicated plan that won’t deliver results for half a year or more, you can get better results, faster, by implementing a DRIP Marketing Plan.

Keep reading to learn how to put together this 5-step plan — and penetrate your market in just 3 short months.

DRIP: The Secret to Reliably Penetrate the Market

In sales, no matter how much you may wish otherwise, the fact is a prospect buys on their own timeline. Not yours.

If they won’t buy today, you must develop a plan to stay in touch until they do.

You need a sales engagement plan to deliver those touches. And you need to take a multi-touch approach, so the effort comes off as natural and organic.

Enter the drip campaign

benefits of drip campaigns infographic

Now, traditionally, it was thought that 7–10 touches were required to engage prospects and get them ready to talk to a sales rep. And for that, an automated email series stood out as the best way to deliver those touches.

And it worked.

For a time.

But studies are showing that the old B2B sales and marketing mix isn’t working anymore. In fact, BrightFunnel report found that from 2014 to 2015:

  • It took 52% more marketing touches to close a deal.
  • The total number of touches were evenly split between pre-sales (53%) and the sales cycle (47%).
  • The length of lead-to-revenue cycles increased by 32%.
  • Tech marketers had to nurture leads 12+ months before they hit the sales pipeline.

Clearly, a typical, email-only drip campaign isn’t enough.

Which is why my team and I developed a system to penetrate the market with Directed Relationship Intervention Prospecting (DRIP).

Think relationship selling, sales prospecting, and lead nurturing all rolled into one.

A well-designed DRIP Marketing Plan ensures you stay in frequent contact to build a relationship with the prospect over time. Then, when they are ready to buy, they will think of you first — and will either reach out to connect with you or will be ready to start the sales process when you contact them.

Like the old-style drip campaign, each touch is a drip of water. On its own, it might not amount to much, but over time, every drip adds up to a very large pool.

But with our updated DRIP approach, you’re taking a much more strategic approach to prospecting and lead nurturing — which will help you penetrate the market in record time. Keep reading to learn how to put it to work in your sales process starting today.

Here’s how to create your DRIP Sales Plan to penetrate the market in 5 Simple Steps:

  1. Define your target market
  2. Outline prospect pre-qualification guidelines
  3. Create a list of potential prospects
  4. Initiate first contact using a diversified prospecting approach
  5. Stay in contact until the buying cycle dictates opening the sales process

Step 1 – Define Your Target Market and Create a Prospect List

Sales is really a numbers game. You have to send a certain number of emails or make a specific number of calls to find a prospect. But what if you could improve the odds? What if you could scale your efforts and get the same results with fewer touches?

If you’re targeting everyone, your success rates are going to be low. But if you only reach out to people who are very likely to want or need your product, you’re going to have a lot more wins with a lot less work.

It’s only logical: Not every company can and will buy your product or service.

To maximize your prospecting time, you need to limit your outreach to people who are squarely within your target market. Which means you need to know who your target market is.

RELATED: 4 Steps to Create a Buyer Persona Sales Reps Will Use (Template Included)

Think about your best customers. Then focus on their distinct qualities:

  • the industry they operate in
  • their size, perhaps based on the number of employees
  • the products they buy
  • the competitors they buy them from

Be aware, your target market definition may be more specific, depending on the product or service you sell.

The best way to define where to spend your prospecting efforts is to analyze where you have been successful in the past. Make a list or spreadsheet of all of your last quarter’s sales, and cross-reference it to your target market definition, with a separate column for industry, size of business, geographical location, etc.

Do you see trends emerge? Do you make more sales to certain sized companies in particular industries in specific geographical markets? Chances are you do, and that is where you should be spending your prospecting time.

Step 2 – Outline Your Prospect Pre-Qualification Guidelines

Just as it is dangerous to assume that every business can buy from you, it is just as dangerous to believe that every business within your target market can buy from you at any time!

To successfully penetrate the market, you need to know how often your prospects buy your products. In other words, how long is the typical buying cycle.

This is not the same as how often customers use your products, but rather how often they renegotiate the contracts for their use. For example, you use your car every day, but you only buy a new one every few years.

Knowing where your targets are in their buying cycle ensures, not only are you in the right place, but you are there at the right time. To find this out, you need to develop pre-qualifying questions before you start prospecting.

Asking the right questions can help you determine whether you’re spending your valuable sales resources with the right company (and at the right time).

Here are some sample pre-qualifying questions:

  • How many people are employed by your company?
  • Do you currently use widgets?
  • Who supplies your widgets?
  • How many widgets do you use on a monthly basis?
  • Many users of widgets also tend to use gadgets. Do you as well?
  • How long have you been dealing with your current supplier?
  • How long have you been using your current system?
  • When did you last negotiate your current contact for widgets?

RELATED: Disqualifying Prospects: 50+ Sales Leaders Share Their Best Methods

Step 3 – Create Your Prospecting List

Now that you have defined your target market and when they typically buy, the next step is to create a list of companies to contact.

Creating a prospecting list can be quite simple. The information you need is readily available from several different sources.

Business Directories – A quick Google search will yield many online directories, many of which can be viewed on the internet at no charge or downloaded for a nominal fee. Some sites to look for include municipal government directories, business associations, the Chamber of Commerce, Boards of Trade, and even the Yellow Pages.

List Brokers – Purchased lists tend to be more expensive, but the benefits of working with a detailed and segmented list may make the investment worthwhile. If you choose to go this route, don’t skimp. A low-quality list broker will often deliver a list that’s old and outdated, making the investment all but worthless.

LinkedIn – Although you can use any social media platform to generate sales leads, the main site for B2B leads is LinkedIn. You can search by company, job title, industry, and geographic location. Since every user maintains and updates their own profile information, LinkedIn is the most current and most accurate source for prospecting lists available.

Referrals – Considered by many to be the most valued and effective lead source, studies show very few salespeople ever ask. If are one of those salespeople, check out this video to get detailed scripts on how salespeople should ask for referrals.

RELATED: Why The Sales World Sucks at Earning Referral Business and How You Can Change The Game

Step 4 – Initiate First Contact

Now that all the necessary prep work is done, it’s time to start contacting the companies on your prospect list.

The purpose of your first call is to obtain the name and contact information of the Key Decision Maker (KDM) within each company. A very effective opening greeting that I have used for years is:

“Hi, I hope you can help me today. I am looking for the name of the person in charge of purchasing widgets.”

One of the reasons this greeting is so effective is the job description of the receptionist. We tend to think of them as only gatekeepers; however, in reality, they are responsible to greet and assist all those that call the company they work for.

The chance of any receptionist saying “no” to your request for help in the first sentence is extremely remote. If they did not want to help, they would not be receptionists in the first place!

Also, note that the greeting specifically asks for the name of the person. If you just ask to speak to the person and they are not available, your call could end without you gathering any more information than you had before you made the call. All you have done is waste your time.

By asking specifically for the name of the person, no matter what happens in the rest of the call, at least you have gathered the name of your key contact.

If they are not available to speak with you now, you at least you have their name for next time and can open your second call with, “May I speak to John Doe, please.”

This alone makes your prospecting effort worthwhile!

Lastly, and most importantly, the greeting asks for the person in charge of purchasing your product.

If you don’t actually use the word purchasing, often you’ll get the name of the person who operates or uses your product, as opposed to the name of the person responsible for buying it.

RELATED: A 5-Step Discovery Call Checklist Proven to Increase Conversions by 580%

While important in the process, operators rarely have the authority to make the final buying decisions. Those decisions are normally made by someone higher in the organization, someone who has budget accountabilities for product purchases.

Please note, although you are asking for the person in charge of purchasing your product, you are not actually asking for someone specifically in the purchasing department.

A purchaser’s role is to execute a purchase for a product based on another department’s purchasing criteria. Unless you are selling purchase order forms, your key contact is the person in the other department.

After your opening greeting, be sure to confirm the KDM’s complete contact information, including Proper spelling of name, title, email address.

Even if you don’t talk to the KDM in the company now, your prospecting call doesn’t have to end there. Ask the receptionist your pre-qualifying questions just as you would if you were speaking to the KDM.

The more information you can gather, the better.

In other words, your prospecting call is considered successful if you answered the following questions:

  • Is this company really a prospect?
  • If yes, are they a prospect today?
  • If not today, then when?

If the prospect passes all you pre-qualifying criteria, and you think they are a prospect today, great! Book your Fact Find appointment and open the sales process.

If not, file it in your CRM system until the prospect’s buying cycle determines further sales contact.

Remember, sales is a numbers game. When doing your first contact calls, you need to be persistent. The chances of you connecting on your first try aren’t great.

As I discuss in detail in my webinar training video, You Can’t Sell Unless You Get In The Door! – How to prospect the executive suites using today’s technologies, use a diversified prospecting approach, including email templates, telephone, and other prospecting techniques, and execute your prospecting activity on a planned schedule.

Step 5 – Stay in Contact with Your DRIP Marketing Campaign

How many sales touches you make, or how often you “drip” your prospects, will depend on your product and the average prospect’s buying cycle. However, there are some general guidelines you should keep in mind:

If the buying cycle of the prospect indicates he will purchase your product within the next six months, the frequency of contact should be at least once per month until you obtain the Fact Find appointment.

If you believe the prospect will purchase in the next year, the minimum frequency should be once per quarter, moving to once per month in the last six months before the purchase.

When the prospect is not likely to buy for a few years to come, you should contact them at least once per year, and then increase the frequency as time goes by.

If you are not sure of the customer’s buying cycle, or you sell the type of product that can be purchased whenever the prospect sees fit, contact should be made at least once per quarter until you determine otherwise.

As stated earlier, you want to stay in touch with your prospects, so when they are ready to buy your product or service, they think of you first.

The point being, you really can’t stay in touch too often. When in doubt, make the follow-up call!

The Bottom Line to Penetrate the Market in 90 Days

No matter what we do as sales professionals,

  • The fact is prospects buy on their own time frame, not ours.
  • The key is to create a very simple and repeatable process you can implement to stay in touch with prospects so you stay “top of mind.”
  • In sales, “top of mind” means “top of the leader board.”

Remember as the old sales saying goes, “Failure is the path of least persistence.”

Susan A. Enns is a professional sales coach and author with B2BSalesConnections.com. She has a proven track record of sales excellence over her 30 plus year career, including consecutively being the top sales rep in Canada, managing the top sales branch, and achieving outstanding sales growth in a national channel sales organization. A sales and management training expert, her work has been published in several locations numerous times and her books have sold on five separate continents. A passionate community volunteer and cancer survivor, Susan lives and works in Ottawa, Canada.