Can Sales Prospecting Be Automated? 3 Steps to Getting More Leads In Less Time

sales prospecting automation

Have you studied how long it takes your SDRs and AEs to find relevant people to contact as target customers? Do you know the ratio of time spent “finding new leads” to actually reaching out and engaging them? Do you need a process for better sales prospecting that will save your team hundreds of hours by avoiding manual grunt work?

If you’re like us a year ago – you recognize that the process of sales prospecting can eat up more than 50% of your outbound reps’ time, and is generally a slow-moving and frustrating task.

To help our reps spend more time doing what they’re best at (actually selling), we decided to experiment with simplified prospecting, and settled on the following workflow:

The Recipe for Better Sales Prospecting

  • Create a concept for a group of companies.
    • eg: Fortune 500 industrials, companies hiring Software Engineers in Chicago, companies that recently raised $10M+
  • Build a list of those companies – with their web domain.
    • Hint: you can pay an upworker to do this!
  • Run that list of companies through a prospecting tool – Such as Clearbit, Zenprospect, or Lead Genius to identify the right prospects.

How We Found Hundreds of Prospects in 2 Hours

Ok, so what does this actually look like? How many targeted, ICP leads can we find in 2 hours of work? Here’s a recent example.

  • Exec Trip to Chicago – June 2017

The Concept: In this case, we wanted to find appropriate people for our execs to meet with while in Chicago for a customer visit. Most of our existing customers in Illinois are retail or technology companies with more than 500 employees – so I used those as parameters for my list.

The Companies: I post an Upwork job saying “generate a list of retail and technology companies in Chicago with more than 500 employees”, and have someone return ~200 company names + domains. In this case, they typically return the list within 24 hours for less than $13 total.

The Prospects: Now’s the fun part – I fire up Google Sheets and upload my CSV of domains, then run the “Clearbit Sheets” extension (where I can indicate what titles I’m interested in) to find the actual prospects I want to talk to.

The result of that is a sheet like this, with hundreds of names, titles, and email addresses.  

Better Sales Prospecting 1

After that, I can give this CSV directly to my SDR to set meetings for the trip, or upload it to our CRM with a tag like “Chicago Trip June 2017”

Can this whole process be automated?

This streamlined process was a huge improvement over finding targets one-by-one, but still was quite repetitive and took a lot of our valuable time.

The next step for us was to work with our internal systems team. They took the above process and turned it into a script that does everything from finding the correct leads to tagging them and adding them to our CRM.

Here’s an example of what that script looks like:

Better Sales Prospecting 2

That script takes the time from Concept → List of Prospects down to about 20 minutes of employee time (down from 2 hours with just the simplified process).

Key Takeaways

  • If you haven’t automated your prospecting process, your sales reps are spending very valuable time clicking around LinkedIn instead of using it on higher-value activities (like talking to customers).
  • The first step towards automation is to implement the 3-step processing process – coming up with a Concept, generating Companies, and finally finding the right Prospects.
  • Aim to do this prospecting in batches of 100-500
  • There are inexpensive tools that excel at each piece of this process, and will only cost you a few dollars to save you hours of your time.
  • After you’ve created a consistent, streamlined process, you can work with a sales-minded engineer to turn the entire thing into a simple script, and save countless more hours.

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