Yes, your prospecting goals. Because you have them, right? You know exactly how many prospecting calls you should be making each month, how many of those need to turn into qualified leads, and so on?

Or perhaps it’s not quite that structured. Setting prospecting goals takes time: you need to know what your style is and practise what works best with different prospects. You need to find out what works for you, and it doesn’t happen overnight. You can’t go setting goals before you know what is realistic for you, your sales team and your business. And you can’t set goals without first tracking prospecting.

Most people don’t track their prospecting efforts, just hoping for the best instead, and focusing on leads and customers who are further into the buyer’s journey. Even if you know the approaches that work best for you, because you might not have been collecting previous data to work off, you have no way of judging if you’re performing as expected, better, or worse.

Luckily, there is a way to bring order to your prospecting, setting yourself achievable SMART goals in line with your business’ wider targets. Here we’ll explore how to structure your prospecting, creating clear goals which, in turn, you can then work on smashing.

Before you set your goals

There are five things you need to be getting right before you can accurately set yourself prospecting goals (to then smash!). Without getting these steps right, you won’t know where your starting position is, and without a starting position, it’s impossible to track how well you’re doing. You’ll notice a pattern throughout these steps: structure. Without a structure to your process, you have chaos – and chaos can't be tracked. 

Step 1: Get to know them (before you even pick up the phone) 

Doing your due diligence at the start pays dividends later on. Research and qualify your leads, sorting the wheat from the chaff. This helps you cut out timewasters ahead of doing the time consuming bit.

If they have the kind of budget you want to deal with, with the size of organisation you’re targeting, and are actively navigating your site or filling in answers with your chatbot, these are all signifiers that they’re ready to be connected with.

When you've got clearly set buyer personas, you won't need to waste any time on the wrong types of prospects. As G2Crowd explains:

"It’s important to create a clearly defined customer profile. This is your cheat sheet to help you visualize the types of people and/or businesses you should be targeting in your cold outreach. A good customer profile will detail the types of personas that are going to be the best fit to buy the product or service you are selling."

Step 2: Identify decision makers

Don’t waste your time speaking to the wrong person: your time is precious. Dig around online to find the person you should be speaking to, and their contact details. Only reach out to this contact, and build a rapport with them if they're a good fit for your business. The sooner you identify the most useful person to talk to, the more likely you are to make a sale.

You can be fairly explicit in your search for the decision maker. In your prospecting emails, you might decide to ask if you are speaking to the right person for your query, and if not, may you have the email address of the person who is better suited for this correspondence? Think carefully of the recipient's viewpoint; are they truly eligible to make decisions, or do they want to be seen as more important than they are, taking you around the houses and unable to make real impact. Ryan Robinson at Close.com explains:

"If the expense is less than say $100/mo to your prospect, any motivated member of the right team may be able to initiate the purchase themselves without going through levels of management approval. On the other hand, if you’re selling a longer-term engagement or higher-priced product, you’ll likely need to move up the chain of command to a director or department head for ultimate sign off on a pricier deal."

Create a list of contacts – the name of the decision maker at that business, their size and budget, the likely pain points they’ll be experiencing, and any additional information you’ve picked up from their website or LinkedIn profile. By creating a list or spreadsheet with all this information, you can lay out Monday’s calls, Tuesday’s calls and so on, with all the relevant information you need stored in one place. After each call, you can colour code or leave yourself notes, according to whether you’re going to proceed with this contact or not. This process needs to be structured in order to help you make meaningful decisions about your prospecting.

Alternatively, HubSpot’s sales pipeline dashboard allows you to drag and drop prospects, leads and customers into different columns, earmarking which stage of their buyer’s journey they’re at and keeping track efficiently.

Step 3: Make it personal

Address the prospect as an individual. It sounds so basic, but you wouldn’t believe how many of us are still blanket emailing during prospecting. This rarely works. Leverage your online presence by sending them a blog post, testimonials or a case study that might help persuade them you’re the right business to work with them and understand their pain points.

Personalisation for the customer

Video is one of the most personal and forward-thinking moves you can make to ensure your prospecting efforts are personalised. Using the recipient's name, making references to their specific product or service, and a few key points from their website or LinkedIn profile can go a long way – and probably takes no more than 5-10 minutes to prepare first.

Find connections between you and the recipient – perhaps you are from the same area, worked for the same company previously or know some of the same ex-colleagues. Read their blog posts, watch their online webinars and really get a sense of who they are. The better you know them, and show you understand their pain points, the more likely they'll be to become leads, and customers. You'll only smash your prospecting goals if you're talking to people that want to talk back to you. 

Step 4: Time to talk

Once you’ve made that initial contact and received a response, pick up the phone. Do this fast – within the hour if possible. Cold calls may still have some place in the sales world, but it's increasingly difficult to get people on the phone at these early stages; emails seem far less intrusive. But because of the volume of emails we all receive each day, you need to make sure yours stands out.

By the time you do make a phone call, you should feel quite confident talking to your prospect; you've spent enough time researching them and deciding if they're suitable. This is where you can trial which approaches work and don't when speaking to your buyer persona. Do they prefer a friendly or more formal style? Are they stand-offish? Would they rather talk themselves or listen to you? One thing you can guarantee, is that talking about the prospect and how you can benefit them, rather than listing the functions of your product, is the way to go. 

Provide them with instant value, using the 'give before you get' method: offer them a tip, something for free which can help them immediately before they even think about buying from you. This builds trust and will help establish rapport between you. Don't take up too much of their time, and instead schedule a later call when you can contact them for a proper chat. 

Step 5: Face pain points and objections

You’re going to get a lot of push back – remember this is normal. Prospects are at the very start of their journey with you; they aren’t likely to jump at the chance to shower you with their hard-earned cash. Before getting on a call with them, write down what you think will be their biggest objections to you and your product. Instead of wilting and getting off the phone with them within 30 seconds when they say they aren't interested, have some backup strategies to keep a prospect on the phone. President of RAIN Group, Mike Schultz recommends:

"The idea is to start building the relationship even though there is an incumbent. Remember, many prospects are looking to switch providers in a year or two, but they don’t start the call off by mentioning that. By building the relationship early, you give yourself the inside track for when they do switch. And you can create the impetus for making a switch happen now, not later."

By approaching pain points or objections head on, you're showing a real faith in your product or service, and that you aren't scared to discuss challenging topics. This will inspire belief in you from the prospect. Even better, by making an initial outreach but then scheduling a better time to call for a more in-depth chat, you're showing that you're happy to be flexible and work to the prospect's timeline.

Getting pain points and objections out of the way in these early calls makes way for a positive, trusting relationship to follow – you aren't going to smash your prospecting goals unless you inspire feelings of security in your prospects at the start. Have answers at the ready, be prepared to offer solutions and evidence when prospects show uncertainty.

How these steps help you smash your goals:

Unless you are getting these steps right, you’ll have no idea what your capabilities are and will therefore be unable to set yourself meaningful goals. During a recent HubSpot email prospecting bootcamp, we found out that HubSpot sales reps spend a minimum of one hour per day prospecting. Their tips included:

  • Dedicating the hour at the start of the day, or the end of the day, to prospecting. This is when the office tends to be at its quietest and you will be able to email, record videos and make calls, undisturbed.
  • Within this hour, have a target of prospect to reach out to; HubSpot recommended five. This equates to twenty five in a week, which is considered an achievable number. Your figures might be different, but have definitive numbers in mind to push towards. 
  • Don't use a script, as such, but do plan what you're going to say. Create a template and where possible, make your emails and calls repeatable processes for ease, while also maintaining the personal touches mentioned above. 
  • Do this for a month or two, then work out what proportion of prospecting emails lead to connect calls. Once you’ve worked out that e.g. 20% of your outreach emails lead to calls with prospects, you have the starting point for your goals. The next month, you could aim for 30% of prospecting to lead to connect calls, therefore smashing your previous two months’ record.
  • Not only sending more prospecting emails, or picking up the phone increases leads. You might want to increase your prices, make your offering more concentrated, or encourage existing customers to buy more, or more frequently, from you. There are other 'levers' than customer numbers that you can look at. 

Structuring your prospecting process is essential for, not only organisation and giving you hard facts to work with, but it helps psychologically, too. Having real numbers to aim for, based on tracked information, you’ll maintain motivation and confidence in yourself and your sales team. This, more than anything, is essential to successful prospecting: if you have a team that believes in itself, is aware of and wants to exceed their targets, there’s no knowing how far you can go.