The Salesperson’s Guide to Overcoming Prospecting Challenges

Posted in Strategy by Frank Cowell

Prospecting is a changing area in sales. Sales representatives can no longer rely on cold calls, door-to-door sales, and their knowledge of features to close a deal. Instead, they must work closely with marketers, parse data, and use advanced communication skills to build relationships with qualified leads.


As technology disrupts the sales field, sales representatives must embrace new tactics to overcome some of the most challenging aspects of prospecting. According to HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2016 report, 20% of sales representatives have trouble identifying leads, and 71% of respondents struggle with prospecting communications when leads know very little or nothing at all about the brand. Explore these insights and more when you download a copy of the report.Related: Get your complete copy of the State of Inbound report. Download the  report now.

Use These Tips to Overcome Top Prospecting Challenges

Here are some of the top prospecting challenges listed in HubSpot’s report and some inbound approaches for overcoming them:

1. Build Brand Awareness and Positioning

If your target market has little to no knowledge of your brand, the problem extends beyond sales. For sales professionals to succeed in the digital era, they and marketers must focus on brand exposure:

  • Dive deeper into marketing personas to discover where your target market spends time online.
  • Deliver relevant content in relevant channels.
  • Optimize content to showcase your value proposition and encourage brand exploration.
  • Update online information regularly.

These simple activities combined with a comprehensive marketing strategy improve a sales team’s ability to connect with leads and close the deal.

2. Leverage Technology

Data serves as a sales representative’s best friend in lead generation and identification activities. Use these tips to identify warm leads:

  • Familiarize yourself with relevant analytics reports. If your sales team doesn’t run digital analytics, head over to the marketing department and learn more about Google Analytics or the team’s preferred analytics platform. Use the report to help identify trends in A/B testing, repeat traffic flows, and other buyer-side insights.
  • Use your CRM system routinely. Log all relevant activities and encourage other sales representatives to focus on data quality management and information updates. If everyone works together to keep the data clean, you’ll gain all the information needed to identify a lead and make a move.

3. Understand Social Selling

Social selling is poised to become a fundamental aspect of sales in the digital age. HubSpot’s report lists social selling as an area with some of the most significant gains over the last few years. Sales representatives list it as 6% more important than last year.


In addition to a company’s social media site, social selling encourages sales representatives to use personal or professional accounts to engage with a target audience and develop connections with leads.

4. Optimize Response Rates

If sales activities such as emails and warm calls produce few responses, optimize your approach:

  • Utilize A/B test emails. How you say something is as important as what you say. Use A/B testing on all sales materials to maximize open, click, and response rates for every sales activity.
  • Focus on value. Modern prospects see right through traditional sales approaches. Today, a strong sales representative does more than reiterate features, pricing, and benefits. Create a compelling and personalized story, support the prospect in the decision-making process, and provide knowledge to encourage response rates.

5. Connect with Decision-makers

B2B sales representatives must often earn buy-ins from professionals at large companies. To maximize prospecting activities, take advantage of cross-selling opportunities with a network of non-competing businesses that target the same market.

Build relationships as a go-to resource in your area of sales among non-competitor vendors to gain access to a larger pool of decision-makers. Go straight to the decision-makers through your referral network instead of working your way up from an assistant who does research.

HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2016 report explores the top challenges sales representatives and marketers face. The information in this report will help you overcome some of the top challenges to prospecting in the digital age to engage leads and maximize ROI.

About Frank Cowell

Frank Cowell is President at Elevator, a digital brand strategy agency based in the San Diego, California area. He works regularly with CEOs, CMOs, and VPs of Marketing who are looking to create amazing brand experiences while driving inbound leads. A self-taught programmer with a deep understanding of technology, Frank enjoys a unique blend of brand development and marketing savvy that enables him to offer fresh perspectives on often-complex marketing concepts that he distills into actionable, easy-to-understand language. An energetic and entertaining speaker, Frank presents regularly to regional and national organizations on topics related to branding and digital marketing.
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