May 23, 2024

How to Ace Prospect Engagement: 3 Principles & 5 Strategies

How to Ace Prospect Engagement: 3 Principles & 5 Strategies | Mixmax

We’ve all been there… The sale was going well, but now, for whatever reason, it’s stalling.

But don’t worry — this is a totally natural part of sales. 

Some prospects just need more time in the cocoon than others. 

Even the most enthusiastic prospect might still need more product education and trust-building before they’re ready to make a deal with you.

That’s where prospect engagement comes in — the arsenal of strategies and touches you use to routinely nurture your prospects into buyers. 

Today we’ll show you how to master prospect engagement by sharing three best practices and five strategies for keeping your prospects moving steadily through your pipeline towards a close. 

 

How to measure prospect engagement

Before diving into the best practices for prospect engagement, we need to cover how to measure it, because —as the maxim goes — you can’t improve what you don’t track. 

Below are some critical prospect engagement metrics to monitor: 

  • Email opens. 
  • Email replies. 
  • Email link clicks. 
  • LinkedIn InMail response rate.
  • Callbacks. 
  • Demos booked.

Fortunately, most sales engagement platforms will automatically track these metrics for you on a personal dashboard. 

Mixmax, for example, will even analyze this data and assign an engagement score to each of your contacts. This will help you quickly identify and target the most engaged prospects: 

Contacts engagement (4)Mixmax Contacts Page 

3 key principles for effective prospect engagement 

Fundamentals are helpful when mastering a skill.

The difference between a novelist who understands the basics of active tense and “show vs tell” will be miles ahead of the one who doesn’t.

That said, let’s cover three crucial best practices for effective prospect engagement. 

Knowing these will help you come up with your own effective techniques that fit your target audience, selling style, and sales process, instead of just relying on this article’s recommended strategies (no matter how brilliant they are). 

People buy from people they trust (so build relationships)

A sandwich shop could have a C food safety rating on the door, but if you’ve been going there and small-talking with the owner for years, you’re still going to pick it over the new, fancy A-rated shop across the street.

As salespeople in the internet era, we tend to discount the role of relationships in sales. We often think demos, case studies, and statistics are the best keys to a prospect's wallet.

But it pays to remember that even the most rational buyers buy just as much for the salesperson as for the product. 

Here are some best practices to build relationships with prospects:

  • Have frequent, personalized interactions across various channels. 
  • Use LinkedIn, liking their posts, commenting, and direct messaging.  
  • Aim for video calls and in-person meetings when you can. 
  • Talk about other things than the sale — industry trends, sports, news (prob not politics)

We’ll cover some other strategies for building relationships in prospect engagement later on.  

Education is the most valuable form of engagement

A good rule of thumb is to have 80% of your prospect engagement outreach focus on educating the prospect about either your solution, their problem, or their industry at large. 

This positions you as more than just another salesperson. You become a consultant, a teacher, and an expert they want on their side. 

Additionally, it opens up opportunities to spark that “aha” moment in the prospect’s mind.

For instance, a single industry report could open their eyes to the importance of seizing the market opportunity that your service helps them capture.

Here are some types of content that are great for educating prospects: 

  • Video product tutorials.
  • Case studies and customer testimonials. 
  • Industry reports.
  • In-person demos. 
  • Product comparisons and reviews. 
  • White papers and ebooks.
  • Infographics.
  • Blog posts (like this one). 

Keep in mind that not all of your content has to come from your brand. 

For instance, if you sold real estate software, you might send articles from real estate publications to nurture my prospects and leads, along with a few key takeaways to kickstart a conversation that’s not totally related to the sale but certainly supportive of it. 

Personalization wins attention and affection (so do your research)

Spray and pray is dead for lead generation, and even more so for prospect engagement. 

Prospects don’t have time for generic, canned messages.  

So keep your touches personalized. Every time you bring up a feature, share a case study, or send an industry report, tie it back to the problem they need help solving. 

For example, if you’re talking with a VP at a small financial services firm, share a case study about a company similar to theirs. 

Keep doing research 

Throughout the nurturing process, continue digging for more information that’ll help you be even more relevant to your prospect.  

  • Ask questions on calls.
  • Trigger conversations over messaging.
  • Read up on their industry. 
  • Explore mentions of their company on social media and the news.
  • Use trigger events.

Do whatever you can to uncover their other goals and pain points. 

After you’ve provided them with enough personalized, research-driven content, your prospect will come to see you as a credible expert on their issue, and they’ll want to work with you. 

5 powerful strategies for engaging prospects 

Let’s apply those principles to real strategies, including multi-channel engagement sequences, LinkedIn networking, micro-commitments, revealing reservations, and group meetings. 

Use multichannel nurturing sequences  

A multichannel nurturing sequence is a series of targeted interactions across several different channels, including text, email, phone, and social. 

By going wide, you increase the number of times you’re able to contact your prospect without it becoming overwhelming. 

For example, five emails over five days might feel a tad clingy.

But two emails, one LinkedIn comment, one LinkedIn message, and one text tends to feel normal to a prospect.

Plus, you get to leverage each medium’s different powers:  

  • Phone: For having in-depth, nuanced conversations, overcoming objections, and building rapport. 
  • Text: For quick reminders about upcoming meetings and events (e.g., webinars). 
  • Email: For sending interesting content, proposals, and other sales documents. 
  • Social: For quick back-and-forth messaging conversations and non-business convos.  

Your ideal sequence will depend on the prospect’s stage in the sales process and their specific needs.

But here’s an example for re-engaging prospects who, unfortunately, fell out of the pipeline:

multichannel sequence

Now, this process might seem like a lot to manage on your own. 

Fortunately, with an easy-to-use sales engagement tool like Mixmax, you can create and execute personalized, multi-step sequences, while tracking each prospect’s activity and progress through them. 

Double-down on LinkedIn prospect engagement 

If you sell B2B, chances are your prospects are active on LinkedIn, reading and commenting on posts instead of doing their work. (humans have an insatiable appetite for distraction). 

Since their attention is on the platform, you should hang out there and enhance their experience while building rapport that’ll drive the deal forward. 

According to LinkedIn’s data, reps who social sell outperform those who don’t: 

social selling

You can engage with prospects on LinkedIn using these techniques: 

  • Connect with your prospects: Send every prospect in your pipeline a connection request with a message. If you haven’t spoken to them yet, explain the relevance of the connection.
  • Comment on their posts: Stay top of mind while demonstrating expertise by leaving relevant and valuable comments that add to the conversation. 
  • Publish posts of your own: Establish yourself as an expert by sharing useful ideas and tactics that’ll help your prospects accomplish their goals. 
  • Start InMail conversations: Ask questions about their work or thoughts on a current industry event. Also, use their posts as launching points for discussions. 

Sales Navigator is helpful here (which Mixmax integrates with). 

So is a daily social selling routine. We recommend spending at least thirty minutes per day on LinkedIn (or however long it takes to do five touches). 

Of course, if LinkedIn touches are built into your multichannel sequences, that’ll affect how many you do per day.

But 5 should give you the momentum you need to build relationships with current prospects. It’s also low enough that you’ll stick to it and turn it into a habit. 

Pro Tip: If a prospect’s LinkedIn post resonates with you, direct message them about it, even if the content has nothing to do with the deal. For example, they might write about a sailing trip — if you share that hobby, tell them! Commonality => likability => cha-ching.

Related webinar: Social Selling Masterclass, LinkedIn Edition

 

Use Micro commitments to test prospect buying level

When it feels like a deal might be stalling, Jeb Blount, the founder of Sales Gravy and author of Fanatical Prospecting, always turns to micro-commitments. 


These are small requests you ask of your prospects, such as filling out a survey or a 5-minute call to review some way you discovered the solution could benefit them. 

These do two things:

  1. Tells you if the deal is truly stalling. If the prospect is wishy-washy and can’t even commit to something as small as providing feedback on a case study video you sent them, you at least know your intuition is right, and can act accordingly. 
  2. It keeps up momentum. When a prospect says yes to something small, they have an easier time saying yes to something a little bigger, and ultimately a lot bigger — like buying your solution. 

Interactive email widgets like polls and surveys can be great for this, while also helping you do more discovery, a vital aspect of prospect engagement. 

For instance, a property management tech salesperson could ask a prospect to answer two questions over email about their current tenant move-in processes. 

That way they learn more about the prospect’s needs and test their level of engagement. 

By the way, a tool like Mixmax makes it easy to create these Q&A surveys and embed them in your emails:

Q&A survey

Mixmax’s survey feature

Survey1Example of an embedded survey

Ask prospects what they need to move forward

When it comes to expressing hesitations and concerns, prospects aren’t generally the most forthcoming. 

Often, they’re more like Matt Damon’s character in Good Will Hunting—dead silent:

Good Will Hunting

As the leader of the sales conversation, it’s your job to encourage them to express their doubts about your solution and its ability to help them achieve their goals. 

With those doubts out in the open, you can address them and move the deal forward. 

Here are questions to ask prospects over phone or email to get them to reveal their objections:

“On a scale of 1-10, how ready are you to move forward with this? What do you need from us to get you to a 10?” 

Hold group meetings

If you work in B2B sales, try to get your prospects into group calls or demos, where multiple stakeholders are involved (btw, this is even more powerful when part of a larger multithreading strategy). 

According to Gong’s Group Call Report, win rates rise when more people attend sales meetings:

Gong virtual group sales calls

Why does this occur?

Setting aside the fact that group calls allow you to sell to more people at the target company, a major explanation for this trend is that when multiple people are on a call, an “enthusiasm domino effect” is more likely to occur. 

If, for example, the CEO sees their VPs grinning madly at a certain feature in real-time, this can be a lot more impactful to their view of your solution than if those same VPs were to stoically enter their office and tell them about the experience second-hand. 

Asking for a group call also happens to be an excellent way to get another chance to talk with your point-of-contact since they’ll likely attend the meeting and act as the liaison between you and the colleagues they bring along.

To facilitate group meetings, tell your champion some names or titles at the company you think should attend a meeting.

Here’s an example of an email a fintech company rep might send to a prospect: 

“Hey {Name},

 I noticed we haven’t spoken to your CFO and head of accounts payable. A lot of our past clients have wanted us to talk with them since they’ll be using our platform so often. Would you be open to arranging a demo with them? We’d love it if you joined as well, since we have some other insights to share with you.” 

Pro Tip: If you’re close with your champion, ask them to tell you what each attendant cares most about so you can tailor your talking points to their interests. 

Nailing prospect engagement

To review, the three essential ingredients of a prospect engagement are:

  1. Relationship-building
  2. Educational content
  3. Research-driven personalization 

And the five strategies that apply these principles:

  1. Multichannel nurturing sequences
  2. LinkedIn prospect engagement
  3. Asking for micro-commitments
  4. Surfacing hidden objections
  5. Group meetings 

If you include what you’ve learned to your prospect engagement, your close rates should rise, as will your confidence in your ability to progress even the deals that feel like they’re stuck in molasses. 

For more techniques, check out our post on 10 sales engagement tactics, where you’ll find a helpful infographic to save for future reference. 

You deserve a spike in replies, meetings booked, and deals won.

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