Before we get started, we would like to clarify: No, you can’t put your sales on autopilot. The ultimate success of your company will depend on your ability to tell your audience segments apart and adjust your campaigns to their needs. No tool will do that for you.
The success of account-based marketing and account-based sales development suggests that the future of sales is human-managed. Therefore, there is no point in waiting for an ultimate AI that will solve your sales challenges once and for all.
“Why do I even need sales prospecting tools then?” you might ask. Research and prospecting take a lot of time, especially when done by one person. If you want top-tier data, you have to browse dozens, if not hundreds of data sources. Everywhere, you go through one and the same routine of finding your prospect’s name in the data registry, picking out contact data, comparing it with the data you’ve already found.
Numerous sales prospecting techniques recommend tools that let you lower the monotony of searching for the data down to a tolerable level, enrich your hand-curated data and reach more data platforms within a shorter time period.
Sales tools: common myths
- “If I use the X tool, I score all the deals”
To many of us, this sounds as wild as the Flat Earth Society but since the Flat Earth Society actually exists, there is truly no limit to the things people want to believe in. In the case of “revolutionary sales tools” we also have lazy marketing efforts to thank for that widespread idea that just one tool can turn the tables on the entire sales process.
It’s much easier to hype up the product and pull on the strings of the consumers’ insecurity than base advertising on actual and relevant information. In truth, there are no one-for-all tools that fit almost any business. Every tool is as good as you use it.
- “Sales tools are for rich companies, not startups”
Yes, you often have to purchase a tool before you use it — and lots of corporate tools are quite costly because they are designed for corporate use. However, it doesn’t mean that all startup owners have to condemn themselves to work with data on their own. Luckily, many tools are actually aware of the different types of companies that need their features, so some of them offer flexible pricing to fit any company’s budget, while others offer free but limited sets of features to let the users check out the performance and see if this is the tool they need.
- “Sales prospecting tools are a scam, I only need my CRM”
Yes, that belief is also quite common. It mostly comes from the disenchanted Myth # 1 believers who go through the crisis of faith and condemn all sales tools.
Remember: If you are not satisfied with the performance of the sales tool:
- You can be using it wrong.
- You’re looking for the wrong type of data.
- You haven’t thought your KPIs through.
Your tools are an important part of your sales prospecting techniques, so you should pick them in accordance with your ICP and business goals.
Why do you need sales prospecting tools?
The less time you need to research your leads, the more leads you generate. The more leads you generate, the more prospects you qualify. The more prospects you qualify, the more customers you convert.
Sales prospecting tools don’t show you where your most profitable customers are — they help you accelerate your search and check every single bit of data for your outreach campaigns.
They save you from bounce rate
With many email verification tools at your disposal, you avoid sending emails to invalid or non-existent addresses. Therefore, you don’t risk your Sender Score every time you send a new batch of emails.
They map your market
Prospecting tools allow you to segment your prospects into groups by their company size, number of employees and other firmographic qualifiers, allowing you to outline your primary target audience and create a strategy that will work best.
They show where it hurts
If you can read the signs, you’ll always know the top of mind concerns of your prospects. Lots of open Android developer vacancies? Then your prospects would love to learn about your outsourcing options. Do they have anti-malware software installed? Your solution might be a better one. They are using outdated technology? Warn them about the dangers of doing so and suggest an alternative.
How to choose the right tool?
The right approach to choosing and using prospecting tools is defined after you answer the following questions:
- What are my goals?
- Who might need my services?
- What kind of budget do my services require?
- What kind of issues do my services solve?
- Who will be using my solution?
Usually, all these questions are covered by your Ideal Customer Profile, so if you started working with sales prospecting tools without one, make sure to stop what you’re doing and start planning your ICP right now. Every campaign, every new product would require you to create a new Ideal Customer or to review your existing one. Your objectives and goals change as you grow and carve a place for yourself in your industry — your ICP must reflect that.
At Belkins, we rely on a range of prospecting tools to facilitate our future communication with our prospects. Our set of prospecting tools can be divided into several groups.
Contact data validation
Before we start sending emails, we must be confident that we have the right address. People don’t always update their LinkedIn profiles, so there is always a risk of sending to the recipient who is no longer connected to the company of interest. Our main helpers here are:
- Hunter.io. This time-saving add-on flies across the internet to find corporate emails registered for the company domain name.
It’s a great tool for working with open sources because it saves you hours of googling and presents all the emails you need in a comprehensive list that also includes links to your prospects’ posts, articles, press releases and many other relevant pieces of content.
- LinkedIn Sales Navigator. This Gmail extension was developed by LinkedIn to assist researchers and SDRs. The Lite version of LinkedIn Sales Navigator pulls up LinkedIn profiles connected to the emails in your database, allowing you to view all profile data. The Premium LinkedIn Sales Navigator also includes the feature that lets you explore possible professional connections between your prospects and your colleagues.
Belkins’ Tip: Do you think that you found the right email? Better safe than sorry. Send an experimental email from a special test Gmail inbox to avoid increasing your bounce rate. Your message mustn’t be empty, but it also shouldn’t contain a unique value proposition. If you receive the “Email not sent” message, this address is not worth pursuing. If you see that your trial email has been opened or even get a response, congratulations! You’ve just validated an email address.
- Name2Email. It’s a go-to tool for those who now their prospect’s name but don’t have an email. With this extension, you can enter the first and the last name of your title of interest, indicate a corporate domain name and let Name2Emails generate a set of email addresses. After this, hover your mouse over the addresses — the correct email address will feature a popup.
- Rapportive. This tool helps you out when you start writing an email. A final step in your email address validation, it pops up social media profiles connected to your recipient’s address. With Rapprotive, you rest assured that you won’t be writing to the right title at the right company.
After we validate the contact data, we think about the content of our sales message. What are we going to talk about? How do we get our recipients’ attention? What would keep them reading our messages?
To glean as many useful insights as possible, we use the following tools:
- Datanyze. It’s a tool that compiles data from a massive range of sources: Alexa.com, connected social media, registered technologies, tools, and extensions. With Datanyze, you get foundational website data (traffic, monthly visits, Alexa Rank), firmographic data (number of employees, company type), technology data (tools for web analytics, marketing automation) and contact data (emails and Skype). All that data builds an image of your potential customer and lets you understand what they would like to learn from you in your first message.
- Discoverly. With this tool, you get a close look at your prospects’ social media data. Discoverly works for LinkedIn (mutual connections, users in the network), Facebook (mutuals, titles in the network), Twitter (tweets and mutual connections), allowing you to explore your prospects’ communication and find any titles that can help you connect with your intended recipient.
- Glassdoor. This source shows you if the prospect’s company has any open vacancies. If those open vacancies are relevant to your services or products, you receive ammunition for your first B2B sales email.
- AngelList. This source contains multiple companies that can be filtered by a wide range of qualifiers: from funding stage and organization type to the number of investors and employees.
- SimilarTech. This source provides you with the data on your prospect’s tech stack: from software to web technologies. SimilarTech is particularly useful for dev companies since they provide insights on their prospects’ current status concerning technology and yield possible data on competitors.
Why don’t we use email-generating tools?
Just like with sales, you can’t put emails on autopilot. In our opinion, no matter how perfect or smart the data-based algorithm, it won’t replace a human vibe that is necessary for making a good first impression.
We won’t argue that tools like Apollo.io are a great help for copywriters, though. They provide data-driven tips and suggestions that cover the prospect’s pain points — it’s a highly useful and valuable feature. However, when it comes to outreach and B2B communication, don’t be tempted by the digital assets offering to do all the hard job for you. The better and less risky way to craft templates in a more time-saving manner would be to use Gmail Canned Responses.
This feature is completely free and it lets you upload all your email templates. Whenever you need to create a new email for a prospect from the industry you’ve already worked with, you can just find a relevant template in Canned Responses and alter it in a way that would suit your new prospect’s needs.
What kind of sales prospecting tools would we recommend?
Aside from providing feedback on the tools we’ve worked with personally, we wouldn’t say that any of them is a must for you.
We can only provide several basic tips to help you with choosing the best tools for sales prospecting.
Extensions are your friends
Tools that can pull data from online platforms directly into your inbox are insanely comfortable to work with. They let you view everything in one place, without opening thousands of tabs and new windows, which we came to appreciate after years of dealing with tab overloads.
There can’t be only one tool
Never be satisfied with the data you receive from one or two sources. All of them get updated at a different pace, so you might be using obsolete data. Better spend extra time looking up your prospect across several other sources instead of jeopardizing your entire outreach.
Don’t forget about website research tools
Your prospects’ websites are your primary source of sales data and outreach fuel. After you explore its every page, peek into its traffic data, SEO data, activity data and plugin data to get an HD picture of your potential B2B buyer.
With great data comes great responsibility. Your campaigns fully depend on the quality and relevance of your data profiles — and whether you were able to draw the right conclusions and plan your strategy in compliance with your research.
Since there are no ultimate, sales-scoring sales tools, you must let your goals and needs drive you in your choice of sales prospecting tools and techniques. So look closely, choose wisely and don’t hesitate to test and compare results until you find the tool that fits your business goals like a glove.
If you want to learn more about what kind of tools we also use, send us a message. We’re always ready to talk.