B2B Prospecting Tips to Make You an Essential Partner for Customers

September 5, 2019


Trust is the top indicator of sales success. In fact, 51% of decision makers say trust is the most important factor they look for in a salesperson — but only 3% of buyers say they actually trust their sales reps. When B2B prospecting, you want to be seen as more than a salesperson. You want your buyer to see you as an essential partner. According to LinkedIn’s 2018 State of Sales, a distinct set of characteristics help salespeople earn this distinction in the eyes of buyers.

5 B2B Prospecting Practices for the Essential Partner

1. Professional Presence

No one wants to work with an amateur. Professionalism is crucial to ensuring the relationship between buyer and salesperson, or essential partner, is mutually beneficial. Professionalism requires responsibility, punctuality, and quality. And it requires thought leadership.

Research shows that 92% of buyers engage with professionals who are known industry thought leaders. Does your online presence — particularly your LinkedIn profile — paint you as a knowledgeable, approachable and friendly professional? Do you share industry updates and thought leadership pieces about your niche? These subtle steps can go a long way when prospects are researching salespeople.

2. Well-Informed About the Prospect’s Industry

Staying up-to-date on industry trends doesn’t have to be difficult. Follow top industry influencers and news sources on LinkedIn and other social platforms to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening. You can also create custom content feeds framed around your vertical(s), or follow relevant hashtags, so that all the information you need is housed in one easy-to-access place online.

3. Well-Informed About the Prospect’s Company

Eighty-nine percent of buyers turn away from a sale if the sales rep doesn’t have knowledge about their business, which isn’t surprising. Without an understanding of your buyers’ strengths, weaknesses, pain points and goals, how can you expect to close a sale? The good news is that 86% of buyers will listen if sales professionals provide insights about their company.

To learn more about your prospect, consider looking at their public-facing social accounts as well as their company website and blog. Scanning these pages paints a broader picture of your prospect and what matters to them, helping you identify key pain points and strategize ways to resolve those pain points with your solution.

4. Consultative and Trustworthy

Sometimes, a successful interaction with your buyer has nothing to do with the product or service you’re selling. With new contacts, make a deposit in the “trust bank” by assisting them in a way that has nothing to do with selling your product. The State of Sales shows that the most important qualities decision makers look for in salespeople after trust are responsiveness, expertise in the field, problem-solving, and transparency—all aspects of a strong consultative approach.

5. Focused on Building Relationships

Relationship-building is paramount to successfully winning deals. Essential partners forge relationships by checking in with people, nurturing connections (even if they don’t offer immediate business potential), and earning introductions to help grow their network. Research shows that 69% of B2B buyers are more likely to choose a vendor recommended to them, so take a look at your existing LinkedIn network to identify second- and third-degree connections, and don’t be afraid to ask for an intro once you’ve solidified a relationship.

B2B Prospecting as Easy as 1, 2, 3 … 4, 5

Relationships are still at the heart of successful selling, and top B2B sales professionals are closing more deals on a foundation of trust. Establishing yourself as a trusted, essential sales partner doesn’t have to be difficult. By staying up-to-date on industry and company news, building relationships, and maintaining professionalism, you can begin to establish yourself as an essential sales partner.

Keep these five characteristics in mind to help you better target prospects, personalize experiences, and meet buyer’s expectations — today and in the future. For more information on how to optimize your B2B prospecting approach and become an essential partner for your customers, download The State of Sales 2018.