How to Turn Cold Prospects into Sales-Ready Leads [7 Easy Steps]

How to Turn Cold Prospects into Sales-Ready Leads [7 Easy Steps]

Brrrr! It’s cold out there, and I am not talking about the weather. 

Prospecting, especially when it comes to outbound lead generation, can be brutal. It’s full of enough cold shoulders and icy rejections to make even the most seasoned sales professionals second-guess their career paths. 

In this guide, we’ll thaw the chill of cold prospecting, transforming it into a process that warms up your leads and sets the stage for a fiery sales pipeline. As we navigate through each step, from segmenting your prospects to setting clear expectations, remember that this journey is as much about the process as it is about the destination. Each process is an integral part of a larger strategy, a cog in the machine that drives your outbound lead generation engine.

So, bundle up and get ready to turn the cold unknown of prospecting into a well-trodden path to success. With the right tools, tactics, and a touch of empathy, you’ll not only reach your destination but enjoy the journey along the way. Let’s dive in and discover how you can turn your cold prospects into sales-ready leads.

Find the right prospects 

Ideal client profiles. Buyer personas. Customer avatars. Target audiences.

All of these nuanced terms point to one objective: finding the right prospects. It’s a lot of focus on such a small part of the sales cycle, but this beginning stage is one of the most important. Truth be told, prospecting is also one of the most challenging processes according to SDRs.  

So, let’s put the fancy nomenclature aside for a moment and hone in on how to pinpoint the prospects most likely to convert into sales-ready leads.

1.Find Your Perfect Product-Market Fit(s):

    • Dig Deep into Your Product: Unearth every nook and cranny of your product or service. What pain points does it alleviate? How does it make your customers’ lives better?
    • Map Features to Benefits: Translate features into tangible benefits. For instance, if you sell project management software, the feature might be Gantt charts, but the benefit is streamlined project timelines and better resource allocation.

2. Understand Your Dream Clients:

    • Buyer Intent Data: Leverage buyer intent signals. These are digital breadcrumbs left by prospects—website visits, content downloads, and webinar attendance. 
    • Technographic Insights: Peek into their tech stack. What tools do they use? If you’re selling CRM software, targeting companies already using Salesforce or HubSpot makes sense.

3. Psychographic Profiling:

    • Values and Beliefs: Understand what drives them. Are they eco-conscious? Innovation enthusiasts? Craft messaging that resonates with their core values.
    • Emotional Triggers: What keeps them awake at night? Fear of missing deadlines? Fear of losing market share? Address these fears head-on.

Once you have the perfect prospects in mind, the rest of the lead gen process gets a whole lot easier. Your next step is to set yourself up for success by compartmentalizing these prospects into targeted lead lists.

Build targeted lists by segmenting your prospects

As you identify your prospects, segments will naturally start to form, but it’s still necessary to define and document your segments so that you can build targeted lead lists. You’ll find that, over time, the parameters of your segments may change as you learn more about prospects. 

Whether you’re segmenting by industry verticals, company size, geography, or tech stack, the end goal is to ensure your message resonates deeply and distinctly with each group. Keeping this goal top of mind will fast-track the segmentation process.

If you’re stuck on how to segment your prospects, consider starting with the most basic and impactful criteria. Reflect on the unique characteristics of your prospects and how these characteristics influence their decision-making process. For instance, if you’re offering a SaaS solution, segmenting by tech stack can be incredibly insightful, as it allows you to tailor your messaging to address specific technological needs or gaps. On the other hand, if your product or service has regional relevance or compliance implications, geography might be your primary segmenting factor.

Remember, the key to effective segmentation is not just in the division but in your depth of understanding of each segment. Dive into the data you have on your prospects. Look for trends in their behavior, preferences, and feedback. This data-driven approach will help refine your segmentation and enrich your messaging, making it more relevant and impactful.

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Create a value-packed multichannel campaign for each segment

Wait a minute. Didn’t we say this was supposed to be easy?!?

Granted, if you have 11 segments, this might seem like a gargantuan task, but in reality, it’s not as bad as you might think. And we’re here to give you some tips and tricks to streamline your campaign creation process. But first, for those who might not know, let’s delve into the meaning of a multichannel campaign.

A multichannel campaign is a lead generation strategy involving the use of two or more marketing channels to engage, nurture, and convert prospects into purchasers. The channels used in such campaigns should depend entirely on your prospects’ preferred communication platforms. For example, if you’re targeting B2B buyers, emails, LinkedIn direct messages, and phone calls will most likely have the highest response rates. When developing your strategy, take into account demographics like age, location, and job responsibilities to pinpoint the ideal platforms. 

Once you’ve chosen your channels, it’s time to put your plan into action. Coordinating multichannel campaigns used to be a challenging and time-consuming process, but with the help of sales automation tools like Reply, sequencing steps in a logical and natural order is a cinch. It’s because of these tools that we can focus on adding value (not volume) to our campaigns, which brings us to our next point. 

Value-packed campaigns don’t have to be filled with gift cards and freebies. While these do provide an extra incentive to engage, they are not the only way to win the favor of prospects. Building campaigns that offer insights and solutions to each segment’s problem or pain point is more energizing than a $10 coffee. 

The best part is you don’t have to reinvent the wheel with each segmented campaign. Simply switch out case studies, stats, articles, and CTAs to match the target audience. As the campaigns run and you complete A/B tests, you’ll discover what does and doesn’t work for each segment so that the sequences can be optimized accordingly. 

Nurture prospects without nagging

Just following up.

Did you receive my last email?


If you’re anything like me, your inbox is full of these one-liners, but it makes you wonder, are they working? 

While “the fortune is in the follow-up,” as Jim Rohn used to say, there is a wrong and right way to check in on your prospects. In fact, it’s been recently discovered that “bubble-up” emails such as those above increase response rate but decrease the number of sales meetings booked. Yikes!

So, what can we do instead?

The key is to strike a balance between being persistent and providing value. Instead of sending generic follow-ups, focus on crafting messages that offer fresh insights and helpful resources. In doing so, you keep the conversation going and position yourself as a valuable partner, not just another salesperson chasing a quota.

For instance, share an article or a case study that addresses a challenge similar to theirs. Or, if you’ve recently launched a new feature or service, explain how it can specifically benefit the prospect’s business. The idea is to make each interaction meaningful and tailored to their unique needs and interests.

Nurturing is a marathon, not a sprint. Be patient, be genuine, and most importantly, be helpful. Over time, your prospects will not only remember your name but also look forward to your emails, and that’s when you know you’ve mastered the art of nurturing.

Don’t Assume the Need, Ask Questions Instead

With all that research conducted during the prospecting phase, it’s easy to assume we know our target audience’s challenges inside and out. But even though their problems may be the same from a bird’s eye view, each individual is dealing with a unique set of roadblocks. 

As the buyer’s guide, it’s your job to steer prospects (not drag them) through the barriers; to do that, you need to ask questions.

One of the hardest parts of this step is knowing what questions to ask. To help you out, here are some generic queries you can personalize when speaking to your prospects:  

  1. Can you walk me through a typical day in your role and the challenges you encounter?” This question opens the door for prospects to share their daily struggles, giving you insights that are not just surface-level. 
  2. How does this challenge impact your overall business goals?” By asking this, you’re not just acknowledging the problem but also understanding its repercussions, showing that you’re thinking about their business holistically. 
  3. What solutions have you tried so far, and how have they worked for you?” This question reveals their past initiatives and helps you position your offering as a unique or improved solution. 
  4. If you had a magic wand, what aspect of your current situation would you change immediately?” This imaginative question encourages prospects to reveal their most pressing pain points, often leading to deeper insights. 
  5. In an ideal scenario, what outcomes would you expect from a solution to this challenge?” This question helps you understand their expectations and desired results, allowing you to tailor your pitch to align with their vision of success. It also subtly shifts the conversation from problem-focused to solution-oriented, setting the stage for a more constructive and forward-thinking dialogue.

The goal of these questions isn’t just to gather information; it’s to build a relationship based on understanding and trust. By asking thoughtful, open-ended questions, you’re positioning yourself as a strategic partner invested in their success. 

How to Write Un-ignorable Cold Emails: An Ultimate Guide

Unlock the secrets of writing effective cold outreach: personalization techniques, copywriting best practices, data-driven insights, and everything else to ensure your emails reach their destination. 

Give them an “out”

It seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? 

Sales professionals are often told to “never take ‘no’ for an answer,” but that’s some flawed logic if you think about it. You shouldn’t have to coerce your customers into a conversion. Your best clients will be those who “get” your product or service, not those who get pressured into a purchase. 

Giving your prospect an “out” is about creating a safe space for your prospects to say “no,” which, paradoxically, can often lead them to say “yes.” When people feel they have the freedom to choose, they are more likely to engage honestly and positively.

So, how do you effectively give them an “out”? It’s all in the subtlety of your approach. Phrases like, “If it doesn’t seem like a good fit, we can part ways as friends,” or “If this doesn’t align with your priorities right now, I completely understand” can be incredibly disarming. It removes the pressure, reduces the fear of being sold to, and positions you as a consultant rather than just another salesperson.

When the fit is right, the sale often follows naturally. And more often than not, a “no” today might just be a “not right now.” By parting on good terms, you keep the door open for future opportunities.

Set clear expectations for the next steps

Once you finally get that “yes,” it’s an exhilarating feeling, but pace yourself. If you’re too caught up in the momentary win, you may lose sight of the goal and fumble the sale before it ever reaches the finish line. 

Converting a cold prospect into a sales-ready lead is just the beginning; what follows is equally crucial. Lay out the next steps concisely by building a roadmap your prospect can easily follow. Whether scheduling a detailed product demo, setting up a meeting with key stakeholders, or discussing contract terms, ensure these steps are understood and agreed upon.

Clarity is king. Ambiguity breeds confusion and hesitation, which can quickly cool off a hot lead. So, communicate the subsequent phases of the process with as much precision and enthusiasm as the initial pitch. Confirm dates, times, and any preparatory steps they need to take. This demonstrates your professionalism and attention to detail and reinforces the prospect’s decision to say “yes” in the first place.

What’s Next?

Turning cold prospects into sales-ready leads is an art form that combines strategy, empathy, and a deep understanding of your potential clients’ needs and challenges. 

As you embark on this journey, keep these steps in mind, but also remember to be adaptable, to listen actively, and to treat each prospect as a client, even if they haven’t fully committed. With the right approach, outbound prospecting can be a rewarding experience that leads to growth, success, and lasting business relationships.

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