The Top 8 Challenges of Prospecting and How to Conquer Them

From identifying potential customers, to finding quality leads and maintaining a healthy pipeline, sales prospecting is vital to the success of your business. When done right, it can help you close more deals and increase revenue.

That’s not to say it’s without its challenges, however. Successful prospecting requires time management skills, a proactive mindset and the ability to communicate effectively. In this article, we’ll dive deep into eight of the top challenges of prospecting that salespeople face and discuss strategies you can use to overcome them.

The top 8 challenges of prospecting

  1. Identifying quality leads 
  2. Finding trusted company data
  3. Finding verified contact details
  4. Reaching out at the right time 
  5. Getting email responses
  6. Time management
  7. Keeping track of deals in the pipeline
  8. Keeping prospects engaged

1) Identifying quality leads

When you have a large number of leads, it can be difficult to identify which ones are most likely to convert into paying customers. To ensure you’re spending your time and energy wisely, you need to get strategic about the leads you pursue  — this is where your ideal customer profile comes into play.

Creating an ICP streamlines your sales process by enabling you to focus on the most relevant leads. In addition to highlighting the demographics, interests and job titles of the prospects you’re already targeting, it also helps identify what your ideal prospects should look like — taking their specific characteristics, needs and behaviors into account. This kind of targeted approach enables you to focus your prospecting efforts on quality leads who align with your ideal customer — resulting in more qualified leads, relevant messaging, higher conversion rates and a better customer fit.

2) Finding trusted company data

With so much information scattered across the internet these days, finding accurate company data that’s not outdated or incomplete can be a challenge. Fortunately, there are ways to make it easier — for example, by using Crunchbase’s advanced search filters, you can easily find trusted information about a company’s last funding round, location or employee headcount (as opposed to combing through LinkedIn or Google to find the information you need).

Pro Tip: You can save the companies you discover in Crunchbase search and set up email alerts to be notified when those companies raise money, make headlines or hire new leadership.

3) Finding verified contact details

There are a number of reasons why finding verified contact details on the internet can be difficult, including privacy settings and restrictions that prevent companies from sharing individuals’ contact information, as well as contact details that change frequently due to job changes or updates within a company’s organizational structure. 

When researching potential prospects, it’s essential to have accurate and up-to-date contact information — but it can be incredibly time-consuming to collect these details if you do it manually. 

Thankfully, there are ways to streamline this process. Using Crunchbase’s contact data and engagement suite, you can access a list of contacts at the companies included in Crunchbase’s database and easily identify the decision-makers most relevant to you by filtering for job title, level, department, name and more.

Pro Tip: Navigate to the ‘People’ tab on Crunchbase company profiles to find a list of verified contacts at each company included in Crunchbase’s database. You can also find contact data in an advanced search or in the side panel.

4) Reaching out at the right time

If you reach out to prospects too soon, they may not be ready to buy — but if you wait too long, they might have already made a deal with one of your competitors. One way to ensure that your outreach efforts are timely is to gauge buyer intent using factors like buy signals and trigger events.

Buy signals and trigger events are occurrences that can lead to a sales opportunity — examples include new funding raised, changes in leadership and new product launches. All of these events can indicate that a company has purchasing power and therefore may be ready to hear your sales pitch.

Pro Tip: You can also find buyer intent data on Crunchbase via Bombora within advanced search to discover when prospects have buying power.

5) Getting email responses

Decision-makers are often inundated with dozens of emails each day, which can make it challenging for your sales emails to stand out among the crowd. Moreover, generic or impersonal messages that lack relevance to the recipient’s pain points are more likely to be ignored. 

Personalization is key to standing out in a crowd of generic sales pitches and getting responses — and you’ll have a much better chance of converting prospects if you tailor your messaging to their needs. Personalizing your outreach is also a great way to make your prospects feel valued and can, on average, increase your reply rates by 17%.

Including unique information about your prospect is a great way to make an email more personalized. You can congratulate them on a recent funding round or new position, or compliment them on a recent article or LinkedIn post they wrote. This will signal to your prospect that you are a real person and that you’ve done enough research to know who they are, which can be the difference between a reply and radio silence.

6) Time management

With so many responsibilities vying for your attention, finding the time to scour through large databases and contact potential customers can be difficult. On top of that, balancing prospecting, client meetings, administrative work and follow-ups can create a constant need to multitask, which may lead to time management issues. 

Luckily, sales automation software can help. It automates the tedious and repetitive parts of the sales process, which helps with time management and allows you to focus on what’s most important — closing deals. Automation can also increase efficiency and reduce frustration, and produce better results and an improved customer experience.

With Crunchbase, you can go from research to outreach all in one platform and manage your time better by automating some of the most time-consuming parts of the sales process, including lead scoring and nurturing, outreach, data management and lead enrichment. Some features can also help you discover new accounts to target, such as: 

  • The recommendations feature automates account discovery and qualification with prospect recommendations and information about why a company or contact is a good fit for you.
  • Crunchbase’s similar companies feature, which allows you to discover companies that resemble your recently-closed deals by using machine-learning powered software to automatically uncover the accounts you should know about. 

7) Keeping track of deals in the pipeline

As you simultaneously juggle numerous deals that are at different stages, it can be difficult to stay organized and maintain a clear overview of where things stand. Some deals require collaboration with various stakeholders, and others might face unexpected changes or delays, which can make them even more difficult to stay on top of while you’re handling other responsibilities at the same time.

A good CRM like Salesforce or HubSpot can help you prioritize follow-up messages and tasks according to where leads are in the pipeline. They also provide an easy way to schedule follow-up calls and stay organized. On top of that, these platforms can provide valuable insights into customer behavior patterns and buying habits.

In addition, you can sync the accounts you find in Crunchbase directly to Salesforce or HubSpot to build and track your pipeline.

Pro Tip: Crunchbase’s shared tags feature is useful for tracking and prioritizing your contacts so you can easily understand which accounts are the most important. You can also use the shared notes feature to store information about previous interactions to inform future outreach and prioritize prospects. 

8) Keeping prospects engaged

Your prospects are likely being bombarded with countless sales and marketing messages, which means it’s imperative to stand out from the crowd and capture their attention. With plenty of options available to them, some potential customers may be hesitant to commit or show interest in your product. Here are a few ways to keep them engaged:

  • Personalization: Tailor your messaging to the prospect’s specific needs and pain points. Be sure to show genuine interest in their challenges and provide customized solutions that resonate with them.
  • Timely and relevant follow-ups: Make sure your follow-ups are consistent in order to stay on your potential customer’s radar. Be responsive to their requests and questions and provide the information they need promptly.
  • Emphasize the value and benefits: Clearly articulate how your product can solve their problems and/or improve their processes. When relevant, share case studies or success stories that demonstrate the positive impact of your offering.
  • Create a sense of urgency: Highlight limited-time offers, exclusive incentives or limited availability. By emphasizing the benefits of taking action sooner rather than later, you can motivate prospects to stay engaged and move further down the funnel.

Pro Tip: Crunchbase can help you find and connect with qualified prospects — learn more here or talk to sales if you’re looking for a custom prospecting solution for your team.

  • Originally published May 19, 2023, updated May 31, 2023