Prioritizing Sales Prospects: A Step-By-Step Guide

As a salesperson, much of your success relies on prioritizing the right prospects. Going after the most promising leads first can have a huge impact on your conversion rates, engagement and revenue. According to Marketing Insider Group, salespeople who used prioritized sales lists took 20% more actions per lead, meaning they were able to make more contact attempts and increase engagement time.

By focusing on the right prospects, you can streamline your efforts, speed up the sales cycle and ultimately close more deals. In this article, we’ll explore seven techniques to help you better prioritize prospects and move them down the funnel more effectively.

7 techniques for prioritizing your sales prospects

  1. Identify upsell opportunities
  2. Focus on inbound leads
  3. Qualify your leads based on your ICP
  4. Understand buyer intent
  5. Identify companies with buying power
  6. Implement a lead scoring system
  7. Ask customers for referrals

1. Identify upsell opportunities

It’s generally easier and more cost-effective to sell to people who have already experienced the value of your product, so it makes sense to start by prioritizing your existing customers. By offering them additional features, upgrades or discounts, you can build upon your existing relationships with satisfied customers. This approach not only helps generate additional revenue, but it also strengthens the bond between your company and its clients.

To identify potential upsell opportunities, use your CRM to view your customers’ data, including their purchase history, interactions and preferences. Remember to approach upselling with a customer-centric mindset and ensure that your additional offerings genuinely provide value and meet your customers’ needs. 

2. Focus on inbound leads

Inbound leads should be among the highest priority leads. These individuals have actively engaged with your marketing efforts by downloading a whitepaper, subscribing to a newsletter, submitting a contact form or taking another action on your website. They’ve already shown an active interest in your product and usually demonstrate a higher level of intent and engagement compared to outbound leads. In addition, they often have an immediate need for a solution and tend to be higher in quality compared to outbound leads. 

By concentrating on inbound leads, you can also allocate your time and resources more efficiently. Rather than spending an extensive amount of time cold calling, you can concentrate on nurturing and converting the leads that have already shown interest.

As a bonus, inbound leads also provide helpful insights that can aid your future prioritization efforts. Metrics such as the source of the lead, the content they engaged with or their demographic information can shed some light on which channels are generating the most qualified leads.

3. Qualify leads based on your ICP

Lead qualification is the process of determining the likelihood that a lead will become a customer. If a lead matches your ideal customer profile and is deemed likely to purchase, they’re considered “qualified” and are moved to the next stage in the sales cycle. Try the following strategies to improve your lead qualification process and prioritize the right prospects:

  • Define your ICP: In order to properly qualify leads, you’ll need to understand which attributes you’re looking for in a potential buyer. The best way to do this is by defining your ideal customer profile. You can think of your ICP as the type of company that would benefit most from your product. Note that your ICP should be defined using firmographics, company size, revenue, industry and location.
  • Ask qualifying questions: Talk to leads that match your ICP to gather more information and ask qualifying questions. These questions can help uncover their needs, challenges, timeline, budget and decision-making process. Actively listen to their responses to determine whether their requirements align with your offering.
  • Identify pain points: Understanding a lead’s specific needs and pain points allows you to assess how well your product can address their concerns. If your offering can provide a solution to their pain points, that’s a good sign the lead is qualified.
  • Assess their engagement level: By evaluating a lead’s interactions with your company’s content or website, you can assess their level of interest in your product. High engagement — such as attending webinars, downloading resources or actively responding to emails — indicates a higher likelihood of purchasing your solution.
  • Determine the urgency: Figure out the lead’s timeline for making a decision. Leads with an urgent need should be qualified and immediately prioritized. On the other hand, leads with longer timelines or no immediate urgency may require more nurturing before they become qualified.
  • Evaluate the product fit: To determine how well a lead fits your product offering, assess whether your solution can meet their needs and provide them with value. A particularly strong fit is a good reason to prioritize that prospect during outreach.

4.  Understand buyer intent

Determining buyer intent is an important strategy for prioritizing sales prospects because it measures a prospect’s readiness to buy. Potential customers with higher buyer intent should be prioritized because they are more likely to buy than those with lower intent.

You can gauge buyer intent using intent data, which indicates whether a buyer may be interested in your product. Examples of intent data include:

  • Website behavior: When a prospect visits your website or fills out form;
  • Content consumption: When potential customers read your blog posts or case studies, download a whitepaper or watch a video; and
  • Email engagement: If a prospect opens and clicks on links within your emails.

Pro Tip: Bombora tracks which products and services businesses are actively researching to signal whether they may be interested in buying. You can find this buyer intent data within Crunchbase to discover which products prospects are checking out right now.

5. Identify companies with buying power

Buy signals indicate that a company is in a position to buy. Events like new funding raised, changes in leadership, an acquisition or new product launches can indicate that a company has purchasing power. If one of the accounts you’re targeting recently took one of these actions, they should be prioritized.

To use buying power and buyer intent to help prioritize prospects, you should start by finding companies that exhibit buy signals. Once you’ve nailed down those accounts, look more granularly at intent data from prospects who work at that company. Identifying companies that actually have the budget first and then identifying the right contacts within the organization is a much more efficient way to sell than taking a contact-first approach.

Pro Tip: Use Crunchbase’s advanced search filters to identify companies that have recently raised new funding or hired new leadership. You can also set custom alerts to stay notified when a company you’re interested in exhibits key buy signals.

6. Implement a lead scoring system

Lead scoring describes the process of ranking leads based on their characteristics, behaviors and interactions with your business. It enables sales teams to focus their attention on the leads most likely to become paying customers.

A lead scoring system is an efficient way to decide how much of your time a lead is worth. Lead scoring helps you prioritize sales prospects by providing a quick, standardized assessment of which prospects to reach out to first. Often, lead scoring involves assigning certain point values to prospect actions and qualities that can help you objectively score and rank prospects according to how well they match your ideal customer profile and if they’ve exhibited any intent signals that indicate they’re interested in your product.

7. Ask customers for referrals

Satisfied existing customers can become advocates and refer new leads to your company. These “brand ambassadors” are likely to provide referrals and positive recommendations, and they’re also more equipped to relate to your new prospects’ challenges and pain points than you are. By asking customers for referrals, it creates a warmer introduction for these high-quality leads that should be prioritized.

Consider offering an incentive for qualified referrals to help encourage existing customers to spread the word. You can also use a customer satisfaction survey to identify your most satisfied purchasers, then ask them to contribute — you’ll never know how many new customers may turn up until you ask.

Be sure to keep track of the sources of your customers and their satisfaction over time. This way, you can improve overall lead scoring and better comprehend which prospects want your attention. Those prospects should be prioritized going forward.

  • Originally published June 7, 2023