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    How is Sales Prospecting Different for Complex B2B Sales?

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    Everyone talks about sales prospecting, and we all think we know what it means. It’s just going out looking for potential customers to put into your sales pipeline, right? Traditionally, this was a task entrusted to junior “hunters” on the sales team–young hungry salespeople tasked with “drumming up opportunities.”

    Over the last couple if years, unfortunately, it has often been “entrusted” to automation, AI, or outsourced “lists” that we spam with more or less irrelevant content.

    Neither approach - hiring “hunters” and hoping they perform nor spamming lists with content - is effective in complex B2B sales. I’m not convinced it’s effective in any sales, but I know for sure it’s not effective in the kind of sales our customers engage in. 

    Here are 5 reasons why sales prospecting is different for complex B2B sales and requires a better approach.

    5 Reasons Why Sales Prospecting is Different for Complex B2B Sales

    1. Your prospect pool is smaller: While standard prospecting may have a potential pool of buyers that amounts to millions or even billions of people, most complex B2B environments have a much smaller pool
    2. Your sales cycles are longer: Complex B2B buying decisions aren’t generally made overnight. They can take months or even years.
    3. Your products and services tend to be more invasive: One of the reasons a complex B2B sale is complex is that your offering has an impact on your customers that is invasive to their usual way of doing business. They can’t just plug and play your offering.
    4. There are more stakeholders involved: Complex B2B sales are generally characterized by multiple stakeholders and loosely organized decision-making committees.
    5. Pre-qualification is more important: In a complex B2B sale, your sales team will generally invest much more time and effort into each opportunity, so it becomes even more important that you rigorously qualify prospects before dumping them into the pipeline.

    Why Complex B2B Sales Prospecting Has to Be Different

    In complex B2B sales prospecting, your salespeople can’t afford to “burn through” the list of prospects by spamming them with irrelevant information. You may only have 10,000 or even as few as 100 potential qualified prospects, and if you’re sending them AI-generated automated emails that they are funneling straight to the spam filter, then you are throwing your opportunities for revenue growth straight into the toilet.

    Additionally, in many industries, the companies in your target market are likely to share information with each other. One more reason why annoying them with mass-marketing tactics is a bad idea.

    In these environments, the reputation, professionalism, business acumen skills, and personal touch of the sales prospecting team affects the outcome of your sales results. HOW you sell is WHY you win!

    You can’t afford to “burn through” prospects by spamming them with irrelevant information.

    Furthermore, you can’t afford to dump unqualified prospects into your active pipeline. Complex B2B sales require investment from your sales team in understanding each customer, engaging with each stakeholder, having valuable conversations, and staying with the project over weeks or months. If your sales team is investing in the wrong prospects, you will waste time and money you can’t afford while neglecting potentially better opportunities.

    Effective prospecting in complex B2B sales requires a rigorous and structured approach to qualifying that ensures only prospects who fit the ICP and are likely to buy are entered into the pipeline.

    Effective qualifying during prospecting also improves KPIs, win rates, and forecasts.

    Sales prospecting is the lifeblood of revenue generation. Without effective prospecting, sales pipelines become sluggish and sales follow closely behind. It’s important to understand the best practices for sales prospecting within your industry and to train, upskill, reinforce, coach, and reward your team for engaging in these best practices.

    Our team recently published a comprehensive guide to sales prospecting for complex B2B sales. It’s a free download and highly recommended reading if you want to up your complex B2B prospecting game.

    George Brontén
    Published April 12, 2023
    By George Brontén

    George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the Sales Enablement CRM that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills, and processes. George is also the author of the book Stop Killing Deals and the host of the Stop Killing Deals webinar and podcast series.

    Find out more about George Brontén on LinkedIn

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