The Difference Between Traditional Prospecting & Sales Acceleration

Prospecting is an important part of the sales cycle, but it isn't a defined stage. Rather, prospecting happens at multiple points along the process. As leads move the sales cycle, they become prospects, then opportunities, and finally customers. Modernizing prospecting is an important part of any accelerated sales approach

The difference between traditional prospecting and sales acceleration
Sales Cycle

Because prospecting happens at every stage of this process (potential buyers can fall out of the cycle at any time) it is essential that sales reps and teams work diligently to create a buyer-centric experience. If a potential buyer doesn’t see the value of a product, they won’t want to buy. If a buyer has questions that can’t be resolved, they won’t want to buy. But, sales reps and teams work with potential buyers and anticipate their needs and how specific products can help them, the experience becomes collaborative. And a collaborative, buyer-centric approach in which reps understand their clients and anticipate their needs drives accelerated sales prospecting. 

While sales acceleration strategies are often anticipatory, traditional sales approaches can be highly reactive – to both the market and potential buyers. This is where many of the unsavory stereotypes about sales people originate. In traditional sales prospecting, it isn’t uncommon for reps to pressure or attempt to convince a buyer to move forward. If a rep is reacting to the concerns of a potential buyer, they may seem pushy or aggressive. 

Modern markets are highly competitive– in order to move a prospect through the sales cycle to purchase, a buyer needs to find the product at the right time, in the right place, and in the right context. And buyers want to be advised. They want a personalized approach that takes into account their needs and wants. In this sense, an accelerated sales approach becomes collaborative. When reps consult with their potential buyers, moving through the sales cycle becomes less combative and more about ensuring that the product will truly serve the customer. This buyer-centric experience yields loyalty. 

This advising experience can happen in many ways, but it is important to note that 43% of buyers prefer a “rep-free” experience, meaning they don’t ever want to consult one on one with a sales person. This number is even higher among millennial clients - 54%. But consulting doesn’t have to happen in person– it can come through meaningful content and marketing solutions. 

The chart below compares traditional and accelerated sales prospecting strategies. Notice that a majority of accelerated approaches create value for potential buyers. When potential leads engage with content that brings them value, they become a warm lead. Warm leads are always better than cold ones, and when reps are given quality leads, they can do their job more effectively than relying on cold, traditional methods.

Traditional Sales Prospecting

  • Door to door sales
  • Print advertising
  • Print articles
  • Cold calls
  • Sales letters or mail 
  • Referrals from past or current clients
  • Networking events

Accelerated Sales Prospecting

  • Sharing valuable content via social media or company blog 
  • Social media/search engine advertising 
  • Warm calls 
  • Email marketing 
  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator
  • LinkedIn Introductions 
  • Social media groups 

Many companies have switched over to a more accelerated approach without knowing it– as markets evolve, so do sales. But teams who consciously pivot to meet their customers will almost certainly develop stronger leads and build customer loyalty. Traditional prospecting methods aren’t all bad– but adopting a more buyer-centric approach can be the key to further accelerating sales within your organization.


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