7 Hard Facts That Can Prevent Sales Prospecting Failure in 2024

2 minute read

When was the last time someone reached out to you as part of their sales outreach and you thought “Wow! That’s how I should be selling.” If you’re not remembering an instance, it’s not a bad thing. Because a great experience doesn’t feel like you were sold to.

Too many reps rush through the process almost like ticking items off their checklist. Todays’ social media and forums have made it easy for B2B salespeople to find and connect prospects, yet very few reps take the time and effort to build relevance into their prospecting and outreach.


So, this blog is based on the data that we at Plena have collected from the millions of conversations across multiple channels—sharing some hard facts every sales development team would want to know to improve their win rate in 2024.

1. Relying on email alone won’t get you a response

Over the last couple of years, we notice that the dependence on email as a primary channel outreach is coming down—thanks to AI-powered spam filters that are increasingly efficient at weeding out unsolicited emails. 

With Google and Microsoft owning a combined 92% of email servers, the crackdown on cold email campaigns is more stringent than ever. And with servers programmed to open emails, gauging tracking actual human engagement has become a challenge.

Additionally, being a provider of a multi-channel outreach tool with skin in the game, we at Plena constantly keep tabs on the various channels that work best for our customers.

Here’s what data from thousands of campaigns by our customers tell us:

Prospects are 46% less likely to engage if you’re using email alone as your outreach channel. However, if they engage with you across multiple platforms, their interest is markedly higher. 

2. Creating content on social channels is a must

As you look to go beyond emails, you can tap into social media, professional networks, phone calls, and more. The focus should not just be on being visible but on being relevant and engaging in these spaces—especially social media. 

We see that creating content is becoming an increasingly important part of an SDR’s job. Talking to prospects in sales roles on a daily basis, we understand that not everyone is comfortable posting on LinkedIn, for instance. 

But that need not stop you from creating content that can attract the right kind of prospects. Here’s a framework I’ve put together that can help you create content on a daily basis, based on your area of expertise.

linkedin prospecting

The idea is to create content themes for each day of the week and extend them to specific topics that you are comfortable talking about or that represent your brand. But that doesn’t mean you’ve to talk about the product you sell or your brand all the time.

In today’s fast-moving world of B2B sales, you’re probably going to bounce around from one company to another every few years. Develop expertise in a category so that it’s easy for you to relate to the same audience no matter where or what you end up in your next stint. 

The key here is to realize that social selling is not just helpful for your company—but yourself. No one owns your social media except you, but you will have to put in the time to make it work for you. 

If you don’t have a lot of ideas for creating original content, start commenting on other people’s posts on LinkedIn. Not everything you do has to be your own. The topic you want to speak on is already out there, you just need to build something on top of it.

The important part of social selling is being present consistently on the platforms where your target audience hangs out to build conversations, and relationships. 

3. Hyper-target with small lists of high-intent buyers

Every single data point (be it campaigns in Plena or data published by other credible sources) makes it abundantly clear that you cannot spray and pray in 2024. 

According to Constant Contact, the response rate for emails is only 6.53% when you cast your net wide (when you don’t have a high-intent buyer list)

In fact, they published they published their findings on average open, click, and bounce rates of Constant Contact customers by industry – source

The takeaway is—no one likes to be pitched. And if it’s on social media , no one appreciates being pitch-slapped, i.e., you don’t like it when someone sends you a connection request on social media, and immediately pitches their product or service to you as soon as you accept their connection.

Even inbound traffic on your ecommerce website doesn’t guarantee transactional intent.

Cart abandoners cause companies to lose $18 Billion in sales revenue each year.

You want to build a relationship with a targeted audience.

This is where a tool like Plena can help you engage across multiple channels in a hyper-focused and relevant manner using intent data. When you build your targeted outbound account list, you base it on a few fundamental questions such as: 

(a) Why these accounts? 

(b) Do we have a history of serving accounts of similar size, industry, and functions well? 

(c) Why do we qualify to solve their pain? 

(d) What's our specific story that's relevant to them? 

So, when you automate the process using AI—you build small, highly focused lists instead of casting a wide net on ‘unknown-intent' profiles.


4. Personalization should not undermine relevance

In today’s age of information overload, personalization in sales prospecting efforts is appreciated but it should not overshadow relevance. It is often debated which is more critical—personalization or relevance?

It’s not one versus the other—for personalization cannot make an impact without relevance.

Personalization is to real-time data as "relevance" is to "right-time" data. So the question to ask is–who really needs the information - and when?

A personalized message might grab attention momentarily, but if it isn’t relevant to the prospect's needs or stage in the buying journey, it loses its effectiveness. Sales reps must strike a careful balance, ensuring that their outreach efforts are both tailored to the individual and deeply relevant to their current challenges and goals shared by their managers.

A series of campaigns run by one of our financial customers showed:

Response rates and meeting bookings were 300% higher when the reachout timing was right (based on intent data) than those that are simply personalized.

The level of data needed to make something relevant to the recipient comes from a deeper understanding of your prospects' industries, roles, and current business climate and more. And the data that feeds this understanding is usually derived from multiple sources.

Utilizing advanced analytics and AI can aid sales reps in gathering insights that lead to more meaningful interactions. Prioritizing relevance leads to significantly enhanced engagement rates, propelling sales prospecting success in an environment where buyers are increasingly selective about the content they engage with.

5. Build predictability in your prospecting by augmenting with AI

Predictable revenue happens when you have a predictable pipeline. Predictable pipeline happens when you have a predictable prospecting process. Predictable prospecting is reflected by a predictable calendar. Predictable calendar is a result of building predictable habits.

It’s a general tendency for sales reps to believe that only inbound can be automated but for outbound prospecting we need to manually increase the prospecting throughput. But it’s not true.

Advanced sales outreach automation tools like Plena help you to automate your outreach across multiple channels based on your target audience’s intent, in the most optimal time. Thus, it allows you to be more strategic and efficient, focusing their energies where they’re most likely to see returns.

sales prospecting

In fact it ensures that your efforts are hyper-targeted, engaging high-intent buyers through tailored messages, and consequently outperform broad, impersonal campaigns. Using Plena you can even leave voicemails as part of your scheduled campaigns.

While it’s important that more sales reps embrace these tools to streamline their prospecting process, there are also parts that shouldn’t be automated. For example—once a prospect responds to the campaign, it needs to move to the rep for a human response to make the conversation meaningful.

6. It’s now more valuable to meet in person than ever

In an age dominated by digital communication, the human touch in prospecting is now more invaluable than ever. It’s not just about how much data and automation options are available, but the personal effort that a sales rep is ready to put in.

Despite the convenience of emails and social media, a phone call or an in-person meeting can be far more impactful for sales development. These interactions allow for real-time communication and the opportunity to address concerns immediately, fostering a sense of urgency and commitment from both the sales rep and the prospect.

This human aspect differentiates memorable interactions from forgettable ones, solidifying trust and rapport.

7. Paid ads help, but only if the rest is working

Driving inbound opportunities is great using paid ads—it still works in amplifying your sales prospecting efforts, driving targeted traffic to your offers. However, its effectiveness greatly hinges on the foundation of your sales and marketing operations. 

Our most successful customers begin their journey with cold outreach to build initial traction and validate their sales strategies.

By directly reaching out to potential customers (relying on intent data), they can gather valuable feedback, refine their sales development approach, and identify the most effective tactics. Once the sales process is proven, investing in paid advertising can then scale their reach and accelerate growth. 

Without a solid base that defines ideal customer profile (ICP) and intent, supported by optimized landing pages, compelling offers, and sales workflow—paid ads may not yield the desirable ROI.

Summing up…

The landscape of sales prospecting in 2024 prioritizes relevance, multi-channel engagement, and strategic utilization of data over outdated practices like cold emailing and mass outreach. As we navigate this evolving environment, the emphasis is on creating meaningful, relevant connections with prospects through carefully targeted, data-informed strategies. 

Sales reps and sales development teams that adapt to these changes and harness the power of technology are likely to be more successful. Remember, the essence of successful prospecting lies in understanding and meeting your prospects' needs at exactly the right moment in their buying journey.

Each day without Plena = Lost Sales

With Plena — list building, contact enrichment and scalable multi-channel outreach is a breeze.