It’s all very well to offer a great product or service, but what’s the point if it doesn’t sell? The role of salespeople and their ability to implement a sound prospecting strategy are crucial to the development of a company.

And yet, prospecting is a practice in which many salespeople fall by the wayside. Over-solicited by email, telephone, or professional networks, prospects are more and more difficult to reach.

Prospecting is therefore a very subtle art that requires a well-honed strategy. So, between automated and manual prospecting, which strategy should you choose? Is it absolutely necessary to choose one or the other? Or is it impossible to mix the two?

That’s what we’ll explain in this article.

Automated and manual prospecting: what are the differences?

Let’s start with the basics, what is automated prospecting? And how does it differ from manual prospecting?

Automated prospecting – Definition

Automated prospecting consists of integrating the implementation of processes and the use of tools at the heart of your sales strategy. The primary objective is to automate all recurring, low-value-added tasks to boost productivity.

It frees sales staff from tedious, recurring tasks, allowing them to concentrate on their core business: closing deals.

However, automated prospecting is also very useful for collecting a large amount of data about a prospect. Whether this information is linked to the prospect’s intrinsic characteristics or their user experience, it enables you to establish good lead scoring and concentrate your efforts on the most promising prospects.

Manual prospecting – Definition

Conversely, in manual prospecting, all tasks related to the sales cycle are performed exclusively by a human.

The salesperson is responsible for :

  • Finding leads.
  • Collecting lead data.
  • Updating data.
  • Defining lead scoring criteria.
  • Making contact.
  • Follow-up.
  • Updating the CRM.

As you can see, this strategy offers a hyper-personalized approach but is very time-consuming and not very productive.

Automated versus manual prospecting: the different techniques

Automated prospecting and manual prospecting are literally opposite in terms of task management, which means that there are differences in terms of approach techniques.

3 automated prospecting techniques

The basis of automated prospecting is the ability to create fully autonomous campaigns, taking into account the prospect’s behavior during the various actions in the sequence. This is the revolutionary aspect of the approach.

These prospecting campaigns can be carried out :

  • By email,
  • Via social networks (LinkedIn and Twitter, for example),
  • Multi-channel, i.e. by playing on these different contact points.

#1 – Automated email-only campaigns

Email campaigns are the most classic versions. The sequence enables personalized emails to be sent automatically, at defined intervals, and/or according to the prospect’s actions.

When it comes to automation, email-only campaigns aren’t as popular as they used to be. However, they can be very useful for profiles that are not very active on LinkedIn, such as retailers.

#2 – Automated LinkedIn-only campaigns

Campaigns on LinkedIn work in the same way as email campaigns, except that this time solicitations are made via LinkedIn messages.

LinkedIn Only Sequence Voice Message LaGrowthMachine

The advantage of using LinkedIn is that it’s possible to automate additional actions that simulate human behavior:

  • Add a profile visit just before sending an invitation to connect or a message,

#3 – Automated multi-channel campaigns

Multi-channel campaigns are really THE type of campaign to use to leverage the full power of automated prospecting. The idea is to define a sequence that will enable you to contact the prospect by email, but also on LinkedIn and even on Twitter. And in the desired order.

Playing on the different points of contact means multiplying the chances of a response by 3.5! You make sure :

  • to use every possible channel to reach your target.
  • to follow up via the various channels to show your interest.
  • to act like a real human being, not an automation.
Campaign chose by LaGrowthMachine for MeltingSpot

The advantage of automated prospecting is that you can easily create campaigns and reach a large number of prospects quickly to boost sales.

Would you like to see a concrete example of how to use a multi-channel campaign?
Loyal Guru shares with you their use of La Growth Machine to boost their prospecting strategy.
Find all their tips

#4 – Complementary techniques to automated prospecting campaigns

  1. Use online forms: Online forms on your website or landing pages can be used to collect information about visitors. The data collected can then be fed directly into your automated prospecting campaigns.
  1. Digital marketing on social networks: It’s possible to automate the publication of content, engagement with subscribers, and even the sending of direct messages to potential prospects.
  1. Targeted online advertising: Online advertising campaigns, such as paid ads on social networks and search engines, can be automated to target specific audiences according to predefined criteria.
  1. Automated lead scoring: Automation tools automatically score leads according to their level of interest and suitability for your offer. This enables you to prioritize the most promising prospects.

3 manual prospecting techniques

Manual prospecting techniques rely essentially on human contact.

#1 – Non-automated e-mail campaigns

As with automated campaigns, the aim here is to send a personalized e-mail, or a series of e-mails, to a prospect.

The major difference lies in the fact that the initial sending and follow-up must be managed manually by the salesperson, after having studied the different behaviors of prospects on the emails themselves.

#2 – Telephone prospecting

Telephone prospecting is still widely used. Even if it can be exhausting for the salesperson, it’s indeed the most human approach there is.

When it comes to cold calling, there’s no alternative: a human being has to pick up the phone and make a call.

In telephone prospecting, there are several strategies:

  • Cold calling: contacting a prospect who has shown no interest in the company.
  • Warm calling: contacting a prospect who has shown one or more signs of interest in the company (opening emails, registering for a webinar, etc.).
  • Hot calling: contacting a prospect who wishes to be called (reply to an email, submit a form, etc.)

As you can see, the percentage of positive responses will vary greatly between cold calling (almost zero), warm calling (encouraging), and hot calling (very interesting).

#3 – Attendance at trade shows

Attendance at trade shows and networking events enables you to make direct contact with potential prospects.

By carefully choosing which events to attend, you’ll be able to target your prospects very precisely.

It’s a great way to expand your network of knowledgeable professionals, build an initial relationship of trust, and promote your product or service via a live demo.

Automated and manual prospecting: advantages and limitations

The approaches are different, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at them.

3 advantages of automated prospecting

#1 – Time savings and efficiency

The most obvious advantage of automated prospecting is, of course, time savings.

Using an automation tool means freeing yourself from repetitive, low-value-added tasks, so you can concentrate on what’s really important: selling.

This makes it possible to send a multitude of campaigns in parallel, to different targets, and thus to see results rapidly increase tenfold.

#2 – Campaign iteration

Automated prospecting lets you concentrate on the strategic aspect. Once defined, campaigns can be played autonomously, multiplying the number of campaigns sent.

In this way, it’s possible to test different approaches. And that’s the key to prospecting: iteration.

Testing to quickly understand what works and what doesn’t, for different targets.

#3 – Data analysis

Automation tools provide effortless access to key data.

Data analysis and iteration are closely linked. It’s by accessing very precise data, at every stage of the sequence and for every action, that it’s possible to precisely identify sticking points and test new things.

These analyses enable us to adjust our strategy accordingly.

3 limitations of automated prospecting

#1 – Limited personalization

Automated prospecting is often blamed for a lack of personalization. In an effort to save time, automated messages can seem impersonal, with solicitations too numerous and too generic.

You need to be particularly careful when constructing your campaign, and especially when drafting your messages.

#2 – Risk of ban

Automated prospecting is frowned upon by social networks. As a safeguard, they impose daily action limits that must not be exceeded, failing which a user account may be banned.

By trying to be too greedy and send too many messages at once, it’s possible to see your LinkedIn account blocked punctually, or for good.

#3 – Training needs

Subscribing to an automation tool can represent a significant financial cost for a company.

If it’s not used, or used badly, it can quickly become a loss of earnings, particularly in terms of wasted opportunities.

That’s why, if the decision is made to switch to an automated prospecting strategy, it’s essential to take the time to train yourself to ensure that you continue to use the tool over time, and above all, that you do so in the right way.

3 advantages of manual prospecting

#1 – Personalization

The main advantage of manual prospecting is personalization. By taking the time to do it, and since each message is written for a single person, personalization can be much more advanced than with a sequence of automated e-mails.

This is an asset for gaining trust and strengthening the relationship.

#2 – Relationship quality

Choosing manual prospecting also means creating a genuine relationship with the prospect.

There’s no doubt about it: machines will never replace the human touch, no matter how well it’s done. Proximity and face-to-face interaction are the basis for deeper, longer-lasting relationships with potential customers.

#3 – Flexibility

Having concrete exchanges, a more human contact, also makes it possible to gather leads more quickly.

This approach offers greater flexibility, both in terms of evolving the product or service, but also in terms of adapting the sales proposition to the specific needs of potential customers.

This means you can win deals that wouldn’t have been possible without a dedicated approach.

3 limitations of manual prospecting

#1 – Labor costs

Since every task is handled manually by a salesperson, manual prospecting requires more time and human resources.

Sales teams have to spend time researching prospects, updating data, personalizing messages, making phone calls, setting up physical appointments, and so on.

This approach requires more effort and limits the number of prospects that can be reached each day.

Acquiring a new customer can therefore be very expensive.

#2 – Limiting reach

Prospecting is a long-term process. Response rates in prospecting are generally around 5%.

As a result, it can be difficult to reach a large number of prospects with a consistent geographic reach using manual actions alone.

As the business grows, it can become increasingly difficult to maintain a large scale.

This limitation in scope weighs even more heavily on the financial profitability of the approach.

#3 – Risk of human error

Manual prospecting involves direct human interaction to seek out, contract, or interact with prospects.

Every human intervention represents a potential risk of error:

  • Incorrect data entry,
  • Oversight or follow-up errors,
  • Poor prospect qualification,
  • Inconsistent communication.

To minimize these risks, it is essential to :

  • Provide adequate training for sales teams,
  • Implement rigorous follow-up processes,
  • Use customer relationship management (CRM) tools to record and track interactions.

How to choose between automated and manual prospecting?

After reading this comparison, it’s quite clear that automated prospecting is now more effective than manual prospecting.

Why is manual prospecting no longer sufficient?

The first simple observation is that manual prospecting techniques no longer seem adapted to the way prospects behave. Today, we can clearly see that they are more autonomous in their purchasing decisions. They are more likely to search for information online, consult reviews, and compare products and services before even considering requesting a demo.

As a result, prospect data has become increasingly vast and complex. Yet this data provides crucial information about their behavior. It enables us to identify buying signals, and thus to react more quickly to a hot prospect. Today, it is absolutely essential to be able to collect and analyze this data simply and easily, in order to make informed decisions and keep up with the competition.

Finally, prospects are now very active on different communication channels, from social media to email to messaging applications. Manual prospecting alone cannot effectively cover all these channels.

Does this mean we should base our prospecting strategy solely on automation?

Opt for a clever mix of automated and manual prospecting

In fact, to be absolutely effective, it’s not a question of choosing between automated and manual prospecting, but of making both approaches cohabit within your prospecting strategy.

Use automated prospecting to prospect widely

Automated prospecting saves a phenomenal amount of time and opens up a vast field of opportunities.

All very true. But only if it’s done right. The success of an automated prospecting campaign depends on :

  • The right sales copywriting: No one-size-fits-all message. You need to identify your prospects’ pain points so that they feel that your message is relevant to them.
  • Very fine segmentation: The pain points are very different from one target to another. For best results, you need to create very fine segments (ideally, no more than 50 contacts per list).
  • An adapted workflow: You need to ask yourself about your target’s habits. Are they active on LinkedIn? Do they prefer to be contacted by email? Is it better to start by contacting them via LinkedIn or by email? The answer can vary from one target to another.

On average, a multi-channel prospecting campaign will enable you to gather 3.5 times more responses. So we’re talking about 3.5 times more opportunities. Which is an excellent business starting point. However, once these prospects have responded and left the workflow of the automated prospecting campaign, a human must take over. That’s where manual prospecting comes in.

Then close the deals with manual prospecting

A high response rate is all well and good, but it doesn’t really matter if there’s no conversion behind it.

And that’s what manual prospecting is all about at the end of the process. The advantage of starting with automated prospecting (over and above saving time) is that if the prospect responds to you, it’s because he’s interested in your product. He’s a hot prospect.

And manual prospecting is much simpler and more effective with a hot prospect. And that goes for both parties. From your side, you won’t break your back contacting someone who has no interest in your value proposition. And from the prospect’s side, they won’t waste his time with yet another unwanted solicitation.

It’s all about continuing to talk to the prospect, either by email, phone, or face-to-face, in order to convince them and close the sale.

It’s a mix of automated and manual prospecting that will enable you to implement an effective prospecting strategy. It’s important to understand that the two are inseparable. Automated prospecting will enable you to contact a greater number of leads, but you’ll be the one to close them, thanks to human-to-human exchanges.

Would you like to see a concrete example of how to use a multi-channel campaign?
Loyal Guru shares with you their use of La Growth Machine to boost their prospecting strategy.
Find all their tips