• sales outreach
  • sales prospecting
  • sales qualified lead

Sales prospecting: Definition, techniques, process & tools

  • December 27, 2021
  • By Amen Mpofu

A recent survey by the RAIN Group shows that many sales reps engage in sales prospecting without research. As a result, their success rate drops, including their motivation. But the good news of the study is that 82% of customers accept meetings if sales reps reach out to them.

In this guide, you’ll learn sales prospecting techniques to up your game and close more deals. Read on.

What is sales prospecting?

First things first, let’s look at the sales prospecting definition. Sales prospecting is finding and reaching out to potential customers or buyers for your product or service. Your primary goal is to guide your prospect through the sales funnel and convert them into a buyer.

What is prospecting in sales?

Prospecting in sales means that you should research to identify new prospects. Once you’re clear about your customer(s), you need to start a conversation to understand their pain points. And the last thing is to offer them solutions (product/service) to solve their problems.

You’ll have achieved your sales goal if your customer ends up buying your product or service. But is there any difference between a sales lead and a sales prospect

What is the difference between a sales lead and a sales prospect?

You may think a sales lead and a sales prospect mean the same thing. That’s not the case; you can’t use them as synonyms.

sales lead vs prospect

You can also split your prospects into two groups. They include cold prospects and warm prospects.

cold and warm prospects

At this stage, it’s also critical that you understand the importance of sales prospecting. Let’s dive in.

Why is prospecting important?

Sales prospecting boosts your productivity

A team of sales professionals can increase your productivity. Sales leaders can use CRM to get first-hand info about their team’s field activities. They’ll know what’s working or not going according to plan.

Sales managers can also:

  • Remedy any problem or issue affecting their sales reps’ performance at an early stage
  • Create ways of measuring results, for example, a spreadsheet
  • Get sales opportunities from their team to achieve a good ROI

Prospecting in sales makes you a trusted expert for your company

Through sales prospecting, you can represent your business interests, brand, and reputation. The more you interact with different people about your company’s products, the more you become an authority.

Prospecting benefits your business in that it:

  • Encourages your team to find the best ways to represent your brand
  • Improves customer service that leads to brand loyalty
  • Improves relationship between your company and your clients

Sales prospecting ensures your pipeline is full

As gas is to your car, so is prospecting sales to your business. Without gas, your automobile can’t move. Likewise, without sales prospecting, your pipeline will be empty. As a result, there won’t be any business to talk about.

Your pipeline is vital because it:

  • Shows you what goals you achieved, your sales process, and your target audience
  • Makes every sales rep or team accountable for sales forecasts
  • Motivates you to document your processes and targets to measure KPIs

Your business can snoop on your competitors

Another pro about sales prospecting is that you can gain competitor insights. Conversations with your prospects can give you an insider’s knowledge about what your rivals are offering.

The insights help you:

  • Understand the strengths and weaknesses of your competitor’s products/services
  • Sharpen your sales techniques to position your brand to your prospects
  • Create effective marketing campaigns

But note, avoid saying negative things about your rivals to your prospects

The next juicy part about prospecting efforts is the sales prospecting techniques. Before that, let’s jump into the challenges of sales prospecting.

Let’s face it. Sales prospecting isn’t a stroll in the park. It’s hard.

Sales prospecting challenges

Mike Shultz, the president of RAIN Group, presents the below issues as challenges facing sales reps.

challenges faced by sales reps by RAIN group

The group’s research reveals the following:

  • Prospecting motivation is very low-66% of respondents lack motivation
  • Weak targeting-48% reported that they don’t know how to work with gatekeepers; 41% don’t reach out to the right audience
  • Limited outreach and abandoning sale prospecting too early-51%; 49% use limited media to prospect
  • No research and customization-42% prospect without research; 41% avoid personalizing messages for each buyer

The survey also concludes that only 17% of businesses have reached the Top Performing status. And the good news out of the RAIN Group study is that 82% of customers accept sales meetings with reps.

What does it mean for your sales prospecting? You need to up your game with the following sales prospecting process.

How to prospect

sales prospecting process

1. First things first, research your prospect.

Here is the thing.

The most important activity in sales prospecting is researching your prospects. Here’s why

  • It lets you know if the prospect is worth pursuing.
  • It allows you to qualify and prioritize your prospects.
  • You can uncover sales opportunities, initiate conversations and build win-win relationships with your sales prospects

2. Classify your prospects according to their ability to turn into a customer.

The next step is grouping your prospects according to their potential of being buyers. It allows you to zero in your time, effort, and resources on the right target audience. You avoid wasting time on prospects who don’t fit your buyer persona.

You also boost your chances of hitting your goals. To make the process easy, you can opt for lead management software for successful sales prospecting.

3. Create a customized pitch for each of your prospects.

For this step, you need to gather information about your prospect to understand them. The details will help you create a razor-sharp and personalized pitch. You’ll tailor your outreach to specific promising clients.

To learn more about your potential customer, do the following:

  • Check their website for blogs to have an idea of what topics interests them.
  • Sift through their social media profiles to check for their newest blog posts.
  • Read the “About Us” page on the prospect’s website.

After these steps, find ways of connecting with your prospect. Think about reasons that can help you strike a conversation. For example, it’s easy to initiate a dialogue if you’ve got a mutual connection, say on LinkedIn.

4. Make a memorable first impression by crafting a killer pitch.

Now it’s time for the perfect pitch. Note that your main goal is to show the prospect that you want to help solve their problem. Because of this, consider the ideas below.

To learn more about your potential customer, do the following:

  • Make it personal. Point out the prospect’s particular problems. Also, include your product/service as the solution without being salesy.
  • Offer a relevant solution. Your solution should address the present needs of your potential customer.
  • Connect through emotions. Your outreach needs to connect with the prospect emotionally. Say something positive about their product or company.
  • Be a helper. At first, you want to establish a relationship. So, it may be unwise to start by selling your product/service. Instead, offer some help without expecting anything in return.
  • Keep the pitch friendly. Keep in mind that sales prospecting isn’t selling. Your chief goal is to decide if the prospect and yourself can have a win-win relationship.

5. Take a moment to assess your engagement with your prospect.

Sales prospecting is a process that you can improve. As a result, you should review how you engaged with each prospect. Here are some issues you may consider.

To learn more about your potential customer, do the following:

  • Challenges arising from your interaction
  • Whether or not your goals were SMART
  • The prospect’s buying ability
  • How well you were guiding your potential customer in decision-making
  • Any opportunities for achieving your targets

How do I make sales prospecting the right way? There are various sales prospecting techniques you can use to boost your chances of success. Check them out below.

8 Sales prospecting techniques

1. Schedule your sales prospecting time

Well, you might have heard the expression time is money. It’s a vital principle that you can apply in sales prospecting. To make the most of your sales outreach, you should block out time each day to focus on your prospecting.

Setting aside specific time for sales prospecting ensures that you put all your energy into one activity at a time. As a result, you’re likely to clinch more deals.

Here’s an example.

sales prospecting schedule

Brooker Harper, who works in Sales at Tenfold, says:

Make a list of activities that you need to perform for the day. I recommend assigning specific time for each activity to keep yourself on track and to make sure that you do your tasks in a timely manner. Also, highlight the ones that are critical versus those that don’t require too much of your attention. In time-lining your tasks, make sure to perform them when your prospects/clients are most likely available.

2. Establish a sales prospecting cadence

A sales prospecting sequence is several communications leading to a meeting. You may kickstart with a cold call, followed by a voice message, an email, a text message, and a connection on a social media site.

Your sequence can use any channel of communication. The pro side of this is that it helps you grab a prospect’s attention faster. You also look professional.

3. Make sure your proposition has value

Your potential customer can agree to a meeting if they see value in your proposal. First, try to understand what their objections could be. And then offer something valuable in exchange for the meeting.

4. Use your existing network as your feeder

Your existing network offers you plenty of sales prospecting opportunities. You can strike gold if you ask for referrals from your customer. Their colleagues, relatives, friends, and many others are potential customers.

Research says that referral customers are highly likely to buy your product/service.

5. Maximize events to prospect

Event marketing can also be handy in your sales prospecting. It works better for B2B sales. Its greatest pro is providing your sales reps with a large pool of likely customers or buyers.

However, it’s not every event that can lead to a good ROI. Take note of the below issues to maximize event marketing benefits.

To learn more about your potential customer, do the following:

  • Consider events with a large group of people with a high potential to become your prospects.
  • Identify relevant meet-ups and sessions that you’ll attend.
  • Decide how you’ll market yourself. Will you use a booth, for example?
  • Think about how you’ll make yourself different from the rest.

6. Sign up for your prospect’s blog

Another proven way of sales prospecting is subscribing to your prospect’s blogs. Choose companies’ blogs you think will yield five-star prospects. And do the following to improve your outreach.

To learn more about your potential customer, do the following:

  • Identify a relevant post and open it in a new tab.
  • Go through each post quickly to get its gist.
  • Read posts that meet your interests.
  • Choose the final list of posts that you like. Look for the prospect’s pain points in each post.

7. Cash in on social media prospecting

Twitter is one of the social media sites that can give you brilliant results in sales prospecting. You can set up a list of potential prospects that you can keep tabs on. As you follow their chats, you’ll discover their interests and trigger points.

8. Follow a tried and tested sales script

Once you’ve identified prospects that align with your buyer persona, you should use a proven sales script. If something works, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

The RAIN Group Chief Marketing Officer, Erica Shultz, gives one example of a proven cold calling script.

cold calling script example

Sales prospecting email templates

First sales contact email

sales prospecting template

Cold call sales email

sales prospecting template

Keeping in touch sales email

sales prospecting template

Source: Wil Schroter, CEO & Founder of Startups.com.

Sales prospecting tools can supercharge your performance. Here are some examples that can come in handy.

Sales prospecting tools

sales prospecting tools

Let’s start with tools to build your prospect list.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

LinkedIn is the behemoth site for professional social networks. Salespeople can use it to find prospects. Its LinkedIn Sales Navigator has InMail credit, advanced search filters and offers more info about each prospect. It also saves and suggests leads.


Leadfeeder helps you uncover potential leads and prospects from businesses that have visited your site. One pro about this tool is that you can follow the prospects even if they don’t fill out a form or make any contact. You’ll need to install the Leadfeeder Tracker Script and link your Google Analytics account.

You also need a prospecting tool to find contact details.

Voila Norbert

With Voila Norbert, you can find your prospect’s contact details by entering their name and company. In no time, it’ll provide you with the email address. The tool has a Gmail plugin to let you schedule emails, automate your follow-up messages, and create reminders or notes.

Tools for qualifying prospects are crucial.


The tool has a huge database providing sales reps with plenty of info to qualify prospects. Zoominfo offers you a company’s general info and its employees’ contact details.


CrystalKnows is a perfect tool in sales prospecting that lets you understand a person’s behavior. It examines public data and then creates a profile of an individual using its advanced algorithms. You can use the info to create a customized sales pitch. The tool has a Gmail plugin to update you about the individual’s commutation style.

Tools for meetings are also necessary for prospecting.


Scheduling calls, demos, and meetings become easy for you and your prospects with Calendly. You can sync the tool with your Google Calendar to set up appointments according to available times. Calendly also has a Gmail plugin to let you set up ad-hoc meetings.

Here are some tools for engaging your prospect.


Bananatag is a perfect sales prospecting tool to schedule emails. You can integrate the tool with Outlook, Gmail, and Android devices. The app lets you see if your prospect or customer has opened your email. Also, it shows you all the clicked attachments or links.

HubSpot Sales

HubSpot Sales is HubSpot’s email tracking and management tool. You can use the tool to set up email sequences and check for clicked and opened emails. HubSpot Sales also allows you to create automated regular sales activities, such as repetitive leads.

The sales prospecting tool makes it possible to find prospects and start conversations with them through its live chat.

Final Thoughts

Your sales pipeline is the lifeblood of your business. The only proven way of ensuring that it’s full is to go for broke in your sales prospecting. As oxygen is to your body, so is sales prospecting to your marketing strategy and goals. Sales prospecting methods and marketing automation can set you up for success.

Written by Amen Mpofu

Amen Mpofu is a zestful SEO writer specializing in creating life-changing content. He’s also an author of two books, available on Amazon.

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