4 Practical Sales Prospecting Techniques for Sales Professionals

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

So you've finally reached that moment, haven't you?

You've been in sales long enough to sharpen your skills and bring them to a point where they're a match for the best in the industry.

But you're still not closing as many deals as you want, and now you know it's not about the quality of your performance. It's about the quality of your prospects.



Because while you're trying to sweet-talk companies you have no chance with, your competitors are scooping the cream of the crop.

That's why you need to get better at prospecting, and fast, or you'll get left behind.

Fortunately for you, you've come to the right place to begin your journey to the next level.

In this article, you'll learn:

  1. What is Sales Prospecting?
  2. Sales Prospecting Process Explained
  3. 3 Sales Prospecting Methods
  4. 4 Types of Sales Prospecting Services
  5. 4 Sales Prospecting Techniques
  6. 6 Sales Prospecting Best Practices

What is Sales Prospecting?

Let's start with the basics. Sales prospecting is the search for potential customers. Better yet, it's the search for optimum customers.

There is no point in making your pitch to people left and right if they have no interest in your product and no need for your services.

The key to an effective salesperson is the ability to target the right people. To find a target-rich environment.

You wouldn't expect a farmer to deliver a great crop yield on barren land, would you?


Sales prospecting is the process of ensuring that every lead a salesperson talks to is a genuinely good lead, one that is in the market for the products and services the salesperson is offering or at least one that should be in the market for them.

You have a customer in mind, one whose problems will be resolved with your product or service, right? Sales prospecting is the search for that “mythical” creature.

And it's important that you find it. Research has found that 72% of companies that generate less than 50 new opportunities per month don't achieve their revenue targets.

But not only is sales prospecting important, it's also one of the hardest parts of the sales process. More than 40% of salespeople claim it to be the most challenging part of their jobs.

Remember Jordan Belfort, the notorious Wolf of Wall Street? Here he explains how the famous line, “Sell me this pen!”, is just a test to see if a salesperson understands they have to do the prospecting before they get to the selling.

But sales prospecting is more than worth the effort. A study found that 71% of buyers want to hear from the salesperson early in the process.

And what are the consequences?

The best performers when it comes to sales prospecting generate 3x as many sales meetings as the rest.

Sales Prospecting Process Explained

Sales Prospecting Process Explained

There are a number of steps every salesperson needs to take if they want sales prospecting to deliver the desired results. There's no way around these steps.

So here's what that particular staircase might look like:

1. Understand your industry

Every salesperson needs to know everything there is to know about the product they're selling. They need to master the nooks and crannies of their products to ensure a wary customer's pointed questions don't catch them off guard.

But just as importantly, salespeople need to understand where their product fits within the larger landscape of their industry.

What are the needs of the companies you want to pitch to? Who's your greatest competitor?

Once you have a sufficient understanding of the broader industry, you will be able to come up with better angles on how to approach a prospect with an offer that will hit the mark.

That understanding might come from simple research, but an even better option might be to find a way to meet the key players in person. Business conferences offer an amazing opportunity for salespeople to get some face-to-face time with people they'll be pitching to in the future.

Anyone who's ever spoken to key decision-makers knows that those people have an official language they use at meetings and conferences, and a highly pragmatic language they use with their colleagues and friends.

The second version usually contains their true opinions and if you can find a way to hear those opinions, you'll be able to prepare better than any of your competitors.

2. Develop an ideal customer

Who's the sales prospect of your dreams? What's that one company or client who's so perfect for your product or service that you could close the deal with your eyes shut?

You need to know the answer to that question. You need to know who your business soulmate is. And the answer has to be very precise. It can't be some vague description of the sparkle in their eyes.

So answer these questions:

  1. What is their number of employees?
  2. What's the industry?
  3. What's their budget?
  4. What's the number of customers?
  5. What are their pain points?
  6. What are their business goals?

Research has found that 50% of sales prospects are bad leads, and if you can bring that number down, you'll be saving yourself a lot of time.

3. Prioritize your prospects

Once you have your ideal customer, it's important to prioritize your prospects based on which is closest to your ideal.

There's no point in wasting your time on barely-eligible prospects while your hottest leads cool off and end up going with your competitors.


There are manual ways of doing it, but it is important to know that CRM systems can prioritize your prospects automatically.

By creating this list, salespeople can know exactly who's next on the list of targets, ensuring that at any given moment, they are pursuing leads with the highest potential for success.

4. Establish communication channels

The typical cold calling and email outreach can feel a bit impersonal and outdated, especially if the salesperson wants to stand out from the crowd.

Identifying the channel potential customers prefer to use is a good way to start, as well as using a CRM that allows you to handle all your communications from a single platform.

Plan out how the dialogue between you and the customer might progress, and make sure to include any possible hiccups into your planning, so you always know how to respond to a situation.

5. Reach out and set up a meeting

Once you've identified the prospects you want to target, and found their preferred channel of communication, reach out to them.

A personalized touch can go a long way to ensuring you stand out from the pile of generic emails your prospects are sure to receive monthly, so the value you offer should be front and center of any sales pitch.

And if you're juggling a number of different prospects at the same time, use a CRM so that you can have a good overview of all the communications, ensuring no potential customer falls through the cracks.

6. Handle objections and close the sale

80% of sales reps claim they hear ‘No' four times before they get to a ‘Yes'. So don't be surprised if the prospect has certain objections and a healthy level of hesitation.

There are a number of standard objections prospects have:

  • Problems with the pricing
  • Skepticism about certain features
  • Doubts about implementation

If you improvise the answers to these questions, your prospects will be able to tell.

Prepare your answers in advance and you'll be able to respond promptly, making it far more likely that you'll overcome their objections.

And then, all there's left to do is pull the trigger. Salespeople can often wait too long to ask the big question, thinking the customer is not ready yet, afraid of the ‘final' rejection.

But that doesn't have to be the case. There are still avenues to pursue if the client says ‘No'.

If you wait too long, the prospect might think the process a waste of time and the opportunity might slip by you.

It's like your high school crush. If you wait too long to confess your feelings, they'll leave with someone else. And we wouldn't want that, would we?


3 Sales Prospecting Methods

1. Traditional

When we talk about traditional prospecting methods, we're mainly referring to phone calls and emails.

Cold calling has been around for a long time, but these days, in combination with the power of the internet, it is still proving very effective.

Researching potential customers online and divining their pain points allows sales reps to prepare a solid pitch in advance.

The same is true of cold emails.

By researching companies and picking out your ideal customers, you can craft your pitch in a way that resonates with sales prospects based on their pain points and needs.

In both cases, having intricate knowledge not only of your potential customer's problems and challenges but also personal knowledge of the decision-makers themselves can go a very long way to securing a lead.

2. Online

Online groups represent a great opportunity for salespeople.

  1. LinkedIn
  2. Facebook groups
  3. Reddit
  4. Quora

There are more groups than we can name in one article.

People go online to find like-minded individuals who share either their vision, opinions, or challenges. Businesspeople are no different.

In the B2B sector, LinkedIn is used by nearly everyone as it has become a well-accepted place to search for new ideas, employees, and opportunities.

By asserting yourself in any of these groups, you can show potential customers the level of your expertise and allow them to familiarize themselves with your company's products or services long before you make first contact.

On all these platforms, you can showcase your knowledge and prove yourself useful to users who might then be far more willing to trust you in the future.

There is nothing more useful than making a cold call and finding that the person on the other end of the line is already familiar with you and your product. You don't have to go through the whole ice-breaking routine and can get right down to your sales pitch.

3. In-person

In person sales prospecting

In-person conferences, meet-ups, promotional events…these are target-rich environments, perfect for meeting people. 34% of prospects are open to communicating with sellers at industry events, far more than through other channels.

Even if you don't go about pitching your products and services, the ability to have an open conversation with the decision-makers at various companies, the chance to pick their minds and gain a better understanding of their perspectives on the market and various solutions…all that can prove invaluable when the time comes to formulate a pitch.

And better yet, there are few better ways to raise the level of familiarity than by opening a phone call or beginning an email with the reminder that you've met that person before.

For many, attendance at these events is informal proof that you are an industry insider. If nothing else, the person on the other end of the line will be less likely to wonder if you're a snake oil salesman.

4 Types of Sales Prospecting Services

There are different types of services that can help companies improve the effectiveness of their prospecting. Some are standalone services, while others can work in combination.

Here are the four to keep an eye on:

Types of Sales Prospecting Services


Customer Relationship Management Platforms

    • CRMs allow you to track all your activity and customer communications from a single platform.
    • You can manage your sales pipeline, keep all contact information in a single place, and communicate with your customers through the platform.
  • CRMs use data analytics to provide you with a better understanding of which approaches work.
  • CRMs also analyze your data and come up with comprehensive insights that can help you understand which strategies work best for your company.

Email Lookup Tools

  • Email lookup tools allow you to find the email address of the company or decision-maker you are looking for.
  • They also allow you to automate cold-email campaigns and schedule follow-ups.
  • If email campaigns are your primary channel of contact with your sales prospect, email lookup tools are a solution that might come in handy.

Google Alerts

  • The service allows you to keep track of mentions of the company's name, their competition, their products, and industry trends.
  • The feature can also go a long way to ensure you stay on top of all developments and further your understanding of the industry.

Company Tracking

  • Companies like Datanyze offer sales reps the chance to track their potential customers.
  • Datanyze will let you know when their customers have stopped using their solution, so you will know when they are in the market for a new product or service, allowing you to pounce on the opportunity.

4 Sales Prospecting Techniques

1. Cold calling

Cold calling

Yes, we know, all sales reps hate cold calling. But that doesn't mean it isn't useful.

Mastering cold calling is a great way to find new prospects and send them down the sales funnel.

But you have to go about it in a way that separates you from the competition.

Researching the prospect is a good way for you to personalize your pitch. But it has to go beyond the research of the company, you have to do a deep dive into the decision-makers themselves.

Have they made a keynote speech at a conference recently? Make sure to mention it.

Have they recently succeeded in some endeavor? Congratulate them.

And on it goes. Any personal tidbit might also go a long way to make your pitch more effective.

2. Use automation tools

Don't be a hero. Life should be as easy as you can make it.

Automation tools are lifesavers for sales reps managing a large pool of potential prospects, each of whom is in a different stage of the sales process.

Automation tools will help you stay on top of every lead and give you an overview of the entire process so you always know what the next step will be for every prospect.

3. Become a thought leader

This is one of our favorites. It's one thing to demonstrate your expertise once you get on the phone with a prospect, but it's something else entirely if the prospect is aware of your expertise long before they get on the phone with you.

Being an industry thought leader means you social-proof yourself to the hilt. It means that out of all the shady sales reps who may or may not know what they're talking about, your qualifications and integrity are beyond reproach.

It's a lovely feeling.

So whether it's written content for blogs, attending industry round-tables, or having a Twitter Ask Me Anything, make sure to get yourself out there and have your voice be heard.

4. Use Referrals

Getting in the door by having a happy previous customer open it for you is always the right way to go.

But people can often hesitate to ask for referrals. Maybe it seems self-serving. Maybe sales reps aren't used to asking customers for favors since they prefer to be the ones handing them out.

But you need to get over all of that. Ask for the referral and enjoy the benefit of free advertising to the fullest. Sometimes, all you need to do is ask.

6 Sales Prospecting Best Practices

Sales Prospecting Best Practices

Whenever you're approaching a complex task, it's good to keep a couple of things in mind, things that can guide your perspective on the challenge and define your approach.

Here are six of our favorites.

Best Practices


Set Aside Time to Prospect

  • Sales prospecting can sometimes be a full-time job. Perhaps it should be. 66.7% of sales reps have only reached out to 250 prospects or less in a year. That number has to go up.
  • But regardless of the particulars of task distribution at your company, sales reps should set aside time to prospect and continuously look for new and better ways to make sales prospecting more efficient.

Act Like a Consultant

  • The best sales reps think of themselves as consultants and advisers. When searching for new prospects, they approach the challenge by wondering which companies most need their services and why.
  • Good sales reps often know as much about the business of their customers as the customers themselves and it is that perspective that allows them to highlight the value they bring to their companies.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

  • Technology is there to be utilized, so don't hesitate to explore the opportunities it offers.
  • By automating your tasks, managing your leads from a single platform, and gaining access to databases, sales reps not only become more efficient but with the information at their disposal, they become more effective, too.

Build Social Media into Your Routine

  • Social media continuously proves it is worth the effort.
  • By positioning yourself well in the digital world, potential prospects become familiar with you long before you call them.
  • You become easy to reach and easy to verify.


“Is creating a script important when it comes to prospecting?”

Writing an effective script is certainly helpful.

You need to find a way to remove the uh's and ah's from your vernacular. Any hesitations or long pauses give the impression that you might not know what you're talking about.

Most prospects are skeptics, you have to remember that. They get a lot of sales pitches, and they pass on most of them.

The truth of the matter is that most of them believe they understand various problems and challenges their companies to face far better than you do. And who are we kidding, it's very likely that they are correct? They're the ones running the companies, after all.

But that doesn't mean your products can't help them, and if you can convince them that you're just as well-educated on the industry in question, it'll go a long way to inspire confidence in your pitch.

Create a foolproof script that accounts for every objection in the book, so you always have an answer at the ready. And update that script regularly based on the new information you get from prospects.

“What are the steps to writing an effective prospecting plan?”

  1. Set prospecting objectives
  2. Identify the sales prospects
  3. Choose a channel through which to prospect
  4. Prepare your pitch
  5. Write a script to prepare for any eventuality
  6. Use analytics to determine the effectiveness of the campaign
  7. Turn Prospects into customers

“Why is prospecting important in sales?”

The simple answer? Because without prospecting, you will sell very little.

Prospecting is a challenging and sometimes headache-inducing activity that is the absolute lifeblood of every enterprise. Without it, companies can fail to achieve revenue targets, and after that everything can go south for them.

If companies wish to survive, then they need to find prospects and turn them into customers.

And if they find enough?

Well, prospecting, when done correctly, has the same effect on a company that diesel has on a campfire.

Sales Prospectors Need a Boost

If you have learned anything in this article, it is that sales prospecting is a challenge even for the best of salespeople, and there are a lot of tools and techniques out there to help make the process easier.

Sales prospecting is not going anywhere. It will be as relevant tomorrow as it is today. Sales reps need the assistance technology can provide them, if for no other reason than because their competition is certain to take advantage of it.

A CRM like Ringy can offer sales reps numerous tools that will streamline their sales prospecting process and take their effectiveness to the next level.

So steel yourself, take the leap, and contact Ringy today to discover how you can make your sales prospecting process better than ever!

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