What is Sales Prospecting

When you go on a fishing trip, there’s a good chance that you might not catch any. Sales prospecting is a bit like that. At times you’re shooting in the dark hoping you’ll win a customer. But there are ways to better your chances of success. 

Sales prospecting is the first and most important step in the sales process. The idea is to identify potential buyers of your product, engage with them using different touch points like the  phone, email, SMS and events to convince them to buy your product. 

sales prospecting

Lead Vs. Prospect

Sometimes, the terms lead and prospect are used interchangeably and can get confusing when your sales team is prospecting. 

A cold lead is a potential customer who is not aware of your product and hasn’t expressed any interest in your product or service. 

A warm lead refers to a potential customer who is aware of your product and has expressed interest in your product or company earlier.  For instance, the lead may have come from a website visit, subscription to your newsletter or ways like visiting your website, subscribing to your newsletter, or downloading a presentation. 

The leads that match your target audience and your buyer persona are called qualified leads or sales prospects. Sales prospects are qualified leads that are most likely to purchase your products or services as they match your buyer profile and have also expressed interest in your product. 

lead vs prospect

Sales Prospecting Process

Sales Prospecting Process
Research the prospect
  • Industry: Analyze each industry and see where your product best fits in. 

  • Pain points: Identify roadblocks that are faced by the prospect and the industry you are targeting. 

  • Company demographics: Check the size of the company your prospect belongs to as the way they approach problems differ for small and big companies. 

Identify the decision-makers in the company 
  • Put together an organization map that visualizes the reporting relationship within the organization. In an SME, the decision-maker is probably the owner, founder, or CEO. 
  • Look through the annual reports to identify the decision-makers relevant for your purpose in a publicly-traded company.
 Understand what they need
  • Understand what are the KPIs of your prospect, and what matters the most to the ultimate decision-maker for each opportunity. 

  • For example: It could be to reduce spending, monitor order fulfillment cycles, improve revenue growth, meet sales targets, etc.
Engage with prospects
  • Once you have identified the leads you want to target, understood their requirements and how your product helps, you need to engage using different sales prospecting techniques. 

  • Relying on just one technique may not be feasible as your salespeople may get lost in the crowd. But employing several of these sales prospecting techniques below may help create that first impression.

Sales Prospecting Methods 

There are various sales prospecting methods that your sales team can deploy while prospecting new customers. Here are some of the most important sales prospecting techniques that are used across different industries today.

Cold Email

Cold emailing is one of the most efficient and cost-effective sales prospecting methods.

Cold emailing can be the first sales prospecting technique your sales team can use while reaching out to prospects. Emailing is useful to warm up cold leads and make the crucial first impression. 

With targeted emails, audience receive the message which has been made especially for them and increases the conversion rate.

Your salespersons can easily introduce themselves, craft personalized messages, share how your product can help them solve problems and ask for the next meeting. 

cold email



Cold Calling

Cold calling refers to calling a prospect over the phone for the first time. While emailing is a great first touch point in sales prospecting, nothing can beat the power of a cold call as you have to think on your feet to shape their impression about your product and company. 

Dale Dupree, Founder, The Sales Rebellion, believes that most salespeople have it all wrong when cold calling. “They focus on bypassing reception and getting their buyer to say yes to an appointment as quickly as possible. They never take the time to understand that there is a culture in existence at that company, there are people on the other end of the phone, and that everyone matters equally inside those 4-walls,”he says.

cold call


Social Media 


A person spends an average of 2 hours and 20 minutes on social media. If your prospects are on social media, busy posting about what matters to them, reading news and researching on things to buy, then you should be there too. 

  • Linkedin can be used to warm up cold leads by understanding the prospect’s industry, location, company size and job vertical
  • Your sales team can use Facebook groups for sales prospecting for specific industry groups and also build a community for your product. 
  • With Quora, if you answer questions regularly on quora for a specific industry, you are sure to get noticed over a period of time by prospects. 
social media prospecting




This sales prospecting method gives an opportunity to meet a lot of potential customers face-to-face on one platform. This is a great tool because you can

  • Get information about your prospects: With event registration forms, be brief and only get a bird’s-eye view of the prospect, including name, company and business email id.
  • If your form is too long, the prospect may not fill it. 
  • Use it as a networking opportunity: Building relationships should be a key goal for your sales teams in such industry events. 
  • Even if they might not need your product, they can refer to someone else who fits the category.
sales events




Webinars help your salespeople reach your target audience better and also generate a database filled with prospects and their contact information.

This sales prospecting method also help generate high-quality prospects due to the rich quality of content that the spokespersons in the webinars deliver. 

In fact, 95% of users watch an explainer video to learn more about a product or service.

This shows that sales prospects can be engaged better with a webinar video as a medium. 


sales webinar



Referral has a significant impact on the consumer’s decision to buy. In fact, 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know.

So, make sure every one of your salespeople are gunning for referrals after every sale and use that referral while prospecting sales on various mediums. Existing customers are a great source to be tapped for referrals. Strength of the relationship between your salesperson and the customer depends on:

  • How long they know each other
  • How many times sales reaches out to the customer
  • Overall satisfaction with your product or service

Referrals from the top of the organization hierarchy work even better as the trust is higher if senior management shows their trust in your product and company.      

Sales Referral

Sales prospecting might seem overwhelming in the beginning, but as you dive deeper, put smart sales prospecting tools in place and engage with right prospects, your sales will take off.