Sales prospecting involves identifying, qualifying, and engaging with leads in the hopes of converting them into customers. It requires defining expectations, scopes, budgets, and goals to help determine which leads have legitimate purchasing power and intent. It is often the first step in the sales process, and a key activity for sales teams looking to fill their pipelines with promising opportunities based on access to relevant and accurate data.
Prospecting is used both in B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-customer) settings. Within the B2B environment, sales teams aim to solve critical business needs, including solving customers’ pain points, wants, and frustrations, while identifying key processes to help employees perform their roles more effectively.
B2B sales prospecting typically targets key decision-makers:
B2B sales teams research target accounts to identify the right contacts to prospect. B2B sales cycles also tend to be longer due to more stakeholders being involved.
In a B2C setting, sales prospecting often targets individual consumers rather than organizational roles. The focus is generally on meeting personal needs and desires, which can be more immediate and emotionally driven compared to B2B.
B2C sales cycles are generally shorter, and the decision-making process is often less complex, involving fewer people.
To be successful at prospecting, sales teams need to be willing to explore all channels—including telephone, email, or by face-to-face meetings. Once a prospect shows interest, they can then be qualified through a discovery call, questions, or further dialogue. Tracking prospecting efforts in a CRM (customer relationship management) software can also optimize results over time.
Some proven outbound prospecting techniques sales teams use are:
Though these techniques are often practiced by sales teams, the advent of technological advancements such as automation tools have greatly improved the speed and efficiency of these operations so that sales teams can have access to accurate data and tangible results.