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What is Prospecting in Sales? [Tips, Strategies, Process, Examples] 

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What is Prospecting in Sales

Sales prospecting is a key activity that helps top salespeople find new leads and convert them into loyal customers in a sales process. Prospecting in sales is more than just a buzzword; it’s a strategic approach to identifying potential clients and nurturing relationships from the ground up. 

As a sales rep, you need to make sure that you find quality leads and convert them into opportunities for your business but how? 🤔

In this article, we’ll explore the guide to sales prospecting techniques by revealing their importance, strategies, tips, and processes, along with some examples that can help you streamline your efforts and achieve remarkable📈 results.

What is Prospecting?

Prospecting is a process that occurs in the first stage of the sales cycle as it helps identify and contact potential customers, to earn revenue for your business. The main goal of prospecting is to look for and reach out to people who may be interested in the business product or service, and can be converted into customers.

Example of prospecting in sales

The best and most common ways through which sales reps can reach out to new prospects are:

  • By phone calls: Don’t listen to people when they say cold calling ☎️ doesn’t work anymore. It is one of the original and effective sales prospecting techniques that just works fine and gets the job done. 7 out of 10 buyers accept cold calling if done correctly. 
  • By emails: Sales emails are one of the fastest and most cost-effective solutions in prospecting. By having a well-defined email marketing strategy, you can scale emails in large amounts at once.
  • By social channels: The word DM is so popular in social channels that you can easily connect with anyone. You might find the leads you are looking for on LinkedIn if you are in the B2B social selling industry.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Why is Prospecting important in sales?

Prospecting is important because it helps you discover potential clients whose interests and needs match the solution that you provide.  Having a structured prospecting plan helps build your sales pipeline stages as you can refine your leads, expand your client base, and ultimately grow your revenue.

The reason why it’s effective is because, according to different research articles on prospecting, Companies  Increased Sales Opportunities that excel at lead nurturing (a follow-up process for qualified leads) generate 50% more sales-ready leads at a 33% lower cost. (Source: Forrester Research). At the same time, sales prospecting can uplift the conversion rate by up to 40%.

Another reason why prospective is important in sales workflow is when your prospect is well, you can schedule meetings with leads that are a better match, meaning they genuinely need or are interested in your offering. From our business experience, these fitting customers are not only more likely to make a purchase but also tend to provide long-term business. Such leads are particularly valuable because they are less likely to occur as customer churn rate 📉 after closing a deal than their less fitting counterparts. 

Although prospects are considered important it is often confused with leads. Being on the sales side you must be clear that sales and leads are totally different even though they belong to the top of the sales funnel. To make it clear let’s get into some of their differences.

Prospect Vs Leads in sales

Here are some of the major differences that will help you get clear on why sales prospecting and lead generation are different.

Based On Sales ProspectingLead Generation
Approach Prospecting often involves with Proactive and Targeted approach such as calls, emails, and networking. Leads in sales approach is broader and marketing-oriented consisting of marketing techniques like SEO, content marketing, and social media campaigns.  
GoalsThe primary goal is to Initiate direct contact with clients and convert them into qualified leads.To attract potential customers from a broader audience and generate interest from a pool of potential leads.
Stages in Sales FunnelProspect occurs right after lead generation, meaning it transports leads down to the sales funnel.Leads occur at the top of the sales funnel, usually focusing on attracting and identifying new leads.
Methods UsedEmail outreach, Cold Calling, and Attending industry events.Paid ads, SEO/Content marketing,  social media marketing,  Lead magnets(free trials, eBooks),
Key MetricsNumber of Calls/Outreach Attempts, Connect Rate, Lead Qualification Rate, Meeting/Demo Set Rate  Cost per Lead (CPL), Lead Generation Source, Lead Velocity, Lead Conversion Rate
Interaction NatureThe interactive nature of sales prospects is one-on-one, personalized, direct contact, and relationship building.The interactive nature of leads is one-to-many, generalized, gathering contact information.
Typical RolesBusiness Development Representatives (BDRs), Sales Development Representative (SDRs), and Account Executives (AEs). Marketing Team, Content Marketing Specialists, and  Demand Generation Specialists
Analogy ExampleThe prospect is like targeting specific fish with a net during fishing. It is more of a setting up bait to attract fish during fishing.

Strategies to prospect effectively for sales

Without a proper strategy, the prospection for sales planning can be unproductive, to be more specific all the hard work can be a huge waste of time. But when it comes to efficiency and effectiveness you can go through some strategies that you can apply to your business.

With that being said, here are a total of five different strategies that you can implement in your business. Select the one that works the best for you, and there is nothing wrong with experimenting, right?

1. Research & analysis of prospects and their business

Research research research that the first thing you must do before you officially start prospecting. You must be clear on who is your ideal customer, what kind of business they are connected with, and their overall profile. Reach can be related to demographics, firmographics(company size, industry), needs, challenges, and buying patterns. 

This strategy is mostly about knowing your ideal customer profile ICP, which allows you to target the right customer so that your effort can be fruitful and you can avoid wasting your time and resources on unqualified leads.

2. Identify ways to meet your ideal prospects

Once you identify the right clients now you must identify the right channels There are multiple channels available in the recent market and you cannot rely on a single channel. Make sure to identify the right ways through which you can meet your ideal prospects.

The best way to connect directly with potential prospects is by visiting live networking events or hosting webinars. These events can be informal or industry through which you can connect with potential prospects and can obtain information more openly.

3. Prepare a personalized pitch for each prospect

Did you know that personalizing sales pitches according to specific needs and understanding has up to a 5x conversion rate than a generic approach? In today’s competitive sales landscape, a generic pitch won’t work because the customers are so used to this customer service approach that they can see right through it. 

Instead preparing a personalized pitch by investing time in doing research for each prospect is more beneficial. It’s a data-driven approach to improve engagement, foster deeper connections, and ultimately boost your sales success.

4. Send personalized emails

Think email, as a sales tool is dead? Well, think again, as personalized emails that are well crafted indicating personalized subjects with customers’ needs and pain points can lead to a 50% increase in open rates along with up to 10 % higher conversion rate compared to generic ones.

When it comes to sending personalized emails 📩 there are certain strategies that you must keep in mind, such as going beyond their name & company. Remember your task is to impress them by letting them know how much you know about their company. Focus on email enrichment by highlighting how your product or service can directly address their pain points or help them achieve their goals. Also, many CRM and marketing automation platforms capture data points about your prospects and make sure to utilize those data.

5. Iterate on your prospecting process

An effective prospecting strategy is not static. You must continuously monitor, learn, and improve your methods, refining your approach to achieve successful outcomes consistently.

Always take notes while prospecting. Examine which actions were most valuable and which ones wasted time. After each engagement with a prospect, specifically, evaluate how well you were able to point out new errors & challenges, fulfill the targeted goals, unwrap new ideas💡 for better decision-making, manage budget plans, and identify potential opportunities & strengths. 

By doing so you can improve your sales prospecting techniques in the upcoming days. 

*Note: After following these strategies you can understand more clearly about prospecting tips in-depth that make your sales process more efficient.

Top Tips for Sales Prospecting

1. Block time for prospecting, outreach & cold calling

Every aspect of prospect is indeed equally important for effective sales outreach, but blocking time for prospecting is crucial. Why? The first thing it does is help you prioritize by ensuring your prospecting activities aren’t overshadowed by other duties in your calendar.

This focused approach can lead to more efficient use of your time and better interactions with prospects. Consistent scheduling of prospecting blocks helps create a routine and momentum, leading to more reliable results than irregular efforts.

2. Use the right qualification framework

You might wonder what is a Qualification Framework. In prospect, it is a set of criteria used to assess suitability for your product or service.  It helps you determine if a lead has the Budget, Authority, Need, and Decision-making timeframe (BANT) to move forward in your sales funnel. Additionally, some frameworks incorporate elements like Pain Points, Challenges, and Interest (PCI) to gain a deeper understanding of the prospect’s situation.

Examples of Qualification Frameworks:

  • BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timeframe): This classic framework focuses on the essential criteria – does the prospect have the budget, the decision-making authority, a need for your solution, and a timeframe for making a purchase decision?
  • CHAMP (Challenges, Authority, Money, Prioritization): This framework adds an extra layer by focusing on the specific challenges the prospect faces.
  • GPCTBA/CICI (Goals, Plans, Challenges, time frame, Budget, Authority/Champion, Implementation, Consequences, Competitors): This comprehensive framework delves deeper, considering the prospect’s goals, plans, budget, and decision-making process.

3. Structure your outreach with AIDA

One of the tips when it comes to structuring your outreach is to use the AIDA model. It allows to craft compelling messages that grab attention, pique interest, and ultimately lead to action. It is one of the sales frameworks that a sales rep can take note of and follow to implement in real life. As  AIDA stands for:

  • Attention: To grab the prospect’s attention in the first few seconds.
  • Interest: Make prospects interested in how your product or service addresses their needs.
  • Desire: Create a desire to learn more about your solution.
  • Action: Motivate them to take action, like booking a call or demo.

By following the AIDA structure, you can structure your messages more impactfully. Remember that tailoring your outreach to different prospects depending on their needs and preferences will further enhance the AIDA approach.

4. Use multichannel outreach

The use of multichannel outreach is an essential tip to maximize lead generation and conversions by using multiple communication channels. A consistent experience across all touchpoints (website, email, social media) is expected by customers in today’s world. By utilizing multiple channels, you can provide a seamless experience, fostering a deeper level of engagement.

DemandDrive indicates that prospects nurtured with multichannel campaigns are 73% more likely to convert than those receiving single-channel outreach.

With multichannel outreach, you can reach a larger pool of potential customers across multiple platforms. Make sure you use a variety of channels to prospect, such as email, social media (LinkedIn, Twitter), phone calls, content marketing, and even personalized videos.

5. Use the BASHO sequence for emails.

The BASHO sequence is one of the most powerful frameworks when it comes to designing email outreach sequences used in sales prospecting. You can go through the email sequence one after another and follow through it as every letter of BASHO has its specific meaning.

BASHO Email Sequence:

  • B – Build Rapport:
    • Start your email sequence with empathy towards the prospect. Introduce yourself and your company briefly, then transition the focus to understanding their challenges.
    • Show genuine interest by researching their company and mentioning a specific challenge they might face or recent news they’ve been involved in.
  • A – Agitate the Problem:
    • In your second email, take a solution-oriented approach. Subtly remind them of the challenge you mentioned earlier and how it might affect their business.
    • Keep the tone positive, but encourage them to consider the impact of leaving the problem unaddressed.
  • S – Offer a Solution:
    • From the third email, start introducing your solution. Briefly connect the dots between their challenge and your solution.
    • By providing valuable resources like case studies, white papers, or a free consultation, you demonstrate your expertise and showcase potential solutions to their specific problem.
  • H – Handle Objections:
    • The purpose of the fourth email is to handle potential objections. Identify common concerns that prospects could have and provide simple, concise replies. 
    • This email is also an opportunity to restate the value of your solution.
  • O – Offer Next Steps:
    • The final email in the sequence should include a clear call to action (CTA). Suggest a specific next step, like scheduling a call, requesting a demo, or downloading a relevant resource.
    • Make it easy for the prospect to engage with you further.

The approach through which you can build a connection with prospects through voice or emails is through the following combination pattern:

  • Voicemail / Email: Wait for 24 hours.
  • Voicemail / Email: Wait for 48 hours.
  • Voicemail / Email: Wait for 72 hours.
  • Voicemail / Email: Wait for five days.
  • Breakup Voicemail / Email.

6. Follow up consistently but not aggressively

Persistence is key in sales prospecting, but there’s a fine line between following up consistently and becoming a nuisance. This means to be able to strike a balance in the follow-up process you need to plan your follow-up emails, make multiple calls in advance, or forward additional information. 

 Focus on quality interactions-  avoid bombarding prospects with messages. A good rule of thumb 👍 is to aim for follow-ups every 3-5 business days after the initial contact, with a maximum of 3-4 attempts

If the follow-up process is done properly by the sales rep then  42% out of 100 of the buyers are encouraged to make a purchase. But make sure to be mindful of their schedule. If you don’t receive a response, consider sending a gentle reminder suggesting a specific time for a call or meeting.

Even if a potential customer isn’t ready to buy right away, leave them with a good impression. Thank them for their time, and send a brief “thank you” or “just checking in” message. Remember building positive relationships can always lead to future opportunities.

7. Thoroughly track your vertical & strategies

If you want efficiency in prospecting then you need to understand that it is an ongoing process that requires continuous improvement. In fact the sales rep who tracks their overall activities can achieve 18% higher revenue and close deals 22% faster.

Firstly, when it comes to vertical, you must track its metrics. The data that you must track according to the metrics of vertical are the number of calls made & emails sent and connect rates which measure the percentage of perspex you successfully reached. The number of individuals who showed interest or agreed to schedule a meeting or demo is often referred to as demo set rates and, finally, the lead conversion rates. 

Alongside sales metrics, it is equally important to track campaign &  individual performance as well. Campaign performance helps you better understand open rates, click-through rates, and responses for various email campaigns targeting different verticals.  On the other hand, Individual Performance helps you analyze activity levels, connect rates, and conversion rates for individual sales reps across specific verticals.

This data-driven strategy helps you track your vertical and maintain proper sales reporting. It also helps you understand, separate, and connect with the right people and provides guidance on how to speak to them meaningfully during a call.

8. Ask for referrals

When your customers are happy they tend to spread the happy words of your product & services. Customers are indeed 4 times more likely to consider buying from a company if a friend recommends it according to research by referralcandy

Referrals are highly impactful when a buyer decides to buy something. This is one of the reasons why 91% of buyers in B2B sales are influenced by other’s suggestions, at the same time the referral-based sales closing ratio rate is around 50% to 70%.

If you don’t know, here is a secret about asking your customers for referrals: “It is a free-of-cost opportunity” that you simply can’t afford to miss.

So what’s the best time to ask for a referral

Its right after you or your business makes the sale Why? Because this is the period when the customer’s purchasing experience is still fresh. When the experience is positive more than 80% of existing customers will definitely provide a referral!!

The Sales Prospecting Process: 5 Basic Steps

1. Collect New Leads: Identifying your ideal customer is only the initial phase of the process. You need to make sure to create a detailed list of all the leads that need to be qualified. As you gather data and interact with prospects, your ideal customer profile might evolve. Continuously refine your ICP based on new information.

2. Quality: Establish clear criteria to assess whether a lead is a good fit for your product or service. Consider factors like budget, decision-making authority, and urgency of need. Many CRM and marketing automation platforms offer lead-scoring features. Assign points to specific lead enrichment to prioritize your outreach efforts towards highly qualified leads.

3. Discover more by outreach: The goal of your outreach isn’t just to make a sale, but to build trust and establish a genuine connection with the prospect. It’s better to talk to your prospects directly; don’t hesitate to ask discovery questions and discuss their needs to discover more in-depth information.

4. Product Education: Focus on educating the prospect about your product or service and how it addresses their specific needs. Prepared to address potential concerns prospects might have about your product or service. Anticipate common objections and have clear, concise answers ready.

5. The next stage of the sales process: Finally after educating your prospects they become Sales Qualified Lead(SQL). Now it’s time for you to provide different solutions whether it can be a demo, sales pitch, negotiation, or closing the deal.

So, What actually is Prospecting??

Prospecting in sales is crucial for an effective sales strategy. When implemented properly, it can create a positive experience for both prospects and sales reps. Don’t shy away from integrating some of the strategies highlighted above into your process, and explore various tips and techniques to find the most effective ones for your team.

Effective prospecting requires a combination of research, strategic outreach, and relationship-building skills. By consistently applying these practices, sales professionals can enhance their ability to connect with the right prospects, tailor their sales approaches to meet specific needs, and ultimately achieve higher conversion rates.

FAQs

What is a good prospect?

A good prospect, in the context of sales, is a potential customer who exhibits a high likelihood of converting into a paying customer.

What are the differences between Outbound and Inbound Prospecting?

The difference between  Outbound and Inbound Prospecting is that outbound involves initiating contact with potential customers through cold calling, emailing, and social selling, thereby extending your reach and enhancing brand awareness. Inbound prospecting, however, involves potential customers reaching out to you through your content or online presence, which builds trust, positions you as an expert, and attracts pre-qualified leads.

Why prospecting is a challenging part of the sales process?

 As part of the sales process, prospecting is a challenging task because, without the right knowledge and experience, finding the right people, breaking through the noise, overcoming cold call aversion, building trust & rapport quickly, dealing with gatekeepers & busy schedules, keeping up with evolving techniques is difficult. 

How to measure sales prospecting success?

The best ways to measure your  sales prospecting success are:

Conversion rates: To measure the conversion rate of potential customers into actual customers or how many of those customers made purchases.

Activity metrics: It’s used to measure the emails, dials per day, or total time on the phone conversion.

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Dinesh Silwal

Dinesh Silwal is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of KrispCall. For the past few years, he has been advancing and innovating in the cloud telephony industry, using AI to enhance and improve telephony solutions, and driving KrispCall to the forefront of the field.

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