The Prospecting definition
The majority of sales and marketing experts believe that sales prospecting is one of the most effective and best solutions for producing invaluable, loyal, and lifelong customers who will give rise to your business growth.
Prospecting is the process of identifying and qualifying potential customers or clients for your business. It involves researching and reaching out to individuals or companies who may have a need for your products or services, with the goal of converting them into paying customers.
However, it’s also one of the most difficult.
But don’t worry, we’ll walk through everything you need to know about the prospecting definition, its importance, and more here.
What does prospecting mean?
It’s interesting to know that the term prospecting has its origins in uncovering gold in California, USA.
Back in the day, gold prospectors tried to discover gold by visually scanning stream beds and sifting through rocks and dirt to find the valuable pieces of gold that remain after the dirt has been washed away.
In the world of digital marketing, today’s sales prospectors are doing exactly the same thing. That is, they also sift through a list of potential customers through the ocean of leads to explore people who are ready to buy.
Prospecting is the use of any tool, process, or method to find a potential new client.
In other words, the process of searching for new customers for a business is called prospecting, which includes the following five main steps: Identifying, contacting, attracting, retaining, and converting.
What are the steps of the prospecting process?
1. Identify prospective customers:
2. Contact potential customers:
Once you’ve identified your qualified leads or sales prospects, you should be ready to connect with your prospects.
You need to start a conversation with them as soon as possible.
During the nurturing and communication process, try to send targeted and personalized messages to each person using quality and correct contact strategies.
It’s worthwhile to note that for this purpose, you must see the LinkedIn profile of your target likely customers.
To get relevant information about them and express common points in sending prospecting messages to them, you can look at their profile sections such as Skills, Work Experience, Education, and Interests on LinkedIn.
3. Attract prospects:
It’s important to always keep in mind that your potential customers will have unique needs, challenges, and preferences.
Consequently, to attract your sales prospects’ interest in any product or service to create a sales pipeline, you need to understand their requirements.
It’s worth mentioning that you can’t achieve successful sales goals by only relying on one strategy.
For example, to get your potential customers interested in your brand, products, or services, you can invite them to read and engage with the quality and relevant posts you share on your LinkedIn company page.
4. Retain prospective customers
If you think that identifying your potential customers and communicating with them is enough, you’re very wrong.
One of your sales goals is to keep them on your LinkedIn company page or your website or store.
Meanwhile, maintaining your prospects is one of the most momentous steps in the sales prospecting process.
In order to engage with prospects, you have to be very smart and know what to do to get them back to your website or LinkedIn business page.
Bear in mind that not leaving them alone, you should constantly email them with sales offers or stunning discounts.
5. Convert potential customers into regular customers:
For many salespeople and marketers, this is the last step of the sales prospecting process where your qualified leads make the final decision to buy your products or services and turn into loyal customers.
If you want to make sure that prospects become your regular customers, it’s recommended that you give them engaging offers to those who are still doubtful, such as a multi-year warranty, a full refund if they aren’t satisfied with the goods, and more.
However, in the stages of the sales prospecting process, before you start the prospecting process, you need to know your potential customers well.
These people include two categories: suspicious people and potential people.
Suspects: Companies, organizations, or individuals who you believe may be interested in your services or products.
You think they can become your existing customers. But since they don’t have awareness of your business and brand, you aren’t sure about them.
For this, you need to raise their awareness about your business and brand. Then, if they become familiar with your products or services, you can determine whether they’re likely to buy from you in the future or not.
Prospects: They’re the suspected potential customers you’ve contacted after you found out that they’re interested in your brand.
Based on some efforts, you’ll make sure that prospects journey toward purchasing your goods or services in the future.
If the prospects pay for your products or services, they’ll be your regular clients.
Despite the use of effective techniques in the sales process, some sales reps believe that prospecting is one of the most difficult steps of the sales process.
Let’s be honest, one of the reasons why it’s so tricky to discover clients is most likely because they don’t have access to an excellent and rich source of leads for sales and prospects.
Why does prospecting matter in the world of digital marketing?
We all know that today, despite the development of new technologies and social networks in the age of digital, the most difficult part of launching and expanding any online business is uncovering prospects.
It’s better to know that just having a product or service that you’re sure a large number of people need doesn’t guarantee customer attraction.
And just because you’ve run an internet business, it doesn’t mean that the clients will find and view your website or your social network pages. So what to do?
As a rule of thumb, remember that your prospects don’t come to you, you have to go after and hunt them.
In fact, most digital business owners are still prospecting even after their business has grown in popularity. So how should you do this?
What are the different types of prospecting?
In general, there are two different types of prospecting in the sales process, which include:
1. Outbound prospecting: In this kind of approach, marketers or salespeople attempt to cold call or email potential customers who have had no desire to get in touch with them.
2. Inbound prospecting: Unlike outbound prospecting, in this type of approach, salespeople and marketers are encouraged to connect with prospects who have expressed interest in their services or goods.
That said, most sales and marketing experts agree that the most effective approach to prospecting sales leads is to use the above two methods, which can be a combination of them.
Since the prospecting process is time-consuming and challenging, you need a proper and consistent plan for the prospecting process.
The prospecting plan will help you to correctly identify the golden opportunities for new qualified leads and convert potential customers into regular customers.
Don’t worry, here we’ll first shed light on the definition of a prospecting plan and then teach you how to create it for your business.
A prospecting plan is a systematic process for generating qualified leads, through which you can easily identify and connect with prospects interested in your brand.
You can benefit from using this prospecting plan for any business, whether you’re a real estate agent or freelancer, or any other industry to attract new clients.
Apart from that, the prospecting plan can also be very helpful for recruiters who are looking for their targeted candidates.
Having said that, a sales prospecting plan is a prerequisite for starting any business, campaign, and marketing.
To have an effective plan that converts prospects into revenue-generating customers, you need to follow these steps:
Step 1: Determine your sales prospecting aims:
The most important step in the prospecting plan is to know what your sales prospecting purposes are.
Determining goals is the preliminary stage of any project. Because your goals show your right prospecting approaches and strategies for sales. And based on that, you can plan properly.
Do you know your goals and what features they should have?
It’s better to know that in order for you to set your objectives, it must have the following conditions:
- A certain period of time: short-term
Here are some sales prospecting goals that might apply to you:
- Reaching hot leads for revival and conversion
- Acquiring new sales by geographic region
- Reaching a significant number of potential customers per sales representative or marketer
- Rising high turnover
- Achieving great profit in your portfolio
Step 2: Determine your sales prospecting budget:
After you’ve identified your objectives, you need to choose how to achieve them.
Budgeting is what tells you exactly how to focus on your chosen aims and the channels to get them.
If your budget is tight, you should opt for the channel to achieve the highest return on investment (ROI).
Step 3: Categorize your sales prospects:
After you’ve identified your budget, it’s time to know your potential customers and qualify them as well.
Prospects’ segmentation is an essential strategic step for the growth of any company or organization.
It will effectively indicate your target market so that you can segment your target market into different sections for buyers.
For this purpose, you need to focus specifically on your potential customers’ LinkedIn profiles.
LinkedIn helps you gain your target audience insight easily.
Most importantly, LinkedIn allows you to save your target contacts’ profiles in a PDF format.
You can categorize your potential customers based on the following criteria:
- Job title
- Geographical region
- Area of interest and skill
In addition, in order to discover qualified leads for sales, both individuals and companies, according to the above criteria, LinkedIn’s Search bar is one of the best and most accurate tools to get the best search results.
It’s necessary that you make a list of all the sales prospects related to your objectives with their contact information. Don’t forget that this list should be updated regularly.
Step 4: Prepare to launch a sales prospecting campaign:
At this step, you need to take a series of important actions, which include the following:
- Set a framework for planning and executing your actions
- After you know your aims well, define templates that fit your prospect’s specific needs
- Analyze the results of your sales prospecting campaigns
- Reference a basic script when you’re prospecting
- Organize and prepare the key strengths and answers to the most common pitfalls of your sales prospecting campaign
- Figure out your prospects’ pain points by asking some questions and suggesting what’s the best time to purchase the products or services.
As a whole, by following the steps above, you can create a powerful prospecting plan that will help you turn every prospect into a money-making customer.
What are the 5 prospecting methods?
Sales prospecting methods include all techniques that help salespersons or marketers generate leads, identify or interact with prospects, move them into the sales funnel, and convert them into customers.
It’s worth noting that effective prospecting ways are different depending on the type of organization or company, business, and industry.
Here are 5 proven techniques for sales professionals, as follows:
1. Prospecting through referrals
One of the best successful methods in the field of prospecting is the referral of current customers. In this way, you can uncover new clients by using your existing and past customers.
It’s worth mentioning that customer orientation is very important and practical in this technique; Because it’s through word-of-mouth marketing that current and previous buyers will introduce you to others.
You can also take advantage of a circle of customers, requesting your customers to refer and introduce you to other people who need your services and products.
Our suggestion is not to miss this method easily. Because it’s a free opportunity for your satisfied customers to refer you to others.
In addition, more than 70% of company managers prefer to work with salespeople who are known and introduced.
So don’t underestimate the incredible power of referrals, and it won’t happen unless you get the satisfaction of your existing customers.
2. Prospecting through social media
As the following statistics prove this fact:
- More than 90% of B2B buyers are active on social media
- More than 80% of managers of organizations and companies utilize social media for shopping
- 65% of sellers use social selling to drive their sales pipeline
So, with full confidence, we can point to the fact that the most effective channels for finding prospects are through social networks, especially LinkedIn.
That’s why it puts forward the largest database of professionals and experts’ profiles in the world.
Here are some advantages of using the unique features of LinkedIn social network for prospecting
- LinkedIn groups: One of the great benefits of using the LinkedIn platform for professional networking is joining LinkedIn groups. LinkedIn groups are the best tools to increase brand awareness, establish and introduce yourself as an expert in the industry, and create better and more interaction with potential customers by making comments, asking questions, answering, and reposting content that is worthwhile and relevant.
- LinkedIn profiles: By building a professional profile on LinkedIn and optimizing your profile via adding different sections to your profiles, you can implement a powerful social selling strategy and connect with a large number of audiences wherever you want.
- LinkedIn publishing platform: Through LinkedIn’s content-sharing feature, users can publish their posts and articles on LinkedIn and make them available to thousands of other LinkedIn members.
- LinkedIn search filtering tool: LinkedIn has a powerful search engine that allows users to filter their search results based on several personalized factors such as location, company, industry, name, and more.
3. Prospecting through email marketing
Email marketing is one of the best and most affordable communication and advertising methods to attract target audiences, which is especially effective for business and marketing.
That’s why our email inbox or even our spam section is full of various promotional emails or cold emails.
But these days, many companies are trying to communicate with their prospects in a targeted manner in order to have a higher conversion rate.
On the other hand, all prospecting methods don’t necessarily require huge costs, and by using effective tools such as cold emailing campaigns via catchy content, particular offers, killer discounts, and a suitable CTA, a huge number of likely buyers can be attracted.
It’s interesting to know that you can go for email marketing at any stage of your prospecting strategies, such as branding and raising brand awareness, sales pitching, inspiring customer loyalty, retaining customers, etc.
Many different businesses can use this helpful tool because of the many benefits of email marketing, these benefits include the following:
- Easy to use
- Good ROI
- Instant effectiveness
- Fast and affordable
- Customized emails
- Customer behavior analysis
- Direct message transfer
- Best content publishing platform
4. Prospecting through cold calling
If you’re a marketer or sales representative, you must have heard of cold calling.
Cold calling refers to making unsolicited calls to likely customers in order to sell your products or services, which is one of the oldest prospecting tactics.
It’s safe to admit that most cold calls can also be considered mere promotional calls. But as a matter of fact, these calls are developed to start a conversation with prospects.
However, you have to remember that in order to pitch to clients, the initial contact you make with your target community doesn’t need to be completely cold.
Preparing your prospects before establishing the initial contact can be incredibly helpful.
Before getting in touch with or sending your first email, it’s a good idea to increase your chances of building up a good rapport with a prospect by introducing yourself or your company page.
Here are some ideas on how to achieve this goal include:
- Being introduced through a mutual connection
- Commenting on your prospects’ posts shared on social media
- Liking your prospects’ posts on LinkedIn
- Sending congratulatory messages to your prospects by finding their birthday or anniversary on their LinkedIn account
5. Prospecting through content marketing
Content marketing is one of the best solutions to attract and engage a specific target group of potential customers to your brand that deals with the creation of engaging and persuasive content.
The aim of the content marketing process is to stimulate profitable actions among buyers.
It’s worthwhile to note that nearly 70% of buyers are looking for data related to their area of expertise and almost 90% are interested in content that makes it easier to calculate ROI.
As we all know that content helps marketers and sales reps move their customers faster through their sales funnel, what we may not know is what kind of content to share.
Examples of content that can be used in content marketing are:
- A book or booklet about a product or service
- An interview about a book
- A video of LinkedIn Learning courses
- A podcast about family counseling
- An article about solutions and values to the audiences
How to develop a sales technique that works?
By following some key tips, you can improve your sales prospecting techniques to be effective. Here, we walk through some of them:
1. Allocate specific times to the prospecting process
Determine the time of prospecting for each day. As a matter of fact, prospecting is not an easy task – more than 42% of sales professionals believe that prospecting is a major challenge for the sales team.
Accordingly, you’ll improve the long-term performance of your sales team by timing the prospecting process correctly.
Do you know when is the best time to find sales-qualified leads?
Research has shown that sales professionals who prospect at least weekly are more successful than those who don’t prospect regularly.
Always remember that sales pipelines and funnels are built to have a steady flow, consequently, organizations and sales teams that devote time to prospecting and nurturing leads grow faster than other businesses.
2. Research your potential customers
Researching your prospects and their business is one of the most important success techniques for sales prospecting that will improve your chances of creating value for them.
When you’re researching your prospective customers, you have the following objectives:
- Determine whether the potential client is worth your work or not
- Consider the quality measurement and prioritization of potential customers
- Find opportunities to build a relationship through personalizing and building up trust
3. Use visual content
The usage of visual content means you’re on your way to attracting prospects in the shortest possible time. Now you must be asking how?
Among content marketing and advertising for sales in today’s digital world, the winning content is the one that entices the audience first, and this can’t happen without the help of visual content.
It’s interesting to know that according to research, 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual, and people usually remember 65% of the visual content they’ve seen.
Therefore, visual content has a great impact on the attractiveness of the content and the audience.
It’s worth mentioning that you can use common forms of visual content in your blogs or social media posts, such as photos, charts, infographics, online videos, and slides.
For example, you can make your communication more eye-catching to your prospects by including videos and multiple images in your LinkedIn posts. Or with the help of video messages on this platform, you can draw their attention.
4. Prioritize your potential customers
You can prioritize your leads based on how likely they’re to become your regular customers.
With this technique, you can save a lot of time and be sure that despite the many efforts you’ve put into your qualified sales leads, it will eventually lead to a favorable result for you.
You should remember that prioritization varies according to the type of organization or company and each vendor.
It’s a good idea to make a list of your prospects based on how likely they’re to buy from you.
Most importantly, you can segment your quality criteria for your prospects according to how effective they’re in the sales process, and at the end, calculate the value of each customer per criterion.
The final total of these scores can determine whether or not this lead should be on your prioritized list as a prospect.
How to do online prospecting?
As mentioned earlier in this article, there are many different channels to find potential customers which can be time consuming and tedious to achieve the desired result.
But if you want to prospect for sales online without any trouble, one of the most effective solutions is to use automation tools or CRM platforms.
With the help of CRM platforms, in addition to discovering potential leads online, you can track and analyze the sales prospecting process.
Benefits of prospecting through CRM platforms or automation tools
- Saving time and money
- Choosing the best options in the process of measuring the quality of leads
- Accessing the higher data accuracy rate
- Getting the verified data
- Having fast and easy access to data
- Achieve a sales pipeline of qualified leads for sales
- Having a higher chance of converting prospects into regular buyers
- Gaining access to a better win rate
On the other hand, since most of your prospects are on the LinkedIn social network, you need to know the most powerful LinkedIn profile finder tool that has all the above advantages.
It’s very important to remember that in order to export your LinkedIn search results in an Excel file, you must use a LinkedIn automation tool that will provide you with the best leads and prospects with consummate ease in real-time, like CUFinder.
Related Questions & Answers
All about prospecting in business
Prospecting is a vital aspect of business that involves identifying and cultivating potential customers or clients. It is the process of searching for individuals or organizations who may have an interest in the products or services offered by a business. The goal of prospecting is to build a pipeline of potential customers, create new sales opportunities, and ultimately increase revenue.
During the prospecting phase, businesses employ various strategies to find and engage with potential prospects. This may include cold calling, email marketing, attending industry events, utilizing social media platforms, and leveraging professional networks. Effective prospecting requires thorough research and understanding of the target market to identify the right prospects. Once potential customers are identified, businesses need to nurture relationships, provide value, and address their needs to convert them into paying customers.
Prospecting is an ongoing process that requires consistent effort and adaptability. By actively seeking out and engaging with potential customers, businesses can expand their customer base, generate leads, and increase their chances of success in the competitive market. It is a fundamental practice that helps businesses grow and thrive by connecting them with the right audience and building long-term relationships based on trust and value.
Prospecting in sales
Prospecting in sales refers to the proactive and systematic process of finding and qualifying potential customers or clients for a business’s products or services. It is a crucial step in the sales cycle that lays the foundation for building a strong customer base and driving revenue growth. The primary objective of prospecting is to identify individuals or organizations who have a genuine need or interest in what a business offers and to initiate meaningful conversations with them.
To effectively prospect in sales, sales professionals employ various strategies and techniques. This may involve researching and identifying target markets, leveraging online platforms and databases, attending industry events, seeking referrals, and networking. The goal is to engage with potential prospects, understand their pain points and requirements, and present relevant solutions that can address their needs. Prospecting requires persistence, communication skills, and the ability to build rapport with prospects, as it is the initial step in establishing long-term relationships and converting leads into customers.
By implementing a proactive prospecting approach, sales teams can expand their customer base, increase sales opportunities, and achieve their revenue targets. It allows businesses to stay ahead of the competition by consistently seeking out new leads and nurturing relationships with potential customers. Prospecting is a fundamental practice in sales that enables businesses to connect with the right audience, understand their buying preferences, and ultimately drive success in the dynamic marketplace.
13 prospecting methods
- Cold Calling: This traditional method involves contacting potential prospects via phone calls, introducing your products or services, and gauging their interest.
- Email Marketing: Sending targeted emails to potential prospects to introduce your offerings, provide valuable content, and nurture relationships.
- Networking: Attending industry events, conferences, and trade shows to connect with potential prospects, exchange business cards, and build relationships.
- Referrals: Asking existing satisfied customers, colleagues, or business partners for referrals to reach out to individuals or organizations who may be interested in your products or services.
- Social Media Prospecting: Utilizing social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to identify and engage with potential prospects, join relevant groups, and share valuable content.
- Content Marketing: Creating and sharing informative and valuable content through blogs, articles, videos, or podcasts to attract and engage potential prospects.
- Webinars and Online Events: Hosting webinars or online events to provide valuable insights, showcase your expertise, and attract potential prospects who are interested in your industry or niche.
- Direct Mail: Sending physical mail, such as brochures or promotional materials, to potential prospects to capture their attention and generate interest.
- Partnering with Complementary Businesses: Collaborating with other businesses that offer complementary products or services to tap into their customer base and generate new leads.
- Customer Referral Programs: Encouraging existing customers to refer friends, family, or colleagues in exchange for incentives or discounts, expanding your reach to potential prospects.
- Online Advertising: Running targeted online ads on platforms like Google Ads or social media platforms to reach a specific audience and generate leads.
- Trade Shows and Exhibitions: Participating in industry-specific trade shows or exhibitions to showcase your products or services, engage with potential prospects, and generate leads.
- Cold Emailing: Sending personalized and targeted emails to potential prospects who haven’t been contacted before, introducing your offerings and highlighting their potential benefits.
It’s important to note that the effectiveness of each prospecting method may vary based on your industry, target market, and specific business objectives. It’s recommended to experiment with different methods and evaluate their results to determine the most successful approaches for your business.
Sales prospecting techniques
Sales prospecting techniques are strategies used by sales professionals to find and engage potential customers. These techniques aim to identify qualified leads and initiate conversations that can lead to successful sales. Some common sales prospecting techniques include cold calling, where salespeople reach out to potential customers via phone calls; email prospecting, which involves sending personalized emails to prospects; and social media prospecting, where sales professionals leverage platforms like LinkedIn to connect with potential customers. Other techniques include networking at events, seeking referrals from satisfied customers, and conducting targeted research to understand the needs of potential customers. By employing effective sales prospecting techniques, sales professionals can increase their chances of finding interested prospects and ultimately closing more deals.
Although prospecting is the first step in the sales process, as well as a significant pain point for any business, it is also the most difficult.
That’s why starting a right and strong sales prospecting process that involves identifying and building a database of potential customers and then systematically interacting with them in the hope of turning them from likely customers into current customers, you need to know all about prospecting.
Fortunately, in this article, you’ve learned all about prospecting, including the definition, process & plan, strategies, and great ideas for implementing a sales prospecting process, etc.
What do you mean by prospecting?
Prospecting is a great way to expand the business and increase the sales funnel and profits by generating leads, finding prospects, building relationships, following up with potential customers, and turning them into current and permanent customers.
How can a person be prospecting?
Using the right strategies like email and cold calling, networking, social media, events, etc. in accelerating a sales prospecting process, anyone who’s interested in the expansion of the business can convert prospects into regular buyers.
What are the two types of prospecting?
Prospecting includes two very different types of outbound and inbound.
What are the three methods of prospecting?
Social networks outreach, Email marketing, Referral marketing.