How much do you know about prospecting in sales? Many people assume sales prospecting is simply another word for cold calling or emailing. However, this isn’t the case. Rather, most sales prospecting strategies involve carefully structured plans to find, connect with, and nurture potential leads.
As technology evolves and the sales landscape develops, new strategies for prospecting in sales are emerging to disrupt the industry.
What is Prospecting? A Prospecting Definition
The term “prospecting” in general refers to the first stage of analysis.
So, what is prospecting in sales and marketing? Simply put, it’s the initial step taken by sales professionals to seek out and identify potential customers.
Sales professionals engage in “prospecting” activities by communicating with targets to determine whether they’re a qualified “lead” or if it’s not worth moving them through the sales funnel.
Usually, prospecting involves reaching out to various people through outbound activities like cold calling, emails, or sending messages over social media. It’s also possible to “prospect” in the offline world, at networking events and meetings. Companies can even leverage digital tools to help with prospecting, like pay-per-click ads, newsletters, and content marketing.
When used correctly, the prospecting process launches the “buyer funnel” for the leads identified by the sales teams. Prospective leads are qualified through conversations with agents and eventually nurtured into paying customers.
How Are Sales Prospects Defined?
To fully understand the art of sales prospecting, you also need to know how to identify a “prospect” in the eyes of a sales professional. The term “prospect” refers to anyone who could become a potential customer. However, there are different kinds of prospects to consider depending on whether you’re in the marketing or sales space.
Marketing prospects are often identified are people who might become leads. These are the potential customers who have yet to show any interest in a product or service. They might have visited your website or signed up for your email list, but they haven’t shown intent to buy.
Once a sales professional connects with a marketing prospect and identifies an interest in a product or service, that lead becomes “qualified”. This means the prospect moves further down into the sales funnel and can be gradually nurtured into a paying customer.
How Do Sales Professionals Find Prospects?
Prospecting in sales often involves a lot of time spent looking for people who might eventually want to purchase a product or service. In recent years, various prospecting tools and software solutions have emerged to make the search a little easier.
For instance, there are CRM solutions that allow sales professionals to keep track of potential prospects, automated email marketing systems for connecting to leads with cold email, and more. Companies can even leverage research tools to find the email addresses of people they might want to connect with from other websites or social media pages.
The most common ways to find prospects today include:
In-person events and conferences
Online networking via LinkedIn and forums
Social media marketing and connections
Cold emails and email automation
Paid ads and content marketing
How Has Prospecting in Sales Evolved?
One point to note for any company investing in sales prospecting strategies is the steps companies use to collect leads and prospects have evolved. That’s not to say traditional strategies for prospecting don’t work. Many sales professionals still use common strategies like cold calling and emails to connect with potential buyers. In fact, up to 69% of customers accept cold calls.
However, prospecting in sales isn’t just a phone-based strategy anymore.
Today, in all industries, prospects are spread out across various platforms, from online messaging apps to LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. What’s more, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for companies to grab prospect attention in a cluttered landscape. This makes connecting with targets on an emotional level more important than ever.
For many business leaders, it’s not enough to simply rely on one method of prospecting. Companies need to be willing to connect with audiences wherever they are.
Mastering Sales Prospecting
To thrive in the new age of sales prospecting, sales professionals need to be ready to update their strategies. Today’s customers are expecting more personalized connections and pitches, which means every prospect needs to conduct more in-depth research before talking to a customer.
As we move into the new age of sales prospecting, we can expect sales professionals to spend more time doing their groundwork with extensive online research and using sales prospecting tools like CRM software to drive the quality of the conversation in the right direction.
Sales prospecting is still as important today as it’s ever been, however, the strategies we use to connect with clients are evolving at an incredible pace.