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CRM and Sales

Expand your customer base with sales prospecting

Rebecca Noori 10 min read
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The average American sees 4,000 to 10,000 ads every day. That’s a lot of noise and competition for sales pros to cut through to convert leads into paying customers. Enter sales prospecting: a technique that puts sales teams in the best position to sell through researching potential customers, building relationships with them, and understanding their pain points.

Prospecting in sales sets you up for success by vetting the right people before you start actively selling to them. From understanding the different types of sales prospecting to taking the steps to ensure its success, and how to implement this technique with, this guide covers everything you need to know.

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What is sales prospecting?

Sales prospecting is a strategy focused on expanding your customer base by identifying potential sales contacts (known as leads) and warming them up into sales opportunities (known as prospects).

Usually, prospecting in sales is carried out by your Sales Development Representative or Business Development Representative. In either case, the aim is to ensure a steady pipeline of new business by initiating and developing relationships with targeted prospects. Prospecting is just one of the tasks in a typical sales cycle. Note that all of the below lead generation and sales prospecting tasks happen before any hard selling takes place.

  • Locating the prospect: the first step is finding sales leads that are likely to be interested in the product or service you’re selling. You can use lead gen software or sales automation tools for this process.
  • Starting a conversation: sales pros must initiate contact and build rapport with leads.
  • Qualifying the prospect: ask questions to qualify sales leads and understand their needs and pain points. This is also an opportunity to learn more about the budget, timeline, and decision-making process.
  • Positioning their product or service as a solution: sales reps must plant the seed of how their product or service can solve the prospect’s needs.

What are the different types of prospecting in sales?

In the 1870s, John Patterson, founder of the National Cash Register Company (NCR), was one of the first salespeople to popularize cold calling. And this was how sales pros typically first made contact with their customer base. However, sales prospecting today uses various techniques to seek and attract potential customers.

  • Email prospecting: build an email list, draft well-crafted emails and track open rates, click-throughs, or the conversion rate of email subject lines. Metrics, which become readily available through email prospecting, paint an important picture of how your prospects engage with your content. Before adding contacts to your CRMs or sending emails, it is important to verify email addresses to ensure your emails will reach prospect’s inboxes.
  • Phone prospecting: reach out and have a real-life conversation with your decision-makers. This can be a fast way to make progress, but only if someone picks up. Be aware that 80 to 90% of cold calls from unknown numbers go straight to voicemail.
  • Video prospecting: improve open rates and close more deals with video prospecting. Sales teams who use video see a 26% increase in replies to email or LinkedIn messages and a whopping 86% of marketers say that video has helped them generate leads.
    Sales reps typically spend 21% of their day writing out emails, so sending a pre-recorded video presentation is a great timesaver. Alternatively, go the extra mile and send a customized message to a prospect.
  • Social prospecting: expand your brand’s reach by building an online presence on sites like LinkedIn. Answer questions, be helpful, and create sales-focused content that attracts leads to turn into prospects.
  • In-person prospecting: engage in face-to-face conversations at industry events, conferences, and trade shows to meet prospects and work a little sales magic.

Why is sales prospecting important?

Prospecting in sales aims to move away from selling haphazardly to anyone who’ll listen. By taking a more measured approach, you’ll:

Increase your pipeline

The sales process can grind to a halt without a pipeline of qualified prospects to work with.

Get in front of your ideal customer

Sales prospecting allows you to be more intentional with your sales process. Prospecting generates sales leads who fit your ideal customer profile, giving sales reps control over who you try to close. You’ll screen out the leads who are unlikely to buy and zone in on the more probable customers.

Establish a relationship with the prospect

Some sales teams go to unusual lengths to get a prospect’s attention.

One rep sent a shoe to their target customer to successfully “get a foot in the door.” Another sent their cheese-loving prospect a book on cheese and a note saying, “I know this might be a little cheesy, but I hope you enjoy this and that we can find some time to connect.”

These sales prospecting tactics demonstrate how sales teams can go the extra mile to initiate contact, build rapport, and establish trust.

Understand the needs of your prospect

Prospecting uses the art of a good old-fashioned conversation to learn what your prospect needs and which of your products or services could solve their issues. Empathy and active listening are vital tools to have in your arsenal here.

Increase revenue

Consistency is everything in sales, so strategic prospecting is critical in generating regular sales leads and having the knowledge and experience to close those leads. The outcome is more sales, more revenue, and more profits.

Collect data to inform future sales strategies

Not all prospecting campaigns will succeed, but sales reps can use collected data to inform future sales strategies. You could do this by concentrating your efforts on the best source of leads for maximum sales success or feeding back to your product development team about new pain points in the market. Use the monday sales CRM to handle the entire process. Store, analyze and share relevant data with your teams to boost sales cycle productivity and gain an instant overview of your future pipeline.

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What’s the difference between inbound and outbound prospecting in sales?

Inbound prospecting uses targeted content as lead generation to get interested consumers knocking on your door! You might start a YouTube channel, maintain an active social media presence or pump out high-quality blog content to generate leads. Effective inbound prospecting uses a call-to-action button so leads can respond to the right prospecting message at the right time.

Outbound prospecting is more proactive and requires sales reps to reach out to potential leads as part of the sales process. This can include email campaigns, cold calling prospects, or even sales reps attending trade shows and industry events.

How to make sales prospecting a raging success

Transform a trickling stream of sales leads into a river by following these key steps, and repeat for maximum results.

1. Define your buyer persona

Sales reps must know their target audience to tailor sales messages, content, and product development toward their needs. Before you begin sales prospecting, map this granular detail out, including your persona’s location, company size, and industry.

2. Research your prospect

Check if your prospect matches your buyer persona, and also understand their role in organizational decision-making. Your prospect may not have buying power, but they could hold influence over a direct manager or someone else who does.

3. Learn your prospects’ pain points

Discovery calls are a chance to listen to your sales leads and uncover their challenges. Ask the right questions and reflect before responding with how your product or service solves the biggest problems.

4. Be aware of sales triggers

Sales reps should always be aware of sales triggers for their industry, such as prospect promotions, upcoming trade shows, or corporate mergers. These are prime opportunities for sales prospecting as companies may be interested in new solutions to integrate as part of a new chapter.

5. Continue to build brand awareness

The more you expose potential sales leads to your brand and product, the more likely they will recognize it during sales prospecting. Consider branching out on social media to become known as a trusted leader in your space and automatically draw prospects toward your expertise.

6. Always follow up on your sales prospecting

Gartner research reveals that prospects only open 23.9% of emails, while it takes 18 dials before they answer a call from an SDR. No one said sales is easy, but persistence is key here. If you’re still not hitting the jackpot after several attempts, seek out other prospects in the company who might be more receptive to your engagement.

7. Use storytelling

Stories are a powerful way to forge human connections. When sales teams do this well, they create a story that speaks to a prospect’s emotional desires. This can be something as simple as a sales rep telling a story about how their product solved the same problem for other customers.

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Revamp your sales prospecting with

If you’re looking for a flexible and intuitive way to manage your sales cycles, then the monday sales CRM is the tool you’re looking for. It’s fully customizable, making it a cinch to snap into your existing sales ops. Here are just a few of the defining features that will help you optimize your sales process:

  • Customizable dashboards: add the columns you need, from expected revenue to team performance, critical files, docs, and more. Display as a table, chart, form, or calendar and switch between views as needed.

Screenshot showing the sales CRM Leads dashboard during sales prospecting.

  • Integrations: hook the monday sales CRM up with your favorite tools like Slack, LinkedIn, Excel, or Google Drive to provide seamless communication across your tech stack. Trigger a workflow as soon as the status of a lead or prospect changes.

Screenshot showing an example of a sales prospecting automated workflow in sales CRM.

  • Centralized communication hub: collaborate with any team members on your CRM, providing everyone with a crystal clear overview of the sales cycle.

A screenshot of the sales pipeline feature in CRM used by sales prospecting teams.

monday sales CRM will supercharge your sales prospecting process and drive top-notch sales results.

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What is prospecting in sales?

Prospecting is the sales process of identifying potential sales leads, researching their organization, and determining whether they have a need that aligns with your product or service.

How can you move prospects through the sales cycle?

The sales pipeline consists of six stages: lead generation, lead nurturing, lead qualifying, product demo or free trial and closing. To move prospects through the sales cycle, sales reps should make sure they’re dealing with a decision-maker, and ensure their product or service aligns with the prospect’s specific pain points. From here, it should be an open goal to position your offering as the solution and close the sale.

How much time do sales reps spend prospecting?

45 to 48% of sales pros state that prospecting is the task that takes up most of their day, according to Pipedrive research. This crucial sales task is second only to selling.

Supercharge your sales prospecting with

Prospecting in sales allows you to nurture those leads and turn the best ones into paying customers that will drive revenue for your company. For greater success, hook your sales prospecting teams up with the right CRM tool to track performance, enable reporting, and gain clarity about your sales pipeline.

Rebecca Noori is an experienced freelance writer who specializes in writing and refreshing long-form blog content for B2B SaaS companies. When she's not writing, you'll find her knee-deep in phonics homework and football kits, looking after her three kids!
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