What is sales prospecting?
Sales Intelligence

What is Sales Prospecting? Everything You Need to Know

by Josh Rod , Senior Solution Marketing Manager, Similarweb 5 Min.
March 1, 2021 | Updated July 13, 2022

Sales prospecting was born with the sales profession. Only before the internet, it was much more difficult. In short, it’s the process of identifying the right people to target and sell your company’s product or service to. 

Before the advent of the internet, sales reps had to work a lot harder just to find new prospects and personalize their outreach efforts. Gathering information about potential buyers was an arduous process that required the many failed cold calls and yellow pages (for those of you who know what that is).   

Lead generation and the sales cycle completely transformed in recent years. Fortunately for sales professionals, companies have evolved their sales prospecting processes and technology to boost efficiency, reduce speed, close more deals, and retain customers long-term.

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What is prospecting?
Ready for a more detailed definition? Sales prospecting is the process of identifying potential customers or buyers who fit your ideal customer profile (ICP). The goal of sales prospecting is to find the people most likely to become customers and add them to your sales funnel. After adding them to your CRM, your objective is to nurture them until they are ready to close the deal and become paying customers.

So, what exactly does this mean?

Done right, Sales prospecting makes the rest of your job easier and more efficient. With better prospecting, you can dramatically increase your standing to meet your quotas and crush your goals.

When understanding what sales prospecting is, it’s also crucial to understand how you put this into practice. We can break this down into three key components.

  • Sales teams need a clear and intimate understanding of who their ideal customer is.
  • Next, they need processes, systems, and data that will enable them to identify the prospects that fit this definition. 
  • Finally, reps need a method for contacting and nurturing them.

Who needs to understand sales prospecting?

There are three key groups of stakeholders, or departments, within your company that should be well-versed in sales prospecting

1. Marketing

Having a deep understanding of your ICP (ideal customer persona) is essential. Typically, marketers focus on the target audience. When a target audience and an ICP overlap, that’s when marketers are able to bring in quality leads.

In addition to helping them perform better inbound marketing, being familiar with the sales prospecting process and needs support marketers in creating more effective collateral. After all, your marketing team is the one that will write the content and design the ads that will nurture your prospects. No matter your company size, everyone in marketing should know the ins and outs of your ICP, understand their industry, and learn about their pain points in real-time

2. Sales

Of course, sales reps need to be experts in sales prospecting techniques. They make the first contact with many prospects and guide them through the sales pipeline to ultimately close the deal. Bringing in more business requires reps to have effective sales prospecting models and software that allow them to be laser-focused on the most relevant leads and help them say the right things at the right time.

3. Product team

In a less direct way, it also helps if the people responsible for building your product or service understand what sales prospecting is all about. The more they learn about and understand your ideal customer – what they need and what they’ll buy – the easier it will be to come up with relevant features and improve your offering.

What are some effective sales prospecting methods?

As sales prospecting efforts have evolved, so have its methods. Check out four effective techniques.

4 effective sales prospecting methods

1. Phone calls 

If door-to-door sales represented the first generation of salespeople, phone calls, specifically, cold-calling, represent the second. Calling prospects comes with its fair share of challenges. For example, you might catch the prospect at a busy time when they can’t talk, or you might struggle to deliver the right message. But with experience and a few best practices, phone calls can still be an effective way of getting to know your leads. 

More than half of C-level buyers (57%) prefer that salespeople call them, according to a study by the Rain Group. The same goes for 50% of directors. Calling your prospects can lead to personal and informative conversations that guide the prospecting process along – you just need to know what to say, especially to new leads.

2. Emails

Emails are the most popular way of communicating with prospects. With the ability to take your time and craft a carefully written message, emailing gives you the convenience you need to write a compelling pitch and deliver all of the important information.

Of course, emails don’t necessarily capture the prospect’s attention. If you want to begin the sales prospecting process through email, it’s important to grab them from the subject line and plan to follow-up. With the help of sales intelligence solutions, you can access insights that will be highly valuable to your prospects. For example, you can learn which vendors their competitors are working with and if there is a high demand for their product or service in a region they don’t yet operate in.

3. Online engagement

The evolution of sales prospecting directly corresponds to the development of the internet and the emergence of social media. By fostering engagement with prospects online, you can introduce them to your company and provide informative content that offers value. Simply by interacting with users on LinkedIn, Facebook, Reddit, and Quora, you can raise brand awareness among decision-makers anywhere on the globe and position your company as an authority and leader in your space. 

4. Events

Another sales prospecting method is hosting or attending events that target your ICP (ideal customer persona). At in-person or digital events, you can network face-to-face, form positive connections, and learn more about your sales prospects in a friendly atmosphere. 

Sales prospecting evolution and the rise of sales intelligence

Sales reps no longer need to waste time and resources searching for the right potential prospects or communicating with people who will never become customers. With the advent of sales intelligence, you can sharpen each of the sales prospecting methods listed above, pinpoint your ideal prospects, and deliver real value in real-time.

Sales intelligence solutions like Similarweb enable you to identify hyper-relevant prospects quickly. By enriching your prospect information with Similarweb’s data, you can filter and segment your prospects according to extremely granular criteria that are unique to your company.

For example, beyond generic demographic information, you may want to focus on prospects that:

  • Makes a certain number of online sales per month
  • Maintains a specific volume of traffic
  • Already works with competing vendors
  • Operates in a specific region

By enriching your CRM data with these kinds of performance metrics and automatically qualifying your leads, you will empower your entire sales team to work with optimal efficiency and bring in more business. 

This is the most evolved method of sales prospecting yet.

Sales prospecting banner

Pinpoint the right companies and individuals

When we take a step back and look at how this process has evolved, it’s clear how much efficiency and value-effective sales prospecting can unlock.

With the right processes and a robust sales intelligence solution, you’ll not only identify your ideal prospects, but you’ll also set the groundwork for faster and more effective nurturing. The cold call and cold email don’t have to be so cold.

Sales prospecting allows you to maximize results while minimizing your output. Make life easier for your sales team, close more deals, and crush your goals.

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Sales Prospecting FAQ

What is an example of sales prospecting?

Cold emailing, calling, referrals, social selling, and video email are all examples of sales prospecting.

What are the types of prospecting?

One method of sales prospecting is referrals, or prospecting through people that you know, your existing contacts, clients or business partners.

This post is subject to Similarweb legal notices and disclaimers.

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