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Carolyne mwende

Netpreneur, blogger and web designer

Prospecting for beginners

ByCarolyne Mwende

Nov 13, 2023

A beginner’s guide to sales prospecting

A beginner’s guide to sales prospecting

Forty percent of salespeople say it’s even tougher to get prospects to respond now than in the past. That can make the whole idea of sales prospecting even more daunting to someone new to the job.


Brushing up on the best way to do sales prospecting can help you get more responses. Keep this guide handy as you build a better and more effective approach to sales prospecting in 2023.


The foundation of sales prospecting: The ideal customer

Targeting outreach efforts is important for success. To that end, you need to know who to contact.


Taking a few minutes to define your “ideal customer” is always a smart move. Create a profile for this perfect customer. What rank do they hold in their company? What does that company do? Above all, ask what pain points they’re trying to solve.


Once you have a clear picture of this customer, it becomes easier to find them “in the wild.”


Set up your toolkit

Your next step is building a toolkit to find, qualify, and reach out to prospects with ease.


Today’s salespeople have tons of options to help them with every step of the sales process. What’s key to have in your toolkit? Consider these tech tools:


A CRM, to keep track of contacts and touches

A lead qualification tool, to evaluate potential prospects

A lead verification tool, to help you contact the right people

Automation tools, to assist with sending emails and texts

Scheduling tools, to make setting up appointments simple

There are other tools too, like the phone. Don’t make the mistake of overlooking this key prospecting tool!


Do your research (and qualify leads)

Most salespeople spend 17% of their time involved in research. This makes sense, because good research means you’re going to contact people who want to hear what you have to say.


Remember the ideal customer you dreamed up at the outset of your prospecting. Now’s the time to go looking for prospects that match this profile.


You can start by thinking about industries that need your product or service. Then you can narrow the search by looking in a geographic region, with a certain number of employees, and so on.


Qualifying Prospects

The next step in this process is to qualify your prospects. This is probably the most important step in the entire sales prospecting process.


Why is it so important? Qualifying your prospects creates a sort of ranking. It offers insight into who is most likely to open your emails or schedule a meeting. It will also show you which prospects are least likely to turn into a sale.


Qualification can also include verification. Is the person you’re reaching out to who you think they are? Do they hold any sway in the decision-making process? A common sales mistake is contacting too low-level prospects, who don’t have much say in buying decisions.


Once you find an email address for someone, you want to make sure it’s up to date. Verifying contact information lets you know you have the right email address or phone number.


Review the buying cycle

Only around 5% of your target market will be ready to buy at any given time. Rushing into someone’s inbox with a “buy now!” message will turn most of your prospects off.


Taking the time to understand where someone is in the buying cycle lets you reach out with the right message.


One common buyer frustration is that salespeople don’t provide the right information when they need it. If you know where the buyer is on their journey, you have a chance to change that.


Get the messaging right before you reach out

Now you’ve qualified all your prospects, ranking them from “most likely” to “least likely.” You also understand where they are in the buying cycle.


With all this information in hand, you can craft customized messages for different prospects.


Tech tools can help here too. Someone might have made message templates you can use to reach out to prospects at different stages. Other tools will help you keep track of when and how often a prospect has been contacted.


Don’t forget to personalize the message before sending it as well. After all, personalization boosts email open rates by 26%.


Pick a Channel, Any Channel

It’s also crucial to decide what channel you’ll use for prospect outreach. There are plenty of different factors at play, including:


The prospect’s age

Whether someone has contacted them before

Activity levels on social media

Picking the right channel can change the story on open rates and response rates. If one channel isn’t working, don’t be afraid to switch it up.


Tips for better prospecting

We’ve looked at the process for sales prospecting, which is a solid foundation to work from. What can you do to power up your prospecting skills?


Clean up old Contacts

If you’ve inherited a list of potential prospects from another salesperson or bought a static list, there’s a high chance there will be duplicate entries and outdated information. The right tool can clean those contacts up, saving you time and effort.


Align with Marketing

The marketing team often has materials that can be useful to you as you reach out to prospects. They may also have insight on prospects, including data on which leads are “hot” and which will take more time to nurture.


Be Ready to Follow Up

Prospects often need multiple touches before they come on board. In fact, 60% of buyers will say “no” at least 4 times before they say “yes.” Meanwhile, salespeople often give up after just one message. Don’t write a prospect off—be prepared to follow up instead.


Leverage the Power of Lookalikes

If your company has existing customers, look at their profiles. Then seek out prospects with similar profiles. “Lookalikes” are more likely to be interested in what you have to offer.


Prospecting the Modern Way

Gone are the days of opening the phone book and cold-calling every company listed there. In our data-rich world, sales prospecting has never been easier. The keys are to qualify prospects and match your messaging to their needs.


With these tips in hand—and the right tools at your fingertips—you’ll be old hat at sales prospecting in no time.



Create prospect lists from Linkedin.

Convert any Linkedin search to an email list ready for outreach.


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