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Prospecting in Business 101: Prospecting Definition, Role, Types, and Handy Tips
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Prospecting in Business 101: Prospecting Definition, Role, Types, and Handy Tips

Prospecting is known to be one of the most important elements of every business. Everyone has heard about it, still, there is a lot of confusion concerning the prospecting in sales definition.

So, what does it mean to be prospecting?

In this article, the team of LeadsForce will tell you everything you need to know about prospecting, its specs, and best practices. Let’s dive in!

What Is Prospecting?

According to the prospecting definition, this term is used to define the process of identifying a company’s potential clients, also known as prospects. With the help of prospecting, businesses match the people from their target audience to their Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and build a list of people who might be interested in buying from them.

The core purpose of prospecting is to create a database of prospects that sales experts will use to systematically reach out to prospects and convert them into buying customers. On top of that, prospecting also aims to:

  • Qualify leads;
  • Start a conversation;
  • Present your product or service as the ultimate solution to your prospects’ problems.

Importance of Quality Prospecting

Now that you know the meaning of prospecting, it’s natural to wonder whether you really should care about it. So, let’s take a moment to define the importance of quality prospecting for a business.

If we rephrase it, prospecting is an active search for high-quality leads. As you should know, leads are the potential sales opportunities that propel business growth and profit. So, the role of prospecting should be pretty clear. But, in reality, there are many other things that quality prospecting can offer to you:

More Effective Targeting

Prospecting enables companies to gain full control over lead sources and collection. With its help, you can analyze different channels of leads and find the ones that bring the best results. Also, prospecting helps companies get a better understanding of what customers have the highest chance to convert and, thus, focus their efforts on finding and capturing the most promising leads.

Higher Conversions

Prospecting helps your marketing and sales specialists know exactly which leads won’t convert and which will. As a result, they can focus on communicating with the most promising leads and, thus, boost your conversion rates.

Better ROIs

Optimizing your lead generation efforts with the help of accurate prospecting is also a way to reach better ROIs. When you know what leads to focus on and how to approach them efficiently, the time and money you spend on every prospect will bring you more returns.

Better Churn Handling

Churn - when customers suddenly stop doing business with you - is a natural process, which takes place in every company. And it’s okay. But, if your prospects list is not growing, even a minimal churn rate can be fatal to you. That’s one more case where prospecting can help. With some quality prospecting, you can ensure a stable flow of new leads into your sales funnel. As a result, you will be able to compensate for churned customers faster and easier.

Types of Prospecting

As you already know from the prospecting meaning, this process goes beyond just qualifying leads in or out of your sales funnel. It also strives to start a conversation with a prospect. So, there are several types of prospecting that use different means of communication:

  1. On Phone Prospecting

    According to statistics, 69% of consumers still accept cold calls. Thus, cold calling is still an effective type of prospecting widely used by all sorts of businesses.
    This type of prospecting implies leveraging a particular lead’s direct phone number. Using it, a company’s SDR can initiate a conversation and link the prospect’s pain point to a solution offered by an organization. But such prospecting calls don’t necessarily throw a sales pitch. They are also used to ask questions, listen to your prospects, and, thus, learn more about them.
  2. Email Prospecting

    Another way to prospect leads is via email. Sales emails are widely used by companies to prospect leads at scale. The reason for its popularity is that it is very cost-effective. With the help of this channel, businesses can create sequences of prospecting messages that educate their leads about their products, services, and benefits.
    Email prospecting is known to offer high ROIs. This tactic also works great for warming up leads before a phone call.
  3. Social Media Prospecting

    Finally, social media is also a popular medium for prospecting. There are plenty of different platforms that can be used by different businesses. Namely, LinkedIn is the most effective channel for B2B prospecting. It enables companies to find leads that match their ICP and connect with them instantly to start building a relationship.
    Many salespeople also merge this channel with video prospecting. They make short video presentations to send through LinkedIn and, thus, add a bit more personalization to their outreach.

How to Do Prospecting? Step-by-Step Process

Prospecting in marketing or sales is a very complex, multi-stage process that requires a lot of effort. In this part of our article, we will give you a brief step-by-step guide on how to start prospecting right now.

Step 1: Identify Your Targets

Before you can start searching for potential customers, you need to identify who you are looking for. To do this, you need to build your ideal customer profile. A clear ICP will help you see patterns in your buyers’ needs, expectations, and pain points. Later, you will use this knowledge to find and reach out to the right people during the prospecting stage.

Step 2: Develop a Strategy

Once you understand what kind of customers you are trying to capture, define a clear strategy for finding and converting them. Identify the goals and main KPIs. Also, get clear on the approach your salespeople should take to interact with prospects.

Having a well-defined strategy will save you plenty of time and money.

Step 3: Prospect

When you are done with the preparatory steps, you can start actively searching for your leads. At this stage, there are three main prospecting options that you can try:

  • Purchased lists. When you buy lead list, you save a lot of time on generating leads and harvesting their information manually. Many companies opt for this option for the time economy. However, we have to note that ready-made lead lists are often unreliable. They can contain irrelevant or outdated information and, eventually, buying them can cost you more time and money than expected.
  • Email finders. Another way to collect leads (especially for prospecting via email) is to use email finders. These tools let you find accurate email addresses of the leads you are interested in. The only significant drawback of this method is that it takes quite a lot of time. You have to find a suitable list first and only then you can use email finders to collect their data.
  • Lead directories. The last and most reliable solution for B2B prospecting is to use lead directories. These are the tools that let you segment prospects to match your ICP and find qualified leads in almost no time. LeadsForce does just that! It is a reliable platform that connects businesses with thousands of qualified leads with accurate information. Be sure to give it a try to make the most out of your prospecting efforts!

Step 4: Analyze Your Leads

After you prospect a sufficient number of leads, the next step requires you to analyze them. Unless you were using lead directories like LeadsForce that let you target leads that match your ICP, chances are that your database will be full of irrelevant leads. So, your task is to analyze it and carefully qualify every prospect based on their likelihood to convert.

Step 4: Getting in Touch

The last stage of prospecting requires getting in touch with your qualified leads. You can move on to this step as soon as you are satisfied with your prior prospecting efforts, meaning when you have a well-defined database of customers that have high chances to convert.

The core goal of the “getting in touch” stage is to start a conversation with a client and, hopefully, turn them into paying customers. Here are a few key tips for doing this right:

  • Personalize every outreach. When you get in touch with your prospects, personalization helps establish trust and show a prospect that you’ve done some research to learn more about them.
  • Stick to a casual tone of voice. Modern consumers don’t like formal and faceless interactions with businesses. Instead, they want to hear a real person on the other side of the phone (or screen). Therefore, keeping your conversation casual and laid-back is always a good idea.
  • Focus on helping, not selling. Throwing a sales pitch right at your prospect without letting them get to know you is a counterproductive approach. Instead, you should give prospects a sense that you are trying to help them in the first place. Thus, you should really focus on being a good listener and try to help your prospects. Don’t be too salesy or push too hard.

Prospecting Tactics

As you already know, there are three primary channels for prospecting: phone, email, and social media. However, the number of tactics you can use to connect with prospects via these channels is slightly broader.

Here are the main prospecting tactics you can try for every channel:

  • Phone - First and foremost, when prospecting via phone, you can call the prospect directly and have a short conversation with them if they answer. But, that’s not all. Apart from having an actual phone talk, SDRs also leverage automated voicemail messages. Such messages are used to convince the listener to take action, for example, to call you back or visit your website for more information.
  • Email - If you handle prospecting via email, you can leverage different forms of email marketing for this purpose. For example, you can send personalized introduction emails or run marketing sequences.
  • Social Media - On different social media channels, you can also use different tactics to prospect potential clients. Namely, you can send connection invites to expand your network, join groups and communities, send direct messages to your prospects, optimize your account, deliver relevant content, etc. All these activities contribute to your prospecting strategy.
  • Direct Mail - Finally, there is one more, offline prospecting tactic. It basically implies sending direct mail to your prospects, including marketing materials such as postcards, flyers, and catalogs. This tactic is used to inform prospects about your business and encourage them to connect with you on their own. And it also works for certain types of companies and industries.

All these prospecting tactics are effective. The trick is to qualify your prospects effectively and define the right tactic for connecting with each particular lead. If you do this right, you will get the most out of your prospecting efforts.

Top Tips for Targeted Prospecting

Even when you know the prospecting definition and are aware of the most effective ways to reach your leads, the process can still be rather challenging. To help you overcome this challenge, we’ve gathered the top five tips for effective prospecting:

  1. Don’t Overdo It

    Many specialists prefer to start prospecting by having an extensive list of leads and gradually narrowing it down to smaller lists of paying customers. However, the accurate approach is much more productive. We recommend starting with small lists of better-targeted and qualified leads. Aim for quality, not quantity.
  2. Focus on Relevant Content

    When you have a list of prospects, you need some top-notch content to market your product or service to them. At this stage, it’s important to focus on relevancy. Create content that will bring real value to your leads and engage them.
  3. Have a Script for Your Calls

    If you are prospecting via phone, instead of having relevant content, you need to have a good plan for your calls. This has several purposes. First of all, having a clear script will reduce anxiety. And, it will also help you have more meaningful and effective conversations.
  4. Know When to Stop

    Another important tip is to always know when to stop pursuing prospecting. Although it may sound odd, capturing fewer prospects of higher quality means much more than generating lots of poor-quality prospects. So, don’t waste too much time on leads that just aren’t a good fit. This will boost conversions and sales for your company and help you save time.
  5. Update Your ICP

    Lastly, one more tip that will help you market your products effectively is to update your ideal customer profile regularly, ideally, every quarter. Remember that your leads are variables, not constants. Their needs, expectations, and pain points can change. And you have to adapt your strategies to these changes.

Conclusion

Although prospecting can be rather tough, it’s an irreplaceable part of business success. With the help of prospecting, businesses fill their sales funnels with top-quality leads, ensure high ROIs and conversions, and, of course, drive more sales.

Hopefully, this guide will help you grasp the idea of prospecting better and start using it to your company’s benefit. And don’t forget that LeadsForce is the best source of qualified leads for maximum effective prospecting!

Daniel Gorbenko - Product Marketing Manager
Daniel Gorbenko
Product Marketing Manager
Daniel is a Product Marketing Manager with more than 4 years of experience with B2B and B2C products.

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