Sales prospecting secrets

04 Feb 2020

Is your outbound prospecting generating sales appointments?

As a business owner, salesperson, if I was given 3 wishes, I would want,

  • More Clients
  • More Repeat Buyers
  • More Referrals

I am sure you agree with those wishes. But the question is how to make these wishes to reality?

Whether you are selling enterprise software, technology solution, or running own franchise businesses, keeping your sales pipeline filled with sales appointments is the first step towards success.

What is that one skill or competency that can help the most? From my experience of being a business owner in B2B, it is the ability to do prospecting.

What is prospecting?

It is a series of activities that helps you to generate consistent appointments from people whom you don’t know, who may not ready for your service yet but become your qualified leads and customers.

In spite of this much importance, Prospecting is one of the most underdeveloped and misunderstood.

Do you know the origin of prospecting, is the activity of searching for gold, oil, or other valuable substances on or under the surfaces of the Earth?


There’s an important distinction between prospecting and handling inquiries.

Prospecting is the ability to trigger interest or create demand for your products or services versus finding people already looking to buy something.

On the other hand, inquiry handling or polling is to look out for buyers who are actively looking for a solution.

Both are important activities but require different approaches and skills.

Polling helps to find opportunities in your active or looking territory.

Prospecting helps bring opportunities from the latent or not looking segment.

Prospecting is to creating interest in buyers

Let us take an example, the passenger car market. We can divide the buyers broadly into 3 categories based on their current buying stage. In the universe of buyers,

  • Firstly there exists a set of buyers who have made a decision to buy the car and are actively looking for a car by visiting various dealers.
  • Secondly, there is a larger set who are still in the consideration phase of which car to go far, when, what budget, etc. They may be just talking to friends or visiting different websites etc
  • Finally, there is an even larger set that is undecided or not ready to buy yet and not doing anything to do with a car purchase.

The below picture from The Ulitmate Sales Machine gives, in most markets, there is just 3% of buyers who are ready to buy the solution and 7% open to buying but not looking. This applies to B2B or B2C.

Then 30% of the buyer is not thinking about the solution at all and then the rest 60% is divided b/w not interested or do not want.

Prospecting is mainly to target the 2nd and 3rd sets of who are either not looking solution or not thinking about the solution to actually look for a solution.

To do this effectively what is required is the ability to find these buyers in the market, and trigger and create interests in what you sell. This is key for any salesperson.

While trying to create an interest, focus on creating curiosity first, not on the immediate action you want the prospect to take.

If your prospecting activity is not giving results means, you are not generating curiosity in your buyers.

Instead too many times salespeople create tension by asking the prospect either to know about their company, to listen to the product presentations, to schedule an appointment or to get the order in the very first interaction.

You the seller haven’t earned the right to expect these to be permitted by the prospect who is still not looking for a solution.

Instead the seller the focus must on creating curiosity.

Prospect must be curious, ready to know more about your product or the service.

Common challenges in prospecting

Find your right prospect form the crowd.

Prospecting is one of the most important disciplines in which sellers can engage, Nobody denying the importance of prospecting in sales.

Everyone should know that without sales prospecting, there would not be new leads. And without new leads, sales shrink, and businesses suffer.

But in spite of this what we commonly find is prospecting is seen as too big a challenge and many business owners, salespeople prefer not to do this role.

They prefer to meet ready buyers then engage with a buyer who is not ready. The reason is

  1. Spending time in the wrong places and wasting time.
  2. Not having a multi-modal structured approach to prospecting
  3. Lacking the discipline and time management to do consistently
  4. Not migrating to the latest tools and techniques which works for the current market

How much time is recommended for prospecting? There isn’t a specific amount of time is to be spent, it varies on your pipeline and the business you belong but studies have shown wrong way of prospecting can 40% of the time of salespeople.

There are ways to optimize this process and with the latest tools and knowledge, 30 minutes/day is enough to prospect hundreds of qualified buyers.

What are the ways for prospecting opportunities

Ok, now that we know why prospecting is key, what is prospecting and challenges, let us explore some of the ways to do prospecting.

What’s the first thing comes to your mind when we use the term “prospecting?” ideally the first word will come out is “cold calling.”

Cold calling has worked for ages but in today’s world, the result from cold calling is very low for most businesses. It doesn’t mean cold calling doesn’t work, but there are far better methods exists which give superior results.

Lets us discuss some of the different methods for prospecting here follows:


Networking is an informal way whereby people with common interests assist each other. In today’s world of interconnectivity, collaboration, and a real openness to sharing if salespeople aren’t part of networking activities, they should be and it’s really very important activity for salespeople.

Key elements of Networking opportunities:

i. Existing customers

Use your existing current database customers as a resource for targeting future opportunities. Build a good rapport so that you can ask for additional problems they might have so that you find an opportunity to support them.

ii. Referrals

You probably don’t ask current(satisfied) customers for referrals enough.
Most of our customers attend seminars, conferences and user groups and have built up friendship and acquaintances with people in similar occupations as theirs. Hoping that there is no conflict of interest, ask them to refer you to other people in their network.

iii. Industry Associations

Industrial Associations are designed to share industry trends, industry business issues, and technology-related topics, and so on among their members. Being a member of associations be a valuable conduit for potential opportunities.

iv. Social events

Walk into a room where you know no one, find a chance so that they’re going to welcome a conversation. Introduce yourself, You can even say something like “Hi. I’m Abhi. I don’t know anyone here. How about you?”, Try to understand the nature of the business he or she belongs too, exchange your business cards.

Trade shows

Trade shows are one of the best places to meet your target audience. However, this B2B prospecting method tends to be one of the most expensive types of sales and marketing.

Start a conversation about business issues that focus on specific capabilities you provide to help solve specific that business problems and be ready to discuss business-level reference stories.

Social Selling (LinkedIn, Facebook)

This is becoming one of the most important channels to prospect for high-end clients. The ability to discover potential clients, build connections, provide value before asking for appointments is an extremely powerful way to prospect.

But a lot of salespeople don’t know how to prospect on LinkedIn and end up being too pushy and sales-oriented which latent buyers resist.

E-mail Cold Reach

E-mail is one of the most effective cold reach prospecting methods, provided you do it effectively.

88% of top marketers and salespeople prefer E-mail over any other platform for cold prospecting

Cold e-mails are the best form to engage new prospects, build curiosity, and engage them in conversation. There are great e-mail cold teach tools that help to personalize communication with your audience.


Effective prospecting will lead you to find a good-fit customer for your business. Solves the challenges and pain points or meets the unmet need of the customer. Happy prospecting.