The Beginner’s Guide to Sales Prospecting

The Beginners Guide To Sales Prospecting

Perfecting the sales process can be terrifying to business owners, but it’s the lifeline of your company so you need to suck it up and put in the work to get leads over the line.

Getting leads, introducing them to different aspects of your company and requesting feedback and referrals are all part of the Sales Prospecting process. 

To be successful in business you need to master the steps that identify your target market and step them through the benefits of your offer so that you get the conversions you need to thrive in your industry.

I’m using this blog to give you an introduction to sales prospecting and walk you through how to identify, qualify, and close a sale. If you find there are questions I haven’t answered for you by the end, get in touch and I’ll be able to talk about a scenario that’s more specific to your business.

What is sales prospecting?

A prospector is a term we typically use for someone searching for gold. They are hunting something down and digging it up. Sales prospecting is the exact same notion, but for customers.

Just like with gold, the sales process is about sifting through large quantities of material to reveal the gold nuggets – the customers who are most likely to stick with you and convert. The aim is to target the best leads, nurture their interest and provide a solution that solves their exact problem.

That’s just the starting goal though, what you really want is for them to remain loyal customers after their initial purchase to buy again, refer their friends and colleagues and testify that your products or services are the best in the business.

You are aiming to set up a sales process that filters through the crowd to reveal the gold-worthy customers and entice them through.

When you perfect your sales prospecting process it becomes very easy to find and keep high-quality customers which helps you continue to build up your client base rather than have to constantly replenish with new customers after a sale. Great word of mouth from past sales also helps deliver quality leads directly to your door, cutting your search work down significantly.

Is sales prospecting important?

You can hide from this as much as you like but there’s no denying that sales prospecting is important. A lot of small business owners like to keep things small, which means they avoid structured sales pathways, but there is no way your business can survive without effective sales. 

While there is the idyllic belief that people will magically find you, the truth is there is so much competition and so much noise out there for customers to wade through, it’s highly unlikely that customers will discover you with some help.

As well as being important for business, a quality sales prospecting process is important for protecting a business owner’s health and well-being. The time and energy you don’t spend chasing the wrong customers is well worth it, especially with so many small business owners feeling the pain of burnout and being overworked and stressed out. 

Smart business means getting more customers with less effort. 

Ideally, you want your sales prospecting system to be able to scale as your business grows given that steady growth and increased numbers and service opportunities are the expected outcome of getting this equation right.

Prospecting is also important for raising brand awareness. Even if your leads are not ready to buy from you right now, you want to create an impact that the right people will remember. This way they will come back to you later or refer others to you when you get the messaging right.

After that, it’s down to your ability to close – which also needs to be outlined and perfected as part of your sales prospecting strategy.

Is there a difference between Outbound and Inbound prospecting?

The difference between outbound and inbound prospecting is similar to the difference between cold and warm calling. Understanding how these two work helps make the sales approach a little less scary. 

A lot of the time when I’m talking to my business clients about their dislike for sales, what they really hate is cold sales or outbound prospecting methods because they feel that the chance of rejection is high. 

Ideally, you want to change your perspective to see the upside of business rejection – but that’s for another day – in the meantime what you can do is lean into warm sales and inbound prospecting to get used to talking to people and promoting what you do.

Outbound prospecting

Outbound prospecting is designed for new leads who don’t know you yet or who haven’t been active in researching what you do. Taking into account that these guys have no idea who you are, the process allows for more warm-up time and more information to get them ready to make a decision to move forward. 

Where can you find potential customers for outbound prospecting?

  • Relevant social media groups
  • Networking events
  • Follow up on business cards you may have picked up

Different situations call for different ways to close, something you can identify and track as part of your business’s sales process. In some situations, it’s essential to close on the spot, but in others, it’s best to grab the person’s details and follow up with a call or contact later on. 

Networking events are a really great example of times when the best approach is to get the details of someone who is in need of what you have and schedule a time when you can call to discuss in more detail.

This is no time to be humble. Have conversations that show your expertise and talent and generously share your knowledge about your specialised products or services. 

The conversation you have in outbound prospecting is about the specifics of your products and services, how they are designed to help as well as your prices. This doesn’t need to be in person, you can chat online, through social media or send emails to get this information across.

Inbound prospecting

With inbound prospecting, you want to make this a personal conversation. These prospects have already shown an interest in you in some way. They might have taken an action step on your website, emailed you with a question or signed up for a newsletter. 

Inbound prospects already have some idea of who you are and what you do, and most importantly they are warmed up and interested in taking the next step. 

Pick up the phone or arrange an online face-to-face meeting and this time make the entire conversation about how you can help them and what they get out of it. You don’t need to provide that base information on what you do, make it about them and what they need.


Sometimes closing is the hardest part because you have to ask for something. It’s amazing how many business owners get caught up here. I think it’s kind of admirable, because you started your business to help people, so asking for something can feel awkward but at the same time, you have to believe you are worth something. 

If breaking through any doubts about your self-worth isn’t on your cards for today, shift your focus to see that you are helping them. You are giving them what they need and helping them fulfil their goal. They are happy to pay for that.

Think about how you can make closing easier – for both of you. Just make sure that you don’t limit yourself by cutting into your profits so much that it defeats the sale. Your business needs to make money to keep going so have a structure for cloning that still ensures your business can grow.

Some ideas for closing are:

  • Offer a discount
  • Free postage (over a certain dollar amount)
  • Same-day service
  • Service guarantee 
  • Easy to access refund policy

Brainstorm ways you can reduce the risk of buying a new product from a new brand to help ease doubt and get the sale over the line.

Sales prospecting techniques

The great part about sales prospecting is there are plenty of different techniques you can apply, meaning you can find the right fit for you and your customers. Ideally, you want to be tapping into as many of these different techniques as possible to get a better result. 

Start out with the ones that are the best fit and push yourself out of your comfort zone to try new ideas and methods as you warm up.

Below I’ll cover some main prospecting techniques but there are plenty of ways you can fine-tune these to be a better fit or even branch out with something new that allows your brand to stand out.

We’ll go over the following in more detail for you below:

  • Networking events
  • Referrals
  • Social profiles
  • Events
  • Cold calling
  • Industry guru

Networking events

Networking events are a great way to practise talking about what you do and who you are. Honestly, there is never any harm in attending one and you never know who you might meet and what relationships you might build, so go with an open mind and a willingness to talk.

Networking events are especially great for those niche businesses that might be easier to explain in person than over email.

You are face-to-face with people who are willing to have business conversations – they’re expecting it even. The only downside to networking events is that usually everyone there has the same motive as you – to get sales, so you might be hard-pressed to find customers. 

Remember that there are potential customers behind the person you are connecting with, so even though a lead might not be obvious, take every interaction seriously. In this case, you are looking to make ripple effects. 

If your industries cross over going to a networking event for a complimentary industry can be seriously worthwhile. 

As I said though, it’s the perfect place to practise your elevator pitch and get a feel for the sales prospecting process because you’ll see it everywhere. Take notes on what works and what inspires you as you move around the room.


Referrals need to be your number one priority for getting quality leads. The reason being they already trust you so these leads come with a high chance of a purchase. The only issue is they usually don’t manifest themselves, you need to ask for them. 

Most business owners make the mistake of thinking that referrals happen naturally – while they can, it is far more likely that someone will need a little prompt from you to make it happen.

If you have customers who have been with you for a while, ask them if they know anyone who could benefit from what you do. You can go further by offering a referral reward like a gift or discount voucher.

People might not refer on their own because they hadn’t thought of it or they think you don’t need it if it seems you are so great at what you do you have enough clients. Asking them gives them direction that they will be happy to take to help you and your business out.

As well as referrals you can also ask for testimonials and reviews, another thing happy customers are more than happy to provide when they love your service.

Social profiles

Social media is a great opportunity to offer help and assistance. A lot of times there will be questions posted online or issues expressed. You can come in and offer a solution using your business expertise (in your industry of course). 

It’s as simple as joining groups on social media community pages or business groups and monitoring these for times when you can provide expert help. While it might not be appropriate to press for a sale then and there on the forum you are using (and some platforms frown upon posting links and advertising brands) but if you are posting using a business account that is suitably branded, you’ll be getting people aware of what you do and you can easily move the conversation to a personal message later on.

Showing your expertise through helping people and giving advice is a great way to build brand awareness and funnel leads through. When you build your profile up in a positive and generous way when it comes time to pitch your sales, then people recognise you and identify you as an industry guru.

The big ticket here is to build relationships only – don’t sell anything. Look to give, give, give and ask nothing in return.

You want people to like you and see you as trustworthy. If you give a bit of advice and smother people with a sales spiel all they will see is you used them. Offer help and care about the outcome. 

A great relationship can equal not just a sale down the track but a loyal customer, testimonials and referrals that keep giving back. You need to be thinking about the long-term gain.


Some industries really benefit from hosting events. You have to be smart about it starting out, you don’t want all the bells and whistles as it will cost you a fortune. Find ways to provide a space for what you need and focus on delivering outstanding information. Think about how an event might work for you and what you can showcase that will lead to your brand or service standing out. If these events prove to be successful you can grow them to be more elaborate as your business profits.

Events are beneficial because they are personal. You are in the room and interacting and there is huge potential for you to prove a lot of engagement and activity that you can’t get with any other medium. It also allows you to connect with a large number of people at the same time.

Don’t just limit your brainstorming to your potential clients, some industries can benefit from hosting an event for other businesses and creating their own information sessions for professionals. See what works and where you might get referrals from. 

So for example someone who runs a sports clinic for kids can offer to bring afternoon tea to school staff meetings and share the benefits and promote the clinic through the teaching staff. Someone who has a home maintenance business might host a morning tea for real estate agents. Think bigger and see what you come up with for your business and see what you can offer or who you can partner with. 

Personalised emails

Personalised emails are a great way to stay in touch with your members and email list and keep them warm, informed and familiar.

You can also customise emails to customers who have previously purchased products from you to introduce similar products, and inform them if they need to upgrade products or update their supply. In between selling emails offer advice by answering FAQs, tips and tricks or how-tos.

You can share information via email including:

  • Company updates
  • Get to know us (staff and customer bios)
  • Sales
  • Promotions
  • New products
  • Awards/celebrations
  • Events
  • Exclusive discount codes
  • Affiliates
  • Tips
  • Discussions
  • Invitations to engage
  • News (National, global or community local depending on what fits)

Tailoring an email to fit each customer’s shopping profile, how warm they are to your brand and their demographic results in a higher chance of closing a sale so get as personal as you can and look for ways to address different audiences in the way they are going to respond best.

Cold calling

Cold calling isn’t suitable for every business but can really help get things started if you aren’t in a position to have existing customers or email lists. 

Cold calling can be tough as it’s not something anyone really loves – the trick is not to take it personally if you get turned down

Think carefully about your target market and when it is best to call them. If you have access to a list of numbers, draft a script and adjust it as you go to find what people are most receptive to. Keep tabs on who isn’t interested and who you have left messages with and make sure you have something to offer them. There is no point in ringing people just to talk about your brand, you need to have something that they want and can sign up for on the phone with you. 

The bigger the reward the better your chances although keep in mind you have to do a lot of work to win their trust before you try to close.

Industry Guru

You’re in business because you love what you do and know it exceptionally well. By showcasing just how deep your passion and expertise are, your work becomes desirable and essential to those people who want to move forward in your particular area.

Being an expert comes with experience and it will show in multiple ways. For example, you can:

  • explain things in your work and field simply and clearly
  • adjust your approach (or script) to fit different customers
  • solve crazy problems on the fly
  • offer lots of examples to highlight what you are saying

This side of sales prospecting doesn’t require a close – You don’t need to talk about costs and dollar figures. Simply discussing who you are and what you do  – importantly how you help others and what they achieve through your services or products- is enough to have people step up and ask for a sale.

Ongoing Commitment to Sales Prospecting

Your sales prospecting system will need your attention to keep it relevant. There is an ongoing commitment required, although probably not as much as when you set up. You will need to check in, try new approaches and give things a nudge from time to time, but ideally your leads will convert and refer, giving you a cycle of happy customers with far less input from you and your team.

There is a natural momentum that will carry your sales through more easily once you have established a system that works. 

If you are getting stuck or keep finding hiccups in your sales prospecting processes there might be some mindset tools that can help unlock your full potential.

The Beginner’s Guide to Sales Prospecting: Key Takeaways

While sales might not be the part of your business you find fun, developing a working sales prospecting system is essential for your business to thrive. Finding the right direction for your sales pathway can really help make it rewarding and effortless and with the right mindset, you can even grow to love it. 

The more you practise the better you will get and the easier selling will become.

You don’t have to take a cheesy used-car sales approach, you will get great results from being genuine and helpful, building relationships and sharing what you do. In many cases the best way to prospect for sales is to not sell anything at all. 

Selling is one of the things that is most often outside of people’s comfort zones when they own their own business so it’s understandable if you need support to really get the most out of it. Investing in your ability to sell yourself and your business is one of the best things you can do for your business as it gives back not only in sales and business growth but also personal development, confidence and ability.

Our Evolve To Grow sherpas know what it takes because each of us have been in the driver’s seat of our own businesses. We know exactly what you are going through as well as the proven ways to overcome any obstacle. Book a free session to talk about how we can help take your business to new heights.

The Beginner’s Guide to Sales Prospecting -FAQs

Q: How do I start prospecting sales?

A: To start prospecting sales, begin by clearly defining your target audience or ideal customer profile. Conduct thorough research to identify potential prospects within your target market. Utilise various channels, such as social media, professional networking platforms, and industry events, to reach out to prospects. Craft personalised and compelling messages to initiate conversations and establish a connection with potential customers.

Q: What is sales prospecting?

A: Sales prospecting is the proactive process of identifying and reaching out to potential customers or prospects who have a higher likelihood of becoming paying customers. It involves conducting research, initiating contact, and nurturing relationships with individuals or businesses who fit your ideal customer profile.

Q: What is the first step in a prospecting strategy?

A: The first step in a prospecting strategy is defining your target audience. Clearly identify the characteristics and attributes of your ideal customers, such as industry, job title, company size, or geographic location. This will help you focus your efforts and resources on the prospects most likely to convert into customers.

Q: Why is sales prospecting important?

A: Sales prospecting plays a vital role in building a strong and sustainable customer base. By actively seeking out potential customers, you can uncover new opportunities, expand your network, and generate a consistent flow of qualified leads. Prospecting helps you fill your sales pipeline, increase revenue vs profit, and foster long-term business growth.

Q: What are the best prospecting techniques?

A: There are several effective prospecting techniques you can utilise:

Cold calling: Making unsolicited calls to potential prospects to introduce your product or service and initiate a conversation.

Email prospecting: Sending personalised, targeted emails to prospects to engage them in a dialogue and showcase the value you can provide.

Social selling: Leveraging social media platforms to identify and connect with prospects, share valuable content, and establish yourself as a trusted industry expert.

Referral-based prospecting: Asking your existing satisfied customers or professional network for referrals to potential prospects who may benefit from your offerings.

Networking events: Attending industry conferences, trade shows, or local networking events to meet and connect with potential prospects face-to-face.

Remember, the best prospecting techniques may vary depending on your target audience, industry, and product/service offering. It’s important to test and refine your approach to find what works best for your specific circumstances.