Sales prospecting ultimate guide: Tips, examples, techniques and templates

When it comes to sales prospecting, there is no magic formula. Yes, there are some key ingredients like patience, persistence, persuasion and hard work. But, at the end of the day, prospecting is a skill.

That said, there are certain tactics and strategies that can help you become more successful at prospecting. That’s why we’ve compiled this ultimate guide to sales prospecting, providing actionable steps and advice so you can start growing your customer base and driving sales. 

We’ll start by exploring the basics of prospecting, from understanding your target audience to defining a productive process. Then we’ll end by looking at specific prospecting techniques that can help you secure more leads and close more deals.

Here’s an overview of everything we’ll cover along the way: 


Let’s get started!



What is sales prospecting?

Sales prospecting is the first step in the sales process. It involves researching potential customers and finding qualified leads that could become paying customers.

Prospecting is tedious, requiring a lot of research, outreach and follow-up. However, it is essential to a successful sales strategy as it helps you identify potential customers who are likely to be interested in the product or service you offer.


What makes sales prospecting challenging?

Buyers now have access to more information than ever before, so it’s easier for them to understand a product or service and make their own decision without ever having to speak with a sales rep.

With the rise of digital marketing, it has also become easier than ever for companies to target their audiences with precision and accuracy. This has led to a highly competitive environment where companies compete for the same customers.

Sales prospecting is also becoming more difficult due to the sheer number of companies now operating in any given space. With so much competition, it’s become increasingly hard for sales reps to identify and target those potential customers who are most likely to make a purchase.

Lastly, success rates for prospecting methods can also be discouragingly low. For example, if you’re just starting your sales career, you may only convert 1 out of 10 prospects, meaning that 9 out of 10 potential customers don’t make a purchase.


Why you shouldn’t neglect prospecting

As a salesperson, you’re going to “fail” a lot while prospecting. Despite recent surveys reporting that 40% of salespeople view sales prospecting as the most challenging part of the sales process, it’s still an effective method to drive revenue and build strong customer relationships 

Here are some reasons why you should never neglect prospecting (even when it feels like a waste of time):

  • Prospecting leads to more opportunities: The more people you talk to, the higher your chances of making a sale and increasing your customer base.
  • Prospecting helps you build relationships: By talking to people, you can start to build a relationship with them and get to know their needs and wants. 
  • Prospecting helps you establish yourself as an authority: By engaging with leads, you can establish yourself as an expert in your field and increase the credibility of your business.
  • Prospecting helps you build brand awareness: Through conversations, you can increase your company’s visibility and help to spread the word about who you are and what you offer. 


Sales prospecting vs. lead generation

Sales prospecting and lead generation often get confused, but they are two distinct strategies. And understanding the difference between them is essential if you want to maximize your sales team’s efficiency and success.

Lead generation is the process of developing potential customer leads, while sales prospecting is the process of actively identifying and engaging with these leads to generate sales.

Lead generation typically involves creating content and experiences that capture potential customers’ attention and contact information. The goal of B2B lead generation is to create a database of companies that have the potential to become customers.

Sales prospecting, on the other hand, is the process of actively engaging with leads to create sales opportunities. This often involves researching potential customers, sending cold emails, making cold calls and setting up sales meetings.

Learn more about the difference between sales prospecting and lead generation: Lead generation vs. sales prospecting: Key differences, examples and strategies


How to prospect: General tips

Your goal while prospecting is to connect with your prospects and create the opportunity to discuss how your products or services can meet their needs. As such, you’ll want to apply the following tips to maximize your success:


Become an expert on your offering

This first tip is basic. But it’s essential because, without in-depth knowledge of what you’re selling, it will be difficult to establish credibility with potential customers.

If you’re in a new sales role, selling a product or service with which you’ve never interacted, take the time to become an expert on your offering. Understand every aspect, from its features and benefits to any literature or training materials your company has produced.

Also, schedule some time to speak with your organization’s product and customer success experts. They can provide detailed answers to any questions you may have about the product or service and give you additional insight that can help you understand how your offering fits in with the customer’s needs.


Update your ideal customer profile with exegraphic data

Your ideal customer profile (ICP) is the foundation of sales success. As such, you should update it regularly to ensure it reflects the ever-changing behaviors, trends, and pain points of the companies most likely to buy from you.

Most companies develop their ICP using a combination of firmographic, demographic, and technographic data. But there are limits to the insights you can draw from these data types.

For example, how well can you really determine if a company with the following data points will be interested in buying a new marketing software solution?

  • Firmographic: Technology company, 100+ Employees
  • Demographic: Based in the USA
  • Technographic: Uses a web marketing platform

The answer: not well.

However, by supplementing firmographic, demographic and technographic data with exegraphic data—data on how companies operate and behave—you can create a profile that more accurately reflects your target market, allowing for more precise targeting and more efficient prospecting.

Exgraphic data helps you answer questions like:

  • To what degree does a company show willingness to take a chance on new technology?
  • How much data risk does a company handle as part of its operations?
  • How much of the company’s workforce is IT compared to their peers?
  • What’s the frequency of turnover within a company?
  • How fast/slow is the company growing in terms of headcount, revenue or both?

By combining traditional customer data with exegraphic data, you can prospect more efficiently and target your campaigns with precision. This can result in higher conversion rates, a better customer experience and more returns on investment for your organization.

For more information on exegraphic data and how to use it to update your ICP:


Prioritize your list of prospects based on fit and readiness to buy

You can and should segment your target audience and prioritize prospects who meet specific criteria for fit and readiness to buy. This way, you can invest more time and energy into prospects most likely to convert.

Using a platform like Rev’s Sales Development Platform, you can take advantage of AI technology to build and prioritize your target list for you. But, if you’re doing this manually, consider the following questions to help you decide which prospects are most valuable:

  • What needs to happen for this prospect to become a customer?
  • How urgently do they need your product or service?
  • When was their last interaction with you or your website?
  • How well do they fit your customer profile?
  • Where are they in the buying process?


Provide value before attempting to make the sale

You and your prospects have at least one thing in common: you’re bombarded daily with advertisements, sales pitches and other attempts to influence you to buy. That means, just like you, your prospects are more suspicious of sales tactics than ever before. 

So, start by connecting and building relationships with your prospects. Don’t just go in for the sale right away; instead, work to educate and inform them about your product. By providing helpful information and insights, you can create a positive impression, start to build trust and show prospects how they can benefit from your solutions.

You can also give away something of value to your prospects, such as a free trial, demo version or complimentary consultation. This helps them get to know you and your product better and provides an incentive to learn more.


Personalize your messaging with specific pain points

Prospecting is an art of persuasion. And to be successful, you must be able to craft a message that speaks to the individual and their needs. By focusing on their pain points, you can craft a message that resonates and inspires them to take action. 

You must also make your message timely and relevant. Consider the current market conditions, what is top-of-mind for your customer, and the exegraphics that show how the customer is a good fit for your product or service.

For example, let’s go back to the example of selling a marketing software. The exegraphics of your ICP might show that the customer is a small business owner with limited resources and struggles to keep up with their digital marketing efforts.

In this scenario, your message should focus on how the software can help small businesses save time, make their marketing efforts more efficient and help them drive results despite limited resources. In addition, you could also focus on how easy it is to use the software and how it can be integrated into their existing workflow. 


Align your sales strategy with your marketing strategy

It’s essential to ensure that your sales and marketing teams work together to create a unified message and that each team is reinforcing the other’s efforts. So, how can you get your marketing team to support your prospecting efforts specifically? 

The key is to get marketing to focus on building awareness and trust with prospects early in the buying process. This means creating content that educates, informs and entertains your target audience and provides them with valuable insights.

Marketing should also be prepared to provide sales with qualified leads so they can focus their time on closing deals. This involves using automation tools for tasks like email marketing and lead scoring to identify prospects who are ready to move through the sales cycle quickly, as well as nurturing those who may not be prepared to buy just yet.

Finally, marketing can help sales by providing the necessary resources to close deals. This includes things like case studies, customer success stories, demo videos and product information sheets.


Ask your best clients for referrals

Word of mouth is one of the most effective ways to acquire customers in the B2B world. Some report that more than 90% of all B2B sales are influenced by a peer. So, why not reach out to the best clients you’ve worked with and see if they’d be willing to provide a referral? 

Ask them directly or offer an incentive such as a discount on their next purchase if they refer a customer. This can effectively drive in new clients who have already received positive feedback from your existing customers.

You can also consider incorporating referral programs into your customer retention efforts. Offer incentives to businesses that refer their contacts to you or provide discounts for customers who refer a certain number of new clients. This type of program can be an effective way to build your client base and increase revenue.


Follow up with prospects regularly

The likelihood that your prospects will be ready to buy from you the first time they hear from you is slim. That’s why it’s important to nurture your prospects with careful follow-up.

Reach out regularly and remind them of the value you offer and why they should buy from your business. This steady reminder can help keep your business top of mind and ensure that prospects don’t forget about you.

It’s also important to note the following sales statistics that demonstrate why following up is essential to succeeding with prospecting:

  • 50% of all sales happen after the 5th contact (InsideSales)
  • 80% of prospects say no four times before they say yes (MarketingDonut)
  • 83% of prospects who request info don’t buy for 3–12 months (MarketingDonut)
  • It takes 8 cold calls to reach a prospect. 72% of all sales calls aren’t answered (Baylor University)


Use outbound and inbound sales prospecting techniques

Some prospects may need more convincing than others before they’re interested in purchasing your offer. Some may also prefer a more subtle approach to sales that doesn’t feel as intrusive as a cold call. That’s why you should use both inbound and outbound sales strategies to reach potential customers.

Outbound tactics include cold calling, cold emailing and social media prospecting. Inbound tactics involve warm emailing, social selling and creating helpful content that draws potential customers to you by emphasizing the value of your service.

Which method is best? The answer depends on your business and the customer’s needs. But there are some tips that can help you make the most out of outbound and inbound sales prospecting techniques.


Outbound and inbound sales prospecting strategies, examples and resources

Remember when we said there’s no magic formula to succeed with sales prospecting? Well, there is something you can do to make your life easier and increase the success of both outbound and inbound prospecting: learn from the best.

That’s why, in this section, we’ve compiled examples, tips and resources on sales prospecting from sales, marketing and customer success professionals.


Cold calling

Cold calling is a classic outbound sales prospecting technique. It involves calling up potential customers and trying to start a conversation with them. But is it still an effective tactic in the age of digital marketing?

The short answer is ye —if you know what you’re doing. According to recent statistics, 82% of buyers reported setting up sales meetings after receiving a cold call. But cold calling also only has around a 2% success rate for most sales professionals.

So, if you don’t have the right strategy, cold calling can quickly waste time and energy. It can also make potential clients feel frustrated and put off by your unwanted call. 

How do you ensure that your cold calling efforts are effective and are a good use of resources? Before you start dialing numbers, it’s essential to research your target customer, build a script and create a target list.

Here’s an example of a script that you might use to start a cold call and capture your prospects attention within the first 15 seconds: 

“Hi, is this {Prospect’s Name}? Hi {Prospect’s Name}, thank you so much for taking this call. Do you have a moment before your next meeting? 

The reason I’m calling is because you’re a {Prospect’s Title} and we help {Titles} increase their client base and maximize their ROI. 

Do you want to have this conversation now, or should we put something on the calendar?”


Resources to learn more: 

Cold emailing

Similar to cold calling, cold emailing involves sending emails to potential customers in an attempt to start a conversation. But do people actually open and respond to cold emails?

Yes, but not all of them. According to recent data, around 50% of cold email campaigns have a reply rate of under 10%. 

To get the most out of cold emailing, you need to craft an interesting subject line, create a compelling message, personalize the content and include a clear call to action. Additionally, you should conduct A/B testing to understand what works and what doesn’t.

Here’s an example of a cold email you could use for outbound prospecting:

Subject line: Question about {Name of Prospect’s Company}

Hi {Prospect’s Name},

How are you growing your database with new leads? 

The reason I’m asking is because our software platform, {Software Name}, offers comprehensive helps {Title} boost engagement, built an your audience and drive conversions.

Curious to know if you’re growing your database at the pace that works for you—and with an audience that’s turning into closed-won.




Resource to learn more: 12 cold email templates for sales teams to nail outreach (2023) 

Social prospecting

Social prospecting on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram can offer a wealth of opportunities for connecting with prospects. But it also requires tact to ensure that your messages don’t come off as too salesy or intrusive.

Start by researching and engaging with prospects on their public profile and look for opportunities to create meaningful conversations. Keep in mind that direct messaging is best used for continuing an existing conversation or starting a new one when it feels natural.

Once you’ve established a rapport, you can transition to more sales-oriented topics and suggest ways your product or service could benefit them. Maintaining a friendly but professional tone throughout the conversation is important, so avoid sounding too pushy or aggressive.

Here’s an example of a message you can send to prospects found on social media platforms:

Hey there! I saw your recent post about the challenges small agencies are facing and thought our software might be able to help. Our software offers a range of features that make marketing easier, such as automated customer segmentation, analytics and reporting and CRM integration.

Want to hear more about it?


Your Name

Resource to learn more: Social prospecting: What it is and 5 tips to do it well

Warm emailing

What makes a warm email different from a cold email? Warm emails are personalized and focus on establishing relationships with people already familiar with your product or service. 

For example, you might send a warm email to someone you’ve networked with in the past, someone mentioned by a mutual connection, or someone who has already expressed interest in your product or service. 

A warm email should be tailored to that individual and include personal details—such as mentioning something relevant from your conversations—to show you remember them. You should also highlight any shared interests or experiences that could help build a stronger relationship.

When writing warm emails, you should also use a casual yet professional tone, be direct and concise with your message, and include your contact information if the recipient wants to follow up.

Here’s an example of a warm email:

Hi John, 

I hope you had a nice weekend, and that the weather held up for your family camping trip. (I’m looking forward to hearing all about Yosemite!)

I’m reaching out to you because I believe you could benefit from {your company, product} to scale your marketing impact.

Our software is designed to give you the insights and reporting needed to make data-driven decisions. We also offer custom features that can be tailored to your specific needs. To help you get started, I’d love to schedule a demo where I can walk through our product in more detail. 

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, please let me know, and we can set up a meeting. I look forward to hearing from you soon! 


Your Name

Resource to learn more: What is warm email? How to write a compelling warm email 

Social selling 

Social selling is the process of using social media platforms to build relationships with potential customers. It involves engaging prospects in a meaningful way, such as providing helpful resources and responding to inquiries.

As a sales professional, you can use a variety of tactics to make social selling effective, including:

  • Establishing an online presence: A strong presence on social media platforms is essential for building relationships. Make sure your profiles are up-to-date and professional, and engage with your target audiences regularly.
  • Personalizing content: Tailor your messages to your target audience by providing relevant and helpful content. This can include blog posts, videos, and other forms of media that give insights into their industry or area of expertise.
  • Building relationships: Social selling is all about building meaningful connections with people. Take the time to get to know your prospects, answer questions, and offer advice or solutions to their problems.
  • Engaging with prospects: Once you have established a relationship with your prospects, stay engaged and continue to nurture the relationship. This can include responding to comments, answering questions, and providing helpful resources and information relevant to their industry or the product being sold. Doing this will create a sense of trust and loyalty with the customer, which can lead to sales in the future.

Here also is an example of something you might see a salesperson post on LinkedIn as part of a social selling strategy:

Did you know that over 38% of small digital agency owners struggled with converting leads last year? We didn’t either! We also didn’t understand why until we at [Company] looked at the results of our recent survey of 125 small agency owners.

Oddly enough, [company name] added a premium feature right before the survey closed that solves the issue. Want to know more? Click the link in the comments to read the full report and learn how to boost conversions in 2023!

Resource to learn more: 6 social selling examples and strategies to improve sales 

Content marketing

As a salesperson, it’s not your responsibility to create content for your prospects; that is marketing’s job. But, you can use content marketing to your advantage by curating and sharing relevant articles, blog posts or other materials with your prospects. 

Using your company’s content this way will help you strengthen bonds with existing prospects and show potential customers that you are knowledgeable and up-to-date on industry trends.

This method also gives you an opportunity to work closely with your marketing department to strategize the creation of useful, targeted materials that can help you generate leads and influence prospects to move through your sales funnel. This could include whitepapers, e-books or in-depth guides with information tailored to the specific needs of your prospects.

Resource to learn more: How to use inbound prospecting to win better deals 

Final thoughts on sales prospecting

Sales prospecting can be intimidating, especially when there are fewer sales opportunities and more competitors vying for the same customers. However, proper planning and research can significantly improve your chances of success. 

Exegraphic data also provides invaluable insight into the prospects you are targeting, allowing you to hone in on the best prospects that fit your product or service. It helps you understand the trends in the market and allows you to tailor your message to better meet the needs of your target customers.

Want to see the power of exegraphics for yourself? Contact Rev and we’ll give you a free custom target account list and show you how to harness exegraphic data to update your ICP and start closing more deals.