What is sales prospecting? (Definition, techniques and video examples)

You’re wrong if you thought sales prospecting and lead generation were the same things. While they are related, sales prospecting is a more focused and targeted process that involves finding potential customers who may be interested in your offer.

Lead generation, on the other hand, is the process of finding potential customers who may not be actively looking for what you offer but are still a good fit for your business. While both sales prospecting and lead generation require market research and a strong knowledge of what your target customers want, the main difference lies in how you go about reaching these potential customers.

In this blog post, we’ll explain the meaning of sales prospecting by looking specifically at one of the most challenging strategies for new and seasoned sales reps: cold prospecting. You’ll learn about the three most common cold prospecting techniques and find videos with cold outreach experts sharing their best tips. 

We’ll also show why you want to start using exegraphic data to find the prospects most likely to convert. Let’s get started!


Cold prospecting meaning and methods

Cold prospecting is perhaps the most labor-intensive form of prospecting for sales professionals. It involves reaching out to potential clients or leads who have not previously expressed interest in what you have to offer. And to do that effectively, you have to know how to research who to target, what to say to them, and what tools and resources you can use to influence them to convert.

But how does cold prospecting look in practice? There are three main methods of cold prospecting used by B2B sales reps:

  1. Cold calling
  2. Cold emailing
  3. Cold messaging on social media platforms like LinkedIn

Let’s take a look at each method.


Cold calling meaning

Cold calling is often the first method many salespeople think of when they think about cold prospecting or outreach. It involves making unsolicited sales calls to prospects you have yet to interact with.

For new sales reps, cold calling can feel useless and nerve-wracking. But according to a recent report, 82% of buyers accept meetings with sales teams who proactively reach out. So, cold calling isn’t the real problem. What is? 

The real problem is that most beginner sales reps simply pick up the phone and talk to prospects without any preparation or research. Unsurprisingly, this is a recipe for failure. So, how do the cold calling pros do it? 


Cold calling techniques and examples

One of the best ways to improve your cold calling success rate is to research your prospect ahead of time. For example, look up what challenges their company is currently facing or recent achievements your offer can help support. Then, before you make the call, you can tailor your pitch to their specific needs and concerns.

In the video below, Trent Dressel, a Senior Account Executive at Qualtrics, explains his process for creating a high-converting cold calling script for B2B software sales. If you’re unsure how to tailor your pitch and overcome common objections during cold calls, the video is worth watching!

Cold emailing meaning

Cold emailing tends to feel less intimidating than cold calling, but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier. This is why it’s common to hear defeated salespeople complain that cold emailing just doesn’t work. But that’s not true! 

What is true is that many sales reps send cold emails that aren’t worth a prospect’s time to respond. Again, this results from sending emails that fail to resonate with the prospect. It could also be because of a lack of awareness about factors influencing your ideal customer to convert.  How can you make sure your cold emails are worth a response? 


Cold emailing techniques and examples

For cold email to work, you’ve got to dive deep into what characteristics and problems your prospects have that your company’s solution can help alleviate. It’s the only way you’ll create a message that resonates and inspires your prospect to take action. 

You should also take a look at these excellent tips from Patrick Dang. In the video below, Dang shares his top 5 cold email tips that are essential knowledge for sales reps using cold email to find prospects. 

Cold messaging on social media meaning

You’re missing out if you’re not using social media to find prospects! According to LinkedIn research, the average reply rate to LinkedIn messages is 85%, three times higher than email.

At its core, cold messaging on social media is about finding the profiles of people interested in your offer and starting conversations that may eventually lead to sales. This can involve sending a direct message or posting comments and replies on the profiles of targeted users.

But beware: every day, people on LinkedIn complain of being bombarded by lousy cold messages that just get ignored or turned into viral posts for all of LinkedIn to judge and criticize! So, how do you ensure you’re sending cold messages that get enthusiastic responses from your ideal prospects? 


Cold messaging on social media techniques and examples 

Like the other methods of cold prospecting, you’ll have the most success with this method if you make time to craft thoughtful and personalized cold messages tailored to your target audience.  

In the video below, Sarah Moore from Eleven Lights Media shares her process of writing cold messages on LinkedIn that lead to genuine sales conversations. 


Improve your sales prospecting with exegraphics

It doesn’t matter which cold prospecting method you choose. Your success in acquiring quality prospects will depend on how well you know your ideal customer, their pain points and what motivates them to buy.

Unfortunately, most sales reps—novice and experienced—rely on limited firmographic data to build their company’s ICP. And that type of data only gives you information like what industry the prospect is in, the company’s annual revenue and the company’s size.

What can you do with this information? Not enough. Because more is needed to create compelling sales messaging that will resonate with your target audience and help move them further down the sales funnel.

To improve your sales prospecting efforts, we recommend using the exegraphics of your best customers to improve your outreach strategy. What are exegraphics? Good question!

Exegraphics are the data on how your best customers operate and the signs they display when they’re ready to buy from your company. Recently, Challenger Inc. used exegraphics to fine-tune their ICP and found net-new high quality leads that weren’t even on their radar! 

Want to see if exegraphic can support your business to have similar or better results? Contact us to get a free ICP audit and a free list of target accounts that match your real ICP. Our AI-powered Sales Development Platform will help streamline your sales prospecting by showing you the prospects most likely to convert.