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6 Steps to Build a Sales Prospecting Process That Delivers

Learn essential steps and techniques for effective sales prospecting in business. Learn the sales prospecting process and how to build a prospecting funnel.

Hadar Peretz

7 minute read

How to do sales prospecting
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Short answer

What is Sales Prospecting?

Sales prospecting is the process of identifying and reaching out to potential customers to generate new business opportunities. It involves researching, targeting, and communicating with prospects to convert them into qualified leads for sales.

50% of Sales Reps Find Prospecting the Toughest in the Sales Cycle

In the evolving digital sales environment, buyers increasingly lead the way.

They lean heavily on autonomy, with nearly all conducting online inquiries about products prior to a purchase. Even with this change, windows of opportunity still exist for sales reps.

Although face-to-face interactions have dwindled, almost all prospects are still receptive to discussions during the initial stages.

Key to success is a rep's timely outreach, with a significant portion of buyers favoring vendors who make the first move.

Sales Prospecting Vs. Lead Generation

Both sales prospecting and lead generation are essential components of the sales process, but they serve different purposes and entail different actions. Here's a breakdown:

Sales Prospecting

Sales prospecting is the active search for potential customers who have shown an interest or might be interested in your product or service.

  • Goal: To initiate a conversation and build a relationship with potential clients.

  • Process: This involves reaching out directly to prospects through calls, emails, or social media to understand their needs and gauge their interest.

  • Duration: Ongoing. Sales reps continually search for and engage with new potential clients throughout the sales lifecycle.

Lead Generation

Lead generation is the process of attracting and capturing interest from potential customers, often before they're explicitly ready to make a purchase decision.

  • Goal: To gather information (like names, emails, company details) of potential clients to nurture them until they're ready to buy.

  • Process: Utilizes strategies like content marketing, SEO, events, or paid advertising to draw potential clients into a sales funnel.

  • Duration: Typically front-loaded in the sales process, setting the stage for prospecting and sales activities that follow.

6 Steps for Crafting a Sales Prospecting Strategy

Navigating the world of sales prospecting begins with pinpointing your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).

Armed with a clear ICP, businesses can craft a focused prospect list and delve deep into research to ensure a match with their unique value proposition.

Leveraging multiple channels, from emails to webinars, amplifies outreach.

Yet, success hinges on more than initial engagement; it's about nurturing lasting connections and turning prospects into brand champions.

Dive into these pivotal steps to transform your sales journey.

1) Defining Your Ideal Customer Profile (Icp)

To embark on successful sales prospecting, start by precisely defining your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).

This compass-like approach outlines the traits of your dream customers, making it easier to spot them among various prospects.

Analyze past successful customers to create a solid ICP, guiding your journey to valuable leads.

5 steps for defining your ICP:

  1. Customer nalysis: Research existing customers to identify traits for ICP.

  2. Identify common characteristics: Find shared traits among ideal customers.

  3. Segmentation: Divide customers into groups based on similarities.

  4. Survey and feedback: Engage with customers for valuable insights.

  5. Competitor analysis: Study competitors to refine ICP.

2) Building a Prospect List

Once you've defined your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), start the exciting journey of creating your prospect list.

Use your ICP as a compass to explore various sources, like CRM databases and social media platforms.

For instance, let's say you run a software company specializing in productivity tools for small businesses.

Your ICP might include tech-savvy entrepreneurs who run small businesses, so you would search for similar businesses in your CRM and relevant social media groups.

4 Tips for building a prospect list:

  1. Directory dive: Industry directories are a treasure trove for potential leads. For a software company, valuable prospects might be found in directories tailored to small businesses or tech startups.

  2. Tool utilization: Embrace lead generation tools and services. By using email marketing tools or social media ad campaigns, you can target potential leads based on demographics and interests.

  3. Channel combination: Merge various prospecting avenues. Create content on social media to draw leads to your site, encouraging newsletter sign-ups.

  4. Quality over quantity: It's crucial to prioritize lead quality. Ensure each lead matches your ICP and periodically review and refresh your list for relevancy.

3) Research and Qualification

Before sailing ahead, hoist the anchor and conduct thorough research on potential prospects. Understand their needs, pain points, and goals like the back of your hand.

Armed with this knowledge, qualify leads based on fit, budget, authority, and urgency for successful prospecting.

4) Multi-channel Prospecting

Cast your net wide and embrace the power of multi-channel prospecting. Reach prospects through email, phone calls, social media, and networking events.

Showcase your value and build meaningful connections through personalized sales outreach techniques.

By understanding and addressing specific prospect needs, you can turn potential leads into loyal, valuable treasures for your business.

13 Channels used in multi-channel prospecting:

  1. Email Marketing

  2. Phone Calls

  3. Social Media (e.g., LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook)

  4. Networking Events

  5. Content Marketing (e.g., blog posts, videos, infographics)

  6. Cold emails. Take a look at our collection of personalized cold email examples to see how we effectively engage potential leads.

  7. Webinars and Online Events

  8. In-Person Meetings

  9. SMS Marketing (text messages)

  10. Online Advertising (e.g., Google Ads, social media ads)

  11. Referral Programs

  12. Cold Outreach via LinkedIn or other platforms

  13. Podcasts and Audio Content. Check out this concise list of top sales podcasts.

5) Crafting a Compelling Value Proposition

To truly set your treasure apart in today's digital age, it's essential to use modern tools like interactive slides over traditional static PDFs. By incorporating interactive slides into your pitch, you can bring your value proposition to life, making it more engaging and memorable for your prospects.

Address their pain points directly using dynamic visuals and show how your product or service is their solution through real-time demonstrations or interactive scenarios.

A compelling value proposition, especially when delivered through innovative formats, becomes the "X" that marks the spot where prospects realize.

Static PDF or PPT
Interactive Storydoc

6) Nurturing and Relationship Building

The journey to valuable leads doesn't end with the first encounter. Develop a nurturing strategy to build lasting relationships.

Step-by-step to ensure you build connections that last:

  1. Engage: Make the first interaction positive and personalized.

  2. Content: Share relevant blogs, webinars, or emails.

  3. Check-ins: Regularly touch base to gather feedback.

  4. Solve: Address pain points with your offerings.

  5. Referrals: Encourage satisfied customers to refer others.

8 Professional Sales Prospecting Techniques

A range of strategies and tools used to identify and connect with potential customers, with the aim of converting them into qualified leads and ultimately driving sales.

1) Sales Development Representatives (SDRs)

Let skilled representatives handle outreach and qualification, freeing your sales team to focus on closing deals with high-value prospects, increasing overall productivity and effectiveness.

SDRs nurture leads, handle objections, and engage with potential customers, maximizing conversion rates and propelling your business towards greater success.

To better understand if your conversion rates are on target, explore our article on sales and marketing presentation statistics.

2) Handling Objections

Equip your team to tackle objections head-on, turning challenges into opportunities for deeper engagement and progress.

3) Data Analysis and Iteration

Regularly analyze prospecting data to identify patterns, refine your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), and optimize messaging and outreach.

Stay agile, making data-driven adjustments to maximize prospecting success.

Here's a video guide on how to use our analytics panel to monitor performance:

Storydoc analytics pa

4) Social Selling

Connect with prospects through social media, building genuine relationships and guiding them toward the treasure you offer.

5) Referral Prospecting

Encourage satisfied customers to provide referrals, leading you to warm leads with higher conversion potential.

6) Account-based Prospecting (ABM)

Target high-value accounts with a personalized approach, showcasing your offering's perfect fit for their requirements.

7) Collaborating with Marketing

Align sales and marketing efforts for a unified prospecting experience, optimizing lead generation and nurturing strategies.

8) Continuous Training and Skill Development

Keep your team's skills sharp through ongoing training, staying ahead of the competition and making your prospecting voyage more fruitful than ever.

How to Implement Sales Automation Tools?

Sales automation tools are a game-changer in the prospecting process.

Utilize these powerful tools to automate repetitive tasks like email sequences and follow-ups, saving time and increasing efficiency.

  1. Task identification: Start by pinpointing tasks suitable for automation, like email outreach and follow-up sequences.

  2. Platform selection: Choose a user-friendly sales automation platform that syncs well with your team's requirements and your current CRM.

  3. Team training: Invest in educating your sales team on tool usage, maximizing automation benefits for prospecting.

  4. Strategy refinement: Consistently review and tweak your automation approach using performance data and feedback to boost prospecting outcomes.

5 Essential Sales Prospecting Tools

  1. LinkedIn sales navigator: Tailored for sales pros, this offers advanced search and lead recommendations for relationship-building on LinkedIn.

  2. This tool streamlines finding email addresses associated with specific domains for targeted outreach.

  3. ZoomInfo: A B2B database, ZoomInfo helps sales teams connect with decision-makers in target firms.

  4. Yesware: An email tool integrated with your client, Yesware tracks email activity to gauge prospect interest.

  5. Storydoc: Integrates CRM with engaging web-based sales content, enabling personalized outreach based on CRM data.

Hadar Peretz

I am a Marketing Specialist at Storydoc, I research, analyze and write on our core topics of business presentations, sales, and fundraising. I love talking to clients about their successes and failures so I can get a rounded understanding of their world.

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