Sales Prospecting: Definition and 6-Step Guide (2024)

What is prospecting?

Prospecting in the context of sales refers to the process of identifying potential customers or clients for your business. It involves researching, reaching out, and nurturing relationships with individuals or organizations who may have a need for your products or services.

Why is sales prospecting important

Sales prospecting is crucial for the growth and success of any business, especially for ecommerce shops. It helps in identifying and targeting the right audience, ultimately leading to increased sales and revenue. Without effective prospecting, a business may struggle to find new customers and expand its customer base.

Lead vs. prospect vs. opportunity

Understanding the difference between leads, suspects, prospects, and opportunities is essential for a successful sales prospecting strategy.


Leads are individuals or businesses who have shown interest in your products or services, but may not necessarily be the right fit for your offerings.


Suspects are individuals or businesses who fit the profile of your target audience, but have not shown specific interest in your products or services yet.


Prospects are individuals or businesses who have been qualified as potential customers based on their interest and fit with your offerings.


Opportunities are prospects who have progressed through the sales process and are close to making a purchase.

How to prospect: 6 steps to build a sales prospecting strategy

1. Research

Research is the foundation of a successful sales prospecting strategy. It involves creating an ideal customer profile, following prospects before you connect, and looking for groups and communities (online or in real life) where your potential customers might be present.

Create an ideal customer profile

Identify the characteristics and attributes of your ideal customers, such as demographics, behavior, and preferences.

Follow prospects before you connect

Engage with your prospects on social media, comment on their posts, and show genuine interest in their activities to build rapport before reaching out.

Look for groups and communities (online or in real life)

Join online forums, social media groups, or attend industry events where your potential customers are likely to gather.

2. Outreach

Outreach is the act of initiating contact with your prospects. It involves personalization, phone calls, emails, and prioritizing your outreach efforts.


Personalize your outreach messages to make a meaningful connection with your prospects.

Phone calls

Use phone calls to directly communicate with your prospects and build a more personal relationship.


Craft compelling and personalized emails to grab the attention of your prospects.

Outreach prioritization

Prioritize your outreach efforts based on the level of interest and fit of your prospects.

3. Discovery

Discover more about your prospects by asking open-ended questions and actively listening to their needs and pain points.

4. Educate

Educate your prospects about the value and benefits of your products or services. Provide them with valuable content and information to help them make an informed decision.

5. Close

Once your prospects are ready to make a purchase, guide them through the buying process and address any concerns or objections they may have.

6. Evaluate

Evaluate your sales prospecting efforts by analyzing sales analytics and listening to “nos” from prospects to improve your strategy.

Sales analytics

Use data and metrics to analyze the effectiveness of your sales prospecting activities.

Listen to “nos”

Understand the reasons behind rejections and learn from them to refine your approach.

Sales prospecting tips

1. Look at your prospects’ online presence

Research your prospects’ online activities, such as their social media profiles, blog posts, and comments, to gain insights into their interests and preferences.

2. Classify prospects with ratings

Assign ratings or scores to your prospects based on their likelihood to convert, allowing you to prioritize your efforts accordingly.

3. Prospect by vertical

Segment your prospects by industry or vertical to tailor your messaging and offerings to their specific needs.

4. Ask for referrals

Request referrals from satisfied customers or existing connections to expand your prospecting network.

5. Follow-up after a closed-lost deal

Stay in touch with prospects who did not convert, as their needs or circumstances may change in the future.

Outbound vs. inbound prospecting


Inbound prospecting involves attracting potential customers through content marketing, social selling, and other strategies that draw prospects to your business.

Warm emailing

Send personalized and relevant emails to prospects who have shown interest in your business through their online activities.

Social selling

Engage with prospects on social media platforms by sharing valuable content and building relationships.


Outbound prospecting involves reaching out to potential customers through methods like cold calling and cold emailing.

Cold calling

Initiate calls to prospects who have not expressed interest in your business to introduce your products or services.

Cold emailing

Send unsolicited emails to prospects to spark their interest in your offerings.

Prospecting: A potential goldmine

Effective sales prospecting has the potential to be a goldmine for ecommerce shops, leading to increased sales, loyal customers, and sustainable growth.

Prospecting FAQ

What is prospecting marketing?

Prospecting marketing refers to the process of identifying potential customers and initiating contact with them to generate interest in your products or services.

What are examples of prospecting?

Examples of prospecting include cold calling, cold emailing, warm emailing, social selling, and referral requests.

What are the best strategies for successful prospecting?

Successful prospecting strategies involve thorough research, personalized outreach, effective education, and continuous evaluation and improvement.

Is it worth my time to engage in prospecting?

Absolutely. Engaging in effective sales prospecting can significantly impact your business’s growth and success, making it a valuable investment of your time and resources.