The Sales Process:
The sales process outlines the steps to find potential customers, close the sale, and retain clients for
repeat business and referrals in the future. The sales process includes the stages of prospecting,
preparation, approach, presentation, handling objections, closing and follow up.
Prospecting is the first step in this typical seven-step sales process widely followed by BD/sales
professionals. It is the process of searching for potential customers, clients, or buyers in order to
develop new business. The idea is to identify prospects and move them through the sales
process/funnel until they eventually become revenue-generating customers. Organisations must locate
potential customers on an on-going basis in order to replace lost customers and to add new ones.
Prospecting – Leads vs. Prospects:
A person or business that might be a prospect is called a lead. Leads become prospects if they are
qualified as potential customers. Salespeople must work on developing a process for qualifying leads,
often called a lead qualification system.
What are the Characteristics of a Good Prospect?
The prospect must have a need that they are aware of. They may not know what the answer/solution to
their need is but they know they have a problem. Look for such individuals/organisations. It is then
important to quickly determine if the person you are dealing with is a decision maker with the authority
to purchase. Also find out if the prospect has the ability to purchase what you are trying to sell –
including the budget and ability to move forward from a contractual standpoint. Lastly BD/Sales
professionals must use open-ended questions to identify if a prospective client has an established
timeline so you engage with those who are looking to make a decision. If prospects are unsure of their
timing, set a meeting for some time in the future to reconnect, or direct the lead back to marketing to
continue to nurture until the time is right.
Who Should be doing the Prospecting?
Prospecting is essential to building business – it must preferably be undertaken by certain roles in the
organization. Also, the size, scale and tenure of the organization is crucial in determining who handles
the process. Some of the people are Founders – in case of start-ups, Sales representatives – for small and
growing firms and Business development representatives – in an ideal sales team, with SDPs for inbound
prospecting and BDRs for outbound prospecting.
A good prospector must have an extensive product knowledge, an understanding/knowledge of ideal
user and strong Research Skills.
Prospecting Essentials – Methods to Prospect:
Outbound prospecting and Inbound prospecting are two of the most common prospecting approaches
that prove effective across industries/businesses. Outbound prospecting involves your sales team
identifying and reaching out to prospects, making initial contact through one of the traditional channels
such as telephone prospecting, email, etc. Inbound prospecting entails reaching out to leads that have
come to the organization through one channel or another. Central to inbound prospecting is your
marketing and CRM.
Prospecting – Sources to Use:
Internal sources consisting of Company records, lists and directories, advertising inquiries, telephone
inquiries, mail inquiries, External sources containing referrals, introductions, community contacts
(centres of influence), non-competing salespeople, visible accounts and personal contact like
observation, cold canvassing, trade shows, bird dogs (spotters) etc. are major source to be used.