Sales Prospecting Process

For SDRs starting out, here's how to prospect for leads.
sales prospecting cover photo
Sales prospecting is an important part of any successful sales strategy and one typically relegated to SDRs.

If you want your company to succeed, you need to be well-versed in all the components of a sales prospecting process.

In this article, we'll go over what a successful prospecting process looks like so that you can book those meetings and meet your quota.

Let's go.

What is Sales Prospecting?

Sales prospecting is the process a salesperson, typically a Sales Development Representative, follows to initiate and develop new business. In a nutshell: prospecting is looking for new potential customers, clients, or buyers for the products or services your company offers.

Prospecting tends to be mostly found in the world of outbound sales as it's part of a cold outreach. They have never heard of your company before, and you are the first person they interact with. That means you are the face of your company to them for quite some time.

The idea is ultimately to introduce yourself and your company, how your product or service works and solves their pain points, and interest them in a call to help move them along your sales funnel so that they convert into paying customers.

As an SDR, you will spend a good deal of time prospecting for potential customers.

Your cold outbound focus allows you to have the closest connection to company prospects, and an awareness of their current needs and issues, and how you can help them. Over time, you begin to learn what to look for and how to respond to move them along and further qualify them as you do it more and more.

But how does the sales prospecting process work?

Sales Prospecting Steps

Industry & Market Research

The first thing any company does and should provide you with is industry and market research.

Usually, this is done when preparing the Go To Market strategy. It provides BDRs with a picture of what the industry they are trying to sell to needs, and how the product or service they are offering fits those needs.

It's the starting point for the rest of the sales process.

Buyers Have to See Why You Stand Out From Other Options

Now that you know what the industry looks like and how your product or service fits the pain points within, it's time to find the right people to sell to.

This is two-fold:

You need to understand what area of a company benefits most from your product or service - who is feeling the pain points more than most.

And then you need to find who the decision makers within that area are.

This information, coupled with industry, company size, budget, and more, helps build the ideal customer profile (ICP) that you need to be looking for.

Create a List

Based on the ideal customer profile, it's time to create a prospect list.

There are many sales tools available that will help you do this:
LinkedIn Sales Navigator
LinkedIn as a social media is king in the world of B2B.

A great space to network and make professional contacts, it's also a great source of information for prospects. With Sales Navigator, you can run searches on the network to find the prospects that fit your ICP.

You can save those searches, create specific personas, and then create lead or account lists that fit different ICPs. Sales Navigator also allows you to cold message them via InMail, or you can use those lists to find ways to connect to your prospects on the platform.
You can also extract this data with a tool such as Amplemarket.

Amplemarket's Chrome Extension permits you to extract your lead lists into the tool. It then enriches them with information such as email addresses and phone numbers, depending on your plan.

You can then add those leads to a pre-established outreach sequence that can include emails, LinkedIn touches, calls, and more. A lot of it can also be directly automated through the tool.
ZoomInfo can track down contact information for a list of prospects.

It uses AI to then also suggest similar contacts you might be interested in reaching out to, and it also points out intent buying signals. For example, it will point out if a company beginning a new project. This helps tailor your messaging and approach prospects very specifically according to their needs.

ZoomInfo also integrates well with several CRMs.
Clearbit Prospector
Another tool that will integrate with any CRM, Clearbit Prospector will help you generate targeted prospect lists with updated information in seconds.

It provides users with access to 200 million contacts in 20 million companies, and there are 85 different data points that you can use to filter through them all. Those 85 data points are entirely based on your ICP.

Establish Outreach Channels

Whatever tool you use, once you have your list ready, it's time to start your outreach. Based on your prospects, you might have some idea of what might work best for them.

Here are some potential outreach channels to consider as part of your sales cadence:
Cold Call
A tried and tested method in the world of sales, cold calling can still work wonders if done well.

If you've been properly trained and prepared, with sales mock-ups calls, a cold call is a great way to establish rapport with a prospect and begin the process of selling your product or service. It's also a way to further understand their needs and to determine if they're truly the right audience for you.

You can also draw insights on competitors if they're using them, and help your company establish how to differentiate itself.
Cold Email
A good cold emailing strategy with solid, personalized, specific messaging can pique the interest of any prospect.

If you follow cold email best practices, you should begin booking further meetings with prospects to move them along your sales pipeline in no time.

Make sure to keep your email deliverability healthy and always respond - it helps to have a clearer picture of what is working and what isn't for you to edit.
Social Selling
One of the top channels to sell on these days in the world of B2B is LinkedIn. You'd be a fool to ignore it.

Social selling takes LinkedIn beyond the InMail and into the world of true connection.

Follow your prospects and learn what they care about, comment on and like their posts, and reach out to them about your product or service once you've established yourself as a trustworthy connection.

Not only are you making business connections for yourself, but you are also qualifying them as actual prospects for your company at the same time.

Start Prospecting

Having determined which outreach channel you want to focus your efforts on, or a mix of all three or just two, it's time to start prospecting.

Run through the entire process once, and then specifically search for prospects to build your lists and the outreach for a few weeks. Begin to better understand the industry (or industries) you are focusing on, and how the product or service you are offering fits the needs of that particular role.

Keep documentation of any response that provides additional information - even an initial rejection can be useful if you're polite about it.

You will need all of this information for the next step of the process.

Analyze Results & Revise Your Strategy

Having run your prospecting process for a few weeks, it's time to analyze your results.

If you're seeing meetings being booked and prospects expressing interest, you are on the right track. There are probably bits and pieces of information you have gleaned from these first few weeks that can help you further refine your cadence, or you might remove a step.

For instance, some industries may react better than others to a cold call or a social sale on LinkedIn, as they might not even use the social media platform as much.

You might also be seeing a lack of booked meetings.

In this case, it's time to reconsider a lot more - it could be the messaging, the ICP, or a mixture of the two. You'll have received some additional information and you can tighten your messaging with your manager once again.

More often than not, results will be somewhere in the middle of these two extremes, as SDRs need time to familiarize themselves with their targets and find what works best for them. Some SDRs may be able to write amazing emails, while others appreciate the slower but just as successful work of social selling. Still, others might be great talkers on the phone.

It's a question of continuous trial and error and adjusting each time you learn something new.


Sales prospecting is a skill any SDR interested in excelling at in the world of sales must pick up quite fast.

Fortunately, the sales prospecting process is not too overwhelming when broken into all its different parts.

SDRs will soon be able to pick up the nuances of their different ICPs and prospects to overcome any challenges that come their way.

And remember, if you're interested in an outsourced SDR to boost your sales prospecting process... get in touch with us ;)
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