January 23, 2017

How to get prospects for sales?

One of the many challenges which a sales guy faces is getting the right prospects for his products or services. Thus, many sales guys are found asking how to get prospects for sales? There is a subtle difference between a suspect and a prospect. A suspect is a customer who can buy the product. The prospect is a customer who is more likely to buy the product or the service. For example –  If you are working with a company, you are a suspect for buying a house. But if you have the earnings and you are looking for homes currently, then you are a prospect, because you are more likely to purchase the house.

When you have good prospects, sales becomes easier because you have leads which are likely to convert and give you good sales figures. Thus, the challenge of the sales guy is to find the right prospects. The below mentioned 6 sources are the best ones to get prospects for sales guys.

Get prospects through references

1) Get leads from existing customers –  The top sales people use this tactic to get the maximum sales. There are two main reasons that using a reference from existing customers really works towards prospecting. One reason is that the existing customer might already be satisfied with your product, in which case he is likely to refer you to others who are also in need of the product (you directly get hot prospects). The other reason is that a reference generates trusts in the person who has been referred. Thus, if you show the example of the existing customer to the new referral, you will get the conversion easily. Getting references from existing customers is an excellent idea to get good prospects.

Trade directories

2) Trade directories –  If you want to establish a new market, or want to expand into an existing market, then trade directories are your best friends. This is because most businesses in an existing area will be present in trade directories. For example –  if your product is printers, then you will be able to find all dealers within an area who deal in printers through trade directories. Thus, your time is saved because you find the prospects you were looking for, within a day. Now you can approach these prospects and find out which of them are really interested in business with you. The important thing is that in today’s environment, there are many different types of trade directories. So you might have to refer to multiple trade directories, which might give an exhaustive list of suspects to you. But off course, the more the merrier in case of getting prospects.

Online Marketing

3) Getting prospects online –  There are many things you can do on the internet which can get you more prospects. Some of them are listed below

  • Have your own website and conduct search engine optimization so that it ranks on top of search engines
  • Search online directories for the right prospects
  • Use Email marketing as well as online advertising to attract customers to your product / service
  • Advertise yourself on the top consumer directories so that the consumer himself can search and get in touch with you
  • Have a strong social media presence and use testimonial marketing to generate trust from customers.

Above are some points which are useful to get prospects online or from the internet. The key factor here is that many customers have started purchasing online and they also search for products and services online.

The trust factor for online brands too has increased. So much so that if your company does not have a website, then it becomes a negative point for your brand. A strong presence across the internet is a must nowadays. This coupled with the right web design and optimization through online marketing, can help you with better conversion rate for prospects who are interested in your products and services.

4) Advertisements –  There are many ways to advertise your products and all of them are excellent ways to get prospects. However, each advertisement has a defined ROI. Where digital media gives the best tracking for ROI, you cannot track the ROI for outdoor advertisements. However, outdoor advertisements too give good results. Similarly, using public relations exercise and generating a buzz for your product or service is a must which can be done through the print medium. Finally, you need to get out the big guns like above the line advertising and below the line advertising to get prospects to contact your company. Please note –  this point is more likely to be adopted by companies rather then individuals because of the heavy investments.

Word of mouth

5) Word of mouth / Enquiries –  You can get good prospects even through word of mouth which is generated over time. At the same time, through the efforts above, the company will generate direct inquiries as well. However, the sales person’s job in this case is crucial because follow up is needed to close these inquiries. Remember that if the customer is taking pains to contact you himself, he can as easily contact the competitor as well.

Once he contacts the competitor, then he might turn a cold prospect for your company. In this case, you got the prospect but you have lost him to others. Thus, having a CRM system is must in which good prospects can be tracked and followed up over a period of time so that they remain good prospects for the company.

A customer might make an urgent enquiry or a slow enquiry. He might need the product urgently, or he might take time to make his decision. However, in both the cases, the response time as well as the follow up from the sales person should be strong. If not so, then it is likely that the customer will get disinterested and move on to another product or another brand. Another characteristic necessary is prioritization. If you get 20 enquiries in a day, then you need to prioritize which of them are most important and which of them are “Hot”, “Warm” and “Cold”. Accordingly you need to give the right attention to the right prospect.

Cold calling

6) Cold calling –  Many people advocate against cold calling, but in some industries, cold calling is the only alternative which a company has to stay ahead of the competition. Consider any telecom, banking or insurance company and you will see how many emails, phones or personal visits are bombarded upon you so that you remember the brand and buy its products. Cold calling is probably the most common way to get new prospects.

Except cold calling, all the methods mentioned above involved prior intimation to the customer that the sales person is going to get in touch with them. The problem with cold calling is that the customer is not pre-informed, and the sales person directly reaches the customer. In this case, the customer can either convert immediately because he is interested in the product, or he can reject the company outright.

Thus, because cold calling happens without the consent of the customer, this type of sales is slowly beginning to irk customers in general. This is because there are so many companies which are using cold calling as a method of generating sales. It is a very penetrative strategy to get prospects, but one which works in the long term. Many a time, the prospect himself is in need of a product (like a personal or home loan), but he does not have the time or the inclination to contact the company. At such times, if the sales guy himself contacts the prospect, he can convert the prospect to a customer. The solution for the cold calling problem is to ensure that you are doing planned cold calling to get prospects to your company.

Above are the 6 main ways that you can get prospects for your sales team. Many a time, geographical data is collected for sales which gives better productivity. In such a case, you will search trade directories for a particular area, search online directories for the same area, get references for the same area and then finally cover all these prospects when you have the complete data for the said area. This gives you much higher productivity because you save your traveling time and you are canvassing in a defined territory only.

Are there any more ways you get prospects for your company?

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About Hitesh Bhasin

I love writing about marketing and advertising. Would you like to ask me a question? Kindly send your queries and feedback via this Forum. You can also get daily marketing updates via email. Let's stay in touch :)


  1. Hello,

    Hitesh, this is a great article! We are working in prospecting field. We build hand-curated prospects for our clients. If you want to find out more, visit our site: http://www.getprospects.co

    Thank You!

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