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Sales Prospecting: Tips, Techniques, and Strategies

Sales Prospecting: Tips, Techniques, and Strategies

blog author
Written by John Doerr
Co-Founder, RAIN Group

The practice of sales prospecting is surrounded by confusion and misconceptions. Prospecting may sound simple enough, but ask a group of sales professionals about the best prospecting approaches and you’re bound to get several conflicting answers.

Part of the issue is that different situations rightly call for different approaches, so not all advice is right for every situation. However, our research on Top Performance in Sales Prospecting clearly reveals that the best sales prospectors get results, including setting 2.7x more meetings, achieving their sales goals, and earning higher win rates.

Here’s how to get started on the path to prospecting success.

The Sales Prospecting Process

Prospecting Goals

First off, let's take a look at the 4 key strategies used by top performers in sales prospecting that we refer to as WAVE.

  • Winner’s Mindset: Mindset drives behavior. Approach prospecting with a positive mindset and you’ll be more likely to be motivated to stick with it.
  • Attraction Campaign: Think of prospecting as the process of attracting buyers to you. Send an organized sequence of content and messages customized specifically to the buyer over a specific period of time with the intent of generating a sales meeting.
  • Value: You must give prospects a compelling, value-based reason to want to interact with you. Every interaction you have with a prospect should be valuable for them.
  • Execution: It’s not enough to have a plan; you’ve got to execute and commit to it with time, energy, and focus. Our tips below will help you do just that.

Note that I haven't said the goal of prospecting is to find someone currently looking to purchase a particular product or service. For most sellers, this isn’t what you want to do because it doesn't work.

When prospecting, you'll find people who are already in the desire phase (someone interested in solving a particular problem or purchasing a known type of product or service) or the action phase (someone already in the process of searching for a solution to the problem).

If your approach is only to look for these people, you're in for several rude awakenings:

  • You find someone who’s already looking to buy, and they likely have a front-runner in mind. This front-runner isn't you.
  • If you don't sell a commodity product or service, it's likely the buyer isn't considering buying what you offer because they don’t know much (if anything) about it, let alone how it works and why it's worthwhile.
  • You find someone who has the desire to solve a problem and hasn’t yet started looking into how to do it. Great! But finding these people will be like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.

But if you take the WAVE approach and attract the buyer to you, you can shape their understanding of the importance of solving a particular problem, and make the case for working with you.

Here are 5 ways to get the prospecting process started.

Use these 13 tips for mastering email prospecting

6 Proven Sales Prospecting Offers

Discussions with our clients about value typically focus on the reasons buyers ultimately buy from you using the 4 Whys:

  • Why act?
  • Why now?
  • Why us?
  • Why trust?

Watch this video for a refresher.

If you want to impress buyers from the start and generate meetings from your sales prospecting efforts, you still need to answer the same questions, but not for "why buy," but why agree to a meeting with you.

Here are six strategies that do just that. For each offer, we provide an example of an outreach email and point out where the 4 Whys appear in the messaging.



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Sales Prospecting Facts

The world of sales is constantly changing, as is sales prospecting. Part of the reason there’s so much debate about prospecting is because most sellers don't dedicate enough time to it. As a result, outdated misconceptions can undermine your prospecting efforts.

According to 488 buyers (who get prospected to all the time) and 489 sellers who outbound prospect, the following sales prospecting statements are true, going against established conceptions of how to prospect correctly.

Read more about these findings in 5 Sales Prospecting Myths Debunked. >>

Improve Your Sales Prospecting

As you think about your own prospecting efforts, take these findings to heart. Forget what you may have been told in the past: buyers want to talk to you, cold prospecting works, and there's a huge opportunity for those sellers willing to invest the time and effort into prospecting.

If you're looking to improve in each of these areas, our RAIN Sales Prospecting training program will give you the skills, tools, and templates you need to fill your pipeline, perfect your outreach messaging, and connect with buyers at higher rates.

Last Updated August 11, 2023

Topics: Sales Prospecting