One Day Sales Seminar
How to Prospect Clients

by Michael Hellerman

How to Prospect Clients

There are two common uses of the word “prospecting”: prospecting for gold and prospecting for clients. It is open to debate as to which one is the more difficult career. If you’re having a bad sales week you would probably happily give up your phone and computer for a pan and miner’s hat. But if sales is what you do, then you have to find and make contact with potential new clients. It is a continuous process and it needs constant attention. So, here are some tips on how to prospect clients.

Finding potential clients

The first step in the process is to find potential contacts. There are many sources for this, but the general rule is that the lead is better if the person you are contacting is close to you. For example, you will find it easier to get an appointment from a referral than someone you contact cold.

But you should look everywhere for potential clients. Here are some places you should target:

  •      Lapsed clients – continuously refer to your list of previous clients who no longer spend with you. Your list of email subscribers also falls into this category.
  •      Referrals – get your customers and business colleagues to introduce you to other people who might be interested in your company’s products or services.
  •      Your competitor’s customers – this only applies to some industries, but in the right circumstances it works well.
  •      Networking events – go to industry conferences, local business meetings and trade shows so that you can meet new people.
  •      Social networks – social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are powerful tools to find and build relationships with potential new customers.
  •      Purchased lists – this includes any list that you can obtain that gives accurate information about potential customers.

Making contact

Once you have your list the next stage is to make contact. One way to do that is to send them an email. This has several benefits for you and the client. It is quick so you can reach out to more potential clients than by other methods. The benefit for the potential client is that it is less intrusive than a telephone call. This allows them to deal with the email in their own time, or forward it to a more suitable person.

If you are reaching out to customers by email there are a few things to remember:

  •      Make them personal – no one likes generic templates that feel like spam.
  •      Address them to an individual – use the person’s name.
  •      Keep them short – your contact is more likely to read a short email.
  •      Friendly but professional – sound human but not overly familiar.
  •      Give a clear call to action – tell the contact exactly what you want them to do: schedule a telephone call, arrange a meeting, click on a link etc.

You can also bypass the email and call the contact directly to get their attention. If you are doing this remember:

  •      You should have a script, but don’t read it word-for-word
  •      Get to the point
  •      Have a clear goal in mind
  •      Be prepared to leave a voicemail

Another method of reaching out is through social media. This is often much less formal than the other two methods, and usually involves starting a conversation that initially makes no reference to sales.

Follow up and do the numbers

You will need a follow-up strategy in addition to your method of making initial contact. In fact, this is as critical a part of the process as the initial contact as most people don’t respond to the first communication.


Remember these three things when following up:

  •      Stay friendly and try to get noticed
  •      Give them a reason to find each new communication interesting
  •      Be consistent and persistent, but not desperate
  •      Know when the answer is no, and stop

Finally, prospecting for clients is a numbers game. This means you should not get emotionally involved in the process. People are going to ignore you. They will delete your emails. And they are going to say no. That is part of the process. So, do the numbers so you can find enough positive responses to hit your targets.

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