Career Development

FAQ: What Is a Prospect Client?

February 22, 2021

Sales representatives usually need to follow a certain sales process to get individuals to purchase their company's products or services. One of the first steps involves converting leads to prospective clients, although the sales funnel from this step can vary from business to business. By identifying your prospect clients, you will likely increase sales and form stronger relationships with your clients and customers. In this article, we explain what a prospect client is and answer some commonly asked questions about prospect customers.

What is a prospect client?

A prospect client is an individual who meets a specific set of criteria and that you can therefore identify as a potential client you can make a sales pitch to. A prospect client can be different for each business, depending on the industry it's in and the products and services it offers to its customer and client base. Finding out who is your prospective client is the first step toward making a sale.

For example, if you work for a company that sells hiking shoes, your prospect list may include a 45-year-old male who lives within five miles of the city's most popular hiking trails.

Related: Sales Job Skills: Definition, Examples and Tips

Is a prospect client different from a lead?

Prospects and leads are two different distinctions. Whereas prospects are pre-qualified individuals because they meet established criteria, leads are unqualified and so have not reached the same status as a prospect client.

At the lead stage, a company's sales or marketing team may not know if the individual is a potential customer or client. This is usually because they don't know enough about them to gage if the individual meets the criteria they have set for a particular product or service.

Here are two other ways in which prospect clients and leads differ:

  • Leads collect information from the business, while prospects have more interaction with a business, usually through multiple forms of communication.
  • Companies usually group leads together, interacting with them as a large group, like through promotional emails. Comparatively, prospects typically receive different treatment. A company may connect with each prospect individually so they can understand their unique interests and share why the company's products or services will help fill a specific need.

The sales process typically involves gathering leads, which can be through email, marketing campaigns or sign-ups on your website, qualifying the leads into prospects or identifying them as non-prospects and then applying the rest of your sales process to the leads you've turned into prospects.

Related: What Is Lead Generation and How to Generate Leads in Three Steps

How do prospect clients work?

You likely have many ways that you can identify prospects, but it all usually starts with leads. If you engage in some prospecting, you can find leads that may meet the criteria you have in place to convert them to prospects and start them on the company's regular sales funnel. You can start by finding your leads through your email list, a demographic search, your website's visitor list and more, with the goal of understanding if the lead you're speaking to or learning more about qualifies as a prospect client.

The process of turning leads into prospects usually starts with one criteria point. For example, you may look for leads who are between 30 and 40 years old because this is a major criterion that you're focusing on. Once you've identified these individuals, you may then move on to the next criteria point and so on until you feel that it's time to connect with the lead about the specific products and services you've identified them as prospects for.

It's important to take the time to accurately and completely qualify your leads. If you're doing this, then you'll probably find that you're using your time as best you can by spending more time interacting with your prospects and building your sales numbers than communicating with or researching individuals who will not turn into paying customers.

Related: How to Close a Sale: 16 Strategies and Examples

Tips to turn prospects into clients

Once an individual becomes a prospect, the next step is to employ certain sales techniques and methods to turn them into a paying customer or client. Follow these tips to find success in transitioning prospects to clients:

Showcase the real-world application of your product.

Before a prospect will feel comfortable in purchasing your product and confident that it's the right financial decision for them, they'll likely want to see how your product actually works. Explore ways to showcase the application of your product.

You can explain the features of your product and what makes it different from the competition, create a video guide, schedule a meeting to give your prospect the opportunity to try the product out for themselves or provide a free trial of the product so your prospect can use it as they see fit.

Communicate with them through alternative channels

While phone calls and emails can be effective ways to connect with your prospects and convince them to become customers, explore other ways to communicate. You can incorporate an automated chat into your website or create automated responses on social media outlets that promote an offer based on the customer's initial message.

Use the soft sell technique

Sometimes when prospects enter a sales funnel, companies may use hard selling strategies to earn quick sales. Although this may work for some, it can also be a deterrent for the potential client, as there isn't as much of an opportunity to connect with the company.

Consider using the soft sell technique instead, which involves getting to know the client and their frustrations, needs and motivations. Develop relationships with your prospects so you can build trust and understanding, which will help the prospect feel important and make them more likely to make a purchase. This relationship-building method is mutually beneficial, too. As customers and clients have a positive experience, they are more likely to share about their experience with friends, family members and coworkers.

Related: 5 Valuable Sales Skills for Your Resume

Use case studies

One way to turn your prospects into clients is to give them access to case studies and reviews. Direct them to where they can read about other peoples' experiences with your products and services. They may gain confidence in their purchasing decision through hearing the experience of others. They may even relate to someone else's story of how their life was before they started using the product and how much better it is with regular use of the product.

To have stories and reviews to share with prospects, consider building a marketing campaign where you ask current customers for their reviews, direct prospects to your social media channels where they can see the engagement the company has with customers or share some impressive statistics from the customer service team.

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