Sales Prospect: Definition, Benefits and How To Find

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 26, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Sales prospects can help your business reduce unsolicited calls and increase targeted sales efforts. Sales prospects offer businesses an opportunity to increase sales through understanding potential customers. Business that know how to identify effectively, categorize and manage their sales prospects are more likely to turn those sales prospects into customers. In this article, we discuss what is a sales prospect, the difference between a sales lead and a sales prospect, how to find sales prospects and tips for organizing sales prospects.

What is a sales prospect?

A sales prospect is a person who could become a customer for your business based on certain qualifying traits or metrics. Qualifications for a sales prospect vary depending on a business's target market, products or services, financial means to purchase your offerings, buyer personas and other factors. Businesses identify sales prospects with the goal of eventually converting them into real customers.

How is a sales prospect different from a sales lead?

People sometimes confuse the term sales prospect with the term sales lead. A sales lead is also a potential customer, but one who may or may not meet a business's criteria for target markets and related factors. All sales prospects start out as sales leads. However, not all sales leads become sales prospects. A sales lead only becomes a sales prospect if the lead meets the qualifying criteria that your business has decided on for prospects.

Read more: Lead vs. Prospect (with Tips for How To Use Them)

Why are sales prospects important?

Identifying sales prospects helps businesses determine if a sales lead is worth pursuing as a potential customer. It often makes more sense for businesses to invest sales time, efforts and finances into sales prospects, as sales prospects are more likely to become customers in the future. Many sales teams consider figuring out if a lead is a sales prospect to be the first step in the selling process.

How to find sales prospects

Here are five steps for finding and determining sales prospects for your business:

1. Look for people who express interest in your company

A good place to look for sales prospects is to consider people who have expressed interest in your company, but have yet to become customers. People who have shown interest in your company may have:

  • Subscribed to an email newsletter

  • Signed up for a free trial

  • Followed your business's social media platforms

  • Attended a lecture, webinar, panel or workshop run by your business

  • Spoken with one of your business's representatives at a networking event

  • Downloaded a booklet, guide or other document from your website

  • Shared or commented on your business's blog or social media post

Related: Why is Your Sales Pipeline Important?

2. Ask for referrals

Your current customers may know people who would benefit from your business's products or services. Referrals can make great sales prospects because their contact person is already familiar with and approves of your business. Ask your customers to help put you in touch with these people. Consider offering an incentive to customers for referrals, such as a free or discounted product or service.

Read more: How To Ask for Referrals

3. Find people who may not see your business's marketing

Some people may not be familiar with your business, but could still be potential customers. Attempt to find people who might be outside your business's typical reach, such as by purchasing a sales lead list.

4. Determine if your sales leads are prospects

The most crucial step for determining sales prospects is figuring out your qualifying criteria for prospects and evaluating potential customers based on that criteria. Questions to ask when deciding if a sales lead could be a prospect include:

  • Does this person or their company fit our target audience, target market or one of our buyer personas?

  • How much does this person already know about our business?

  • How much interest has this person shown in our business?

  • Is this person or their company connected with other people who have benefited from our business?

  • Does this person or their company have existing challenges that make them likely to benefit from our services or goods?

  • Is this person or their company likely to have the time, energy and financial means to consider our sales offerings at this point in time?

  • How much potential value can our business provide to this person or their company?

  • Does this person have the ability to purchase our product or services, or are they the contact person for someone with purchasing power?

5. Sort your sales prospects

Group your sales prospects based on your business's qualifying criteria. The goal is to figure out prioritization levels for your new list of sales prospects based on how likely they are to become potential customers. The sales prospect groups you create might vary depending on your business's particular needs and criteria, but could include groups based on:

  • Previously expressed interest in your business

  • Knowledge level of your business

  • Predicted energy, time and financial means to make a purchase from your business

  • Predicted size of the business transaction with this potential client

  • How many criteria they meet for your target markets or buyer personas

  • Your ability to connect with someone who has purchasing authority

  • Shared connections, such as through a referral

Related: Understanding Sales Methodology: Learn About 10 Popular Sales Methodologies

Tips for managing and organizing sales prospects

After you've determined who your sales prospects are, your business needs to figure out how to manage, contact and keep track of those prospects. Efficiently organizing your data about and communication efforts with your sales prospects can increase your chances of turning those prospects into customers. Here are some tips for effectively managing and organizing your sales prospects:

Track your sales prospects

Keep track of all the data related to each of your sales prospects, such as how well they align with your buyer personas and how much interest they've expressed in your company. This includes taking notes every time you communicate with the prospect and noting any concerns or questions they might have. Consider using customer relationship management (CRM) software to manage and sync all this data. Keeping careful records of your prospects helps ensure that everyone on your sales team remains informed and helps you craft more personalized follow up messages.

Coordinate with your marketing team

Sales and marketing departments might be more likely to convert their prospects into clients if they coordinate their efforts. Use your sales prospecting data to help marketing teams create more personalized marketing strategies for individual prospects. For example, if a group of your sales prospects have similar concerns, ask your marketing department to send this prospect group a how to article, customer review or video demonstration that works to address those concerns.

Use workflows

Rather than always reaching out to sales prospects on a personal level, consider using workflows to automate some contact processes. Sales teams can set workflows to trigger based on certain actions a sales prospect takes. For example, you could create an email to be sent out automatically each time a sales prospect signs up for a free trial or promotional period.

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