Sales Prospecting: 5 Golden Rules that Still Rule

Christopher Gardner (Will Smith) beautifully portrayed the life of a salesman, in “The Pursuit of Happyness”. While the movie depicts a lot of real-life things, the best part is when Will Smith goes for prospecting and actual job. I’m sure you’ve had your learning and motivation from the movie.

In today’s article, we are going to discuss the changing dynamics of salesmen’s job, particularly prospecting. Some folks argue that with the rapid digital transformation, the job is very much different from what it used to be a decade ago — and this is true. While we cannot deny the importance of adopting latest and emerging trends, there are a lot of classic methods that still rule the game.

Great salespeople do everything they can to succeed — from proactively boosting their confidence, staying focused, practicing their techniques, and honing their skills. If you want to get great results even when luck isn’t on your side, the following classic rules will surely help in prospecting.

1. Build a Positive Mindset

First impression is mostly the last impression. In prospecting, your first impression hinges on how confident you sound. If you seem nervous, prospects will assume you don’t have any good reason to call, but appearing self-assured will make you seem credible.

It’s okay if you don’t answer every question perfectly or stumble a bit. It’ll show your human side and most of the prospects are willing to overlook the occasional blooper. Just learn to manage the occasion with something alternate — excuse for bad throat, or ask for a min to check the details again.

Your most important asset during the call will be your motivation. Never forget why you are calling. Keep your enthusiasm up by periodically reminding yourself why you’re doing what you are doing. Maybe you have a financial goal or else.

2. Learn to Build Rapport

If your confidence is backed with a strong sales strategy, results could really surprise you. Your strategy should start with a background check on the prospects — to build connection and rapport, not to sell.

Expect a better reaction when you sound familiar or can relate to the other side. People can’t help it: Thanks to the exposure effect, we naturally feel warmer toward those we know.

Try to build pre-call connection through social media. Request them to connect on LinkedIn or tweet them some compliment with the name. Then, you will know their name when you’ll call or have a meeting with them.

Prospects are also open to communicating with sellers at industry events (34%), via LinkedIn (21%), text (21%), voicemail (21%) and social media (18%).

3. Make an Organized Effort

An organized effort means; you have a written plan of action to do things better. Set aside a block of time each day for making calls and networking.

It’s much more efficient to make several outreach calls in a row than call one prospect, prep for a demo, go to a meeting, make a few more calls, connect with 10 people on LinkedIn, and so on.

It helps a lot in the terms that since you are in the prospecting mindset, they make things even more easy to manage. Not only you stay in the prospecting mindset but also you can keep all your materials close at hand.

To make your conversation worth their time, focus on the value you can deliver them (which 96% buyers say impacts their purchasing decision), collaborate (93%), provide industry/market insights and give them new perspective (92%), and help them better understand their needs (92%).”

4. Plan Your Message

We have already stressed enough on the importance of confidence and background check to build connection — the importance of message cannot be overstated. The best way to get this done is to find the commonalities. Research shows humans are hardwired to like people who seem similar.

Capitalize on this by mentioning something you share with your prospect — and don’t worry if you didn’t go to the same college or grow up in the same place, this strategy still works even with statements like, “I’ve visited Japan as well! What did you think?” and “Saw on Twitter you’re a big fan of Roger Federer. I’ve had the pleasure of watching him live in the court.”

Once you realize that the bond is created, professionally explain the purpose of you reaching out. However, avoid hard selling as it may turn off the call — or the prospect may end up saying call/meet later.

Ask if they are facing a particular challenge and suggest a solution. Your intention should be to help them, not to sell. To do it best, have your notes in front of you, but try not to read them word for word.

The biggest factor in whether prospects connect with you is a need for your product or service (75%).

5. Have a Follow-up Plan

As soon as you are done with the call, log relevant details in the CRM and make your notes. What was general feedback of the prospect? Did he/she mention they’re using a competitor?

Write down every important detail from the call. This will help you in the next meeting as you can bring to make connection.

Depending upon the lead score, schedule reminders for the next steps. This ensures you’ll never let an important activity slip through the cracks. No matter what you do, don’t forget to touch base later and plan a post-call email or short message.


Thanks for taking out time and read my post. If you got any feedback surrounding this piece, I would be more than happy to hear. You can follow me on Twitter at @timyclarke