Nearly every company relies on sales to increase revenue and support the rest of the organization. Today, we’ll look at sales prospecting—a vital, yet oft-neglected ingredient in a fully fleshed-out sales approach.
With the right sales prospecting tools and techniques, you can greatly improve the quality and volume of your leads.
What Is Sales Prospecting?
What is sales prospecting, exactly?
We’ll start by defining a prospect. A sales prospect is a person who falls into the organization’s target consumer profile, but who hasn’t yet expressed interest in purchasing their products and services. For example, if you sell a specific type of printer to printing companies, your prospects would be printing company owners and decision makers who have not yet purchased your equipment.
Sales prospecting is a set of strategies that allow you to identify, collect, and organize different sales prospects for your organization. It usually means collecting email addresses, identifying social media profiles, meeting people, cold calling, or using other methods to find and talk to people who might be interested in what your business sales. Depending on your goals and your team, prospecting might include holding introductory conversations with prospects.
At some point, sales prospecting integrates with final sales; once qualified, leads are often handed off to a team of closers, who finalize the deal and handle the account.
Sales prospecting is important because it greatly increases your chances of closing deals, both because you have better leads in the pipeline and because you’ll have a “running start” to each of your prospect interactions. However, if you want your sales strategy to succeed, you’ll need the right sales prospecting tools and techniques to accomplish your goals.
Sales Prospecting Tools
Let’s start by identifying some of the sales prospecting tools, apps, and platforms that can assist you during the sales prospecting process:
Intercom offers a suite of customer communication capabilities, but for sales reps, I really like the ability to place a live-chat icon on your website while users are browsing. You can configure it to automatically greet users with custom messages depending on what pages they visit on your site. You can also live-chat with them right there on your website, so you can learn more about who’s visiting your website, and answer any questions they have while browsing (Hint: don’t miss our post on open-ended sales questions you can use!). If a customer leaves a message when you’re not available to respond, Intercom will ask them for their email address so you can follow up with them.
Maybe we’re biased, but EmailAnalytics (our own tool), is designed to help sales reps better understand how they use email. Did you know that 35-50% of sales go to the first-responding vendor? And that only 7% of companies respond within 5 minutes of a form submission? If you conduct sales prospecting via email, you need an email analytics tool to give you insight into your responsiveness to prospects. The tool enables you to visualize email activity like your busiest email traffic days of the week, your average email response times, your average email volume over a 24-hour time period, your top senders/receivers, and a lot more. You can use it to measure how your prospecting strategy is improving over time. We offer a free 14-day trial, after which pricing is simply $15 per month, per user.
Leadfeeder is a relatively simple application, in theory, that allows you to track the people who visit your company’s website—even if they don’t contact you, fill out a form, or take other action. You’ll integrate it with your Google Analytics account, then draw in data to determine which pages your visitors are reading—and where they’re coming from. Assuming you have a decent stream of traffic, this can be highly effective. Paid plans start at $69 per month.
Proofy is straightforward and useful. Many of the sales prospecting tools on this list will provide you with a list of potential email addresses, but how can you tell if they’re truly active? Proofy was designed with this purpose. It’s free for the first 500 email verification checks; just enter an email address and see if it exists, and whether there are any problems with it.
Albacross is a sales intelligence software that helps businesses learn more about their anonymous website visitors and convert them into leads. With Albacross, you can nurture leads that have been on the specific pages of your website and which fit your ideal customer profile (ICP). Based on their relevance and behavior on your website, you can send those leads to numerous CRM systems such as Hubspot, PipeDrive, SalesForce, etc., via its Zapier integration and direct integrations. Your leads can be automatically added to any number of outreach tools. This will enable your sales team to close more deals with less work. Albacross also provides its users with the reveal API solution which enables real-time website personalization. You can create unique journeys for each company visiting your website. Paid plans start at $149 per month.
6. Hello Bar
Hello Bar makes it easy to place a pop-up window, bar, slide-in, or modal on your site to help you drive traffic to a particular URL (such as a lead-gen form) or directly capture email addresses via a newsletter opt-in. Your sales reps can then reach out to these prospects via email. We use Hello Bar here at EmailAnalytics, so you’ve probably already noticed the tool in action!
7. Hubspot Sales
Hubspot Sales is one of the most robust sales prospecting tools available. It’s designed to integrate seamlessly with Hubspot’s CRM, and can be used to create and manage email campaigns, automate the prospecting process, and track prospect interactions. You can also review the people who are visiting your website and collect their information so you can follow up with them later. The basic plan is free, but paid plans start at $400 per month.
Salesmate is a Sales CRM designed for SMBs and startups, but the built-in phone system makes it a unique prospecting tool. You can track each and every inbound and outbound call and associate with specific contacts and deals. With call recordings and voicemail drop, you can improve the overall efficiency of your sales team.
9. Crystal Knows
Crystal Knows relies on publicly available data to research and better understand individual prospects. Information from social media profiles and websites are compiled so you can get an understanding of your prospect’s personality, interests, and behavioral patterns. You’ll get a limited number of views for free, but after that, plans start at $29 per month.
With FindThatLead, you can enter a domain and generate a list of all known email addresses associated with that domain. If you have a business in mind for prospecting, this is an ideal way to get contact information. You can also use a Chrome extension to simplify the process. You’ll get 150 free credits, but after that, the cost starts at $29 per month.
Prospect.io is an email lookup tool to help you find the right contacts within an organization. It integrates with SalesForce and Hubspot Sales, as well as a host of other sales prospecting tools. With it, you can generate and verify a list of email addresses, then set up drip campaigns and analyze your progress. Pricing starts at $99 per month. Be sure to see this list of our favorite email lookup tools!
You can also use Ring.io, a SalesForce integration, to cold call more efficiently. With it, you can automatically call prospects from within SalesForce. You can also call multiple people simultaneously, and use filters to better organize your leads.
Close.io is designed as a kind of CRM, but it’s also equipped with features meant to make cold calling easier. With it, you’ll be able to track all your outbound calls, gathering information on your prospects so you can learn from each interaction.
BuiltWith was designed for salespeople, enabling them to find organizations that are currently using specific software products. This is hypothetically best used to find companies currently using your competitors’ products—if you contact them about a better deal, or superior functionality, you may be able to win them over. You can also use this if you have a product that’s complementary to an app they’re currently using. Plans start at $295 per month, but there’s also a free Chrome extension with limited functionality.
15. Yet Another Mail Merge
Humorously named, Yet Another Mail Merge is designed to help you track your outgoing emails. It integrates with Gmail and Google Sheets, compiling information for you to review and analyze later; it’s best used when you’re sending emails in bulk.
Yesware integrates with Gmail, Outlook, and Android to help you schedule and track emails to your prospects. With it, you’ll be able to monitor your outgoing emails, so you can see when your messages are read, when your attachments are opened, and more. It also has Gmail mail merge capabilities, which are great for cold email outreach directly from within Gmail. The free version works for many clients, but advanced plans start at $12 per month (billed annually).
With MatterMark you can browse through a directory of more than 4 million companies and 20 million “key contacts.” To make it easier, you’ll have access to a full range of filters and controls, narrowing your options down by geographic location, company size, industry, and current funding. It also integrates directly into SalesForce, making it easier to manage your sales pipeline. Paid plans start at $49 per month.
18. LinkedIn Sales Navigator
LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a tool developed by, you guessed it, LinkedIn. It uses LinkedIn profile information, but relies on a series of advanced searches and filters, letting you find the perfect prospects for your organization based in their industry, location, demographic information, and other factors. You can also use it to generate new lead recommendations, helping you direct your strategy. Paid plans start at $65 per month. Don’t miss our detailed overview of Linkedin Sales Navigator vs Linkedin Premium as well as our overview on how to use Linkedin Sales Navigator to boost leads and sales.
With Skrapp, you can look up email addresses associated with LinkedIn accounts. Sales Navigator is the official sales prospecting tool associated with LinkedIn, but this can be a cost-efficient alternative. It’s free for up to 100 emails, and from there, plans start at $49 per month. You can also generate and verify email addresses all over the web by entering your prospects’ names and websites.
Rebump is designed as an automated tool for prospect follow-up, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. With Rebump active, the app will monitor your outgoing emails and ongoing threads. If you don’t get a response from your prospect, Rebump will send follow-up emails that you can customize, and will stop whenever the prospect responds. After a 30-day free trial, plans start at $5 per month.
- Find business emails and contacts from LinkedIn
- Get 15 data points (full name, job title, location, working company details, business contact numbers, etc.)
- Export data to Hubspot CRM, Zapier, Zoho CRM, FreshSales, Salesforce, etc.
ClaraLabs was conceived as a tool to help employers organize and manage job interviews when filling an open position. However, it’s now also optimized for helping sales teams stay organized. Clara is a virtual assistant that can help you with many tasks, including scheduling an introductory meeting.
Zoominfo is an all-purpose company data research tool. It has a built-in database with information on millions of companies; with it, you can perform a search and generate tons of information, including the company’s past performance information, number of employees, and even contact information.
The straightforward way to use Capterra is to search for software designed for your business needs, but if your sales prospects are decision makers or entrepreneurs of software companies, you can use it as a prospecting tool. Run a search in one of more than 700 categories, and find exactly the types of businesses your company has partnered with in the past.
Clutch is another niche tool. If you’re looking for marketing or sales firms as part of your sales prospects, clutch is an ideal sales prospecting tool. With it, you can search through more than 27,000 agencies in more than 500 categories, like advertising, marketing, software development, app development, IT, and more.
Datanyze is an all-in-one sales tool with dozens of features, but one feature is especially relevant for sales prospecting. Visit any company’s website, and you’ll be able to pull up a breakdown of the current apps and platforms they’re using. You’ll also get information on the company’s annual revenue, their number of employees, and in some cases, contact information. Plans start at $600 per month for the full version, but the basic Chrome extension is free.
You might be surprised to see Skype on this list, but it remains one of the most versatile free communication apps available to businesses today. Use it to talk to people, warm your prospects, and possibly collect further contact information.
Doodle is another scheduling tool for your sales prospecting process. Its gimmick is that you and your prospects can all make suggestions for times and dates that work for them; the organizer can then select a time that works for everyone. You can also use features like automatic reminders, polls, and surveys to improve your efficiency.
Quora is a question-and-answer service meant to help internet users find solutions to their problems (and information for their curiosities). What does that have to do with sales prospecting? For starters, anyone can ask questions or provide answers, and the types of people who ask questions about a given industry are the types of people best suited for a sales pitch. If you spend time browsing and answering questions in your area of expertise, you’ll naturally find new sales prospects.
Once known as Email Hunter, Hunter is a Chrome extension meant to help you find the most relevant email addresses from a target domain. It also features a built-in score to indicate the responsiveness of that address—so you don’t waste time on dead accounts. It’s useful if you have target companies, but need to find individuals’ contact information within those companies. It’s free for up to 100 email addresses, and $39 per month thereafter.
31. Product Hunt
Product Hunt is a database focused on new businesses, up-and-coming products, and startups—not unlike Angel List. Results are sorted by popularity, and you can apply different filters to discover new businesses in your target categories. It’s not the most robust tool, but it works for certain applications.
You can also use Vainu, a sales intelligence platform that gathers data in real-time from many different sources. There are CRM, marketing automation, and data analytics platforms to use, but its sales prospecting tool is amazing. With it, you can tweak more than 100 filters to peruse the platform’s database—and find the ideal prospects for your organization.
If you’re looking for more detailed company information, try using Owler. It’s a sales prospecting tool that gives you a breakdown for each company you research, including number of employees, annual revenue, and top competitors. You can try it for free, with a limited number of searches.
34. Voila Norbert
If you know the name of a potential prospect but you need their email address, try using Voila Norbert. If you enter a person’s name and the company they work for, you should be able to get their email address here. You can look up 50 email addresses for free, but after that, you’ll need to pay $49 per month for the service.
Just like LinkedIn Sales Navigator works with LinkedIn, Followerwonk works with Twitter. You can use tool to tap into Twitter’s analytics data. Perform a search for a job title, location, or other information, and you’ll generate a list of users who match your description; you can also use filters to narrow down the list further, then reach out with a message of your choice. Paid plans start at $29 per month, but a free option is also available.
36. Any social media network
I’ve touched on specific tools to help you navigate LinkedIn and Twitter, but the truth is, nearly any social media platform, by itself, can be an effective sales prospecting tool. Use a combination of networking, conversing, and searching to identify and talk to the people most likely to interact with your business. Combined with a general social media marketing campaign, this can be amazing for some industries.
Sales Prospecting Techniques
Even the best prospecting tools aren’t enough to guarantee your success. You’ll need the best sales prospecting techniques to improve your pipeline:
37. Set goals and rewards
If you’re working with a team of employees and you want their prospecting performance to improve, make sure to create goals, and rewards for achieving those goals. We’ve got a list of employee recognition ideas you can refer to for help with this. This is a good way to motivate better performance, but it’s also a barometer you can use to measure progress when you begin incorporating new strategies.
38. Focus on quality over quantity.
Lots of sales prospecting techniques focus on quantity, and it’s easy to see why. It seems like more prospects are inherently a good thing, considering your close ratio remains more or less the same. Quantity is also easy to measure objectively. However, it’s usually better for a strategy to focus on quality; you’re better off with a dozen high-quality prospects that are a good fit for your organization than a hundred prospects who have little need for your product.
39. Prospect continuously.
Some organizations treat prospecting as an opportunistic endeavor; they wait for big networking events or sales opportunities, allowing their sales prospecting to spike at key intervals. However, it’s much better to prospect 100 percent of the time. Look for new prospects everywhere a target customer might be. If your team is big enough, make sure you have a few people dedicated exclusively to prospecting.
40. Start warmer.
Cold emailing is a staple in most sales prospecting strategies, but it can be hard to start a conversation out of nowhere. You can improve your prospecting success by starting “warmer.” Learn as much as possible about your prospect before emailing them for the first time, and try to start your messaging in a warm, personal, and individualized way. It’s also a good way to get more information at the beginning. For help, see these sales email templates you can use.
41. Get referrals.
You can also get warmer leads by getting referrals from your existing clients, or people you know. Being personally introduced to someone will start the conversation in a positive direction, which you can use to gather more information, better qualify the lead, and hopefully, get a better chance of landing the sale. Check out our post on how to ask for referrals for 15 methods to get more referrals!
42. Create customer personas based on existing clientele.
Remember, sales prospecting is all about finding people who fit the ideal customer persona for your company; accordingly, your success depends on the quality and appropriateness of your customer personas. Spend some time developing your customer personas, examining your existing clientele and doing the demographic research necessary to better understand your “perfect” customer.
43. Establish territory (and a niche).
It’s a good idea to define your territory, and establish a niche for your business. Is there a certain industry in which you’re going to specialize? Do you target big companies or small companies? Are you only targeting institutions in a certain geographic location? The more specific your niche is, the better you can control it—and the more efficient your prospecting strategy will become.
44. Study your competitors.
If you can, take the time to get to know your top competitors. What strengths do they have that a customer might appreciate? How do they approach sales and marketing? In a best-case scenario, you can use this information to customize a strategy that counters your competitors’ best offers. In a worst-case scenario, you can use your competition as a way to better understand your own weaknesses.
45. Evaluate common objections.
Where do your sales commonly fail? What prospect characteristics seem to be common in leads who fail to become customers? Learn to understand these common objection and failure points, and adjust your prospecting strategy to either weed them out or address them.
46. Learn prospect objectives.
By contrast, it’s extraordinarily helpful to get to know your prospects during the prospecting process. What is it, exactly, that they’re trying to achieve? Sometimes, you can reduce this to a simple goal, like increasing sales or improving efficiency, but sometimes, people will have more specific needs and preferences. The better you understand them, the better you can sell to them in the future.
47. Automate whatever you can.
The less time you spend on your sales prospecting strategy, the more profitable and efficient it’s going to be. You can save manual effort and reduce your number of errors by automating whatever you can. Use sales prospecting tools that issue automatic follow-up emails, automatic reminders, and automatic data collection to make your sales prospecting campaign faster.
48. Measure outcomes.
Always keep a close eye on your performance, and measure things as objectively as possible. Only with objective data will you be able to definitively prove the effectiveness of your strategy, and determine the areas that are in greatest need of improvement. Check out these sales statistics to glean insights from other companies’ measured outcomes!
49. Avoid complacency.
It’s easy to step back and say your strategy is “good enough,” especially if you’re generating new prospects on a regular basis. However, there’s no such thing as a perfect sales prospecting strategy, so there’s always room for improvement. Keep pushing for higher efficiency and better bottom-line results; you’ll find there are always approaches you can tweak.
Finally, get used to experimenting. Sales prospecting is a complex and multifaceted strategy, so there isn’t a single approach that works for everyone. Get used to trying out new sales prospecting tools, new scripts, new customer personas, and new follow-up protocols; you might be surprised to learn which techniques can have a positive effect on your bottom line.
Now that you have plenty of sales prospecting tools to try, you should ensure you have a way to measure your improvement over time as you put them to use. With EmailAnalytics, you can dig into your email metrics, including the number of emails you send and receive, your top senders and recipients, and even your average email response time. If you study these data points and learn from them, you should be able to target and address the areas that require the most improvement in your team. Sign up for a free trial today, and learn how your email-based sales prospecting strategies can improve!
What are sales prospecting tools?
Sales prospecting tools are software, apps, or platforms that make it easier to collect contact information for sales prospects or leads.
What is sales prospecting?
Sales prospecting is when sales reps make calls or emails with the goal of creating new sales leads or opportunities.
What are the best sales prospecting techniques?
The best sales prospecting techniques are the ones that result in the most new leads and sales. Experimentation with conversion rate optimization is critical for success, as is automation, competitive analysis, and creating proper customer personas.
Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before exiting it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics, and co-host of the podcast The Entrepreneur Cast.