4 Basic Elements to Create a Prospecting Process

March 29, 2017
4 Basic Elements to Create a Prospecting Process

When you’re developing a sales process, it can be easy to focus on opportunities. What are the pipeline stages? How are won and lost opportunities handled? The sales process can take time and effort to develop, so why bother to create a prospecting process?

People often consider the top of the funnel to be intuitive. They assume salespeople know what to do, so they avoid documenting a prospecting process. They might clarify territories and data policies, but they assume the activity of prospecting will just happen.

This makes it hard to figure out why prospecting isn’t working. It’s hard to measure what people are actually doing and whether they are focusing on the right activities. It’s difficult to provide training because people are all doing different things.

If you don’t create a prospecting process, you’ll have a team of mavericks and lack insight into what they’re doing. But you don’t need a team of robots, blindly using scripts and unable to look for new ideas for leads. Instead, identify a simple prospecting process that provides guidance to the team and leaves room for their unique execution based on each person’s skills and preferences.

Here’s what to include as you create a prospecting process.

Who does what?

It might seem simple, but it’s surprising how often people don’t have a clear documentation of who is involved in the prospecting process and how they are involved.

You might have multiple teams involved in prospecting, with some people making cold calls and others attending events. You might outsource one or more elements of your prospecting process. Or your salespeople might have the sole responsibility for prospecting.

Start by identifying every group of people involved in prospecting, and then spell out their specific responsibilities.

How do you plan prospecting?

People often sacrifice planning for execution in the area of prospecting. They assume that more activity is the best way to drive results, so they try to make more calls, send more emails, and attend more events without necessarily analyzing what activities will best drive their intended results.

Prospecting planning doesn’t need to be a complex and time-consuming process, but it’s an important part of your prospecting process.

We’ve found that the best prospecting plans are individual short-term plans that align to organizational and personal goals. Check out our resource on developing prospecting plans for a simple process that you can integrate into your prospecting process.

Free eBook: Sales Prospecting Action Plan

How do you balance inbound and outbound prospecting?

In recent years, inbound lead generation has grown as a significant source of prospects. Some organizations are struggling to integrate their inbound process into the rest of their sales process. Who qualifies the inbound leads, and what are the qualification criteria? When are leads handed off to the sales team? How are unqualified leads nurtured?

For most businesses, inbound lead gen doesn’t eliminate the need for outbound prospecting. Unfortunately, not everyone who needs your products and services is looking for (or finding) you.

Make sure you include your processes for both inbound and outbound lead generation in your prospecting process.

How does the team’s prospecting coordinate?

Prospecting is often viewed as an individual activity. Salespeople grow their networks, reach out to people, and find opportunities. As long as they stay in their territories and don’t step on anyone’s toes, what they do is up to them.

Prospecting is a part of the sales process that can significantly benefit from the power of team. Salespeople can share leads, leverage their teammates’ networks, and plan joint events.

While prospecting activity should be planned at an individual level, overall prospecting strategy should be a team concern, and the team should regularly share best practices and brainstorm solutions to prospecting challenges.

Make sure you create a prospecting process that includes opportunities for teamwork.

I hope these 4 elements are helpful as you begin to create your prospecting process! Stay tuned for another post tomorrow on managing your prospecting process.

In the meantime, check out our resource on developing a sales process. Once you’ve implemented your prospecting process and started generating opportunities, you’ll need the team to know what to do with them.

Building a Sales Process for Repeatable Success


  • Brooke Harper - Reply

    I totally agree! A prospecting process is a must for a team, because without it’s gonna be harder to see if your team is focusing on the correct things. Great article!

    Brooke Harper

    • Elizabeth Frederick - Reply

      Thanks for your feedback, Brooke!

      It’s so important to keep the team focused in the right area, and if your prospecting is off track it can cause huge problems all down the line of your sales and delivery process.

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