12 Prospecting Sales Techniques for Discovering and Engaging More Leads


When you do sales prospecting right, it can be a steady provider of opportunities for your company. Unfortunately, when it’s not done right, it wastes resources. If you feel like your business is in a rut or you want to increase your leads, it’s time to switch up your prospecting sales techniques.

Smith.ai’s live agents are pros at outreach, be it over the phone or live chat. We’ve compiled some of our favorite prospecting sales techniques below so you can grow your business today.

1. Use web chat with a human behind the screen

If you’re only attempting to engage new clients by phone, you’ll miss the nearly 15 million adults who experience telephobia and avoid talking on the phone. These potential leads prefer to interact via your website’s chat feature, which gives you an effective way to prospect. 

These leads want you to discover them since they reached out to you. You can quickly determine if this is a meaningful lead, schedule an appointment, and move the buyer down the sales funnel. Even better, the sales rep can look at the transcripts of chat interactions to identify misunderstandings or find additional conversion opportunities.

If you offer a live chat staffed by a human with Smith.ai’s live agents who are available 24/7, you can convert leads and satisfy customer needs with a human element and elevate the customer experience — a key factor in moving leads through the sales funnel and creating lifelong customer relationships. 

2. Become a thought leader

Send a monthly newsletter or a personalized email. Be active on social media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn. Get involved in industry forums. Host a live Q&A. Guest feature on a podcast or local radio show. Offer webinars or publish eBooks or blog posts that your ideal customer would find helpful. 

The more present you are in these areas, the more top of mind you are with the people who might need your services. More executives than ever are looking for it, especially when the economic landscape is rough — 50% say thought leadership has a more significant influence on buying decisions during a recession than prosperous times.

3. Be conversational

When you’re prospecting, you aren’t selling your product — you’re networking and building connections with potential customers.

While having a sales call script is helpful, you shouldn’t be afraid to move away from it in the pursuit of real conversation. Keep the goals and structure of the script in mind while:

  • Being dialogue-driven: Ask them how they are, what their name is, etc., before diving into the sales pitch. Be genuine about getting to know them.
  • Following their lead: If they use a smiley face emoji in the chat after typing “thank you,” add one to your “you’re welcome.”
  • Being solution-forward: Find a solution to whatever barrier is preventing them from signing up or moving to the next level. 
  • Knowing when to stop: Always end on a good note, even if you didn’t capture the lead. You never know when their situation might change and they’ll look for your services.
Replace cold calls with warm calls

4. Replace cold calls with warm calls

With the rise of spam calls, more people are taking steps to avoid them, which means your cold calls may end up in the voicemail void. Cold calling has its place, and it can be successful if done right, but consider diverting some of your cold calling energy to warm calling for better results. 

Warm calls are directed toward people who are already aware of you and are interested in your product or service. They’ve signed up for an email newsletter, attended a past webinar, visited your website, or initiated a live chat session. Most importantly, they’re more likely to convert: Only 2% of cold calls result in a warm lead, while warm leads convert 20%-30% of the time.

5. Nurture leads with regular engagement

Find ways to engage regularly with your prospects. The key here is to find the right balance between engaging regularly and being annoying. Send a welcome email, regular newsletters related to the industry, and additional emails when leads exhibit a specific online behavior, like leaving an item in their shopping cart.

The ability to automate some of the lead nurturing process means it can be simpler than you might expect. Automate what you can, like personalized emails and newsletters, or hire Smith.ai live agents to follow up with leads you identify.

6. Be an active listener

Engage a lead with your ears. Any good sales professional knows that selling is more than just talking — it’s listening. Unfortunately, studies show that a typical sales representative spends 65%-75% of a call talking.

The soft skill of active listening requires you to show your prospect that you hear them. Summarize what they tell you and ask clarifying questions. Don’t fill in every pause; instead, let the customer do it. 

7. Establish credibility first

Productive engagement can happen only when a lead feels comfortable with you. When contacting them, let them know you and your company are legitimate. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter how great your sales script is — they’ll hang up. 

Mention that they were referred by another company, share case studies about how you’ve helped similar companies, or reference specific statistics about the industry. It also never hurts to have a robust LinkedIn profile for when your prospect inevitably looks you up after the initial call.

Before making a cold or warm call, research the prospect’s particular needs. Be ready with information about how your product or service has helped people or companies with similar pain points overcome them. 

Craft a clear ideal customer profile

8. Craft a clear ideal customer profile — and stick to it

Know your audience. Craft a specific ideal customer profile (ICP) that you can use to weed out prospects who aren’t worth your time. Use your ICP to create a prospect list, and reach out to the companies on that list. Not only will this increase the likelihood that your prospect will be willing to take your call, but you’ll be better prepared to address their specific concerns effectively.

As your business grows, remember to use your client data to update your prospect lists and make sure they’re accurate. You may find that some of your clients aren’t who you originally included in your ICP.

9. Offer to set up an appointment

Don’t assume the prospect will jump up and down and beg you to set up an appointment when you call them. 

Remind them an appointment is not a commitment to buy, but just to learn more. While appointment setting can take time, it doesn’t have to if you outsource to a provider like Smith.ai that integrates with your existing appointment scheduling system. 

10. Ask for referrals and reviews

Your current customers are a great place to prospect. They are familiar with your product or service and have networked with others in their industry. They may be willing to share the name and contact information of someone they know who might benefit from your product or service. 

Reviews from satisfied clients can also help prospecting in a roundabout way by enhancing your credibility with potential leads. You’ll also discover new information about how people use your product or service and who is working with you, which may help you revise your ICP to find new prospects.

11. Attend networking events

Networking is important for anyone who is prospecting for new leads. Attend networking events in your field and the industries your products or services serve. 

Thanks to technology, you have a ton of options for networking — and some you can even do in your PJs. For example, instead of going to an old-fashioned in-person event, you can participate in a social media thread, attend a webinar, or take part in a virtual meet-up. Make sure to exchange contact information with folks you meet who seem like a good fit to partner or potentially do business with.

12. Dedicate specific time to prospecting

Cold calling likely isn’t high on anyone’s list of favorite things to do, and it's part of human nature to procrastinate activities we find unpleasant. Resist the urge by dedicating a specific time each week to prospecting. Block off an hour or two on your calendar so no one schedules a meeting, set your phone on Do Not Disturb, and get on it. 

Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas:

Use a third-party sales intelligence tool. These products use data to find quality leads faster. There are lots of different intelligence tools to choose from, such as:

  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator: LinkedIn has more than 900 million members, and their Sales Navigator allows you to jump into that ocean of leads and quickly find the ones that fit your ICP with CRM integration for easy outreach tracking. 
  • ZoomInfo SalesOS: ZoomInfo SalesOS has a constantly-updated database of intent data that can help you fill in the gaps in the rest of your prospecting research so you have the most up-to-date information about your prospects before you cold call.
  • Datanyze: Use technographics to identify who might be interested in your products or services based on what products and services they already use with Datanyze. Cold calling will be easier because you already know the business needs your services — you just need to convince them that what you’re offering is better than what they already use.
  • Bombora: Identify businesses that are searching for topics that indicate they might be interested in your services with Bombora. When you reach out to them, you can be confident they’re in your ICP and they’re looking for solutions, making their customer journey shorter.

Google sleuthing: Google searching for potential leads may not be as direct as using a third-party intelligence tool, but it’s still an effective strategy. Dig through business websites, profiles, forums, and social media channels to find leads that might otherwise slip through the cracks because you haven’t considered them as part of your ICP.

Smith.ai can tackle your sales prospecting for you

These prospecting sales techniques can help reinvigorate your prospecting strategy and develop new leads. But if you’d rather spend time focusing on warm leads, you can outsource your sales prospecting to Smith.ai.

Our professional virtual receptionists and live chat agents can handle outreach campaigns, lead intake, and appointment setting with such ease and professionalism that your prospects won’t know they aren’t talking to your in-house team. Review our pricing page or schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to learn how our outreach services can help grow your business.


‍Sources: Edelman | Finances Online

Sales Tips
Lead Generation
Sales Development
Outreach Campaigns
Written by Maddy Martin

Maddy Martin is Smith.ai's SVP of Growth. Over the last 15 years, Maddy has built her expertise and reputation in small-business communications, lead conversion, email marketing, partnerships, and SEO.

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