Prospecting is the first stage of the selling process. Prospecting is the lifeblood of sales because it identifies potential customers.” A steadily growing list of qualified prospects is important for reaching the sales targets. A prospect is a potential buyer.

According to Futrell, “A prospect is a qualified person or organisation that has the potential to buy the good or service, provided he has the money to buy, authority to buy, and desire to buy.

  1. A good prospect is someone who has a problem that the product can solve efficiently and
  2. A good prospect has a goal that the company’s product can help to achieve:
  3. A good prospect has the power to make the buying decision:
  4. A good prospect is someone who likes the salesman, the company, as well as their
  5. A good prospect is a center of influence; someone who can open doors for other
  6. A good prospect is easy to sell to and service:


The identification of potential customers is not an easy job, especially for a new sales person. Rejection rate is quite high and immediate payoffs are usually minimal. Following are the methods of identifying prospects

  1. Cold Canvassing: salesperson goes from door-to-door and tries to impress upon the prospects. Cold canvassing means face-to-face interview with the people. At the end of cold call, the salesperson must give his visiting card, so that the prospect could call the salesperson. If at the time of cold call, a person had shown interest he may be ready to buy.
  2. Present Satisfied Customers: Customers who are satisfied give the names of those who are interested in similar products, The Insurance Advisor of Birla Sunlife Insurance asks five names of the persons who are known to the customer and are in need of insurance products.
  3. Telephone Directory or Mailing List: Prospects names can be generated through telephone directory or mailing lists. In India, specialized companies compile lists of individuals and organizations for direct mail advertisers. A sales person may also find that membership directories of trade associations, professional societies, and civic and social organizations are good sources for prospects.
  4. Spotters: Some companies use spotters as a source for prospecting potential customers. Spotters are usually ‘sales trainees’ who help sales person identifying prospects, thus saving time and qualifying sales lead.
  5. Trade shows and exhibitions: A cost effective way to make personal contacts and locate prospective buyer is to participate in trade shows and exhibitions. In view of the rising costs of personal selling trade shows have become an increasingly important source of prospecting. India International Trade Fair organized by Trade Fair Authority of India every year provides a good example of usage of trade shows for prospecting
  6. Non-competing sales Force: Prospects names can be got from salespersons of noncompeting products. A salesperson supplying copiers can tell about computers. One can know by listening or observing the buyer of the products.
  7. Bird-dog Method: ‘Bird dog’ is the nick-name given to the persons who visit the houses at a definite interval. Often, we have electric or water meter readers, gas boys, milkn suppliers, news-paper boys, watchmen.


Once the sales person has identified potential customers, he or she must qualify them to determine, if they are valid prospects. Unless this is done, time and energy is wasted in trying to sell to people who cannot or will not purchase the product or service.

  1. Money: Does the prospect have the money or resources to purchase a product or service?
  2. Authority: Does the prospect have the authority to make commitment?
  3. Need: Does the prospect need the product or service?
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