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Like a prospector mining for gold, B2B prospecting involves sifting through the pan for valuable potential buyers hidden amongst the digital mud.

B2B sales prospecting is required for your business to keep up with the competition, generate leads for your sales funnel, and expand your sales pipeline. The trick is for your marketing and sales teams to locate qualified leads, engage them effectively, and convert them into revenue-driving accounts. 

Today, we're exploring the step-by-step process of B2B prospecting, along with essential strategies and pro tips for finding and converting your golden clients. 

What is B2B Prospecting

B2B prospecting refers to the sales process of identifying, engaging, and converting potential buyers (prospects) into customers. 

Sales development representatives (SDRs) conduct in-depth research into target accounts and key decision-makers to pinpoint the best methods to initiate contact, nurture a relationship, and move prospects through the sales funnel.

13 Proven B2B Prospecting Methods Sales Reps Swear By

Advice on B2B prospecting techniques is a whirlwind of conflicting opinions. From cold calls to account-based marketing, there are an overwhelming number of strategies available. 

Let’s look at the B2B prospecting methods sales reps swear by and everything you need to know about them. 

#1. Cold Calling

There’s much concern over the value of cold calling in a world of instant messaging, video conferencing, social media, and artificial intelligence. But is cold calling dead? Not quite. 

Phone calls still represent three of the top five most effective methods for prospecting and are a preferred method of contact for C-level and VP decision-makers. 

That said, your content marketing strategy must support your sales process to ensure your teams contact qualified leads that match your ideal customer profiles (ICPs)

Other best practices for cold calling include:

  • Using phone-verified mobile phone numbers to generate the highest response rate. 
  • Conducting research before cold-calling prospects.
  • Using intent data increases the likelihood of scheduling a meeting by 42% (TechTarget)
  • Leveraging sales onboarding tools for 7% higher win rates.

#2. Cold Emails 

With 67% of the buyer’s journey occurring digitally, email remains a top channel for sales prospecting. However, modern inboxes are busy with advertisements, promotions, and irrelevant messaging. 

The key to connecting with prospects through cold emailing is to send consistent, relevant emails. Take it from Sean Bestor, former Head of Growth Marketing at Sumo, who perfected five cold email templates to grow the company to $5 million.

According to Bestor, a successful cold email approach includes:

  • Writing an open-worthy email subject line.
  • Opting for an informal, casual tone.
  • Personalizing every email (especially if you’re using templates!)
  • Structuring your message around the value you can provide to the prospect.
  • Focusing on one clear call-to-action that leaves no room for ambiguity.

To improve your B2B prospecting success, remind yourself that you’re reaching out to a real person. Keep your tone personal, and provide valuable solutions to problems your prospects face. 

#3. Warm Outreach 

Unlike cold outreach, warm outreach involves contacting potential prospects who have already shown interest in your product or service. This could be through visiting your website, downloading a whitepaper, attending a webinar, or engaging with your social media content.

Best practices for warm outreach include:

  • Use tools like Hubspot, Salesforce, and Google Analytics to monitor prospect engagement with your content and offerings.
  • Ensure your sales and marketing teams align on qualified leads and account engagement.
  • Follow up with relevant content or offers based on previous interactions.
  • Segment prospects based on engagement level, such as downloading a resource vs. visiting your pricing page.

#4. Social Selling 

Social selling refers to the sales strategy of using social media conversations to engage prospects. It’s an effective way to leverage social media's popularity and reach potential prospects on platforms they already use.

In fact, much of the modern buyer’s journey is now experienced on social media. As much as 84% of C-level and VP-level buyers rely on social media interactions to make purchase decisions.

Sales teams that include social selling in their sales process are proven to generate 45% more sales opportunities than those with a low social selling presence. 

Best practices for attracting prospective buyers on social media include:

  • Sharing valuable content that demonstrates your expertise.
  • Engaging with prospects by commenting on their posts and joining relevant discussions.
  • Using platforms like LinkedIn to connect with decision-makers and influencers.

#5. Personalized Emails 

Email personalization improves open rates by 6%, highlighting the importance of a personal touch in B2B prospecting. Personalized email messaging can convert prospective customers into high-quality leads by making target prospects feel valued and understood. 

To personalize your email content effectively, it’s best to:

  • Greet your prospect by name to make the email feel more tailored.
  • Reference specific details about the prospect’s company or recent activities to show you’ve done your research.
  • Segment your audience based on criteria such as industry or past interactions to send more relevant content.
  • Leverage behavioral data from CRM and marketing tools to tailor emails based on recipient actions.
  • A/B test subject lines and email content to determine what resonates best with your audience.
  • Include a clear call to action that aligns with the recipient’s stage in the buyer’s journey.

Important note: Email personalization works best when the message but not the subject line is personalized. Emails that feature both a personalized subject line and message result in 13% lower open rates.

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#6. Physical Events

While many business-to-business sales are conducted online, 68% of marketing professionals say live events are best for lead generation. In-person events allow B2B sales professionals to speak to potential customers face-to-face. 

This helps to build relationships within your target market and gain immediate feedback on outreach efforts. The best physical events for B2B prospecting include trade shows, conferences, workshops, and industry networking meet-ups.

To enhance your prospecting efforts at live events, it's best to:

  • Prepare engaging presentations or demos to capture attention.
  • Collect prospect data, such as contact details, to follow up with leads post-event.
  • Gather and analyze feedback to improve prospecting efforts at future events.
  • Select events that align with your target market.

#7. Virtual Events 

Virtual events offer another chance to engage potential customers, providing an efficient and cost-effective alternative when flying a sales team to an event is less feasible.

The rise of virtual events has shown that they can be as effective as physical ones. Attendees cite demos (26%), expert Q&As (19%), and keynotes (17%) as having the most sway over buying decisions (Statista 2024).

Best practices for using virtual events for B2B prospecting include:

  • Add online booths and breakout rooms that mimic in-person trade shows and events.
  • Ditch static, pre-recorded presentations for interactive sessions and roundtable discussions.
  • Offer on-demand and live sessions to cater to flexible schedules.
  • Structure event topics around solving pain points for your target audience.

#8. Referrals

Referrals are a fantastic way to find prospects and warm leads. Tapping into the network of your existing customers can increase the likelihood of conversion, as Nielsen reports that people are four times more likely to buy when referred by a friend.

For this reason, many businesses find referral programs to be an effective B2B prospecting method.

Best practices for leveraging referrals include:

  • Encouraging existing customers to refer others.
  • Offering incentives for successful referrals.
  • Making the referral process straightforward.
  • Regularly reminding customers of the referral program.
  • Recognizing referrers to encourage repeat referrals.

#9. Account-Based Marketing 

Account-based marketing (ABM) is a highly targeted marketing and sales process built to engage only the most qualified leads. It is known for generating a higher ROI than any other marketing strategy, making it a prime candidate for sales prospecting.

Account-based marketing is helpful for B2B prospecting because of its highly targeted approach. It ensures that all leads passed on to sales reps are qualified. This enhances alignment between marketing and sales teams, increasing efficiency across the board.

Best practices for account-based marketing include:

  • Aligning sales activities with marketing for cohesive strategies.
  • Using intent data to identify and qualify leads.
  • Creating personalized content for high-value accounts.
  • Developing tailored sales engagement plans for each account.
  • Utilizing ABM software to measure ABM campaigns.

#10. Paid Media 

Paid media, or pay-per-click (PPC), involves paying a fee each time inbound leads click on your ad. Performance marketers often use this approach to drive website traffic, increase conversion, and generate leads. 

As a sales prospecting technique, paid media allows you to target specific audiences with your content and messaging, resulting in more high-quality leads.

Best practices for paid media campaigns include:

  • Targeting specific demographics and interests.
  • Using compelling ad copy, visuals, and short-form video.
  • Monitoring campaigns through marketing analytics tools.
  • Using performance metrics to allocate budget effectively.
  • A/B testing different ad formats, calls-to-action, and messaging.
  • Utilizing retargeting software to re-engage leads.

#11. Sales Demos

Of course, most B2B prospecting efforts aim to get potential customers to attend a sales demo. Sales demos allow your sales representatives to showcase the value of your product or service in real-time.

Conducting effective sales demos is helpful for sales prospecting and can significantly impact your ability to close deals.

Best practices for sales demos include:

  • Tailoring your demo to the prospect’s specific needs.
  • Highlighting the key benefits and unique features of your product.
  • Encouraging interaction and addressing questions in real time.
  • Using real-world examples and case studies.
  • Keeping the demo concise and focused.
  • Conducting prompt follow-up with additional resources and next steps.

#12. Content Marketing 

Content marketing is inseparable from a successful inbound marketing strategy. Many forms of content are available: blogs, eBooks, white papers, videos, and webinars.

Companies with blogs produce 67% more leads per month than companies without active blogs. High-quality content boosts visibility and brand awareness, supporting B2B prospecting efforts.

Best practices for content marketing include:

  • Developing a content strategy that addresses target audience pain points.
  • Cross-promoting content across email and social media.
  • Prioritizing SEO to increase organic reach
  • Updating and repurposing content to remain relevant and extend content life
  • Utilizing analytics software to measure content performance

You might also find these content marketing guides helpful:

#13. Email Marketing 

Email marketing remains a cornerstone of effective B2B prospecting. It is proven to deliver an ROI of up to 4400%, making it one of the most cost-effective marketing channels. A well-crafted email marketing strategy can nurture leads and improve sales prospecting.

Best practices for email marketing include:

  • Segmenting your email list to send targeted messages.
  • Using automation to send timely and relevant emails.
  • Continuously testing and optimizing your email campaigns.
  • Crafting compelling subject lines to increase open rates.
  • Including clear and actionable CTAs.
  • Ensuring your emails are mobile-friendly.

9 B2B Prospecting Best Practices To Improve Your Sales Prospecting

No matter your prospecting methods, consider the following best practices to ensure your sales prospecting approach remains effective, efficient, and scalable.

#1. Do Your Research

Research is crucial for effective B2B prospecting Julie Thomas, President and CEO of ValueSelling Associates, emphasizes the importance of understanding your prospect's identity, business, and industry.

“When you understand your prospect’s business, their industry, and their role, you can focus your communication on how you can add value and engage with your prospect, rather than pitch to them,” she explains. 

Thorough research helps your sales development representatives (SDRs) tailor their approach and build meaningful connections with potential clients.

#2. Take Advantage of LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a fantastic place to begin researching and collecting prospect data. Many professionals connect, share insights, and discuss industry trends on LinkedIn, making it ideal for sales prospecting.

LinkedIn is also useful for account mapping, a useful strategy within account-based marketing. Understanding the organizational structure of target accounts and the relationships between key decision-makers allows your sales reps to tailor and improve their sales prospecting efforts.

To improve your sales prospecting approach through LinkedIn, optimize your LinkedIn profile with relevant keywords, join and participate in industry-specific groups, and use LinkedIn Sales Navigator to identify and connect with qualified prospects.

#3. Understand Your ICP and Target Account List

Defining your ideal customer profile (ICP) and target account list is essential for focusing your prospecting efforts on the most valuable leads. An ICP outlines the type of companies that best fit your product or service based on firmographic data like industry, company size, and revenue.

Analyze your best customers to identify common traits, regularly update your ICP based on market changes and business growth, and prioritize accounts based on their fit with your ICP and potential value.

#4. Profile Your Buyer Persona to the Last Detail

Next, it is important not to confuse your ICP with a buyer persona. While your ICP outlines real-world companies that are the best fit for your product or service, your buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers within those companies.

Establishing and sticking to your buyer persona is essential for successful sales prospecting and long-term growth. In fact, constant flip-flopping between personas can be a significant roadblock to your sales process.

"It turns out the product requirements, support requirements, pricing, and everything were different for [our two personas] Ollie and Mary," explains Hubspot's Co-Founder, Brian Halligan. "By not deciding, we made one uninspired compromise after another and never nailed either one."

Learn from Hubspot's mistakes, and nail your buyer persona and ICP in the early stages of sales prospecting. This will support both inbound and outbound prospecting efforts down the road.

#5. Practice and Constantly Review Your Cold Call Process

While we've established that cold calling isn't dead, that doesn't mean it's easy. Refining your cold calling techniques is crucial for improving your sales prospecting success rates.

Constantly improving your cold call process can lead to better engagement and higher conversion rates. Have your sales team practice with role-play calls and use them to identify strengths and areas for improvement. 

It is also useful to record calls for future review and analysis, stay updated on best practices, and incorporate new techniques as they arise.

#6. Use Quality B2B Prospecting Databases

High-quality databases are essential for accurate and efficient prospecting. Investing in quality databases ensures your sales team works with accurate and relevant lead information.

Choose databases that offer comprehensive and up-to-date information, integrate your database with your CRM for seamless data management, and consider tools like Cognism and UserGems for high-quality lead data.

#7. Align Your Marketing and Sales Teams

According to data from MarketingProfs, companies with aligned marketing and sales departments experience 38% higher sales win rates.

Misalignment between sales and marketing can result in lost time and resources spent on leads that the marketing team didn’t properly vet. Alignment is necessary for B2B prospecting to ensure leads are qualified and match your ICP and buyer personas.

Key to this process is lead scoring and distinguishing between Marketing-Qualified Leads (MQLs) and Sales-Qualified Leads (SQLs). Marketing nurtures MQLs, who indicate interest but are not ready to buy, while Sales handles SQLs, who are nearing a purchase decision.

Explicit criteria for MQLs and SQLs, regular communication, and integrated CRM and marketing automation tools support this process, ensuring both teams work towards common goals.

#8. Build a Structured B2B Prospecting Process

Creating a structured B2B prospecting process is essential for consistent and scalable success. Start by setting specific objectives and key performance indicators to measure success, such as lead generation, conversion, and sales revenue.

Next, outline steps for identifying and engaging leads, including target industries, job roles, outreach methods, and follow-up procedures. Use lead scoring to prioritize prospects based on their fit with your ICP and engagement level, focusing on the most promising opportunities.

Finally, CRM and sales engagement tools can manage interactions, track progress, and automate repetitive tasks.

Implementing a structured B2B prospecting process can improve lead quality, enhance team productivity, and drive sustainable growth.

#9. Automate, Automate, Automate

Automation, such as B2B sales prospecting tools, improves your sales prospecting techniques by helping your teams locate potential leads, collect sales intelligence, and organize contact details.

With automation on their side, SDRs can focus their time on high-value activities. Use CRM, marketing automation, and sales prospecting tools in tandem to manage outreach and follow-ups. Automate data entry and lead scoring to reduce manual work, and regularly review and adjust your automation workflows to ensure they remain effective.

6 B2B Sales Prospecting Tools According to the Different Stages of Your Process

While your B2B prospecting process is coming together, you’ll want to invest in the right tools to support your sales and marketing teams. This includes tools that can help you identify prospects, build segmented account lists, and conduct sales outreach that hits the mark.

Customer and Account Research and Profiling

Tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator and HubSpot Sales Hub help with accurate and detailed customer and account profiling. These steps are essential for effective B2B prospecting. These tools also get you over the line quickly with your account research needs.

Building Target Account Lists and Contact Lists

Once you have detailed profiles, the next step is to build targeted accounts and contact lists. These tools are great for generating prospect lists in your target accounts by segmenting these lists using advanced filters like seniority and job title.

You can also use intent data and sales event triggers to prioritize prospects ready to buy and sync these lists to your CRM for streamlined outreach. Below is a list of marketing segmentation tools handpicked via our fancy tool rating and review system:

Engaging Prospects

With your prospects identified and prioritized, the next step is to engage. Engaging with prospects requires tools that facilitate personalized communication and follow-up. Tools like and Clearbit are helpful for outreach, custom sequences, and automated LinkedIn tasks.

6 Metrics to Measure the Success of Your B2B Sales Prospecting

Your final step for B2B sales prospecting is ensuring your prospecting methods yield results. It's necessary to track relevant metrics throughout your prospecting process, which include:

  • Number of Qualified Leads: Tracks the number of leads that meet your ICP criteria.
  • Conversion Rate: Measures the percentage of leads that convert to customers.
  • Engagement Rate: Assesses how prospects interact with your content and communications.
  • Cost per Lead (CPL): Calculates the average cost of acquiring a new lead.
  • Sales Cycle Length: Measures the time it takes to convert a lead into a customer.
  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): Calculates the total cost of acquiring a new customer, including marketing and sales expenses.

Remember that the best metrics to track your success will vary depending on your goals. Get clear on your goals while building your prospecting strategy, and be sure both sales and marketing teams understand the metrics that best reflect your performance.

Ready to Find Your Golden Prospects?

When done correctly, B2B prospecting is a multi-faceted process that can lead to significant business growth. You can refine your approach and maximize your results by leveraging the right tools at each stage and tracking key metrics.

Implementing best practices such as thorough research, clear alignment between sales and marketing, and a structured process ensures that your prospecting efforts are efficient and effective.

Are you hungry for more B2B marketing insights? Stay ahead of the curve by subscribing to The CMO Newsletter!

Michelle Leighton
By Michelle Leighton

Michelle Leighton is a seasoned content writer and social media specialist with a remarkable track record in building thriving online communities. Michelle excels at translating customer insights and market trends into compelling content strategies that spark engagement and foster meaningful discussions. Michelle's work has been featured by The Indie Media Club, The CMO, The Ecomm Manager, Narcity Canada, Input Magazine and more.