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What is prospecting?

What IS sales prospecting? Some say it is the search for prospects to call on. Some say it is sorting through the masses to find the real buyers. What does it mean to you? - by Slick
I would say sales prospecting is finding qualified people you can sell to and selling these people on talking with you about the possibility of doing business together. - by Marcus
To me "Prospecting" covers the activities involved with identifying, locating, and contacting prospective clients. These activities include pre-call planning, networking, qualifying, etc. - by AZBroker
What IS sales prospecting? Some say it is the search for prospects to call on. Some say it is sorting through the masses to find the real buyers. What does it mean to you?
Let's take a look at the word prospecting. It gets its orgin from the physical act of looking for minerals, specifically gold. So for sales people it is making calls, for others it is direct mail and still others it is networking. I am sure there are others who are still even more creative or use a combination.

But keep in mind, it is the act of doing the searching, not the preparation of doing it. You can buy a shovel, a gold pan or a dredge to search for gold and doing so will make you more succesful but just becuase you purchase these tools or prepare for prospecting does not mean you are actually prospecting. The only part of prospecting that counts in my book is the act of searching for possible customers.

After you have identified possible customers it is also valuable to qualify them. You can do this during your prospecting time, after your done prospecting or not at all. Obviously those who do use qualifying strategies will spend their time more efficiently as they will spend less time with those who are not likely to buy. This is much like when a gold prospector takes his gold to a geologist to put a value on the gold. Some of the gold (like the prospects) will be more valuable than others. And some will find there work completely without reward. But the more and more prospecting one does the better chances of him finding that golden nugget. - by Jorel
It's all about sorting the real prospects from the masses.

A prospect for me is someone who has a problem I can help them with.
An ideal prospect is someone who is open to working with me to solve the problem. - by Tony Dunne
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