Prospecting – The Search for Customers

Business prospecting, the search for potential customers (also referred to as suspects) is well known in many sales-driven industries. Entrepreneurs and small business owners, sales-driven or not, can benefit greatly by prospecting for potential customers.

Prospects by any name are simply leads–customer leads. Many marketing activities can generate leads, yet all leads are not equal. Before you start prospecting it’s vital to know who you are searching for.

Who is your customer? Create a customer profile for your ideal and borderline customers. This profile is based on who purchases similar products or services. When they purchase: seasonally or on a regular basis. Why they purchase. Does the product or service fill an emotional or physical need or want? Where and how do they make purchases; in person, mail order or online? Identifying other demographic information is helpful such as gender, age group and median range. Knowing who to prospect is key.

One of the most common methods of prospecting is to purchase leads, or lists. Entrepreneurs, home-based and small business owners should not overlook this proven method. Lists are plentiful and available locally as well as on the internet from list providers, mail houses, printers and even trade journals. You can develop your own list as well. Newspapers, magazines, phone books, trade directories and your neighborhood are full of leads.

Many businesses share the same potential customer and will use nearly identical forms of lead generation. However, some businesses may be more specialized or competitive and require creative approaches.

Do-It-Yourself Prospecting

Obtain and develop your own list of potential customers by giving away free information, a consultation or a gift. Announce your free offer through:

  • Advertising (print and online)
  • Direct mail
  • Word of Mouth / One-on-One contact
  • Telemarketing
  • Cold calling
  • Your Web site
  • Trade Shows

© 2006 Gabrielle Melisende. All rights reserved worldwide. Reprint rights: You may reprint this article as long as you leave all of the links active, do not edit the article in any way, give author credit and follow all of the publishing guidelines for EzineArticles.