Our B2B sales training clients in Vancouver, Victoria, Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto are always looking for new techniques for B2B sales prospecting.  Most Salespeople agree that prospecting tends to be the most difficult part of the sales process – even more than qualifying and closing.

Any new suggestions or tips to improve success rates are always appreciated.  In my experience as a Professional Salesperson, there are 2 types of prospecting that work well together.  Here’s how you can make them part of your overall new business development strategy.


The Pure Definition Of B2B Sales Prospecting

Proactively pursuing a complete and total stranger to get a face to face appointment for a Customer Needs Analysis meeting.  That’s my definition of prospecting.  While it’s possible and at times, more likely to have a CNA with a distant B2B buyer by phone or web-conferencing, there is no better way to start a relationship than meeting in person.

This was the area of the sales process that I loved the most as a Salesperson.  There is something so addictive and powerful about winning over a decision maker who originally pushed you away.  Buyers deal with an endless stream of Salespeople, all wanting the opportunity for a first-time meeting.  When you get that appointment and go through the required sales cycle to close the business it’s reason to celebrate.  That’s what makes successful prospecting feel so great.

Yet having a spray and pray approach to prospecting can have limited results.  So much so, that you can easily get discouraged and procrastinate by convincing yourself that there are other important things to focus on.  Understanding the 2 types of prospecting will help you develop the right strategy that gets results wanting to commit to a regular schedule of making calls.


Horizontal Prospecting

This is the most common from of prospecting.  It has you determining the most likely future buyers of your product line based on them meeting the ideal customer profile.  However, too many Salespeople rush into making the call without doing their homework and increasing their chances of securing an appointment.

They say things like…

“We have a new product that is specifically designed to meet your needs.”

“I’d like a few minutes of your time to learn more about how I can help you.”

“I’m going to be in your area next week and I thought I would stop by and introduce myself.”

WHO CARES?  None of these opening statements offer anything of value to the client.  If you’re using words like “I” and “We” you’re not speaking the client’s language.  “What’s in it for me?”  That’s the question every decision maker asks when taking a prospecting call.

Learn more about The Top 10 Prospecting Tips from Top-Performing Salesperson,  by clicking the link.

10 Prospecting Tips From Top Performing Salespeople

OK, so you’ve successfully completed a horizontal prospecting sales cycle from the initial call through to the CNA, done what’s required and now made the sale.  Congratulations!  It makes up for the other attempts that didn’t yield results.  What’s the next step?


Vertical Prospecting

Vertical prospecting is the process of mining the business category that your new client belongs to.  Unethical, you say?  I don’t.  Confidential information or trade secrets that you learn from your first client must always remain as such.  That should go without saying.

I am suggesting that you now become an expert in the business category that you’ve learned about and pursue other players in that market.  Too many Salespeople miss this opportunity because they continue to horizontally prospect before leveraging the potential of their expertise and knowledge acquired.


Ask Yourself The Following Questions

If your hard work has produced results in breaking a business category, shouldn’t you take full advantage of it?  Isn’t it potentially easier to determine the Valid Business Reasons (VBR) to gain a CNA with similar clients in that category?  Would you be leaving money on the table by not pursuing similar clients?


The 1-2 Punch Of Great Prospecting

  1. Horizontal Prospecting – Break a business category by selling products to the market leader in that category or a business that wishes to become the new leader.
  2. Vertical Prospecting – Mine that category by calling on similar clients knowing more about their industry and what you can do to help new buyers make the right decision.

A huge benefit to this strategy comes with the inside knowledge of how the industry works, where its profit centers lie and what is important based on the changing landscape of that sector.  Here are three examples of what I’ve learned by doing this:

  1. The true profit center in the auto body industry is small fender benders with no parts required – just filler, paint and labor. Huge repair jobs take lots of time, parts with many complications.
  2. Your local car dealership makes its most profit in the service centre, followed by pre-owned vehicles and then new ones – not the other way around. New vehicle sales drive advertising co-op dollars from the manufacturers that drive customers to the dealership.
  3. The tire industry makes the most money on passenger tire sales. Commercial trucks may have more tires, however, the pricing structure is close to break-even to drive fleet service contracts.

Yet, most of us, as consumers would think the opposite – that more is better.  Imagine the power of this knowledge when making a prospecting call to a new client.  Instead of talking about your products and how great your company is, you could focus more on your prospect’s industry and what you may be able to do to help them.

What do you think?  Have you managed to successfully break categories before?  Do you think this might work for you in your new business development efforts?  I always love to hear comments from our readers.


Practical sales training is the focus of our book  SHUT UP!  Stop Talking and Start Making Money available on Amazon. If you prefer online sales training, check out the free trial of our course The Sales Skills Incubator.




Dave Warawa – PROSALESGUY