The first step in the sales process is that of locating prospective customers. Prospecting is the process by which a sales person gets new customers. It is also known as “cold calling “, “hunting steel” or “pounding the pavement”. New prospects are needed to replace old customers lost for a variety of a reasons and to replace lost contacts in existing customers due to plant relocations, turnover, merger’s downsizing and other factors.
The word “prospecting” is a geological or mining term. It means a search made for underground treasure by geologists. It may be oil, water or even a one searching or prospecting. In salesmanship, the term “prospecting” is used with a specific meaning. Prospecting is the hint for ‘needers’, who can be changed into ‘wanters’ and ‘buyers’.
A prospect is a qualified person or a unit that has the potential to buy the firm’s product or service. A prospect should not be confused with the term ‘lead’. The name of a person or a unit who might be a prospect, is referred to as a ‘lead’. A ‘Lead’ can be a ‘suspect’ indicating the person or a unit is suspected of a prospect. Once the ‘lead’ has been qualified, the lead becomes a prospect to know whether a ‘lead’ is a ‘prospect’ or a suspect.