CCA 6.2 Lesson 2: The twelve most common prospecting methods

This first method should be the first tool used by any sales professional. Before any additional prospecting methods are used, a sales professional should always check present and past customers. Many good leads can be obtained from within your own company. Your best source is always your present customers. Your present customers are a source of reorders. They are also prospects for goods and services you are not selling to them now. Study your sales records to see what your present customers are not buying from you. Make it a point to cover those products on future calls. Check to see if there are other departments or divisions that you are not calling on that could use some of your products.

Company Information

The first place a sales professional should always look.

Present customers

Inactive accounts

Present customers are a source of new prospects through referrals. Check other departments in the company you represent. Check the credit department and the service department. While you are checking on your present customers, go back and make a list of your inactive accounts. Find out why they quit buying and see what it would take to get them back buying from you again. Some changes may have been made since you last did business with them. Don’t go digging for gold in another area when you can find it in your own backyard.


A sales professional should get to know prominent people in his community and territory. These people have great influence and a good reputation. Their advice and counsel are usually well respected and received. These people are usually professionals, such as lawyers, doctors, college professors, city officials, and executives in the industry. You simply try to obtain referrals from these individuals. You should only use their names if given permission. If you do not get permission, keep their names confidential. Most sales professionals usually like to repay their centers-of-influence for their services with cards on anniversaries, gifts at Christmas, or invitations to dinner.

Always remember that every individual can be a center-of-influence. Each of us is the center of our own little world and can exert some influence on a certain number of people. The more friends and acquaintances you have, the more influence you can utilize in finding prospects. *Joe Girard is known as the “World’s Greatest Salesman” by The Guinness Book of World Records. His record of selling retail cars has not yet been beaten. He has a rule he calls the “Girard’s Law of 250.” He believes that the average person has positive influence over 250 people and when an individual is in a profession like those we have discussed in the center-of-influence method, who knows where the number will end.
*Joe Girard, (born November 1, 1928 inDetroit, Michigan) is anAmericansalesman. Having sold 13,001 cars at aChevroletdealership between 1963 and 1978, Girard has been recognized by theGuinness Book of World Recordsas the world’s greatest salesman.[citation needed]One of America’s most sought-after speakers, Girard has spoken at engagements withGeneral Motors,Hewlett-Packard,and Kmart.

The Center-of-Influence Method

Utilizing influential people like

  • ➫University Professors
  • ➫Medical Doctors
  • ➫Lawyers
  • ➫Certified Public Accountants
  • ➫Politicians
  • ➫Corporate Executives
  • ➫Media Personalities

Customer service activity

  • Access to the Internet   – Able to connect to the Internet
  • Advances in technology – Progressive forward movement in technology
  • Back up your files – To save your data to another device
  • Become rapidly obsolete – Quickly become out of date
  • Computer literate – Adequate knowledge of a computer
  • Control remotely – To control technology from a distance
  • Downloading from the Internet – Take data off one computer to another via the Internet
  • Electronic Funds Transfer – EFT Payment via the Internet
  • Emerging technology – Brand new machines and software
  • Glued to the screen – Unable or unwilling to leave the digital device
  • Hacking into the network – To gain illegal access to the computer
  • Internet access – The ability to enter the Internet
  • Internet of Things – A network connecting machines in a location so that they can be remotely controlled.


This prospecting method is very similar to the center-of-influence method, but the people that you use do not have well-known reputations. Instead of being people in lime-light positions, these people are individuals who daily contact many people because of their professions or careers. Examples of these types of people are service personnel, repair people, taxi drivers, retail salesclerks, inspectors, secretaries, customers, barbers, and hair dressers. Experienced sales people also use junior sales representatives as spotters to relieve them of the prospecting chore so they may spend more time selling by giving presentations. Also, some firms require that their junior sales professionals pay their dues in the industry by starting off as spotters for an established sales professional.

The Spotter Method

Utilizing professional people who have daily contact with a high number of people.

  • ➫Hair care professionals.
  • ➫Repair and service people.
  • ➫Retail clerks
  • ➫Administrative Assistants

Spotters keep a lookout for prospects. When they locate a good prospect, they will drop the name off to the sales professional. These people are in a position to gain information about other people. Most sales professionals reward their spotters with gifts or money. Joe Girard, who we have already mentioned as the most successful car sales professional in the world, promises his customers money for bringing in other prospects who will buy. Generally, people who get around and hear information about other people make excellent spotters.


This method involves obtaining referrals from an excellent source–satisfied customers. Once you have made a sale, or when you follow-up on a buyer who is happy with your product, you can ask for the names of a couple of friends who may be interested in the same product. It is a good rule to only ask for a couple of names, maybe three to five, and always ask permission to use their name. It is also a good practice to ask satisfied buyers if they would give you a written testimonial letter. Tangible feedback, like a letter, strengthens a sales professional’s presentation and reduces the risk in the mind of the buyer. Remember the mental risk barrier?

The Endless-Chain Method

Obtaining referrals from happy customers.

Ask for a few names. Only use with permission.

Two special advantages of this method are that you have names of future prospects, and you have already started qualifying them. “Word of mouth” will soon get around to these referrals, and the sales resistance will be reduced. Products that are sold best by this method are products that are sold door-to-door: books, cookware, vacuum cleaners, and insurance.


This prospecting tool involves observing items like the local newspaper, club lists, and directories for potential prospects. For example, an insurance agent will spend time looking through the evening newspaper for marriages and births that involve people who are in need of these products. The real estate sales professional will look at the “for sale by owner” signs in front of homes and ads in the newspaper. Who could better use a realtor than a person trying to sell a house? Sales professionals should always listen for good leads. This is why many sales professionals join several community and civic organizations which require attendance at luncheons and meetings. Conversations with friends and acquaintances and polite eavesdropping can establish prospects and leads. Sales professionals should always listen for leads in clubrooms, trade fairs, and other places where potential buyers may gather. Always be looking for additional prospects by watching, reading, and listening.

The Observation Method

How do you find customers?

  • ➫Listen
  • ➫Observe
  • ➫Read
  • ➫Professional Involvement


The advertising method of prospecting involves utilization of the media: placing ads in newspapers, on the internet, direct mail, trade magazines, bulletin boards, and the yellow pages. Health, insurance, and real estate companies spend great sums of money and time placing ads on the internet. More recently, doctors, dentists, and lawyers are beginning to use internet, newspaper and television advertising.

Advertising–Utilizing the tools of the media.

Television Radio Newspapers

 Magazines Yellow Pages Direct Mail Outdoor 

Specialty Items Social Media Websites