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What is B2B prospecting?

B2B prospecting is a sales process where potential buyers (known as prospects) are identified, outreached to and converted into customers. Outreach is conducted via a number of different B2B sales and marketing activities, including cold calling, outbound email, content marketing and PPC.

This guide includes everything you need to know about prospecting for B2B sales, including strategies, methods, best practices and the latest tools to make prospecting easier.

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B2B prospecting strategies  | Prospecting benefits  | How is data used to connect with customers? | Your guide to making revenue predictable | FAQs 

What are the different methods of B2B prospecting?

Various sales and marketing activities play a role in B2B lead prospecting, but only eight methods genuinely make an impact. 

Here are the eight most popular B2B prospecting methods:

Sales - Outbound prospecting

Outbound prospecting is the best process to follow when outreaching to potential buyers. Sales reps use these five tried and true techniques to get leads:  

1. Cold calling 

Cold calling has to be the most popular B2B prospecting technique around. 

SDRs call B2B prospects, explain the benefits of their product or service and qualify them for future engagement. Cold calling can be done manually but is usually more successful when aided by technology. 

Take your B2B data prospecting to the next level and watch this video to learn more about the manually-verified mobile phone numbers with 98% of accuracy 👇

Hook your ideal B2B prospect! Check out Cognism’s favourite cold calling resources to learn more: 

Training SDRs to cold call | Cold calling script templates | How to build cold call lists | Responses to sales objections | Best times to cold call | Getting over cold calling fear | International cell phone lists

2. Outbound email 

Email is a popular method when prospecting for business. Sales reps will send B2B prospects an outbound cadence to initiate a conversation. You can use email automation platforms to make this part of the prospecting process more manageable. 

You’ll need a compliant B2B data list for this technique to work. Companies like Evalian and Younium have used Cognism’s data to win 67% more opportunities from outbound sourced deals and book 50% more meetings! 

Start building your prospecting lists with Cognism today 👇

Fire up your pipeline with Cognism. Book your demo and start B2B prospecting today.

💡You might also enjoy: How to enrich lead lists with actionable contact data

3. Social selling 

Business-to-business prospecting wouldn’t be what it is without social media.

Here's where social selling comes in. SDRs follow B2B prospects on social media, engage with them and develop relationships over time. LinkedIn is the B2B sector’s most popular social network. 

You can learn more about social selling by clicking on these resource links: 

LinkedIn prospecting guide | Social selling on LinkedIn | LinkedIn messaging templates | LinkedIn voice notes 

4. Sales cadences 

The combination of all of the above techniques is known as a cadence. SDRs deploy email cadences, LinkedIn messages and cold calls together. This method often increases the chances of a B2B prospect responding. 

Here are some of our favourite cadence resources: 

The ultimate B2B prospecting cadence | How to build a winning cadence for sales leaders | How to build a winning cadence for CEOs | Cold email templates

5. Sales demos

The previous four B2B prospecting methods aim to get prospects to agree to attend a sales demo. A demo is a live demonstration of a product or service conducted by a BDM and is an integral part of the sales process. 

Look at these resources for insights into nailing your next demo:

Sales discovery calls and questions | How to conduct a sales demo | Admin: the unsung hero of closing sales | Ghosted? How to reactivate your closed-lost deals

Marketing - Inbound marketing

Marketers manage data prospecting through a process called inbound marketing. There are three main inbound methods for B2B prospecting:

1. Paid 

Also known as pay-per-click or PPC. Paid is an online advertising strategy carried out by performance marketers. Companies pay a fee whenever a business prospect clicks on one of their ads. The goal is to drive traffic to websites/content and increase conversions. 

Want to know how you can increase revenue with paid search prospecting? Watch this video to find out 👇

Otherwise, have a look at these great paid prospecting resources for more guidance: 

The beginner's guide to PPC | A quick guide to optimising your Google Ads | LinkedIn advertising uncovered | The ultimate guide to Facebook advertising

2. Content marketing

Content is part of a  marketing strategy that includes publishing relevant and valuable content. Another aspect is promoting it to your target prospects across your lead sources. 

Content can take many forms, including blogs, videos, webinars, podcasts and eBooks.

To get the most out of content marketing, hosting informative webinars is a good prospecting idea. This tactic will bring in more inbound leads for your sales team to enter into a sales funnel. 

💡 Learn more about using quality B2B data to drive webinar leads here: Using Cognism to decrease SDR prospect researching time by 93.3%

You might also find our prospect marketing resources useful: 

Tips for creating content that Google will love | B2B marketing metrics & KPIs to measure | Inbound vs outbound marketing | The best B2B marketing strategies | What is Account Based Marketing (ABM)? | How to build the perfect ABM campaign

3. Email marketing 

Campaign marketers manage this B2B prospecting strategy. It involves planning and executing B2B marketing campaigns delivered to prospects via email. The goal is to convert B2B sales prospects who are ready to buy or nurture those who aren’t. 

These prospecting activities aim to generate opportunities and feed qualified prospects to the sales team. They will then take over the final stages of the B2B prospecting process, such as conducting sales demos and closing deals.

To achieve the best results, you might want to explore investing in a B2B email list provider like Cognism or Kaspr.

Discover the power of validated B2B emails. Book a demo with Cognism and start prospecting today.

You can also improve your prospecting efforts with our top email marketing resources:  

What is drip email marketing? | Drip email campaigns | What is lead nurturing, and how can you do it? | Lead nurturing tips | Ways to improve email deliverability

Why is B2B prospecting important?

What makes B2B sales prospecting important? 

For starters, it’s fundamental to the success of a business.

In the infographic below, we’ve identified several factors that demonstrate its importance for B2B sales and marketing teams and the wider business. 


In summary, these are the advantages of B2B SaaS prospecting:

  • A consistently filled pipeline.

  • An accelerated sales cycle.

  • Better communication between sales and marketing.

  • Improved outreach attracting quality leads.

  • Optimised outreach and campaigns.

  • More incoming revenue.

The importance of data in B2B prospecting

Data is vital to the success of B2B prospecting. It’s the bedrock upon which every sales and marketing prospecting activity is built.

SDRs require accurate and compliant data lists to make cold calls, send B2B prospecting emails and contact leads on social media. BDMs need up-to-date data to gain insights into their prospects, conduct successful demos and close business.

Sales data is also necessary for inbound marketing. Performance, content and campaign marketers use data to research, optimise and analyse their work. A clear focus on data across the team creates a data-driven marketing mindset, leading to improved results.

An important area of prospecting data is the Total Addressable Market or TAM. It's a calculation of the total number of prospects that are available in your target market. 

There are several methods for computing TAM, and once it's defined, you can segment it into smaller lists of prospects. You can target each using the sales and marketing prospecting methods listed above.

Need help calculating your TAM? Click the banner below 👇

Discover your total addressable market. Click to try Cognism's FREE TAM calculator.

B2B outbound: Building predictable growth

Revenue generation doesn’t need to be a guessing game. It can be predictable. 

All you need is a targeted approach to data-driven B2B prospecting supported by great outbound plays. 

Click the banner below to discover how to create predictable revenue that supports your prospecting efforts 👇

Outbound plays that actually make revenue predictable. Click to read the guide!

B2B Prospecting FAQs

Q. What are B2B prospects?

A B2B prospect is any person or organisation who fits your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) but hasn’t yet expressed an interest in your company. It’s sales and marketing’s job to make the B2B prospect aware of your product or service and guide them towards customers.

There are two types of B2B prospects:

1. Sales prospects

Sales prospects are people or organisations who match your ICP and are deemed suitable for prospecting.

This group includes:

  • Potential customers contacted by phone, AKA cold calling.  

  • A list of prospective leads contacted via outbound email. 

  • Prospects who sales reps connect with on social media. 

  • Prospects contacted via a combination of these methods. This forms the basis of a sales cadence. 

💡 Related read: What's the difference between a prospect and a lead?

2. Marketing prospects

Marketing prospects are those people or organisations who have expressed an interest in your company by engaging with content produced by the B2B marketing team.

For example:

  • Registering for a demo via a CTA on your company’s blog. 

  • Filling out a form on your company’s website. 

  • Downloading a piece of content that your company has produced. 

  • Clicking on one of your online ads or marketing email tracking links. 

Q. Who conducts B2B prospecting?

B2B prospecting is a process managed by sales and marketing professionals. They may work alone but more usually in teams.

The B2B prospecting process is most effective when sales and marketing are closely aligned. Sometimes, combining the two can create a larger, more successful revenue team.


A sales team focused on B2B prospecting is often split into two groups. These groups perform separate tasks as part of the broader sales strategy.

The two groups are:

  • Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) - this group is responsible for identifying prospects, engaging with them and booking meetings. 

  • Business Development Managers (BDMs) - this group is responsible for conducting sales demos, closing deals and generating revenue for the business. 

This approach has several benefits:

  • It creates a robust and repeatable B2B prospecting pipeline - the SDRs develop opportunities for the BDMs to action. 

  • It empowers each employee to focus solely on one responsibility - meaning that they quickly become experts in their roles. 

  • It builds a roadmap for career development and progression - if an SDR consistently hits their sales targets, they will become eligible for promotion to a BDM. 


In general, three categories of marketers manage B2B prospecting. The categories are:

  • Performance marketers - this group is responsible for acquisition channels across paid search and paid social. Optimising new channels for growth and testing are some of their main tasks. 

  • Content marketers - this group is tasked with planning and creating authoritative and actionable content. Their mission is to publish content that leads the industry conversation and delivers ROI. 

  • Campaign marketers - this group executes multi-channel marketing activities, implementing campaigns that drive customer acquisition across various lead source channels. 

What links these groups together is the belief that data and performance should be at the heart of decision-making. They demonstrate a capacity to use innovative strategies to drive growth and engagement. 

Q. What technology can help with B2B prospecting?

Technology is an excellent driver of B2B prospecting. It can automate sales activities such as cold calling, outbound emails, social selling and sales cadences. 

Marketing activities like PPC, content, and email marketing depend on technology. Without technology, B2B prospecting would not be nearly as effective, if not impossible.

B2B companies can also use technology to measure, optimise and report on prospecting activities. The insights that sales prospecting tools can give to sales and marketing teams are often invaluable.

In recent years, there has been significant growth in sales and marketing technology, especially in the B2B sector. Many tools and solutions are now available to assist almost any B2B prospecting task. Software as a Service, or the SaaS model, makes up many of these tools. 

You'll find that many powerful marketing and sales tools like Asana and HubSpot offer free and paid versions instead of demos. 

Q. How do you get names and numbers for prospecting in B2B?

To get the names and numbers of potential customers in B2B, you’ll need a contact data provider like Cognism or Zoominfo

Just be sure to choose a GDRP-compliant data provider to avoid adding buyers on DNC lists to your B2B sales prospecting data lists.

Prospecting made better with Cognism

Power your B2B prospecting strategy with globally-compliant data!

With Cognism, you get: 

  • Mobile numbers that are verified and factually correct.

  • Bigger focus on quality B2B leads.

  • Unlimited access to data.

  • Simple, intuitive interface and reliable tech. 

  • GDPR and CCPA-compliant data.

  • A fast and friendly support team who can assist you in real-time.

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