The late American author and entrepreneur Jim Rohn once said:
"To succeed in sales, simply talk to lots of people every day. And here's what's exciting—there are lots of people!"
That sentiment encapsulates the very essence of sales prospecting in its entirety. And it also positions prospecting as this dreary, unglamorous job in contrast to other sales roles—like closing a deal.
Closing a sales deal fuels your adrenaline and gives you the seller's high—like scaling a treacherous mountain and planting your flag on the summit.
But prospecting can feel like the door slammed on your face whenever you say hello to a stranger. Four out of five times you reach out to a prospect, their first instinct is a hard no—even if you have done your homework and reached out to the right person at the right time to start your exploratory conversation.
That's probably why over 40% of sales reps say that they find prospecting to be the most challenging stage of the sales process, followed by closing (36%) and qualifying (22%).
But someone has to do it—and if you're reading this article, we are guessing you are one of the rare species willing to rise to the challenge. After all, prospecting is where the real fun of the sales process begins and—if you do it well—it hugely influences the chances of sealing a deal. Moreover, effective prospecting is what fills your sales pipeline with high-quality leads.
To make sales prospecting work, you must show up daily and grease the elbow.
Like Jeb Blount says in his best-selling book, Fanatical Prospecting:
"The enduring mantra of the fanatical prospector is: One more call."
Prospecting isn't easy, especially if you don't have the right tools within your reach. However, there are several tools that help you consistently book meetings with your dream clients through strategic outbound prospecting.
If you're building a prospecting tech stack or want to improve your cold outreach efforts, below is a list of tools you must have.
They aren't ranked in any other particular order. Choose what makes the most sense to you based on your prospecting goals. You might not even need all these tools. There are many ways to skin a cat, so pick the tools you need based on your organization's maturity stage and ignore the rest.
Also, if you hang in till the end of the article, we have some bonus recommendations too.
9 highly recommended sales prospecting tools
Here’s an overview of all the tools we have compiled in this blog:
- Sales Navigator
Let’s look at each of them in more detail.
Who says videos are only for demos? While the goal of most SDRs is to build the pipeline for AEs by getting prospects to schedule a product demo with them, forward-thinking sales reps can take advantage of Loom’s video creation platform to create guided demo experiences to get them to book a meeting.
It’s an excellent tool for product-led companies that want to showcase their product functionalities as part of their sales process.
For instance, let’s say you have been reaching out to a potential buyer through email multiple times, but sadly, they are not responding to your emails. If you are convinced that your product is highly compatible with their use cases, you can use Loom to record a virtual, customized demo and send it to them in your follow-up email sequence.
If it piques their curiosity, the prospect will want to know more about your product, pricing, and integrations based on what they saw in the demo video.
Loom is free to use for recording 25 five-minute videos per person. Its paid tiers start from $8/creator/month, but you can try the paid plans for free for 14 days.
If you have outgrown Grammarly to polish your email copies, Lavender can offer advanced functionalities you can use to write error-free, impactful emails. Lavender is a sales assistant tool that helps you optimize your cold email messages to get more replies, personalize your email copy, and improve your email outreach campaigns.
For instance, its Email Assistant functionality helps you with:
- Email analysis and scoring
- Fix problems in your copy, templates, etc.
- Mobile preview and optimization
- Open tracking
Its personalization features allow you to research your email recipients, find their bio and social data, understand their personality insights, and verify their email addresses.
Lavender employs an AI assistant to help you improve your email copy—starting one from scratch or finishing it based on your copy prompt. Lavender claims that it makes your email messaging more impactful by helping you find and fix anything that lowers your reply rate.
That’s a tall promise, but you need to see it to believe it.
Lavender also offers coaching and analytics insights to help you understand what kind of email copies work best for you. The coaching dashboard, for instance, highlights the best practices and trends that show what’s working in your favor so that you can double down on that. Meanwhile, it also recommends improvements to make your future email more effective.
Lavender has a free forever plan with limited features. Its paid plans start at $29/month/user and go up to $49/month/user.
You might argue that Hunter is another people finder tool like Swordfish, Linked Helper, or Pidgi. But here's how Hunter is different from the rest—it helps you find a prospect's contact information and email addresses based on the domain address.
For instance, let's say you want to reach out to John Doe, an IT Manager at Acme IT Solutions. With Hunter.io, you can type the company's domain, e.g., "acmeIT.com," in Hunter's search box, and—voila!—it would give you a list of all potential prospects working there.
It’s super helpful for account-based sales prospecting teams that are focussed on reaching out to specific people in specific companies and building predictable revenue streams.
Like every other software that helps you extract business contact information, Hunter also has a Chrome extension browser that lets you find email addresses with a single click. But unlike other contact information products, Hunter enables you to design and launch sales-specific email campaigns.
Hunter’s cold email campaigns also let you schedule, track and templatize emails and follow-ups with a good mix of automation and personalization.
Hunter has a free forever plan, while its paid plans start at $49/month.
If you want to take your prospecting to the moon, you might want to hop on Apollo.io. But is it just another people-finder software? It’s a bit more nuanced since it helps you improve your overall go-to-market (GTM) strategy.
Apollo is an all-in-one sales engagement platform that helps you discover new customers, re-engage with existing contacts, and identify profitable revenue opportunities. It lets you collect verified emails and contact numbers directly from LinkedIn, shows you 200+ data points to build the perfect prospect lists, and creates a series of measurable customer touchpoints.
However, Apollo’s all-in-one capabilities make it a strategically important solution for SDR teams since your sales reps can use its Intelligence Engine feature to refine your GTM based on the real-time analytics in the platform.
Apollo has data on over 220 million contacts and 30 million businesses that rival the biggest incumbents in the space in terms of accuracy and robust data quality.
Apollo has a free plan with 50 credits and a copious amount of useful features that lets you test drive the software without any commitments. Its paid plans start at $49/user/month.
5. LinkedIn Sales Navigator
If you prefer hanging out on LinkedIn to find your ideal prospects, LinkedIn has a home-brewed prospecting solution for you—LinkedIn Sales Navigator. It’s essentially a sales management tool that helps outreach teams target the right prospects, understand critical insights, and design personalized outreach.
Since LinkedIn is the biggest social media platform for B2B buyers and sellers, the company has the upper hand in leveraging its user data to make Sales Navigator an irresistible prospecting tool.
The only downside to Sales Navigator is that it doesn’t let you export your lead data to other software platforms like a third-party CRM. You may sync your lead information between Sales Navigator and select CRMs, but you can’t download the data as CSV or XLS files.
You might think it’s table stakes for any lead gen enabling software to offer the data export capability, but this is LinkedIn’s way to force its users to stick around.
You can use Sales Navigator for a lot of different things, including:
- Customized lead suggestions
- Access to InMail Messages to reach 500 million LinkedIn members
- Real-time updates on your leads and accounts (e.g., job changes)
- Notes and tags to organize lead lists and CRM update
- One-click integration with third-party CRM software
- Sales content sharing and tracking
Sales Navigator helps you improve your prospecting—better than most CRM, but at a premium cost. It offers a free trial only to customers who pass their eligibility criteria. The paid plans start at $79.99/month/user, billed annually.
Pidgi is a prospecting tool with a nice twist. Launched in 2021, Pidgi is a one-of-its-kind sales intelligence tool that helps you identify past users of your product and increase the likelihood of better sales engagement.
With Pidgi, you can improve your company’s sales efficiency by focusing on prospects who you know are knowledgeable of your product and can help you open new doors of opportunities.
Pidgi’s other unique features include:
- Contact monitoring for job changes
- CRM integration
- Monthly data refresh
- Unlimited user seats
- Validated LinkedIn profiles
Pidgi is invaluable in helping you skip the painfully laborious research on your prospects, generate qualified sales opportunities, and gain an edge in your prospecting by reaching out to prospects who already have a context of your product.
It even sends you an email notification when a prospect leaves, joins or changes roles in one of your target accounts.
According to software review platforms, Pidgi reportedly has a free trial but doesn’t have that information on its website. So you might have to contact their sales teams to take Pidgi for a spin.
Before you object, Aircall is not just a call center software for help desk teams. It’s also a dialer system that offers features to help sales teams (and even IT and Operations) to help them automate their workflows, manage call activities directly within the CRM, and improve sales productivity.
With Aircall’s sales solution, your SDRs can do away with the heavy lifting, like logging calls manually into the CRMs, and focus more on researching and preparing for client outreach.
Aircall also automates the post-call workflows to help you minimize downtime between your outreach calls. Same with its click-to-dial capability that lets sales reps maximize their output and reduce the time from research to outreach.
Aircall also offers features that allow you to tag prospect calls, organize campaigns, and set up proper follow-ups.
You can make the most of Aircall by integrating it with a powerful conversation intelligence tool like Avoma. Integrating Aircall with Avoma helps you record, transcribe, analyze your sales conversations, and get actionable insights to help your reps crush their quota.
Doing this can help your team refine their outreach over time.
“Avoma has been instrumental to the growth and success of our team. From analyzing and reviewing call patterns live with SDRs that we can turn into actionable feedback; to identifying objection trends and acting as a resource to quickly ramp up new hires, Avoma enables us to provide the best prospecting experience for our prospects and team.”
- Brandon Lawson, Sales Development Manager at Avoma
If you want to test the Avoma-Aircall integration for your prospecting process, head over to Avoma, sign up for a free trial, and see how it can improve your prospecting efficiency.
And if you are wondering how much is Aircall priced—that would be $30/user/month when billed annually. No free trials or free plans—sorry.
As an all-in-one product company, we love fellow all-in-one products. And when it comes to sales prospecting, Outreach is one of the best all-in-one sales engagement tools that pack a punch.
It offers powerful functionalities for prospecting that can help you with outbound, inbound, and account-based sales. But the software also offers capabilities beyond prospecting use cases such as deal closing, account retention, revenue expansion, or even hiring.
Outreach offers deep customer insights automation features for prospecting that can help your SDR teams book more meetings, improve your pipeline, and exceed revenue goals.
The platform gives you an integrated view and actionable data intelligence on all your target prospects. So whether you are using cold calling or email as your preferred means of Outreach, you can use Outreach to track your prospecting campaign and improve the process for better impact.
Sales development managers can leverage Outreach to review the performance of their SDRs and offer personalized coaching.
But how much is it priced? Outreach doesn’t make its pricing info public. 🤷♂️
We have critiqued ZoomInfo’s offerings in another blog where we compare ZoomInfo with Lusha.
ZoomInfo gives you access to comprehensive business contact information about your target audience combined with accurate, real-time analytics on buyer intent. This information can help you improve the quantity and quality of sales leads.
ZoomInfo offers advanced sales intelligence capabilities like CRM integration, lead capturing, market intelligence, and sourcing accurate buyer intent data at a more advanced level. Additionally, with business contact data of 130 million users, ZoomInfo boasts of an extensive database in the B2B space.
Compared to other sales intelligence tools, ZoomInfo offers buyer intent analytics that improves lead data accuracy and quality, giving teams looking to source high-quality lead information a massive advantage.
Point solutions such as Apollo.io don’t provide intent data in the same depth as ZoomInfo—requiring your sales team to manually sort through a massive amount of information to qualify leads.
ZoomInfo doesn’t have flat pricing plans available on its website. Instead, you need to get personalized pricing quotes from their sales team. ZoomInfo also doesn’t communicate that it doesn’t have monthly plans but requires customers to sign annual contracts.
But because we have done extensive research on the product, we know that ZoomInfo’s annual contracts start roughly at $15K a year. I know—that’s insane.
Bonus: Best books on sales prospecting
If you are just starting your career in an SDR role, there are some books that can help you sharpen your outreach skills. Here are a few of our favorites.
1. Fanatical Prospecting: The Ultimate Guide to Opening Sales Conversations and Filling the Pipeline by Leveraging Social Selling, Telephone, Email, Text, and Cold Calling
Many revere Fanatical Prospecting as a holy book of sales prospecting. It’s written by Jeb Blount, serial author and CEO of Sales Gravy—a leading sales training organization that he founded in 2006.
2. High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results
Written by Mark Hunter CSP who began his sales career from the lowest rungs, High-Profit Prospecting teaches you everything ranging from the basic truths about prospecting, preparing for prospecting success to tips, tools, and techniques for effective prospecting.
3. Predictable Prospecting: How to Radically Increase Your B2B Sales Pipeline
The book is a collaboration between author duo Marylou Tyler and Jeremey Donovan—both of whom have an extensive history of being in the sales trenches.
Predictable prospecting is actually a great way to build a predictable pipeline and thereby generate predictable revenue.
In fact, our CEO Aditya talks at depth about how you can build a predictable prospecting routine to generate revenue predictable.
Best of luck for your sales prospecting success
Prospecting is the start of many good things, like discovery calls, demo calls, and closing a deal. When you do prospecting well, it creates a domino effect across all stages of your sales process and helps you bag a new paying customer in your revenue pipeline.
Make sure you have the right tools to help strike the right chords in your prospecting process. But don’t over-anchor too much on tools. Use the above-mentioned tools to improve your efficiency and harness your sales acumen. Beyond a point, tools are enablers for your processes. Nothing beats developing your strategic thinking abilities—that’s the skill you should be gunning for to have a fulfilling career in sales.