How to Find ‘Em: Active vs. Passive Prospecting

by | Feb 19, 2014 | Sales Motiviation

By Jeff Beals

Once you know the desired characteristics you are seeking in your prospects, the next step is to find them.

Regardless of industry, some prospect leads come from branding and advertising efforts. A prospect could be compelled to contact your company because of a long-standing, respected brand you have established in the marketplace. More directly, the prospect could be responding to one of your advertisements. Maybe the prospect stumbled upon your company’s website or Facebook page. He or she could also be responding to a direct mail piece or email blast your company sent to a list of leads purchased from a company such as InfoUSA or Hoover’s.

While the marketing department may have worked hard to build that brand and may have spent countless hours and dollars creating effective mass media campaigns, the prospects generated this way are “passive” from a salesperson’s point of view. When would-be clients seek out the company on their own or as a result of marketing, the salesperson is merely a friendly order taker who is filling a customer service role. The only selling skills such a person would exhibit would be those necessary to avoid screwing up the opportunity or those necessary to upsell the already interested prospect.

While most salespersons happily accept passive sources for prospects, they don’t count on them. Consider these call-ins to be pleasant surprises. The bulk of your prospects, and consequently the bulk of your income, will probably have to come from active sources—in other words, from your own efforts. As the old adage says, “Salespersons eat what they kill.” The more proactive you are, and the more initiative you take in prospecting, the richer your diet.

To be a proactive, initiative-taking salesperson, embrace all facets of prospecting. That means you become a researcher, detective and tireless networker. You are constantly searching. If you have an assigned geographic territory, you must “own” it. You constantly touch base with people in your territory who can recommend people and give you tips on what possible clients are thinking.

A proactive salesperson shows up at events, spends time on the phone seeking information and keeps up with those current events that can affect his or her industry. Creativity is important as well. Sometimes a client that doesn’t look so promising at first can become a great one if you find a way to view him or her through a different lens.

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to or email at or call us at (402) 637-9300.

Click here to subscribe to Jeff’s weekly articles!

Click here to see sample videos of Jeff speaking to live audiences!

You are welcome to forward this article (with author citation) to anyone else who might benefit from it.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide. He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

To discuss booking a presentation, go to or send an email to

SOCIAL PROOF: How to get glowing testimonials & valuable referrals

Make sure your sales arsenal is stocked with this powerful FREE sales tool!


We are now recruiting for the Sales Leader Mastermind Group’s 2019-2020 class which will begin on Thursday, November 7, 2019.