How to Distinguish Between Prospects | Clarity Stack Blog

Posted on 4 Jan 2022

6 minutes

5 Ways to Distinguish Between Hot & Cold Sales Prospects

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All sales leads come with a level of excitement, giving you the opportunity to speak to someone who is interested in investing in your product and the chance to get one step closer to that sales target. However, not all sales leads are going to end in that all-important sale.

In an ideal world every single prospect would be not only interested in parting with their cash, but ready to do so immediately but as anyone who has worked in sales knows all-too-well, that’s hardly ever the case. That’s because a lot of leads fall under the category of hot or cold prospects: those who are genuinely interested, or may be, and those who have no intention of paying for your services.

Today we’re going to look at how to spot the differences between hot and cold prospects, and how you should reach out to them to get the conversation started.

How to identify a hot prospect

You often get a feeling for a prospect early on, and just because a sales lead feels cold it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t warm it up and still convert it. However, some cold leads can get even colder, and you’ll be able to spot these leads a mile off and it’s best to end the conversation professionally so that you can spend your time working on warm sales leads that might actually go somewhere.

Those warm leads are the ones that you need to work on, and even follow-up on several times in order to get them over the line, but the fact that they’ve shown a glimmer of interest in your brand and services should give you something to work with. Here are a few things to keep an eye out for to help distinguish between hot and cold prospects:

The prospect has approached you.

This is the dream for a sales person. If someone gets in touch with you to discuss your services then they’re already engaged and, in many ways, already in the sales funnel. The chances are that they’ve already had a look at your website and know who you are and what you do, and now they have a few questions to ask before they can make their decision. 

The key here is to listen closely to what they’re saying and to answer their questions concisely in order to move them further along the funnel towards closing.

They have a budget.

If a prospect starts to talk about the kind of funds they have available to invest in your service then it shows that they have the disposable income that could lead to them closing. 

When they start to mention figures, whether it’s trying to negotiate a discount or mentioning that they’re looking to change from their current provider because they’re too expensive, you should start thinking about the best possible deal for their money (or an offer you might be able to provide) that will help to convince them to part with their available funds and invest them in your services.

They have a problem that needs solving.

When you speak to a prospect on the phone or get involved in an email conversation it’s often what you don’t say that makes the difference. The ability to listen is a key skill to have in sales, as prospects - especially hot prospects - can tell you a lot about what they need and their current pain points without realising it.

If you can ask open questions that require detailed answers and digest as much information as possible, you can learn about their current internal issues and explain to them how your service or range of products can resolve those problems and improve their processes. By doing this you significantly increase your chances of a closure.

They’ve been referred to you.

These are among the best possible sales leads because they are approaching you having been pointed in your direction by a satisfied customer who has dropped your name into a conversation. When people refer businesses to friends and family they do so because they trust that company and know that they won’t let those close to them down, so any kind of referral is an exceptionally hot lead that needs some careful nurturing to move them forward in the sales process.

By building a relationship with them you can provide more detail from inside your business, on top of the working and practical information provided by the person making the referral initially.

They’re the right ‘fit’ for your business.

Lastly, you often get a feel for a prospect by how the conversations progress. You might find that some businesses are going to be more difficult to work with than others because of their niche, or that the person you’re speaking to just doesn’t seem all that forthcoming with information and you know it’s going to be a battle for your customer service team.

If you get a good feel for a prospect and can tell that they’re excited about what is to come then you can definitely class them as a hot prospect that you want to convert and do your best for as a paying customer.

How to reach out to hot new business prospects

There are a variety of different ways in which you can start conversations these days, but there are three in particular that you need to utilise when it comes to kicking off discussions with hot prospects:

Social media.

From a professional perspective LinkedIn is the best social platform to start conversations with new business prospects. You have the opportunity to request a connection with a business decision maker and either start discussing how you might be able to work together, or build up to that conversation after engaging with some of their recent posts. However you choose to do it, the fact that the connection request needs to be accepted before you can engage shows that they are open to talking to you.

Email (direct and automated).

Email is a great way of sharing details with a connection or prospect, especially in the sense that you can share useful links to information available on your website. While email is often the go-to platform for communications, it is best used sparingly and to provide short snippets of information enabling you to engage a prospect and open up a wider, more in-depth conversation relating to a conversion.

Direct emails can be great for reaching out to someone in a personal sense, while automated emails can be immensely beneficial in enabling you to communicate with people who click links or fill in forms on your site so that they get instant access to a response or the product they’ve just signed up for. Email automation also enables you to schedule specific messages based on activity on your site, enabling you to send information relating to that action or engagement to help you move the person down the funnel.


The phone might be one of the oldest forms of communication, but speaking to someone is the best way of asking and answering questions, discussing needs and addressing problems. Over the phone you have the opportunity to listen clearly and concisely to what the person is saying about their current situation, their knowledge of your product and brand, and other key details including their budget and what they’re looking for in a service. You can then provide them with details based on those questions or issues, and that can make all the difference when it comes to the person signing up - or not. 

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