How to Prospect Consistently—Even When You’re Slammed with Work

Who of us can’t relate to the following experience (as described by one of my coaching clients):

I’m finding it hard to make the time for email prospecting. My goal is to send out 10 emails a week. But I haven’t sent a single warm email in the past three weeks!

I’m slammed with client work right now and something always comes up. I know I need to do some prospecting, even when I’m busy. I’m feeling discouraged at my lack of progress. But what can I do?

Sound familiar?

Many of us have every intention to look for clients consistently with warm email prospecting. But then Friday afternoon rolls around and we have yet to send out one email or make one follow up call.

So what can you do? Here are three strategies that can help.

1. Shift your goal

Shift your goal from the number of emails you’ll send out to the amount of time you’ll spend on warm email prospecting activities.

When we set goals that are based on the number of emails/calls/attempts we’ll make, we tend to be too optimistic. We think we can do more than we can during a reasonable amount of time. Then, when we don’t reach our goal, we get discouraged.

Instead, base your goal on the amount of time you’ll spend on this task. When you make it an “effort” goal instead of an “output” goal, you avoid the problem of overestimating how much you can get done.

2. Start really, really small

When you decide on how much time to dedicate to the task, start by making it really, really small. That way, you’re way more likely to get it done. This could be in range of 30 minutes to an hour a week. (You typically need at least 30 minutes to get into a prospecting task. One hour would be even better.)

Even if you’re super busy, surely you can find at least 30 minutes to an hour in your week for this task.

When you commit to this time, don’t set any expectations of how many emails you’ll get out the door. Just put in the time. Shut down all distractions and focus solely on this task.

You’ll find that once you dive in and get into the zone, you often end up putting in more time than you’d originally planned.

3. Shift from prospecting to nurturing

If you’re really busy with client work, shift from warm email prospecting to nurturing your not-yet-ready clients (NYR), past clients and dormant clients.

By nurturing, I simply mean staying in touch with these NYR, past or dormant clients. Send them some relevant information and a short note as a way to reconnect (e.g. “Hey Susan, I just came across this research report, I thought you might find it interesting. Hope things are well.”)

With nurturing (as opposed to prospecting), you won’t put yourself in the awkward situation of having to turn down work you’ve asked for.

That’s because you weren’t asking for work with your nurturing effort—you were just staying in touch. So you can let the prospect know that while you’re booked solid right now, you do have an opening in “X” number of weeks.


Without a doubt, all of us struggle to prospect consistently. But it doesn’t have to be as hard as you think!

Use these strategies to make the task more manageable, keep yourself motivated and build some momentum.


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