While the approach to prospecting can vary, the underlining questions remain the same:
What sources to use and where to look for leads?
How to find the best fit of prospects?
What tools to use?
Each prospecting source provides information on potential markets, specific companies or people of interest. For this post, I will focus on sources related to finding companies. I categorize these into three: trigger-based, list-based and hybrid.
Trigger-based sources (news sites, blogs, social media communities etc.) contain information about companies that have been newsworthy. These can open new sales opportunities while the news is relevant. Though the more popular the source, the more likely it is that the competitors are also knocking on the door.
List-based sources (any site, CRM, association or institution database etc.) compile a set number of companies into a list. These have at least one unifying characteristic, be it market, industry or feature. While this can be a great way to find companies that fit a particular profile, the search has to be broad enough as very specific searches give fewer results.
One hybrid source I use is Crunchbase combining lists with triggers. The filtering options provide a way to narrow the search and the company profile section shows the latest news, investments, social media links and connected people. You can set up alerts for lifted investments or acquisitions but that is all.
To find the best potential sales cases, I research in stages. The first filtering is done by narrowing the initial search. But I tend to research leads at least two more times.
The second filtering is done by looking if the company uses or can use the service. FAQ, keyword searching or using tools such as Alexa, can help find out if there is an actual need. Validating the overall profile fit (markets, company size, persons of interest, sales potential etc) is also an essential part of the second stage.
In the third stage, I rank the prospects to set priorities. Besides the previous, I consider relevant trigger events, the use-case, the decision-making process, the number of contacts, reviews etc. I compare all of this to our key-clients to find those companies that we will be a match for.
The tools of the trade are split in two: those meant for finding the prospects and those for researching them.
For the first, I use Crunchbase Pro in combination with target industry-related news sites. Any business intelligence tool might be a fit though such as RainKing or Inside View, but those can be pricey.
For the second: LinkedIn Sales Navigator, GetEmail or AnyMail Finder can help find the right people and their contacts. HubSpot Sales and Alexa can give background info through site metrics and SEO, revealing unmentioned markets or linked websites. Crunchbase can help track investments for potential expansions and Google Alerts can track any related news. The list is always expanding as I add tools for further insight.
For Messente applying this system has enabled us to shorten the deal closing time by 40% and get our answer rates up from 30% to 70-75% (depending on the tool used for the approach). In addition, the client base has diversified, reducing dependency on certain types of clients.