Prospecting is time-consuming and often messy – but also vital for young companies ready to develop strong customer bases. If you aren’t finding enough leads, it’s time to invest more heavily in high-quality prospecting. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Be Organic, But Also Focus on Data
Let’s unpack this tip a bit: Prospecting is about acquiring contact information and profile data for potential leads. Because it can be time-consuming and doesn’t actually lead to revenue until leads have been turned into customers, many new companies are tempted to cheat – to buy lists of customer contact information or use contact lists from other portions of the business. Avoid this temptation – prospect data needs to be organic, gathered in the wild from real sources. This is the only way to guarantee high-quality leads with the right contact information. At the same time, these organic prospects need to be as data rich as possible so that you can start forming accurate customer personas, predict the needs of your leads, and start putting together powerful sales strategies.
2. Establish Useful Conversions
Prospecting is not too early for conversion efforts: We’re talking about basic, early conversions designed to test the efficacy of your process and gather important data. Conversions like responses to emails, fill-out forms on your website, successful referrals, and similar actions should all be fueling your prospect list. Ideally, they should also give you enough information so that you can rank your prospects based on their profitability and chances of success. Conversions this early in the process also allow you to note which channels are the most effective in picking up prospects.
3. Use All Available Channels
Speaking of channels, how many are you using? You should tap into all channels possible for your industry and target audience: Social media, blogs, forums, email, trade shows, calls to past clients, buddies at the local pub, old friends now working for another business…cast a wide net when first building your customer base. Not only will this help you find more prospects, but it will also help you sharpen up your sales pitches and marketing content before you start dealing more directly with your leads.
4. Specialize in the Right People and Tools
When we say “specialize” we are talking about two important steps in the prospecting process. First, specialize in demographics that are indeed interested in what you are selling. Don’t waste your energy gathering prospect information for people that have no interest in your products (people who live in apartments don’t buy lawnmowers, etc.). Second, specialize on prospecting within your company. There are several reasons to avoid having your salespeople find prospects. A better solution is to assign someone temporarily or permanently to dig up prospects and do nothing else: Follow up by giving these people the right sales tools to maximize productivity and narrow down/rank prospects efficiently.
5. Stay in Communication and Predict Needs
If you have followed our other tips and have a roster of high-quality leads to pursue, don’t give up on them. Keep trying different approaches, offer different solutions, seek out new decision-makers, try for different meeting times, send more emails, and so on. Prospects that may seem dead on arrival today could be a new client tomorrow. One of the most important steps in turning prospects into successful leads is to correctly forecast their needs before anyone else (including the prospects themselves). Keep a finger on the pulse of your industry, watch trends, and start making predictions about what your target audience is going to need before anyone else is thinking about it.