You’ve written a great introduction email and have prepared an inspiring cold-call pitch, but how do you actually get in touch with and make contact with the prospect? Calling the company’s switchboard or filling out their website “contact us” form are not efficient or effective ways to connect with senior marketing decision-makers for new business for your agency.
All too often, companies require sales reps to try to track down their prospect’s contact information on their own. If the contact data is ever even found, it is often inaccurate and incomplete. This process eats up the seller’s time and limits their sales potential. But there’s a better way.
Top agencies subscribe to database services that provide accurate, direct contact information on prospects. They build targeted lists and supplement this data with their own due diligence. This process results in richer information that is relevant, current and provides insights that can be used in prospecting email and call messaging.
Below are five important steps to build a scalable, repeatable and efficient prospecting process. Following each step of these steps on a consistent basis will result in thorough and targeted prospect lists:
1. Get A Good Database Provider
There are number of database providers available online, such as Winmo, that offer vetted and current prospect contact information for ad agencies, marketing firms and creative agencies. These sophisticated database and intelligence services often provide much more than contact information. They also can offer company financial data, agency relationships and recent news articles to help you better identify your best prospects.
When selecting a database provider, it is important to find one that employs teams of researchers to validate and refresh the data on a regular basis, at least every 3-6 months. It’s also important that the company specializes in advertising and marketing agencies so the prospects align with your target audience.
2. Focus On A Vertical
As a consultant and sales director at Catapult New Business, I pull prospect data lists on behalf of agencies multiple times each week. I typically begin by selecting a target business vertical, such as insurance companies. By being narrowly focused, the outbound messaging can be similar across all companies within the vertical, leading to more efficiency in your outreach program. Top sellers will focus on 1-3 verticals per quarter, depending on the final size of the prospect lists.
3. Identify the Best-Fit Companies
Once the vertical is selected, the company list can be narrowed by such criteria as revenue, media spend and location. By targeting only the companies that fit your buyer persona, you’re able to laser-focus sales efforts to the best-suited companies. Although the database provider I use has extensive lists of companies, I also review top business rankings lists within that vertical to ensure that I have all relevant companies included on my list.
When researching each company to determine if it fits our buyer persona, I take notes on the challenges the company is facing. These insights are later converted into talking points for email and phone outreach. If I am unable to identify challenges that we can realistically solve, I believe I have no valid reason to reach out to the prospect and remove them from the company list.
4. Identify the Best-Fit Contacts
Once I have narrowed the list down to the top 10-20 companies, I use the database to find the most relevant contacts within the companies, based on job function and rank.
Who the right contacts are will vary depending on your agency’s services. For example, a social media agency surely will want to connect with a social media director. However a branding agency likely would not.
I like to focus on C-suite, VP and director-level marketing professionals, but depending on your agency, you may also target manager-level contacts. What’s important is that you’re only targeting decision-makers or influencers. I focus on finding about 10 contacts per company, depending on the size of the prospect company and your agency’s specialty.
At this point, I download the information from the database provider into an Excel or CSV file to upload to a CRM program such as Salesforce.
But the work is not over.
5. Uncover Even More Best-Fit Contacts
Unearthing information on LinkedIn is a powerful way to gain even more contacts. By reviewing the LinkedIn profile of each contact, you can confirm that the employee is still with the company and remains in the appropriate role.
LinkedIn is also useful for mining additional contacts in the company. By reviewing the “People Also Viewed” box on a contact’s LinkedIn profile, you may find additional relevant prospects you have not found previously.
During this process I also make notes of mutual contacts, past employers, links to presentations, schools attended or other points of connection that I will use in my outreach to that contact.
You will need the email address information for these contacts found outside of the database. You can solve this by looking at the email naming conventions of the other contacts in the company; 90 percent of the time the naming convention will hold for the missing prospects. If all else fails, there are a number of online tools available to help find alternative email suggestions.
Lastly I will scour Google reading financial statements, press releases and trade articles for mentions of other relevant contacts at the companies.
Your prospect data list is the most important part in agency new business outreach. If you do not have a relevant and accurate list of prospects and an efficient way to get this data, even the best messaging will fail. If a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, did it really fall? Using a database platform makes this scalable so business development reps can spend more time on outreach and less time trying to track down contact information. Following each step on a consistent basis will lay the critical foundation for an effective outreach program.
Christian Banach is an advertising agency new business consultant and sales director at Catapult New Business. You can connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.