Dave Kurlan says that 50 percent of salespeople do not prospect, which makes one wonder where they’re getting their leads? Lead prospecting is more than building a target account list once a quarter or reading through your Twitter feed to find contacts who share the same kind of content. A good prospecting strategy requires consistency, research, documentation, and persistence to build a continuous pipeline that provides the company with qualified leads and engaged customers.
A CRM platform houses all of your customer data, but should also contain any data you collect on accounts, potential prospects, and any leads–open, closed, or pending. Why wouldn’t you purge seemingly irrelevant data or unusable prospects? Because they have deep value when building your customer profile. You can’t just look at what works really well. Your team should also pay attention to what doesn’t work, so you know what to stay away from.
Remember that CRM, social media, and lead prospecting tools are just that: tools. They might make the work a little easier, but you’ll still need to research and analyze the types of customers your company wants and needs in your pipeline. Anyone can pull together a list, but a talented salesperson can build a prospecting strategy that results in high-quality leads and closed deals.
Build Your Ideal Customer and Account Persona
Using the data from your CRM, product usage and engagement metrics, and a little bit of common sense, define what your ideal user looks like, and what sort of company that user works at.
- Does your ideal customer work at a large or small company, and what industry does she work in?
- What are her favorite parts of your product or service, and which features does she use the most?
- Is she a decision-maker, or does she answer to a higher-up who manages the budget?
Focus on Accounts
After you come up with your ideal customer persona, use your CRM to build account lists. The internal CRM search function can help you find lists of current contacts with the ideal customer job description or higher. Keep in mind that although the analyst may use your product most often, the VP likely holds the purse strings on that budget. Both of these contacts are important for different reasons: the analyst can influence the product decision, while the VP signs off on the purchase.
Once you’ve defined the ideal customer, define the ideal account by looking at the environment in which the ideal customer works. This is especially helpful when your product or service helps the man on the ground, but doesn’t have a direct effect on the working life of the decision makers. Understand what your ideal customers and accounts look like help you:
- Define the most important features
- Build a value-first sales plan or script
- Guide research into the types of accounts or companies that exist adjacent to your target market but that your company has not yet gained access.
Document Every Touch
A CRM is not just an electronic Rolodex, it’s a powerful tool that can give you and your team context into each of the interactions you’ve had with an account or contact. Best practices here state you should update the CRM every time you touch the contact. These include, but are not limited to
- Emails sent
- Calls connected or not
- Webinars attended, content received, and demos attended.
All of this information is important to understand what touches lead to closed deals and engaged customers. Once you build a deep and detailed profile based on what highly engaged customers look like you can use that to think around corners.
Make Research a Daily Task
Look to adjacent industries or companies to those who make up your ideal account list. Use LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media channels relevant to your field to build research lists. Investing an hour a day to mining for prospective accounts and contacts will keep you from scrambling to fill your pipeline during the end of month or quarter crunch time.
Document your Research
Fill in all data fields for each of the accounts you research. You never know when you’ll want to prospect based on location, company size, or annual revenue. While much of your actual research work will take place outside of your CRM, it’s important to log all of that activity within your CRM. Use tags and custom fields that define how that company or contact fits into your ideal customer profile.
Documentation shows you’ve done your research and qualified your leads before you begin calling and interacting. It also gives you and your team a starting place to analyze what works and where your processes break down.
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A good prospecting strategy will bring in valuable customers who not only use your product, but become advocates for your company. They end up in this position because your team targets them as the right fit in the first place, rather than accepting contracts for short-term fixes or partial solutions. In the end, finding and recruiting customer accounts that fit your ideal profile will generate more revenue through repeat business and deeper customer engagement.
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