Everyone in business knows that in order to remain profitable, you must continue to build a network of prospective clients that you can eventually target.
Many business professionals have called prospecting “the bread and butter of sales,” meaning that without proper prospecting practices (say that three times fast), companies can fall behind their competitors. Prospecting allows for businesses to have an abundance of leads in order to maintain and hopefully increase their clientele.
Prospect vs Lead
When looking for a good way to prospect, I like to envision the “prospecting funnel.” A funnel, be it a baking or automobile type, embodies a good prospecting process because the top is wide open and ready to receive an abundance of names of companies (leads). Then, through further processes of qualification (which I will touch on in a bit), some of those leads will hopefully become qualified prospects.
If you are new to prospecting, how do you determine the difference between a lead and a prospect? As mentioned earlier, names of companies that are poured into the top of the funnel are called leads. These are potential customers that have expressed some sort of interest in your company’s products or services. These can be companies who have contacted your company, viewed your website, or have talked to employees.
Now, it would be ideal if all of these leads turned into qualified prospects. Unfortunately, the business world does not work that way. To qualify these leads, you must first understand your company and have a clear IDENTITY and DIRECTION.
Some questions to keep in mind when qualifying leads into qualified prospects:
- Does your company market more towards Business to Business companies (B2B), or do you focus more on selling to consumers (B2C)? Does your company prefer its clients to spend a certain minimum per year on your products/services?
- Are you able to get in clear contact with the main decision maker at that company?
- Can you envision your company having a long-term relationship with the lead?
Throughout all of these various evaluations, the main thing to remember is:
Does this company have a need for our products/services? If the answer is yes, then by all means, send that lead down the funnel.
When prospecting, using an informational database such as Salesforce can give you a competitive advantage. Those platforms allow for the user to gain access to information that otherwise may not be available, such as email addresses and names of top executives and important decision makers. Many companies may not have access to these types of platforms. Reasons for this could be that the company doesn’t have a dedicated employee to prospect, proper time to prospect, or an insufficient budget to pay for the data platforms.
But fear not, there are still some ways to successfully prospect in your local community without access to informational databases such as Salesforce. Using the right tactics, you can effectively prospect using local newspapers, business journals, and LinkedIn.
Local Business Journals and Papers
Prospecting can be extremely time-consuming. Local business journals and papers can be extremely effective for prospecting because they save you time and effort without having to look at multiple sources. Below I will walk through an issue of the Kansas City Business Journal to highlight where you can find useful prospecting information.
When flipping through the pages, you’ll first notice that on the inside page of the cover, there will be a section with “Company Index” and “People Index.” This can be especially useful if you have a specific company or point of contact that you’re going after. You can go directly to a page with a particular person or company, and potentially use the information found to establish a connection with that point of contact. If they are featured in an article, you could reach out to them with a “congratulations” note, or call to wish them the best on their company upgrading to a new location. People love praise and are much more likely to take your future call when you reach out to them.
Next, you will notice several simple things that can be very beneficial for prospecting. First, take note of a “City News” or “City expansion section.” This section will typically talk about companies moving headquarters or upgrading to larger facilities. This will showcase that the company is expanding, hiring more employees, and generating more revenue that could potentially offer an opportunity for your specific services.
Other various lists can be useful in prospecting but are only available in some versions of these journals and papers. Typically, a publication will only release its “Lists” annually, or bi-annually. These will vary from “Top Area Private Sector Employers” or “City’s Fastest Growing Companies.” These lists indicate a sign of growth and expansion, which again, could be useful for your company if you believe that company is the right fit for your services.
Lastly, a great source of information can be found in the back of the publication, usually titled “Leads.” Subsections in this area could include “Calendar” which will have all the sponsored events they are having so you could attend and personally prospect their “New Corporations” that include a list of new companies per city, and “Real Estate Transactions” which can show you shifts in land/company’s holdings to better understand the changing nature of your area.
Summing It Up
Prospecting can be very time consuming, ordinary, and overall menial. But all CEO’s and positions of power will tell you that prospecting is one of the most important aspects of a successful business. Without proper leads flowing into the funnel, your business will not be able to successfully grow. I hope you learned some good bits of information in this post, and you will be able to use what you’ve learned here and help your company move to the next level.
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