"Targeting and then narrowing down the prospects according to your offering is the key to a winning prospect list."

How to Build A Winning Prospect List

So you’ve come up with a neat introduction email and an engaging cold-call pitch, but there’s one problem: whom do you contact and how? The entire process is far more complicated than calling the info number or submitting the “contact us” form. If it was that easy, there wouldn’t be so many resources available to help people jump over this hurdle, including our humble contribution. More often than not, sales reps are the ones that stand in the way of a sale by spreading themselves all over the map, trying to sway wrong customers who have no intention to buy. Your chances for a successful sales campaign rest on a foundation that is a targeted, research-based prospect list. This post will help you do just that.

Understand your competitive landscape

No matter what technology you’re selling, you’re always up against competing technologies. Those could be direct competitors offering the same solution as you (minus your USP, we know), as well as broader solutions that your prospects might prefer allocating their budget to.

Start off by mapping out your top competitors. Some you already know, some will require research. Business intelligence (BI) tools such as our SIP (Sales Insights Platform) can give you an overview of the top technologies in your vertical.

top competitorsSource: SimilarTech

By understanding your competitive landscape you’ll be able to figure out how to stand out, and learn about the types of companies who are your competitors clients (i.e. the types of companies who would be your ideal customers).

Map out what types of companies would be your ideal customers

Once you understand the landscape, map out the types of companies that would make ideal customers. Consider the following criteria:

  • Vertical
  • Company size
  • Website traffic
  • Geolocation
  • Yearly revenue
  • Current technology stack
  • The position holder in the company who’s your target customer within the organization

Pro tip: One of the SimilarTech’s pro features is the ability to set up alerts on when a company installs or uninstalls a technology so you can always be in the loop on what your prospects are up to and how you can add to their technology stack.

Download the ultimate prospect research template

Too often salespeople pursue good data on people rather than focusing first on identifying greenfield opportunities. Top B2B companies opt for BI services because they provide relevant, accurate, and direct information regarding potential prospects. From there on, they are able to build a targeted list and add their own data for richer data-driven insights that are ready for prospecting.

Zooming in on relevant position holders

As for contacts, identifying the best fit comes after narrowing down the company list. The most relevant contacts within these organizations are related to their job position/function and rank. For the most part, it’s the line of C-suite executives, VPs, and director-level people that get the bulk of sales pitches presented to them. Manager-level contacts can also be useful, depending on the size of the prospect company. Once more, a good BI tool will provide you with the majority of details you need but seeing as these are not quite prospecting tools, here’s another thing you can try…

position holdersSource: smartmarketing.uk.com

Add LinkedIn to the fold

As THE social network for professionals, a LinkedIn account is mandatory for every sales representative. It’s no secret that salespeople (the top ones, anyway) use LinkedIn to improve their sales. It’s how they use it. With LinkedIn, you can supplement the list of the companies that match your target audience and identify the relevant position holders. You can obtain information that will help you contact prospects and develop leads, as well as analyze their backgrounds. Then, you can search each business to see if there are any recent updates and click on their list of employees to see which ones are worth approaching. LinkedIn is a powerful research tool where you can learn about your prospects’ needs in order to personalize your sales pitch and offer them solutions. The best part is that all of this can be done before you use the social network’s main intended function - connecting.

Leverage online resources

LinkedIn is not the only readily-available resource you can use. Sites like Quora and Medium offer lots of B2B-related information that might pertain to your prospects. Rummaging through might uncover certain challenges your prospects are facing. Sure, it takes time to manually search and sift through various posts and answers that might benefit you, but it could be a welcome addition to your list for further segmentation and information update, if possible. Then, there are always search engines where you can search for companies and contacts in your target market.

How to make the most of a ready list of prospects

Let’s say you've obtained a list of prospects. There are quite a few entries on it and it would be easy to just shoot an email to all of them. HOWEVER, by doing that you’d be risking your email client being marked as spam due to emails that are sent to irrelevant strangers who’ll never become customers. The solution? Map them out just as you would when building a list from scratch using the criteria above. This is another instance where a good SIP can come in handy. By aiming at the businesses that fit your target audience you will be able to focus sales efforts on companies best-suited for your offering. Be sure to take down any notes you find worthy during your research as these can be combined with data and fine-tuned into talking points for your email and phone outreach.

Conclusion

Identifying and understanding your prospects is only half the battle when it comes to selling to them. Targeting and then narrowing down the prospects according to your offering is the key to a winning prospect list. Everything else is a waste of valuable time that could be used to pursue prospects with high conversion potential. By using these tips, you can gain insights into how to kick off your prospect hunt, how to reach them, as well as what makes them tick, what their interests are, and tons of other data that could be valuable when making a sales pitch. As a result, you’ll begin to reel in a consistent stream of quality prospects. With a personalized database of each and every prospect, the rest should be easy.

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