Every sales rep knows the usual prospecting lead sources -- inbound inquiries, trigger events, LinkedIn search, referrals, etc. But what happens when these wells start to run dry?

Over the years, I’ve discovered a few “secret” lead sources hiding in plain sight. The next time you’re having trouble finding prospects, try one of these untapped natural springs.

1) Leapfrog the Inbound Inquiry

Salespeople love inbound leads, and with good reason. Instead of reps having to search high and low for a company that might be interested in their offering, inbound marketing enables interested companies to come to them. Couldn’t be easier.

There’s just one problem. Inbound leads are often low-level people in the organization, not the decision makers salespeople want to talk with. Despite this fact, reps usually call the person who submitted an inbound request in an effort to get connected with their boss.

But there’s a more direct way to get to the decision maker. Call them! If you see that the person who came in through inbound doesn’t have the authority you need, leapfrog them and reach out to their boss or another executive in the organization. Explain that someone from the company downloaded an ebook or white paper, which prompted your call or email. Odds are, the executive is either interested, or can refer you to the decision maker who is.

2) Include “.ppt” in Google Search

If you have a specific company in mind, you’ll probably turn to Google in an effort to research the organization or find an executive to call upon. This is good, but you can take it a step further.

Want to save yourself a considerable amount of time? Include “.ppt” in your Google search. This will turn up any PowerPoint presentations from conferences or other events associated with the company. And what’s usually on the first or last slide? The presenting executive’s name and contact information.

Not only does this technique get you an email address faster, it also provides fodder for your cold outreach. Comment on a few of your favorite points from the slide deck, and snag the prospect’s attention fast.

3) Don’t Neglect LinkedIn’s Activity Feed

Most sales reps bypass their LinkedIn homepage entirely and jump right into search. Not so fast -- your activity feed contains valuable information that can make prospecting a lot easier.

LinkedIn collects all the profile changes people in your network have made since the last time you logged in, and displays them on your homepage. These changes might be a new job or title, the addition of a Twitter handle, or a profile picture swap.

I’m not so interested in what the specific change might be as I am in what the change signifies -- that the person was on LinkedIn recently. And this means that if you reach out with a referral request through LinkedIn, you’re bound to get one since they were just on the network.

4) Use Press Releases Strategically

I often follow the press releases of an account I’m trying to break into, and look for the PR or media contact listed at the bottom. Since these people aren’t decision makers (and are often gatekeepers instead), I don’t try to sell them. I do, however, reach out to them with another request: “Could you please direct me to audio or video interviews with the executive team?”

Video and audio interviews are often PR collateral that get placed on third-party publications, so they’re not the easiest content to find. This question excites PR managers who want to get as much exposure for their executives as possible, and so they’re happy to oblige. Then, once you get pointed to the right spot, you gain fodder for a cold outreach -- and possibly contact information.

5) Ask About the Replacement

Job changes are one of the most frequently used trigger events for starting a sales conversation. When a rep sees one of their customers has changed jobs, they’re quick to reach out and forge a connection with the new company.

This is smart, but one more question can add even more value. Every morning, scan LinkedIn for job changes, and reach out to the people in your network who’ve recently jumped ship. In addition to asking them about the vendor situation at their new company, sneak an additional inquiry in: “Who replaced you at your old company?”

If the executive provides you their replacement’s name and contact information, you can now reach out to the new contact and mention that their predecessor referred you. And the inquiries that come in with this caveat are likely to be answered first.

Learn more of my proven prospecting techniques in Boston at my next Why You? Why You Now?™ ½ Day Prospecting Workshop. And if you are new to sales management or want to learn how to better motivate your team, check out my ½ Day Sales Coaching Seminar

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Originally published Apr 28, 2015 7:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017


Sales Prospecting