Prospecting can be tedious and time-consuming, but it’s something that has to be done to keep pipelines healthy.
However, while sales reps can’t avoid prospecting, they can certainly make it easier for themselves. By having a go-to list of places to find prospects, and a procedure for each platform, we no longer have to wonder where or how to find prospects.
Here are nine ways salespeople can find prospects fast and keep filling up their pipelines month after month.
Where Do Salespeople Find Prospects?
1. Job Boards
Job listings are windows into understanding prospects' needs. For instance, if you notice that a company is hiring an HR benefits analyst and you provide compensation services, this is a good organization to reach out to. They are likely struggling with benefits and would be interested in hearing from someone who can help (read: you).
In addition, new jobs are often trigger events for buying new products or services. If you notice that a company is hiring an executive or senior employee in the function you sell into, keep an eye on when the listing goes down. Then search for the newly-hired decision maker, and send your pitch.
The key to making the most out of Twitter is to have a list of the top three or four keywords your target prospects care about. Then run Twitter searches on variations of those keywords to find people who are talking about those topics.
Some people might be asking questions. Others might be complaining about how difficult something may be. In any case, you can jump in and add value to the conversation -- and potentially pick up some prospects along the way.
Once you have a few leads in mind, use private Twitter lists to keep an eye on them, as well as other relevant people.
Here are some Twitter lists you might want to create:
Prospects within your territory that you want to keep tabs on
Bloggers and media that report on companies in your territory so you can find out about new companies
VCs in the territory to find out what they’re investing in and what funding round companies are in
3. Business Journals
Local business journals cover news on big events happening at companies in the area, whether that be a lawsuit, a new location, or additional funding. By keeping an eye on these events, you can find out about businesses you might not have heard of and discover relevant trigger events on which to base your outreach.
These trigger events can be used as a point of reference when you send your first email or make the first call to your new prospect.
4. Industry Blogs and Forums
I’m a marketer in the software industry so I’m subscribed to forum newsletters like GrowthHacker.com and related forums like Product Hunt. I also subscribe to newsletters of entrepreneurs in the software industry.
These newsletters keep me up to date about new companies and often contain case studies of businesses that are doing well.
There are three benefits to subscribing to these newsletters:
Find out about new companies
Learn about successful companies
Stay up to date on industry trends and strategies
If you don't find a new prospect directly through blogs and forums, the knowledge you gain will help point you in the direction of leads. For instance, you might discover that everyone in your target industry is struggling to deal with a certain new compliance law.
You can then search for the name of this law on Google or LinkedIn, and surface active conversations prospects are having. Join the debate, and pick up some valuable leads.
If used correctly, LinkedIn can be a gold mine of prospects.
In addition to the job listings, LinkedIn groups are full of people looking for help. You can head to the "Discover" section of your groups homepage to source new industry related groups to join.
Join relevant groups, add to the conversation, and help the community. While it wouldn’t be a good idea to go in and sell right off the bat, keep these individuals and companies on your list of prospects to monitor and engage with.
If you know your ideal buyer persona, you can easily find people who match that criteria with the help of advanced search. Whether you search by location, the company they work at, their industry, or language they speak, it's easy to find specific communities of people. And if you've already found a company you want to get in touch with, you can search for people at that business to contact.
Once you find companies that you'd like to pursue, follow the organization's profile for updates and trigger events that will help you customize and personalize your messaging.
CrunchBase provides information on funding, company exits, and tech events. Note: This only applies to public companies, so if you sell to private organizations, this site won't be of much help to you (outside of gathering competitive intel).
When a company gets money, that money needs to be spent. See where I’m going with this?
Find out which companies recently got funding and then research whether or not any of these organizations would be a good fit for your product or services.
We can also use the advanced search feature to narrow search results down to companies within our territory or category.
7. Local Chamber of Commerce Website
While it might not be the most enjoyable website to peruse and the listings may not be totally comprehensive, your local Chamber of Commerce website offers a directory of local businesses.
The Boston Chamber of Commerce business directory organizes businesses by industry. This is perfect if you know your ideal customer persona.
Wouldn't it be great if you could source new prospects directly from your CRM? HubSpot's free CRM tool offers just this capability. By clicking the "Companies" tab, salespeople can search a database of companies and filter results by location, industry, and employee count.
Quora is a Q&A platform where users post questions, source answers, and “upvote” good responses from community members -- giving these answers more visibility and authority.
Sound like Reddit? There are some important differences to note. Mainly, while Reddit lets users be anonymous, Quora has users link their profiles with Facebook or Twitter accounts. This increases user accountability and has elevated Quora's reputation for business networking.
Simply create an account, follow "channels" relevant to your industry, add your own areas of expertise, and follow other users.
As a best practice, follow other salespeople in your industry and buyers or clients you currently work with. View questions they're asking and threads they're currently involved in to get greater insight into other valuable channels to join.
From there, start asking genuine questions and providing answers when appropriate. Just be sure you're adding value before dropping a pitch. Never be overly spammy or repetitive. And share links sparingly. Check out this article for more on sales prospecting on Quora.
When talking about qualified leads -- there's no such thing as "fast prospecting." It takes time to build mutually beneficial relationships and develop the rapport necessary to reach out to a prospect for the first time. But these sources will give you quick access to large pools of leads just waiting to be developed into your next qualified prospects.
Originally published Aug 26, 2018 6:58:00 PM, updated June 24 2020