All B2B sales organizations need a steady stream of high quality leads, and that starts with a high quality prospect list. Getting laser-sharp with your targeting keeps your sales team focused on the most valuable and appropriate prospects, and ultimately increases conversion rates.
“The last thing you want is to have your sales team wasting time on prospects that aren’t likely to buy,” says Jonathan Berube, Director of Sales at Virtual Gurus. “I’ve always found that investing the time upfront to create a well-researched prospect list pays for itself many times over.‘’
With that in mind, here’s our best advice for creating a powerful prospect list:
It may sound obvious, but your sales team needs to know the ‘what’ in order to identify the best ‘who.’ This means going beyond the basics and diving into specific use cases, feature sets, and success stories.
Ask yourself the following questions:
Paint a picture of your best-fit customer, often called the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). Use your current customer list as a starting point. Analyze your best customers and identify traits they have in common to create an inventory of target criteria that you can apply to your prospect list.
Your target criteria should include basic firmographics such as:
On top of those basic attributes, add any key behavioural characteristics of your best customers. These might include:
All of this information will serve as a starting point for your next step.
Your next task is to find and learn more about companies that meet the target criteria you’ve developed. Use a combination of resources to actively look up companies that fit the criteria you’ve identified.
Examples of helpful company research tools:
This can be one of the most time-consuming parts of the process, so you may need extra support from another team member or virtual assistant.
As you continue to research prospects, consider questions like:
Your goal should be to narrow down the list to companies that most likely have a need for your solution.
Research the growth and financial performance of the companies on your list. If an organization has been shrinking or losing money recently, they probably aren’t interested in spending money--they’re busy tightening margins.
Conversely, if a company has been in a state of consistent or booming growth, they have money to invest and they may also have some growing pains that your product or service can help address. Move these organizations to the top of your list.
There are a number of tools and resources you can use for your research, including:
Again, it’s worth enlisting an assistant or coordinator to help you with the heavy lifting here, whether that’s an internal resource or a virtual sales assistant. Look for someone with research or sales development experience.
It’s worth taking a step back to consider the industry growth rate of each organization on your list. Although there may be exceptions, company fortunes most often follow those of their sector.
Some of the fastest-growing and most promising industries of today and tomorrow include:
Organizations in these verticals will likely be more willing to invest in new products or services.
Some of the most unstable industries include:
Companies that exist in these sectors may be operating under tighter budgets. They might still be worth targeting, but the deals will probably be shorter and smaller.
It takes less time, money and effort to sell more to your current customers than to bring in entirely new ones. Cross-reference your prospect list with your current client list. If you’ve done business before, chances are they already trust your brand. Are there any additional products or services they haven’t bought yet but might need?
Building a powerful prospecting list does take a considerable investment of time but the ROI will be strong -- the better your prospect list, the more success your Sales team will have.