B2B Marketing & PR Expert, Fiona Hughes shares advice on how to show prospects that you've done your homework and understand their needs.
"When you give your
Would you like to hear another generic introductory sales pitch from a company you’ve never heard of? Of course not. Who wouldn’t prefer to hear from someone who has been paying attention to your work, appreciates it, can talk intelligently about it and wants to help you reach your goals more quickly?
That's the difference between cold-calling prospects from a generic list, and doing research so you can speak authentically, recognize potential needs, and make the conversation meaningful when you reach out.
Anyone who has bought a prospecting list knows the common drawbacks, such as discovering that some of the people on the list moved on to other jobs months ago. We prefer to take a different, more customized approach. First I like to ask our clients, "Who are your top 20 dream customers?" A list of the top 20 is enough to get your arms around, and gives you some options if the top three or four don't pan out. But naming companies you’d like to do business with is just the beginning. You have to think about WHY they are important to you, and why they would need your service if they knew about you.
If you don't already have a ‘wish list’ of potential clients, search LinkedIn for companies in your sector, within a reasonable radius, and with job titles that dovetail with your product or service offering. Job boards and websites like glassdoor.com can help reveal specific opportunities, as well as how the company describes its own needs.
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN?
Having identified your potential customers by industry or organization, next think about who would be the best contact in each organization to connect with. Is it someone in HR? The CFO? Project management, perhaps? This is where your homework will yield vital insights, and is an important factor in distinguishing which bird gets the worm, when it comes to business development.
Sounds obvious perhaps, but the company website is another great resource to explore. It will help you get familiar with the company's culture, and you'll be able to speak their language on the first contact. Along with contact info, the website often lists key personnel with short biographies, from which you can find commonalities. It might even tip you off to some of the company's imminent needs. See what kinds of job openings they are seeking to fill, or any big projects or technology directions they have announced in a company newsletter, blog or annual report.
When you give them your introductory pitch, you can make it relevant by referencing that new project they are launching, or the CEO’s directive to relocate to larger quarters.
Equally applicable when meeting face-to-face, starting with a relevant and timely comment, such as ‘Congratulations on ringing the opening bell at NASDAQ last week!” shows you’re on top of their market, news and happenings, and can help establish trust and respect from the outset.
All of this is public-facing information that the company and the executives have posted about themselves, so make the most use of it.
START AT THE TOP
Always aim as high on the organizational chart as you can. I always prefer to start with the top executive. If she or he directs you to talk with someone lower down, that's great. There's no better introduction than, "Your CFO, (mention name) suggested I discuss with you the initiative to______. We’ve been following your work on _______ and would like to meet".
Once you have developed your short list of names, you need some way to track and manage it. Who has been called? Who made that call? What was the response? When is the next touch-point, and what is the next achievable goal? We love the HubSpot platform for this purpose, but there are others.
Of course, execution is everything. It takes the confidence of an experienced professional to build and research the list, manage it well and especially to set the right tone and content when making that initial contact.
If this all sounds like a lot more work than buying a prospecting list, well, frankly... it is. But, as our clients will testify, it’s also a great deal more effective.