Prospecting – Top Strategies for Building Your Database of Target Contacts
This step in any sales process is always a challenge and yet the most important. This list of top strategies for building your database of target contacts will potentially explode your business growth if managed well. So here goes…a summary of the top strategies I have employed to make sure my most valuable asset not on the balance sheet gets the attention it needs.
- Optimise your online presence – Make sure your website is optimised to encourage people to connect with you and experience some of the value you provide your clients. This includes content delivery, multimedia, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), good web design, and frequency of posting online. Social media pages are also critically important here as so many people hang out online and depending your ideal type of market, one platform might be better than others. Either way you need to be found, and you need to happy that your online presence reflects the brand and image you want.
- Build a sales funnel – part of your online presence, a sales funnel can be a great way to attract prospects and get them to exchange their details for some exclusive content or offer. You have probably seen such marketing before if you have ever popped your email into a box and downloaded a whitepaper or special report. The great thing about this strategy is that the people providing you their details are qualified prospects curious enough to find out more about you and it can operate 24/7 365 days of the year!
- Social media advertising – Facebook advertising is inexpensive and can be a great way to raise awareness of your business online. It can also be used to reach a large audience that you would not normally have access to via other marketing strategies. You need to keep in mind like all advertising it is a bit of “hit and miss” but with the right testing and measuring of activity you can tweak your strategy to get better results. Google AdWords, LinkedIn advertising, and even Twitter advertising may have a place in your marketing strategy. Remember though, you may be advertising to an audience that doesn’t know you so keep your expectations in check. Consistency is the key.
- Buy or rent a list from a list broker – there are several list brokers out there that you can purchase or rent a database list from depending on what you want to achieve with your marketing. For a fee per 1000 records you can get access to contact details for your target market by providing criteria that the data can be filtered by to give you better quality records
- Search online directories – look for networking groups, industry groups, local business directories and so on that publish information in the public domain. Use these directories to make some initial contact that will then give you the opportunity to add them to your database.
- Join industry associations – industry associations typically attract members that have common interests and needs. Find groups that are relevant to your products and services and then become a member so you can tap into the audience and promote how you can add value.
- Subscribe to business intelligence services – there are organisations out there that you can subscribe to and gain access to specific information on businesses that might be targets for your products and services. Dun & Bradstreet offers a service as do others that contain contact information and even financial information that you can use to research your ideal type of customers.
- Attend trade shows and conferences – whether you are displaying your wares or are just visiting a trade show or conference, there is always opportunity to get qualified information that you can then add to your database. If you’re resourceful enough you might even be able to get your hands on the database of everyone that attended and exhibited!
- Network your pants off! The key here is network in circles that are going to advance your profile rather than surround you with others like you looking for potential customers to market to. Living on the Gold Coast, I can spend 7 days a week morning, noon and night attending networking functions. The key is to be selective – go where your target customers go, not just where people like you go looking for potential customers to market to.
- Pound the pavement – yes this is about getting out into the streets and areas where your potential customers may be lurking. Get out there and look around for places where your potential customers hang out. Send others out on your behalf. Incentivise people to bring you qualified leads which you can then add to your database.
- Ask friends, family, customers, colleagues, and suppliers for referrals or contacts – it’s amazing how many people you can tap into just by asking those around you for leads of people they know! I was astounded when I did this for the first time. I added hundreds of records to my database that I could then contact and mention the name of the person that gave me the lead. I instantly had a foot in the door!
- Go to the library and research – I have mentioned this strategy before and if you haven’t explored the resources available to you, what are you waiting for? There is a wealth of information just waiting to be uncovered!
- Form alliances and mutually beneficial relationships – take a look at existing customers, suppliers, or complimentary businesses to your own that sell to clients that could be targets for your products or services. Form relationships where you promote their products and services to your customers and the do the same for you.
- Engage a prospecting professional – there are businesses out there that specialise in prospecting for potential customers that might just become customers of yours. For a fee, you can have someone doing the hard work for you in terms of identifying and locking in opportunities for you to get in front of your ideal type of customer. Not a bad investment when you consider the alternatives – doing it yourself or hiring the wrong person!
So many businesses neglect their database and list building activities! Yet, without it, you have no business. It’s also important to note that just because you have a list of names, you don’t necessarily have a list of prospects yet. I would suggest your initial list is a list of suspects that need to be qualified before they become prospects. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Maintaining and growing your database is laborious and not glorious work. However it’s vital work if you’re serious about expanding your business.
So get on with it! Remember you don’t need a list of thousands to begin with. Start with a list of 100 to 300 records and then add to it on an ongoing basis. Once you have a database, you can approach them with your marketing messages.