24 Feb The top 10 essential tools for customer prospecting
Customer prospecting is the first (and probably the most important) step in the sales process within the business plan. It consists of identifying potential buyers for your product or service so you can convince them to buy it. In other words, prospecting consists of finding potential customers to later convert them into real customers.
To do so, you need to study the potential market and obtain information based on two types of data:
- Cold data: these are data that define potential customers generically. They are relatively easy to collect and let you perform an initial screening.
- Hot data: these are data that define potential customers in greater depth. They are more complicated to collect because they require a period of observation and reflection. Obtaining these data also requires some direct contact.
Getting your hands on cold and hot data and then converting them into useful information to help your prospecting activity requires a lot of work, but there are a number of tools out there that can help you do this successfully.
This is a top 10 of essential tools for customer prospecting.
Customer prospecting tools for collecting cold data
Axesor is a service company that specialises in business, financial and marketing knowledge. Its risk services are especially useful for customer prospecting because they offer credit rating solutions, as well as credit and financial reports on companies, self-employed professionals and public authorities.
All this will help increase your knowledge when deciding to embark on a new business relationship.
Its information service is also perfect for customer prospecting because it has one of the largest repositories of information on companies, positions, executives and market ties. This lets you streamline and decrease your research time. Furthermore, Axesor also offer trade reports and reports on company positions and executives, as well as an Ownership Index and Registry Extract service.
eInforma is a company that offers information on more than 300 million companies in 200 countries. It lets you search for any company free of charge in the largest private database and access more than 300 million companies around the world.
Its free reports include the most comprehensive and up-to-date information on general details (name, tax code, telephone, address, etc.), complete trade reports, sales and employees evolution graphs, a list of members of the board of directors and administrators, and a list of directors, executives and shareholders, as well as holdings in and ties to other companies.
Furthermore, its reports include press articles published about the company and all the complementary official and registry information needed for good customer prospecting.
The El Economista company ranking
The company ranking drawn up by the El Economista newspaper is a website that publishes all its information on companies ordered by sales turnover, showing visitors the position held by a company nationally, regionally or sectorally.
It offers a National Ranking of Companies by Turnover, which shows the positions held by the top 500,000 companies throughout Spain based on their latest recorded sales figures. Similarly, it also offers a Sectoral Ranking of Companies, which shows the position of a certain company vis-a-vis all the other companies in the same business sector.
Infocif is a social network specifically designed for companies and created to offer access to information on potential customers and suppliers.
In terms of customer prospecting, its most interesting services are the risk reports and commercial reports. Furthermore, it produces Unpaid Loans Registry (RAI) reports in terms of the corporate debt default file.
It also offers information on the annual accounts of companies, letting you download the annual accounts from the commercial register of a company.
Its new companies service is another interesting tool, which lets you obtain details on all the companies that are set up every day in Spain. Especially useful is its companies alert service, which lets a company always stay up-to-date on any other company it may be interested in.
The news published by the media is an enormously useful tool when customer prospecting. Nonetheless, keeping track of every media is practically an impossible task. However, it might be very handy to focus on the media specialising in your sector because that is where you will find the most relevant information.
That said, you will need to pay good attention because the tiniest of details in this news might be exactly what comes in useful for identifying the potential customers you can convert into real customers.
The larger your network of contacts, the greater your customer prospecting capacity will be. In this regard, social media can be harnessed professionally to build relations with potential customers. LinkedIn is the most important social media for customer prospecting, but specific networks exist in every possible niche market you can think of.
Social media let you collect data on your potential customers, such as their education, professional experience and their purchases, wishes and needs. To that end and because it is the largest professional social network that exists, LinkedIn becomes a strong tool because it lets you contact an impressive group of B2B professionals for free and attract prospects.
Keeping track of the news about your potential customers and staying on top of your social media is a genuinely complex task. That’s why Google Alerts provides such essential assistance. This service monitors the content offered by Google and automatically notifies you when new content is published in the news, Internet, blogs, videos and social media that matches search terms that you specify.
You can decide how often you want to receive this information in your e-mail inbox. There are three options available: once a day, once a week and instantly.
Corporate websites are key to customer prospecting because they hold first-hand information about the company. Companies use their websites to explain who they are, what they offer and at whom they target their products or services.
That’s why carefully analysing these websites is key to your customer prospecting when collecting cold data. Similarly, you will also need to get out there and find hot data, which will let you demonstrate that you have gone to the trouble of looking in depth at the company.
Prospecting tools for collecting hot data
Social media are also a good prospecting option when collecting hot data on your potential customers. LinkedIn is one of the most popular because it not only lets you know where and with whom they work, but also lets you build a direct relationship.
To engage in customer prospecting on LinkedIn, you need to regularly publish quality content of high added value for your target in order to attract visitors. Furthermore, you can also engage in direct prospecting by getting in touch with potential customers through personalised messages.
Making an unsolicited telephone call is more commonly known as cold calling. It is a complicated prospecting technique but can be effective if used from the right approach.
The goal in cold calling is not to sell but rather to create a connection with the potential customer. You need to show sincerity and get to the point. Time is money and potential customers appreciate frankness and brevity.
That’s why you need to work out whether the needs of your possible buyer match your solutions as quickly as possible. If you cannot do that, thank them for their time, say goodbye and hang up.
If you can do that, you should find out what stage of the purchase process the potential customer is currently at in order to subsequently arrange a face-to-face meeting or regularly follow up.
Just like telephone calls, sending an e-mail to someone you don’t know can be a little cold. That’s why it is important to have previously identified the names and surnames of the people you want to contact and to find out their e-mail address. Sending generic messages for the attention of a position at the company is a waste of time.
Remember, before calling or sending an e-mail, you should investigate your potential customer. This will let you personalise the presentation and make the conversation flow better. You should demonstrate that you know what the company does.