Self-prospecting can be a daunting task, but one that has the potential to lead to significant revenue gains for your business. Today, prospecting for leads on your own no longer means blindly going door-to-door or business-to-business. If you choose to invest in quality data and technology, it is easier than ever to reach contacts with the highest potential and at the right time.
Here are seven tips for the savvy self-prospector:
1. Database size matters, but it's not the only thing.
Sure, the more contacts you have, the better. But quality matters, too. It's important to look into the source of your data to ensure that your contact information is not outdated, inaccurate or poorly represented. Make note of how much information there is about each contact, how often the information is verified and how many emails are connected with each contact.
2. Don't settle for yesterday's data.
We can't say it enough—having updated contact information may be the most important way to effectively reach potential customers. Consumer or business data is useless if it's outdated, even by just a week. Luckily there are databases and technology solutions out there that offer real-time data so you can spend less time searching for updated contacts and more time making the sale.
3. Learn how to play "The Game of Life."
Just like the board game, consumers go through major life events that play a role in purchasing decisions: graduation, purchasing a new home, getting married or having children.
Chances are, your business offers something that a consumer at one or more of these life stages will need. It's all about targeting: Use data to determine which consumers are reaching these stages and reach them before they make purchasing decisions.
4. The goal is the sale, not the search.
Simply finding contacts whom may be good fits for your business is not enough. It is important that you are taking advantage of the data to reach customers through the right channel and at the right time. For example, if you find that your potential customers respond best over the phone, make sure the program you are using is regularly updated and checked against the "National Do Not Call Registry. " Or, if you believe email is best, invest in a program that allows you to send emails at the right time, with ease.
5. Let the contacts come to you.
The rate at which data changes is incredible. For example, in the hour it takes you to eat lunch, 88 businesses will close their doors, and 200 more will open. It can be difficult to keep up with this rate of change; particularly for a solo marketer. Invest in technology that alerts you when a new business in your area of interest opens its doors or a new family moves into the neighborhood. These tools will save an incredible amount of time, while giving you an upper hand over competitors.
6. Look for integration with the tools you use.
Use products that include functions you are already familiar with, like intuitive search engine functions and maps with simple directions. Additionally, it's important for services to integrate outside sources that you have already invested time into, like Salesforce.com and LinkedIn. This allows you to avoid using multiple platforms and integrate all of the information you have about each contact in a centralized location.
7. Don't go at it alone.
When considering investing into self-prospecting solutions, make sure the products you choose also offer customer service. It's difficult to conduct marketing efforts on your own. But if you're using technology you are unfamiliar with, it's even more difficult without an expert to help. If the service offers a helpline, technicians who are available at the click of a button or webinars and other learning tools that help you master the product, it is likely a good choice.
With the availability of data and technology services, prospecting for potential sales no longer needs to be intimidating. Today's most savvy self-prospectors use constantly updated data to reach insights about consumers and businesses that help them determine immediately if the contact is the right fit. When the right prospects are easier to find, professionals can focus more on what they know best: Making the final sale.
Brook Hoy is the director of product management for Omaha, Neb.-based supplier of data and database marketing solutions Infogroup Targeting Solutions' Web-based custom product, Salesgenie. Reach him at Brook.Hoy@infogroup.com.