marketing+sales: 8 Ways to Identify New Suspects
Every sales organization, and every sales process, begins with identifying suspects—people and organizations you suspect may one day do business with you. They aren't yet prospects, because you don't know if they have a legitimate need for what you sell, or if they have the decision-making power to buy your product or service. That determination comes later.
But in order to get a group of prospects, you must begin with a list of suspects. Here are eight ways to acquire such a list:
1. Buy a list.
This is the information age, and lists are available for almost every conceivable set of characteristics. For example, I could contact a list broker, and ask for a list of names, addresses, phone numbers, business sizes (in numbers of employees), and email addresses for manufacturers (or any one of a couple of hundred classifications) within a set of telephone area codes. I could have that information in less than a day.
Information selling has become a major industry in this country, and there are many providers. Just do a Google search on "list brokers" and find a few with whom to work. You'll be amazed at what information you can purchase.
2. Get referrals from your customers.
Probably the best way to meet a prospect for the first time is to be introduced by someone both parties know and respect. But before that can happen, you need to get the name and details for the person you want to meet. That means asking your current customers for referrals.
Visit your customers face-to-face, and have a conversation about your products/services and their satisfaction with them. Then, ask them specific questions to generate lists of names. Don't ask, "Who do you know?" Instead, ask, "Which of your vendors could use our service?" or, "Which one or two people in your committee would be possible candidates?" By asking a series of specific questions instead of general ones, you'll direct their thinking in more productive routes and acquire more referrals.