As much as we’d all like to rely exclusively on referrals and organic growth to generate new business, it is simply unrealistic. The best sales teams know that researching new prospects is an important part of the sales cycle, and frankly it’s a numbers game.
To maximize the output of those prospect research hours, below is a list of Prialto’s top five prospect research tools.
There is no doubt that LinkedIn is the undisputed champion in the prospect research ring. With the most up-to-date employment information on an ever-expanding network of professionals, LinkedIn is a treasure trove of potential customers. This professional networking giant has all the information a hungry sales team could want.
However, the site is extremely protective when it comes to user contact information. It often takes special know-how and a few simple tricks to find the prospects you are looking for. Take advantage of LinkedIn’s advanced search functionality to narrow down your list of prospects based on location, job title, seniority or size of company.
Data.com is what became of Jigsaw after it was purchased by Salesforce.com, and is a crowd-sourced database of sales contacts across every industry imaginable. It is the prospect researchers’ version of “take-a-penny leave-a-penny” wherein you are able to access all of the data within the system as long as you are supplying an equal amount of prospect contact information.
For most sales people, this is not a sustainable system, as most do not want to trade the contact info of their top clients in exchange for only a few potential prospects. However, Data.com still provides great functionality in terms of name generation and email verification without ever touching its controversial point system.
A website hosting company is certainly not the first tool that comes to mind when trying to lock down meetings with new prospects, but it all depends on how you use it. Who.godaddy.com will never, ever provide you with the name of who you need to speak with to land the sale. But it might give you something even more valuable: the email domain and naming convention of the person you’re looking for.
By looking up who registered your target account’s website, and more specifically his/her email address, you can apply this knowledge to your contact’s name and generate the most likely email address for that individual.
4. Email Permutators and Email Testers
Okay, technically these are two separate tools, but they should be combined into a single click. Luckily, the website emailpermutator.com does just that (for now). Typically a savvy salesperson has to use an email permutator to generate a list of likely addresses, then input each one into an email tester that pings the corresponding server. But Emailpermutator.com saves you a step by generating AND testing each email address at the same time.
Unfortunately these types of tools are a dime a dozen, and it often takes weeks of research and success tracking to determine which sites are reliable. These types of websites are often shutdown, so it requires constant time and energy just to stay informed on the latest and greatest tools out there.
Google just might be the most powerful prospect research tool out there, but it is often overlooked simply because most sales teams do not know how to narrow their searches. By altering the search query syntax, users can instruct google to search only certain parts of the internet.
This can come in handy if you want to search just one company’s website for the “@” sign or only search LinkedIn for contacts with certain words in their titles. Using specific Google tools such as the inside search function and the wildcard character (*), you can leverage the full power of Google in your prospect research process.
BONUS TOOL: An Assistant
Time is money, and often it is hard to justify spending hours of potential sales time researching a few-dozen prospects in the hopes that 5% will reply to your initial email. A successful business has the ability to put its sales people in front of prospects.
That’s where an assistant comes in. An assistant can keep your pipeline full of interested prospects while salespeople are out at face-to-face meetings closing deals. However, most companies are not able to justify the cost of a full-time assistant. This is where a virtual Sales Assistant makes the most sense. Salespeople are able to purchase just enough time of a pre-trained assistant to keep the pipeline full and the meetings rolling in.