People often ask me about how they can go about sourcing lists of potential customers when selling in a business to business market. They may know who they wish to target. Yet, they may wonder where to go or how to go about acquiring decent leads.
Sometimes they go online and find a list of companies in a particular industry or profession. They may find a name, telephone number or even an address. To have this information accessible is incredibly helpful. However, many people underestimate how much time they lose searching for additional contact details before they even think about keying the notes into their own sales database.
Being able to source a ready-made list of companies with contact names is the ideal way to go for any company. There are several professional list brokers in the marketplace who can readily provide these details.
Yet, as the buyer it is just as important for us to identify exactly what we need beforehand. In my experience, I often find that people who don’t do this can end up with wasted leads outside of their target market.
One particular instance comes to mind, when a client bought a list of 4,000 companies. Their marketing efforts weren’t producing results, so they called me.
When I asked how they selected the list, they told me they based it on the job title of the decision maker for companies in the South Dublin area. Whilst, they had the contact name right; it was clear to see they bought a list based on a geographical basis only.
As a business they target companies who work with products, rather than services. So, we defined their ideal customer included distributors and exporters. I also realised their offering was more suited to medium sized SME’s rather than small businesses or corporates.
In the end, we found just about 30% of the companies on the list were really relevant. As painful as this was to go through, it enabled the client to refocus their energies and quickly get back on track.
It also showed them how important it is to take time out to work out exactly who they want to target using a number of measures. These are commonly used by reputable list brokers and include the following:
- Geographical location – what regions, counties or locations do you wish to target
- Employee numbers – using employee number ranges you can quickly find your ideal company size
- Industry sector – define the target markets of your ideal customers into distinct sectors
- Business type - sometimes we need to break down the groups - i.e. service, government, retail, distribution or manufacturing
By using these criteria, I also recommend looking at your most valuable customers and mirror their profile. Then review the marketplace and work out the sectors which meet your criteria have the most potential to grow.
Finally, once you have identified your ideal target list, it is always worth discussing your plans with the list broker. I can personally say that over the years they have given me fantastic advice and clever suggestions.