One effective way to prospect is to find companies that share important characteristics with your current customers. By taking an account-based approach, you can target a group of companies that all share similarities, and allow you to be more efficient in your prospecting. A great way to do this is by using an existing customer as the foundation, and basing your prospecting on the intelligence you can gain from your experience with that customer.
By analyzing specific data-points for your current customer(s), you can find information to use to your advantage when prospecting . It is also important to test different data points to understand what data has the most correlation with positive sales outcomes.
The first step is understanding the data behind the companies that make up your customers.
These are data points such as the industry, number of employees, revenue, business model, location, org structure, strategic initiatives, pain points, etc. You should always strive to know as much about your customers as you can to help them be successful, and it also has the positive side-effect of making your sales outreach more successful. Win-win.
The next step is understanding the people who were important to the decision making process.
In mid-market and enterprise B2B sales, decision making processes usually include several influencers, an executive sponsor, and some amount of inter-departmental executive influence. Write out your current customer sales stories, for example:
“An Inside Sales Manager attended a webinar about our CRM. Afterwards, he downloaded a free trial and invited 3 account executives on his team to start using it. After a series of emails and phone calls, an online demo was scheduled with the Inside Sales Manager and the VP of Sales. Then an in-person meeting was scheduled with the Inside Sales Manager, VP of Sales, VP of Marketing, and the CIO. Afterwards we negotiated contract details and signed a deal.”
In this example, five different roles and seven different people were involved in the process. That provides a lot of surface area to prospect. Understanding what each person cares about is essential to turning these prospects into opportunities.
Create an analysis of what each role wanted from the sales process:
|Account Executive||Easier to use CRM, work faster, perform better|
|Inside Sales Manager||Happier AEs, more revenue, better reporting|
|VP Sales||More revenue, better reporting, better forecasting|
|VP Marketing||Better integration with their marketing automation|
|CIO||Migrate data from legacy system, long term investment and ROI|
From analyzing this chart, we can understand what each person desired in the buying process. It is important when prospecting to make each outreach as personalized as possible. In this example, you wouldn’t want to reach out to a CIO at a prospect company about having an easier to use CRM. He isn’t going to care because A) it isn’t his responsibility to judge how easy the CRM is to use and B) he probably never uses it. But, if you mention a recent project you undertook as part of a strategic initiative with a different company, he may be very interested.
By using your current customers as inspiration, prospecting becomes more personal and has a higher conversion rate. As you continue to add new customers, continually go through this analysis to uncover more prospecting opportunities.