So... You Want to Learn How to Prospect?

Any sales professional knows that prospecting is an important part of their job. In fact, it is my primary responsibility at NetProspex. The strategies I utilize, however, are beneficial for HR hiring managers and mid-level sales representatives. Here are a few tips and tricks to better your prospect process:

1.     Make a targeted list.  Create a specific list with prospects that fit your primary demographic and requirements. For me, these are companies generating over $100 million in revenue, within my geographic region. Enter all prospects into Salesforce, a customer relationship management (CRM) tool. Make Salesforce your best friend!

2.    Find targets and do research.  For a “strategic” account, I look for about nine potential contacts: three up (highest-level officers), three down (managers or C-level), and three across (sales, marketing, operations).  If it is an account of greater importance, I will include more contacts, including all VITOs (very important top officers). My go-to research tool is LinkedIn, offers me an overview of who is actively employed in what roles and some relevant background information.  I also do a Google search to see if I can find a blog and any social media accounts.

Also, I do a similar search on the companies themselves; I use Crunchbase, AngelList and Hoovers, as well as the company website, to find out if there have been any major changes, deals, acquisitions, etc.  These are always good things to mention; people prefer to speak with someone who has done their homework on the company.

3. Collect the contact information. Scour the Internet for traces of this information from old forums or listings. Call the main company directory and hope against hope that your call is properly rerouted. Try any and all permutations of a possible email address, but note that  this risks “hard bounces” and getting blacklisted as spam. Send a LinkedIn Inmail message or get introduced from another mutual contact. Reach out via social media, which may or may not fit with your offerings.

Visit, and get this information for a buck. Not to boast, but we do have the best data, and it can be given in list form matching the specific targeting information of the prospects you would like to reach with your sales or marketing campaigns.

4. Reach out and follow up. Every phone call I make, I follow up with an email.  Typically it takes nine “touches”, or interactions, before you can get a human on the line. The conversion rate is typically between six to eight percent to get a sales-qualified lead out of that phone call. About 50-60% of those prospects will become clients.

Prospecting is a numbers game, and it requires incredible focus and persistence. Good luck and happy hunting!

—- Ben Nevis is a Startup Institute Boston alum of the sales/business development track. He currently works in sales at Interested in working in sales or business development at startup? Apply to Startup Institute by October 6th.