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Post by RSW/US New Business Director Kris Klopp
If there’s someone strange in your prospect database, who are you going to call?
One of the common challenges in developing new business is identifying the right people to contact.
You’ve identified a group of 50 companies you want to prospect, but you can’t just send off information to “Marketing.”
That’s just a waste of postage and your mailing will probably wind up in the circular file. If you’re not lucky enough to have a list development team on staff, don’t panic.
Here are a few tips I’ve picked up that can help you find the right contacts at the right companies.
I must get at least one solicitation per week from companies offering to build lists for me (thankfully we have a great team that does that for us).
If you have the money to afford this service, by all means look in to it, with a few caveats.
First, you need to find out how frequently they CLEAN their list.
A list is only good if it is current.
If they haven’t cleaned these contacts within the last four to six weeks, chances are you’re going to find people are no longer with these companies or have transitioned into another role within the company.
Second, verify what information they will provide.
Some will give you the name and address and main phone line – which will get you as far as you could get by looking on the company’s website.
Key things to purchase are e-mails, title and direct phone numbers.
This is the tricky information for you to find/verify.
There are other online sources where you can find contact information, such as Hoovers, Redbooks and Jigsaw, but unlike these options LinkedIn is FREE to access and is updated by the content owners – the contacts who make their LinkedIn profiles.
There are several ways you can use LinkedIn to find contacts.
- You can do a company search and identify marketing contacts at the company.
- You can also view the profiles of contacts other people have viewed. This can often give you contacts at other companies, such as your original prospect’s competitors. If a brand manager at Kraft is a good contact for you to prospect, chances are a brand manager at Heinz, General Mills or P&G would also be a good contact.
- LinkedIn has a robust listing of groups, such as industry-specific groups, alumni groups, and other general interest groups. By joining groups, you can participate in different conversations that group offers and also use it to network with group members.
- The best LinkedIn feature is that LinkedIn will show you connections. If one of your contacts is connected to a contact you are viewing, LinkedIn will show you there is a connection. You might not know this person, but you both have a mutual contact. Depending on how well you know your contact, you can ask them if they would be willing to make an introduction for you.
If you’re going to use LinkedIn as a communication tool for your new business efforts, it’s important to keep a few things in mind:
- Don’t send out just the generic “I’d like to add you to my list of contacts” message. Personalize the message with why you want to connect.
- Always check the prospect’s profile to see if they are open for connecting. At the bottom of the profile, it will say “Contact Joe for:_____” and it will list what kind of communications that person is interested in receiving. If it says he/she is NOT open for receiving communications, I’d try to find a different contact at that company.
- I only send connection invitations to people AFTER I’ve spoken with them. This way they know who I am.
Company news, both news articles about the company and press releases written by the company can provide you with a wealth of information, including contact names.
New product/service launches most always have a quote from a Brand Manager who is responsible for the product. An often overlooked resource is the transactions section found in all Business Journals and most Industry Trade Pubs.
These will often announce who is working where, who has been promoted, etc…
Job openings can also let you know some valuable information about a company.
For example, if a company has an open position for a Digital Marketing manager, and you’re a digital agency, I’d jump all over that company.
Why settle for a Digital Marketing manager when you can have a whole agency.
It can be challenging to drill down in some companies, particularly very large companies and/or privately-held companies.
However, you can almost always find the President’s name.
While you are probably not going to speak with the President, you will probably be able to speak with the President’s assistant.
Assistants have a wealth of knowledge. More often than not, when I speak with an assistant, explain that I’d love to send the President some information about our services, they will usually refer me to the appropriate marketing contact.
I still find many contacts by doing a simple Google search of “Company Name” + “marketing.”
The information might not be current, but at least you can find a name with which you can begin your search. Just for fun, I googled “Kraft” + “marketing” and the first item that popped up was the name of their SVP Marketing and Communications.
Knowing her name, I can look her up on LinkedIn and see who she’s connected to and my search is on.
Google searching works best for larger companies. If you do the same Google search for a 25-bed, county hospital, you probably won’t find anything.
Going to the hospital’s president is probably your better option in that scenario.