Having some advantage is always neat. Some upper hand for your efforts. Some leverage for your undertakings. A one second head start in a 100m race or two tanks more at the beginning of a game of Risk would help a lot in achieving victory, wouldn’t it?
Indeed it would and there’s no difference when it comes to making sales. You’ll want to use any bit of advantage you can get in order to arrange and close that deal. And that’s exactly what we’ll be talking about today – finding things about your prospects and leads before you ever met them and using this advantage to increase the chances of a successful sale exponentially. We are going to share the 5 tricks we use for leads research, but don’t jump up for tea or anything, we’ll keep it brief, so just read on.
Moving on straight to the point, there are two scenarios for this. Scenario one – you are reaching out to a group of people at once and you need some general information about them, or scenario two – you are reaching out to prospects or leads one by one and you need some details on them. In both cases, we’ll be mainly utilizing the power of the internet, but in different ways.
Let’s start with the methods that work in the case where you need some general information about your audience. Although our main goal is to find out things that will most likely help you fine tune your cold email prospecting campaign, these methods can actually be used to narrow down who the target audience and customer persona for your company are, if you’re having trouble with that.
Method 1: Start using Google Alerts, Mention or Talkwalker Alerts
Are you already leveraging the insane amount of information available online to gather more insights about your customers and their purchasing patterns, so you understand who your potential buyers are? If not, you should. Before, I always suggested going to www.google.com/alerts to create an alert for each of the companies or behaviors you want to track. You could simply select the frequency for notifications you want to receive, but, unfortunately, Google alerts became unreliable over the past few years or so, and now I usually recommend tools like Mention and Talkwalker Alerts. Both of these Google Alert alternatives now do a much better job at monitoring social media networks and blogs around the globe.
Whichever alert tools you decide to use, check the results to be sure your search parameters are set properly. If your prospect is a publicly traded company or a small business active in their local community, you will soon learn about their new initiatives, interests and activities. Or, if you are trying to analyze and track the behavior of tech buyers, then a Google Alert will let you know whenever new research is published.
For a marketer, this is a perfect opportunity to monitor key trends, customers and specific prospects. You can also get in touch and send a congratulations note to a prospect or customer if you see that they won an award or something similar happens.
Method 2: Get info from your current customers
This may seem obvious, but stop and think about it for a moment – when was the last time you talked to your actual customers about anything? They are a perfect resource, because they’ve gone ahead and purchased your product or service and are usually accessible to you. Interviewing customers will not only give you insight into their decision-making process, it can also be a great opportunity to collect content for a case study. Offering to prepare and promote a joint case study, for example, can be a win-win for both you and your client. Besides talking to customers one-on-one, you can also consider surveying prospects or conducting focus groups. In summary, your goal is to identify their common interests, information sources and challenges.
Be cautious, though. Remember that there are cases where each client or customer may be completely unique, especially for professional services companies and nonprofits. It can be tempting to project the opinions and behaviors of your favorite nonprofit client onto every other nonprofit – and go completely off the tracks, as a result. Demographics simply don’t always work.
Method 3: Study your web analytics
There’s a ton of data accessible to you through Google Analytics, but are you using it to learn more about your buyers and visitors with shared values and interests? Ask yourself questions like these:
- What are the patterns of user behavior?
- Where do people come from?
- What keywords did they search for to get to you?
- What pages do they visit while on the site?
- How long do visitors stay?
- Which formats of content are performing the best?
- Do these patterns tell you anything about where your customers are in their buying process (or in your sales funnel), or what content is most effective at different stages of their buying process?
You can use this information to improve your website and landing pages to attract others interested in the same services, products or change issues, or you can use it to get the feeling of who the people visiting your site are, what we are more interested in today.
Method 4: Use your competitors
Not only do your customers have access to more information than ever before, but so do you! One way to get great insights into your buyers is to study the research or case studies that your competitors have published. Reviewing their case studies might help you better understand your prospect, as well as why they may have chosen your competitor over you in the past. In addition to following the competition, follow industry analyst blogs and reports
And now the case where you need specific bits of information, details about a certain person.
Method 5: Social media
I suggest starting with the professional networks, like LinkedIn and Quora, where all information is public by default. That’s where you’ll have the most luck. In this case, you’ll most likely be looking for some kind of detail that will help you personalize your cold email. On LinkedIn, you can check for any skills that the person added that are outside of their area of work – for example, a project manager included Photography. You can also check the causes they care about, as well as their recent posts and updates. It’s similar on Quora, you’ll again be trying to find some answers that they posted that are outside of their scope of work. People who like spending time there often answer any questions that they have personal experience or opinion about, so it wouldn’t be surprising to stumble upon someone’s personal story.
You could also skim through the less professional networks, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. There’s really no reason to feel bad about looking up anyone there, since anything you find available to the public has been posted publicly by the people you’re looking for. The Big Data has got us all covered on pretty much everything, so there’s really no harm in us checking if someone loves dogs in order to write a more friendly email. We at least spend time and devote attention, not something Big Data companies ever do.
I wouldn’t want to go off on a tangent about this, so let’s stop here and keep this post nice and light, a perfect read for Monday. These are our five quick tricks to help you get to know your leads before you ever meet them. Or to help you figure out who your target audience and customer persona is, it works both ways.
Have you got more methods that you use for leads research? We’d love to talk more, so join us in the comments below!