The business of sales and prospecting is an age old trade that
requires industry expertise, lead sourcing & management tools,
networking, and trust. Nowhere is this more true then in B2B sales
and marketing. In an industry where you may only get one shot to
make an impression and the leads may be few and far between, it's
imperative that you not only make that shot count, but that you
also have that next lead ready to pursue if that one doesn't work
out. That's why I decided to create this B2B prospecting guide that
offers some great resources and tactics I've learned along the way
and many are at little to no cost, just time and effort.
Establish yourself as an expert
It will be much easier to gain trust if you establish yourself
as an expert in your industry. Many prospects may actually seek you
out based on your exposure and credibility.
- Create white papers. Creating insightful and
informative papers is a great way to gain exposure and provide
material that can be spread throughout the Internet.
- Answer questions. Post answers to questions on
well known industry blogs and groups on sites like Linkedin.
Linkedin answers is also a great place to position yourself as an
- Get published. Write articles and get them
published on sites and in e-mail newsletters.
- Use your website. Use your site as a hub of
resources you've produced including your articles and white papers.
Its also a great place to link to all your social profiles and
promote any accolades you've earned.
- Speak at trade shows. Leverage your expertise
by speaking at trade shows, conventions, and seminars in your
It can be difficult to make your way into these B2B industries
which have vendors they already use and trust. Providing your
product or service will be much easier once trust is established
and there is no better way to do that then in word-of-mouth.
- Social networking. Build strong followings on
sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin, etc. Avoid using them
to simply promote your product and instead, provide users with
useful material and be sure to engage with them. Offer discounts on
your Facebook page, promote events on Linkedin, and share links to
articles on Twitter, for example.
- Blog. Cross promote your blog posts with other
experts in your industry. Provide content for other writers and/or
offer a free trail of your product or service.
- Provide excellent service. Know your customer
and their industry. Stay up-to-date on whats happening with them
with tools like Google Alerts and PR Web. The more you proactively
serve them and deliver on your promise, the more likely they will
be to recommend you to others.
Tools For Finding Prospects
These are some online tools I've used to find prospects.
- Linkedin. Use the company search feature to
find companies and the people search to find staff in the
appropriate job function on those companies.
- Trade Show websites. Find trade show and
conference websites in your vertical and find the attendee list,
speaker list, and exhibitor list. many of these shows will also
have social profiles you can follow and engage with.
- Search Engines. Search on search engines to
find companies and create a sponsered search campaign to allow
those looking for your product or service to find you.
What a great tool.With a directory of more than 20 million business
contacts and over 25,000 contacts added and edited daily by a
dedicated user base of over one million, the quality, content, and
scope of Jigsaw's world-class contact directory is unrivaled. Every
Jigsaw business contact is complete with a phone number (over 70%
of which are direct dial), position, company, mailing address, and
business email address. Jigsaw also offers free tools for
researching companies as well as a user generated company research
- Manta. Manta offers a large source of
information on small companies--offering data on more than 60
million firms worldwide.
Manta visitors can view company details such as company name,
address, number of employees, estimated annual sales and more.
- Subscription databases. There are many
services that offer paid subscriptions for access to their database
such as Hoovers, The List, Zoom Info, One Source and more.
E-mail is probably one of the most used tools for B2B but also
one of the most misused. It is your introduction and first
impression, so make it personalized, relevant, and interesting to
your recipient. Offer some insights to add value and show that
you've taken the time to get to know their business. Use sites like
Quantcast to get a sense of their web traffic, demographics, and
unusual spikes in visits. Here's a
Comprehensive List of Online
Business Intelligence Resources you can use to gain some
additional insights into their business.
- Aquiring prospects e-mails. There are many
great tools for finding the e-mails of those your trying to reach
including The List and others. My personal favorite, however, is
Your system and tools for managing your prospects is also an
important part of the process.
- CRM. All your prospects need to be saved in a
central place that's accessible to anyone on the team that will be
interacting with the prospect. If not, you'll risk prospects
falling through the racks and setting up an opportunity for
dissension in your sales team.
- Outlook. Outlook is not only great as an
e-mail client but also a great way to manage your prospects. I like
to use the tasks section to store emails we've exchanged, save
notes, and set follow ups.