How to do lead research

How to do lead research

Introduction

Not every individual who becomes a salesperson can be considered naturally skilled at their job. For many professionals, the process of making a sale call can be a formidable task. Anyone who has been making sales calls long enough has experienced a moment where things went bad from worse in an instant. Things began to seemingly fail to impress the prospect regardless of how hard you attempted to make the deal enticing. 


Perhaps you thought you were using the appropriate language, prepared for the call, and worked tirelessly to understand what to offer a specific lead. Yet, your prospect continues to talk about your competitors, ask for services you don’t have, or remains disinterested throughout the whole conversation. For these cases, it’s hard to get off the call in one piece. More so, getting near enough to close a deal. 


The hard truth to swallow is that these scenarios arise because you didn’t perform enough research about your lead. 


Why is it crucial to research your sales leads?

The world never stops changing around us, and it’s not going to remain the same just because you asked it to. The business world is a fast-paced environment, and the customers' needs and demands are constantly changing. Sales and marketing professionals need to learn how to adapt to these behavioral shifts caused by a varying evolution of technological advancements made lifestyle changes. 


Most importantly, the information you have acquired about your lead will not remain the same for very long. Researching your sales leads will aid you in understanding their situation, pain points, and wants beyond a mere buyer person or stage of the buyer's journey. 


Only when you have finally comprehended the entire story behind your sales goal-oriented behavior and activities can you start to truly understand the whole content of how your product or service can best address your needs. That personalized information will help you avoid any devastating results from using the same generic voice, tone, and message throughout your sales calls. 


In simple terms, understanding the reasons in which your prospect arrived at the other end of the call will help you design and individualize the sales strategy. 


Where can you get your leads?

Leads that discover us or inbound leads can do so in numerous ways, from referrals, ads, web searches, social media, press releases, and so forth. 


Of course, if you want to ensure that you are acquiring the best leads, you need to develop a process of proactively discovering new leads called list building. It’s a crucial part of establishing a predictable sales process because it grants you absolute control. Keep in mind that you want to build a system fueled by hard work, not chances, from marketing campaigns. 


Let’s go over what you need to know about the steps for stellar lead research. 


Who needs your product?

Chances are, you’ve heard some people say that sales are all about delivering the right message to the right people at the right time. Building a list enables you to skip the uncertainty of hoping that the person who would benefit from your message hears it when they need to. Instead, you want to proactively find those prospects with a need and share the news about your product. 


That last part is crucial. You need to determine who is interested in your product during the list developing phase. It won’t be 100% correct all the time, but that’s fine. The idea here is not to build a massive list as cheaply as possible and figure out who is interested in seeing who responds. That’s a terrible strategy for several reasons: 





One question you should consider asking yourself before including a constant to any list is:


Is this individual likely to be interested in my product or service, even if they don't immediately buy?


Remember, you are trying to define what a satisfied customer looks like. Who do you believe will truly benefit from what you are selling?


The messaging

The people you get in contact with when you contact them and the message you send them are all intertwined. Therefore, building your list and messaging need to be aligned. 


You want to engage with your lead through a message that was tailored for them. Throughout the process of developing your list, you need to consider what kind of message will be used to gain the interest of the leads and build the list to allow you to deliver that message. 


If the product you are selling is beneficial for high-growth companies, you want to include that in your messaging. Hence, if you start developing a list of the 4000 fastest-growing companies, you know you will be speaking to a pain the leads are dealing with. If the messaging doesn’t change based on the company’s growth rate, then starting with a list of the fastest-growing companies is going to be no better than beginning with a random list of companies. 


Take your ideal customer profile from the previous step, and consider the most effective message you can build. It will most likely be something tailored to their situation. You may not be capable of doing it at scale, but you should get as close as possible. 


With that in mind, you need to not only build a list of leads who will want to know about your product but build the list in a way that allows you to deliver the most effective message to that potential customer. That means you won’t have a massive monolithic list of people all getting the same message from you. 


Initial data source

The place we source initial data from is a very critical decision. A bad initial list can make the whole building process far more costly and reduce the success rate. The size of the list is also the upper limit on how many leads you can expect at the end of the process. There are several questions you need to answer when choosing an initial data source. 


What percentage of people will you close?

Not all of the people on your list will become customers, but what percentage of them will vastly impact your overall lead cost per customer? Leads need to be trimmed either in the list building process or when you reach out, and they are not interested in moving onwards. A well-made list needs to balance these factors.


For example, possibly only 90% of your initial leads are worth contacting, but only 5% of those are interested enough to move forward. For another list, it may only be 10% of the initial leads that are working reaching out to, but a massive percentage of them are interested in moving forward. Both lists are fine, but since costs increase as leads move down the funnel, the second would most likely generate more return. 


Do you have something to say?

The relevance and uniqueness behind your messaging shall also have an impact on how many of your leads close. So deciding on a list that offers you a unique and relevant message from the start can be very beneficial. 


How large is the list?

There is a certain amount of resources that go into launching a list. Creating a customized message and developing a list process may not make a whole lot of sense if your list only contains a few customers. That number will vary for everyone, but you want to develop a list of leads that has a few hundred leads at least. 


The list can come from practically anywhere and contain anything. People often think they need to begin with a list that has the account name, contact information, and so forth. But that start on the list can be anything. Here are some examples:



The whole point is that the list does not have to start in detail or even close to finished. If anything, it’s highly unlikely that you will ever reach out to all of the people on the list. It’s alright if all of the people on your list are not suitable enough. As long as it’s not too expensive for your team to acquire the data and qualify the list, it can start off as a bad list. 90% of the people who share content from an industry blog possibly don’t qualify for your product, but there are 10% of them who could be high qualifiers for your product. 


This step, more than any other, is the perfect time to be creative. Search for anything and everything that could serve as an indicator of a qualified prospect, and remember you don’t require the best indication, just an indicator. 


Not all of these initial lists need to strictly remain as lists either. Some of the things we’ve mentioned above could be described as trigger events. By using trigger events, you are building your lists from scratch. You could be collecting information from companies that are posting a specific type of job listing, publishing press releases on key hires, or use keywords in their annual reports. 


An excellent lead strategy shall layer on several of these various sources. Some of your most effective sources may not be sizable enough to sustain the whole sales team. So include them anyways and add less effective but bigger lists until you can get your lead commit. There are some excellent tools out there that can help you with this process if you wish to create beneficial lists and ensure it’s well organized. 


Databases

One of the most straightforward sources for leads is a company database. There are tons of them in all shapes and sizes, filled with a database that could potentially contain your target customers. Here are some of the more significant ones.



Crunchbase: Crunchbase is an excellent database for discovering high potential and funded startups. One issue that many other databases tend to have is the option to differentiate small companies that will remain small and small companies that are spending tons of money to grow. 


LinkedIn: One of the best-known databases out there that frequently appears on most people's radar. It’s considered one of the most accurate and comprehensive databases for organizations and employees due to it actively updating regularly. LinkedIn enables you to search companies by hundreds of different industry types, geographical regions, and eight company size buckets. 


Yelp: Possibly one of the least likely to be suitable for your product, but it's added here as an example of other alternative databases at your fingertips. If your organization sells a product for restaurants or local businesses, Yelp could serve as an excellent database. While the database does help consumers more, that doesn’t mean you can’t make it work for you. 


Online social networks

Social networks are pretty astounding these days. There are so many options out there for people to remain social with one another online. All of your contacts can be found on these social platforms, sharing their interests. And many of the companies you want to close deals with are also in those social networks. 


Of course, not all of them are easily discoverable in places like Facebook or Instagram. But there are so many social networks out there including meetups and subreddits that serve plenty of professionals. However, keep in mind that these social networks are not the places to make your sales, but to socially connect with others. So unless you're purchasing ads, refrain from pitching inside of these networks. 


Online communities: One of the more vague parts of this list since it differs drastically by industry. Nevertheless, there are tons of sizable communities of people talking about a particular industry online, somewhere. These places could include websites like Reddit, meetups, groups, or forums. 


LinkedIn: A platform considered one the best business social networks on the net. It was previously mentioned in the database part, but we glossed over the social media aspect of the platform. In addition to serving as an excellent database, LinkedIn has a social component that allows people to post content and create groups related to specific industries. Groups related to your industry are by definition filled with people who would be interested in what you are selling. 


Twitter: For every person that is tweeting about their pets, there are several professionals sharing quality content and networking. Twitter is a top-notch network to find people interested in your industry. Try searching for article links to see who shared content related to your product and search the followers for influencers who tweet about your industry. 


Complementary tech

If you can figure out a way to connect what you are selling with the technology of another company, you are likely to get more leads. For example, Intro provides a widget that can be used in combination with Zoom or Meet. The widget allows your sales team to have access to information about the prospect and their company. 


Tools for researching leads

Some of the sources we have provided you with above can be time-consuming and tedious to acquire information from, but some tools can assist you in these endeavors. If you don’t see a tool here that can help you with your specific strategy, then conduct a quick Google search. There are tons of tools available that can perform particular tasks. 


BuzzSumo: By using BuzzSumo, you can see who is sharing content related to your product. It shows that they are likely to be interested enough to actively tell everyone on their feed about it. 


Builtwith.com: Builtwith is a great site that can automatically tell you the technology used by a particular website or web app. It also provides you with a massive list of other sites using that specific technology if you decide to pay. 


Google Alerts: Capture a massive amount of news on web pages that hold specific keywords. It’s an excellent tool for employee announcement, company news, new branches, or anything else you deem important. 


Mention: Mention is one of the more simplistic social media monitoring tools available. All you need to do is input some keywords. You will receive a notification whenever someone decides to tweet that particular word.  


Scrapers

When you find a fantastic lead source online, your work isn’t done. You need to acquire all of that precious information off the internet and into your database. While it sounds like an easy task, it can often be a time-consuming part of the lead research process. Scraper tools are capable of assisting you automatically in getting that information, all without needing to know how to code. Before you start scraping a website, make sure to check their guidelines for the allowance of scrapping the site. 


Qualify leads

It is crucial that you don't reach out to just any single person. You need to remember to proactively read out to leads who would vastly benefit from your product. If you reach out to unqualified people, then you're wasting both of your time. 


Who should you talk to?

While you may target accounts, you are selling to people. That means you need to find the people you wish to talk to about purchasing your product.


First, take the time to consider the lead source. If this is about a particular person (someone who shared a piece of content or new hire), then the person you want to reach out to is them. 


Secondly, you will want to find people at the account. One way to do this is by going to the company’s website or LinkedIn page and searching for who works there. While it is a decent enough strategy, if you are planning to scale the process or hand it over to someone else on the team, you need to define who you are looking for. Otherwise, you’ll be spending far too much time scrolling through hundreds if not thousands of people who work at the target accounts. 


It’s one reason why you should consider setting up a systematic search process based on the titles. Titles can be some of the most informative parts and enable you to identify the contacts. Furthermore, you want to find more contact information. Just because you couldn’t get in contact with someone at the account doesn't mean that it's no longer valuable. Consider researching for at least three to five contacts. 


There are two ideas here that you can consider. When it comes to deciding who these contacts should be, the bottom up and the top down. 


Bottom-up is all about reaching out to the end-users of your product and enticing them to sign up for a free trial. Once you’ve managed to sign up a bunch of people, it becomes far easier to make a sale. This is a great strategy for those who are served better by an inbound approach. 


In the case of a top-down, you are going to reach out to the highest level individual. They are likely to be interested in what you do or the results that you can deliver. That person may even refer down the line to someone who will take one of your calls. If this highest-level contact doesn’t respond to you, then you need to reach out to another step down the chain of command. It’s best to stop when you reach the lowest level of decision-makers. 


Again, your best tools to accomplish all of this are going to be the stuff we previously mentioned. Linkedin and any other lead databases out there. They serve as an excellent source to discover the name, title, and contact information in a single step. The only real downside is that they can be outdated and incomplete at times. 


Acquiring contact information

During the previous step, you spent some time finding the right people who could really benefit from your product. Unfortunately, there is no way to get in contact with them yet. The good news is that there are tons of data websites and email-finding tools available. These tools can ensure that the whole process is easier to maintain. 


Here are some ideas and tools for locating emails.


Guess and check

This technique involves finding a company’s email convection, guessing the contact email, and using some free tools to check if you managed to get it correctly. Putting their name in Gmail can also potentially show you if they have a Google+ account, which lets you know if their email works. Tools like HeadReach, EmaiHunter, and Mail-tester.com can assist with checking to see if the email address works. 


Most large companies tend to have people that have common names. So you need to be careful when reaching out to someone since you could be reaching out to the wrong person. 


Make sure you closely check over your work. Researching emails can be time-consuming and challenging work, and you will make mistakes. The process may even potentially fail you if you're not careful enough. That is why you need to check over your work closely. The last thing you want is for those emails to bounce or become undeliverable. The bounce rate you achieve should always be near 0%. 


Sharing it

That should be enough when it comes to getting your leads. At this point, you want to start reaching out to your highly qualified prospective customers with a custom-built list specifically for your company and an ideal message backing it up. Upload your list onto your CRM, marketing automation tool, or sales acceleration software. 


Calling prospects

As you reach out to these prospects, you’ll be establishing dates where both of you can speak to each other through a video call. During that time, you want to use the information you have acquired about them and their company to your advantage. That will require you to start opening up all sorts of tabs and switching between various programs to ensure you have everything laid out. Plus, you’ll be needing to look over the information during these calls.


Fortunately, we have a solution that ensures you won’t have to worry about switching over between programs and straying your eyes away from your prospect. Here at Intro, our widget can display all of the information you have acquired in a single place right in front of you. If you are using Zoom or Meet, the information will appear right there without any hassle. 


You’ll get access to rich and relevant insight about your attendees, all remaining focused on selling instead of needing to switch between your prospect and your notes. A single click is all of your prospect’s Linkedin activities, CRM notes, and company news will be available. Making the whole process much easier on you when it comes to conducting lead research. 


Conclusion 

Lead research holds a significant role in ensuring that your sales team is successful with reaching out to prospects. Without the correct information available to them, their chances of selling anything will plummet severely. Remember, when you are researching leads before a sales call, you must get as much information as you possibly can. Don’t stop until you’ve acquired every bit of information you need to develop a whole picture of the situation. 


Regardless of how highly qualified your lead is, you should never fail to conduct research on them or neglect preparing for your sales call. That extra time you spend on this may make a whole massive difference in converting them into satisfied customers.