One common missing element for most B2B companies is a good list. Now don’t get me wrong, most companies do have a customer list. The “List” I am talking about is a “potential customer” or “prospect list”. In all my experience, in this day and age, Incredibly, many companies today are missing this “potential customer list”… this major growth asset!
Why is a Prospect List important today?
Two technologies had a dramatic effect on how we do business: Voice Mail and the World Wide Web. Between 1990 and 2000 both became universally available to most companies.
Prior to Voicemail, it was common place for people to answer their phones. It was our primary form of non face to face communication. The social norm was that to ignore an incoming phone call was rude. In fact, secretaries and “gate-keepers” were asked to return every single call.
The arrival of Voice Mail quickly spelled the end to being able to get your buyer on a direct dial. Today, executives don’t answer the phone. They don’t return the voice messages left by unknown sales representatives. So cold calling is dead and has been dead for over a decade.
The World Wide Web, has had an equally massive impact on the way buyers make decisions. Prior the mid 90’s buyers needed sales people because sales people possessed information. Sales people had catalogues, product knowledge and industry expertise. Sales people had the knowledge, and knowledge is power.
Today, the buyer has all the power. With a few mouse clicks, they can find in depth information about you, your company and your services /products. They can also instantly research your main competitors. They can obtain comparitive reviews of you and your competition.
So, if you do not have a potential prospect list of interested buyers, your chance of success in sales is very low!
Does this mean that the role of sales people is obsolete?
No, not at all!
However, the expectation that your outside sales force will bring in a constant stream of new accounts most likely is. The same buyers that don’t answer the phone and don’t return calls, are still very interested in conversing with sales reps; but only when the time is right… for the buyer!
An intelligent prospect list gives the lead generation department (even if that is you) the power to conduct successful outbound marketing. The art of it is in two vital elements. One to know where and how to find potential customers and two, to understand the triggers that your prospects might respond to. After that it is simply an act of providing headlines and offers that will cause them to act. A laser sharp communication program matched to your potential customer’s buying triggers will pay off big.
Where does this “intelligent” data come from? Thankfully there are amazing new technologies to target and find the contact data that’s required. My next posts will reveal some of those tools and how to use them. In the meantime, check your list.
How many true potential customers do you have that contain full address, phone and email contact information?