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Sales prospecting often involves targeting a list of random contacts in a specific area of interest. However, having a referral for new business is by far the best way to ensure closing a sale. Having an “in” or getting your “foot in the door” is the best way to start. If you have an existing customer base, then you already have an “in”. Each customer has colleagues, business partners and maybe even other businesses that would be a potential customer. These are latent opportunities.
Before you go to a prospecting list based on industries, regions or titles (or however you want to base your list), try starting with the customers that you have. Diligently research your current customer base to find out who their business colleagues are, what other businesses they may be involved with and if you already have a relationship with any of their contacts.
Latent opportunities already exist, only they are hidden and you just have to know how to find them. A latent opportunity is identified by discovering entities connected with an existing decision maker. These opportunities are pre-qualified sales leads because there is already an existing relationship with the identified prospect through the existing customer’s owner(s) and/or officer(s). And these are just the 1st degree qualified opportunities, meaning that these are additional entities and contacts related directly to your customer. You also have a group of 2nd degree qualified opportunities through any separate entities of the contacts who are directly related to your customer.
Analysis of latent opportunities in a current customer list will identify spheres of influence within the dataset. Those influences can reach across regions or industries. If you are looking to expand your product or service offerings into other regions or industries, you may already have those connections when you research your current customer base.
For example, if you are a casualty and property insurance agent and you have a great customer, diligence on that customer could reveal latent opportunities. If you discover that your customer has other businesses, then those other businesses are (pre-qualified) opportunities for which you can provide insurance products and services. As an insurance agent, you now have expanded your opportunities to other companies and contacts already associated with your current customer. If you are looking to expand into another geographical region or vertical, an analysis of your latent opportunities could reveal that you already have a 1st or 2nd degree contact in that area or industry. This process would be the same for a banker or an attorney or any other professional targeting people and their businesses.
Diligence in prospecting efforts can yield opportunities that were once hidden. Current customer lists are an invaluable resource for identifying latent opportunity sets for pre-qualified leads.