Tap into your customer base to discover new prospects
Most people don't like receiving cold calls and most sales people don't like making cold calls. Your prospect's time is valuable, and most importantly, your time is valuable. You don't want to waste your time and resources on a prospect that you can't help with your products or services.
It really makes more sense to reach out to those prospects that you know that you can help. You want to work smarter, not harder. You already work with customers who are gaining value from your product or service. So start harvesting prospects from your current customer base. These prospects already fit your customer profile. Some of your customers will have other business associates with similar customer profiles, demographics and psychographics.
Sales Diligence and Research
You have your script and your value proposition ready and that's great. But the best way to connect with a prospect is to do a little sales diligence. Do some research to really understand your prospect so that you can tailor your pitch. Ideally, you are looking for prospects with similar profiles to your current customers. This is where researching your customer and finding other customers just like them comes in. Understanding your prospect's business footprint can shed some light on their background and help to strategize an effective approach. You could start with a search of state business records. This will allow you to identify other business entities associated with your prospect. The Secretary of State can provide a wealth of information including present and past business ownership, as well as the names of business partners. These partners are potential prospects who will match your customer profile.
Another often overlooked source of information is UCC liens. Not all companies have UCC liens, but those that do will have those records filed with the state. This data will provide valuable information on financial relationships. For example, UCC data will show your prospect's banking relationship, secured parties as well as debtors. You can also get an understanding of what types of assets they hold given that a UCC lien can be filed on property (such as a company vehicle or farm equipment), but also can be applied to a building mortgage. Financial relationships from UCC liens is another data point to add while gaining a fuller picture of your prospect's business background.
Ask for a referral (without asking for a referral)
Referrals are often the best way to get new business. You could ask your happy customer directly for an introduction to a partner or colleague who might be a good fit for your product or service. But if you've done your research, you already know about that partner or colleague. You can mention to your customer that you see that they have a partner or colleague that you'd like to contact. Ask if you can use their name when you contact them. It's as simple as that. Your customer doesn't have to do any work in making the introduction, and you still get a referral.
Harvest Your Connections
Sales diligence and understanding your prospect is key to growing your pipeline using your customer base. Rather than cold-calling an unknown prospect, why not reach out the prospects that you know already share the right customer profile? This can be a much more efficient and practical way to build your pipeline. A little research will go a long way.