The Need for B2B Prospect Research
The more you can personalize your communications with B2B prospects, the greater your competitive advantage. Because of this, marketers and salespeople are scrambling to learn more about their prospects than ever before, including everything from firmographics to insights on individual personalities.
To communicate in a way that’s relevant, you need to dig deep to understand:
- The market in which target accounts operate
- Company growth, profitability and strategies
- Buying team structure and key players
- Your business’s connections to the account. Has anyone in your organization interacted with the account in the past? Do you have any links to them based on education, employment history, interests or group memberships?
- Which accounts are sending signals online or offline that they intend to buy?
- How can I best communicate with prospects based on their personalities?
But how can you do the research efficiently and effectively?
B2B Prospect Research Can Be Time Consuming
According to CSO Insights, prospect research already eats up the equivalent of one day a week for salespeople. While the research builds a foundation for success, you’d likely prefer them to be investing their time engaging with prospects.
So how can your reps find the information they need more rapidly? Here are five sources they should check out. Some are tried and true resources with tips to make them more useful. Others are new tools about which you may not have heard.
- Look in the Right Places on Company Websites
What should you look for on a company’s website? Obviously, you want to gain insights on what the company offers and their market. Often, however, the changes that are occurring within an organization provide your opening to talk with their associates and find out how you can help them.
Look at their press releases and, if they have them, annual reports. You may learn about strategies and new initiatives, such as partnerships and product introductions, for which you can provide support.
- Use Advanced Techniques for Google Searches
Today, turning to Google for information is almost as natural as breathing. But are your reps using Google in the most efficient way? There are advanced search techniques that provide shortcuts to the information you need.
For example, you can go to news.google.com, and type in the name of the company you’re researching to find out all the latest news about them. Or expand your search to the industry in which they operate to find out challenges and opportunities faced in the market.
Another technique is the Boolean search, using the commands AND and OR. If your business helps prevent system downtime and Southwest Airlines is a target account, you might want to see information related to Southwest and downtime. If so, type “Southwest AND downtime” into the search function. You’ll get a more focused list of articles than if you just typed in “Southwest downtime.”
- Leverage LinkedIn
Another go-to resource for B2B research is LinkedIn. You can go to LinkedIn, do an advanced search and find associates in relevant departments of companies at your target accounts. Pull up individual profiles to learn about their backgrounds and roles. Also, look at the company profile page to see their latest updates, areas of specialization, the number of employees and more. You can even explore their job listings to see if any openings align with your company’s offering — if they have a gap internally, they may be open to having another company help fill the need.
- Do Personality Profiles with Crystal
Want to get up close and personal? Pair LinkedIn with Crystal. It’s a platform that gives you personality insights, helping you communicate with prospects in the most convincing language and style for them.
After you install Crystal, go to LinkedIn, click on “Personality,” and it will tell you how to win someone’s trust, and how to speak to or email them. You can even paste in a sample of an individual’s writing and ask for a personality analysis. It may tell you something like “This person is cheerful, sincere and open, which makes them relatable and easy to talk to. They are not driven by a sense of urgency but value relationships over ambition and methodically plan before diving into action.” Then it provides advice on building relationships and communicating with the person. This little tool is not only useful, but it’s also fun to use.
- Navigate Twitter with Socedo
Navigating Twitter to find prospects sometimes seems like trying to beat a path through the jungle. Think of Socedo as your guide. In their search function, you can enter job titles, location and keywords that are likely to be in your prospect’s profile and tweets. Then Socedo uses user-generated “intent data,” showing an interest in a topic and serves up leads that meet your criteria. You can follow them, and if they follow you back, Socedo sends a direct message through Twitter. If you like, you can include a link to your website or a landing page.
Also, Socedo now integrates with some of the leading marketing automation platforms, including Marketo, Salesforce, Eloqua and HubSpot. Each contact you bring into your Marketing Automation or CRM system from Socedo comes with up to 50 data points — demographic and firmographic information. You can also match up data currently in your marketing automation system to individuals’ profiles to monitor their interest on the main topics that signal intent.
For more rapid and robust B2B prospect research, your reps can learn to use traditional resources more efficiently, such as websites, Google and LinkedIn. Also, if they couple these information sources with new automated tools, their data will be richer and their outreach will likely be more successful.