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how to prospect a new indusrty for new customers

How To Prospect A New Industry For Customers

By Inbound Marketing, Sales, Social Media

If you’re thinking about breaking into a new industry for the purpose of selling your products or services, there are few things that inbound marketing and social media can offer you to make your efforts more effective.

But with so many different points of entry like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and blogs—where does one begin?

Inbound marketing is a way to use content to attract your ideal customers to your website. Inbound then uses social media as a distribution mechanism to spread your content to those you hope to do business with by attracting them to your website for lead capture. This methodology has been proven to shorten sales cycles, garner trust with your prospects and boost referrals—which is critical to building a presence in an industry you’ve never been involved with before.

With so many of your prospective customers already on social media, you may be missing out on ample opportunities to fill your sales pipeline.

In this article, we’ll look at how inbound marketing combined with “social media prospecting” can help you break into new industries to prospect new customers.

[box type=”info” size=”large”]Seventy-eight percent of sales people using social media outsell their peers. (Source: Forbes)[/box]

1. Search industry organizations
To begin, start by looking online for trade and industry associations you’re interested in. A simple search should turn up several results. Industry association websites typically have content on industry statistics that you can download for free without paying a membership fee. These pieces of content can give you helpful insight into the industry you’re prospecting. In last week’s article, we highlighted a few of these industries. Trade show websites also provide great sources to learn about the industry you’re investigating. Check out this list of trade associations to get started.

2. Add “top” or “best” to your web search to identify category leaders
It’s funny how most companies will describe their product or services as “top” or being the “best”—even when they are clearly not the best in their category. However, there are some legitimate sources that you can use to your advantage that will point you in the right direction. By simply adding ”best” to your search: best aircraft manufacturer, best hunting brands, top financial advisors, most purchased computer monitors, best doctors in Raleigh, best branding agencies, etc…, you’ll be able to figure out who the leaders are in any given category. This will provide you some framework into the industry you’re looking to do business with and a list of companies to go after.

3. Utilize your personal networks
If you know some people in the industry you are targeting, it doesn’t hurt to call them up and ask them a few questions. Maybe even take them to coffee. Here are some good questions to ask:

  • Where do you go for information? Blogs, newspapers, trade journals?
  • What are your biggest challenges?
  • Where do you acquire most of your customers?
  • Who are your customers?
  • Do you use social media?
  • Do you use Google for search?
  • What was the last topic you searched on?

By asking where your potential prospects spend time online (or offline) will help you understand how these people think and where you can focus your marketing and sales efforts in the future.

 4. Create relevant content
61% of consumers say they feel better about a company that delivers custom content, and are more likely to buy from that company. (Source: Custom Content Council)

In order for your social prospecting efforts to gain traction, you must create content. Blogs are the first best place to start to attract prospects. Marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI. (Source: HubSpot State of Inbound, 2014) 

By creating a blog article zeroed in on prospective industry keywords and your ideal customers, you’ll have the ability to share your thoughts, tips and advice with those in the industry you hope to do business with—which creates value. If you have little information to draw upon—start with simple industry statistics. As you become more familiar with the category, more ideas on in-depth topics you can write about will emerge.

landing pageSecondly, create a downloadable offer like an ebook, whitepaper or case study. You can create a landing page on your website specifically targeting the keywords your prospects are using so your page shows up in search results. Using a form will allow you to capture inbound leads once a prospect decides to download your offer. Using inbound tactics saves an average of 13% in overall cost per lead. (Source: HubSpot State of Inbound, 2014) 

When you do reach out over email, social media or phone, your offer has already initiated some initial trust in the mind of your prospect. And with 57% of the purchasing process over before ever talking to sales, its important to make sure your website is up to snuff. (Source: Executive Board

[box type=”info” size=”large”]You are 70% more likely to get an appointment on an unexpected sale if you join LinkedIn Groups. (Source: Steve Richard, Co-Founder of Vorsight)[/box]

5. Social prospecting
The best place to prospect for new customers in a new industry is on social media. LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are all great places to start looking for prospects once you know who the players are.

LINKEDIN
The professional network of LinkedIn boasts 225 million members. Top sellers use LinkedIn 6 hours per week. (Source: Jill Konrath)

Seek out industry groups on LinkedIn and join them. Notice what topics are being discussed and join in on the conversation. Share and comment on your potential prospects comments and content. This allows you to establish some thought leadership. Aim to be helpful. Find the names of people and their positions who are the decision makers—more on this below.

TWITTER
Twitter is best for understanding what your prospects are interested in. Use #hashtags to search topics, people and ideas. To find what hashtags your prospects are using, take a look at these top sites to speed the process:

Retweet, favorite and comment on those prospects you are trying to build a relationship with and create a list for those people and companies to organize your feeds.

FACEBOOK
With 1.35 billion users per month, Facebook works the same as Twitter and LinkedIn. Locate the companies you want to work with and “like” them. Comment, share and like the posts to show interest.

It’s important to understand that you must approach social prospecting with the mentality that you want to help—not sell. Any advances that are too “salesy” or aggressive, may put a bad taste in your prospects mouth. Take it slow at first; aim to connect on an emotional level, help and be authentic. The goal here is to warm your leads so that when you do post a blog article or send an email or call them, they’ll know who you are.

[box type=”info” size=”large”]Personal value has 2x as much impact as business value does, and 71% of B2B buyers who see personal value will purchase a product. (CEB)[/box]

6. Create a list of prospects using a CRM
Utilize a CRM tool to track your prospects. A great tool we use is Sidekick and HubSpot’s CRM. It allows us to streamline our information gathering and prioritize our leads and sales pipeline more efficiently.

CRM

In a typical firm with 100-500 employees, an average of 7 people are involved in most buying decisions. (Source: Gartner Group

Hubspot’s CRM combined with Sidekick allows you to identify who your potential decision makers are, making your initial calls/contacts more productive.

7. Set SMART goals
No effort should take place without SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely). A good example of a SMART goal looks something like this:

  • Prospect 25 companies that includes the contact information of decision makers
  • Identify and connect on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter
  • Close 2 customers by the end of Q215
  • Sales Goal: $50K

Combine SMART goals with your CRM to stay focused and consistent.

To wrap up, breaking into a new industry or vertical can be fun and exciting. Social media prospecting combined with some inbound marketing tactics like blogging, landing pages and content offers can build out your sales pipeline and allow you to make some strong inroads into a lucrative new industry.

Social Prospecting Workbook

Social Prospecting Workbook:
How To Use Social Media To Find New Leads

By downloading this social prospecting workbook, you’ll learn the fundamentals of listening to social media conversations in order to generate new leads for your business.

Download Now [vc_separator type=”large” dh=”1″ color=”light” icon=”” align=”left” margin-bottom=”40″ margin_top=”40″]

Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

How To Win More Business By Helpful Selling

How To Win More Business By Helpful Selling

By Inbound Marketing, Sales

When it comes to winning more business—it can sometimes be difficult not to blow your own horn when communicating with your customers and prospects.

By understanding how to talk to their level and helping them think differently about their business by solving their problems first, you will have greater success in moving them further down your sales funnel and converting them into a customer.

As professionals, we eat, sleep and breathe our vocations. What has become second nature to us—can be jibber-jab to our prospects.  We ultimately believe our products or services are the best and everyone needs them. However, what is apparently obvious to you, may not be to your customer.

If you find yourself losing sale opportunities for no apparent reasons, it may be time to take a look at how you may (or may not) be talking to your customers.

To start, you need to understand how consumer behavior has shifted in the past 2-3 years.  

Research has shown that your customers will go to the internet (search engines, social media, local directories, review sites) to consult on average 10.4 pieces of content—before they even contact you. The internet is the first place where over 90% of all B2C and B2B prospects will go when beginning research for a potential purchase.

To win more business, business owners, marketers and business developers need to know how they can maximize their sales processes within this new paradigm.

Below are 8 points to keep in mind when talking to your customers so you can win more business.

1. Create buyer personas
Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers. They are based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns.

We sometime lose sight and think we know our customers fairly well, but it quickly becomes apparent—once we begin to peel back the layers—how much we think we know is based only on assumptions—not facts.  

In order to talk to your customers level and win more business you must put yourself in their shoes and get to their level of understanding and motivations of what their challenges are and identify the solutions that can best help them. This can only be done by researching and identifying your buyer persona.

2. Research your prospect on social media
If you don’t have a buyer persona strategy in place, the next best thing is LinkedIn. If you have time in between your first contact and sales meeting—it’s good to check who the prospect is on LinkedIn and on other social media networks. Top sellers use LinkedIn 6 hours per week. (SOURCE: Jill Konrath, Author of Snap Selling)

Knowledge and familiarity of your prospect will allow you to break down any mental barriers in your mind before speaking to your prospect, which can build confidence. Knowing something personal about them is good so you can determine if you have something in common (sports, hobbies, contacts, locations etc.). It’s always better to talk about a common interest than the weather to break the ice. People ultimately choose to do business with people they like, and everyone likes someone who appreciates them. (Source: Forbes)

3. Assume nothing
You should always assume your prospect knows nothing about you or what you offer and vice versa for the first call. Assumptions can taint the waters in sales meetings/calls and can make you look uninformed.

4. Help them think differently about their business
In 2011, CEB came out with a new sales model called the Challenger Sale that has been adopted by top companies. This model is based upon sales people helping customers with their problems first—which builds trust, leads to higher customer satisfaction and faster closings.

“The way to effectively sell your product is to make sure your customer believes you are there to help them win in the market.” — Tyrone Edwards, SVP of Sales and Marketing, Merck Pharmaceuticals

This is a radical departure from the past were sales was more about promotion. By helping your customer understand their problem and identifying those drivers, you can help your customer succeed, which is ultimately why they are contacting you.

5. Scrap the jargon
No one cares, especially your prospect that you know your industry’s terminology—better to save it for the trade show. By knowing your buyer persona, you will know their industry lingo. However, it’s still better to speak professionally with articulation and intelligence and keep the jargon to a minimum.

6. Utilize marketing automation to better qualify your prospect
One of the greatest benefits of sales and marketing automation is that you have the ability to potentially warm your prospects up to your products and services prior to having a conversation with them. This allows you to see—through web analytics (email, clicks, downloads, likes, tweets etc.)—if your prospect has interest in your offerings. This allows you to gain insight into how to better help them. Most tools will also allow you to capture information about your prospect so you can know exactly who they are and if they are a viable lead.

7. Create a process
All good sales people have a process to help them win more business. By utilizing a questioning process, you get your prospect talking about their business, problems and challenges and how you can help them—versus rambling on about how great your solutions are. A good process follows Budget, Authority, Need and Timing or BANT and GPC: Goals, Plans and Challenges to effectively qualify your prospect.  Ask questions that cover their company and their organization (internal). For example:

  1. What is your secret sauce?
  2. Who are your competitors?
  3. What is your average sales price?
  4. What are your company’s revenue targets?
  5. How do you fit within your company?
  6. What is the decision making process?
  7. What are your goals?

… are just a few good questions to ask.

8. Help. Don’t sell.
Lastly, ditch the pitch. Assuming your brand and website has done its job—your prospect will already be convinced that you can help them. Be prepared to show a little transparency and authenticity. This will go a long way in earning trust and credibility.  

Marcus Sheridan of The Sales Lion states: “Consumers of all types expect to find answers on the internet, and companies that can best provide that information garner trust and sales loyalty. Success flows to organizations that inform, not organizations that promote.”

In conclusion, to win more business you must be helpful, you must create and understand your buyer persona, research your prospect on social media, assume nothing about your prospect, help them to think differently about their business, scrap the jargon, take time to better qualify them and above all—help, don’t sell.Website Buyer Persona Template

 

FREE DOWNLOAD: A Guide to Creating the Buyer Persona

The key to maximizing your marketing and sales efforts

In this powerful template — we help you and your team think through and identify who your ideal customer/client is. This will enable you to set SMART goals to turn your website into a lead generating machine. It will also help you present your buyer persona to your team for internal alignment and clarity.

 

 

 

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.