Lessons Learned #2: Lead Generation, Prospecting

For the second lesson of the series “Outbound Sales for Beginners” we are going to focus on lead generation also known as prospecting. As mentioned in the first lesson, lead generation, refers to the first step of an outbound sales process and consists of sourcing contact information of potential new clients. Before you jump into prospecting it is important to have a very well defined idea of your target customer profile, also known as Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). To achieve this you should have good answers to the following questions: What types of companies are you targeting? Who is the buyer of your product at these companies? Lead generation can be broken down into various steps. First, it involves defining your ICP, then searching sites like LinkedIn, Angelist, and Crunchbase or crawling the web in search of customer information, and finally testing and measuring the outreach to refine your process.

This lesson will be structured as follows:

  1. Build your ideal customer profile
  2. Build lists of leads and enrich your data
  3. Measure and refine your lead generation

Read on to have a better grasp of each one of these phases.

Before you jump into prospecting it is important to have a very well defined idea of your target customer profile, also known as Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

1. Build your ideal customer profile

Before you start building lists of leads it is important that you define your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).

What types of companies are you targeting? In order to define the types of companies you are targeting you should consider the following filters:

  • Revenue or Funding
  • # of employees
  • Location
  • Industry, Market
  • Budget
  • Technologies they might be using

Who is the decision maker you are trying to reach out to? Define your buyer/decision maker taking into account the following criteria:

  • Job Title (Marketing vs. Sales departments)
  • Seniority (Vice Presidents vs. Directors or Managers)
  • Location (USA vs. Asia)

A good way to find out about your ICP is to talk to your best customers. What separates your best and worst customers? What industries are they in? What is the job title and seniority of your decision makers? You should reach out to your current ideal customers and ask. Here is a good set of questions that you should ask your current customers:

  • How did you originally find our company before contacting us?
  • Why did you originally buy from our company?
  • Why do you continue to buy from our company?
  • How has working with our company helped your business?
  • Would you refer our company to other people? Who and why?

Run these interviews gather the information and use it to find prospects that are similar to your best customers as you will have a better chance of closing. These interviews will also help you refine your value propositions and the messaging that you will later use for your outreach. Once you have found the companies as well as the individuals you want as customers, you should focus your energy on these leads.

A good way to find out about your ICP is to talk to your best customers. What separates your best and worst customers? What industries are they in? What is the job title and seniority of your current decision maker?

2. Build lists of leads and enrich your data

Now that you know your ICP you need to find prospects that are just like them. Prospecting involves online research for people and company information.

Finding the right contacts:

You can find company information on sites like LinkedIn, Angelist or Crunchbase. If you want to be more granular and filter companies based on software they are using (for example e-commerce platforms like Shopify or BigCommerce) you can use BuiltWith or Datanyze.

LinkedIn is the best source for people information. You can use LinkedIn's Advanced People Search with the right keywords (i.e. title, industry, location etc) to get a list of prospects that match your criteria. Once you find the right prospects you should gather as much information as you can about them and the companies they work for. This will allow you to craft very targeted and personalized emails later on. You should make sure your list fits your ideal customer profile.

Getting their Email:

Now that you created a list of prospects you just need to find their email. Given their full name (first_name and last_name) and the domain of the company they work for you can try several combinations.

Here are popular combinations using the first_name, last_name and initials of the prospect:

last_name@domain.com  
first_name@domain.com  
first_name+last_name@domain.com  
first_initial+last_name@domain.com  
first_initial+last_initial@domain.com  
first_initial+last_name@domain.com  
first_initial.lastname@domain.com  
first_initial@domain.com  

It is important that you test your combination guesses otherwise, your emails will bounce and will never be delivered. A simple tool that you can use to check whether the combination you are trying is correct and the email address exists is MailTester.com. Other great tools that will help you guess the email of a prospect given their full name and their company domain are FullContact and Clearbit.

3. Measure and refine your lead generation

Segment your leads depending on industry, company size, job titles and other types of relevant information. Always measure your conversion rates to meetings and customers and refine your lead generation accordingly. Small improvements will have a big impact on your revenue down the road.

You should always be looking to refine your lead generation process. You will have different conversion rates depending on the companies (size, industry, etc...) and people (title, seniority, etc...) you are reaching out to.

For example, imagine that you are selling marketing software to companies with a different number of employees and you are contacting CMOs, Directors of Marketing, and Marketing Managers at the same time. You can create a results matrix (see image below) that will help you get a better understanding of your conversion rates depending on title and company size. In this example, we see that for companies with 25-50 employees you should be reaching ou to CMOs whereas for companies with 101-200 employees it seems that you would get a better conversion rate if you contact the Marketing Manager.

lead segmentation

Figure: Example of a Conversion Matrix with Prospect title vs. Company size to help you better define your buyer persona depending on the size of the company in order to refine your initial prospecting.

Segment your leads depending on industry, company size, job titles and other types of relevant information. Always measure your conversion rates to meetings and customers and refine your lead generation accordingly. Small improvements will have a big impact on your revenue down the road.

In the next lessons, we are going to dig into each step of the sales process. Stay tuned for the next lesson: Outreach, Cold emailing

Here is the outline of this series:
  1. The Sales Process
  2. Lead Generation, Prospecting
  3. Outreach, Cold emailing
  4. Follow-up, Always Follow-up!
  5. Sales Call, Demo, Lead Qualification
  6. Closing!
  7. Deliver and Support, Customer Success
  8. Ask for Referrals! Referral Marketing!
  9. Sales hacks!
  10. Refine, Repeat, Scale!

Amplemarket Team!

If you have any questions or suggestions feel free to reach out to team@amplemarket.com. You can also follow us on Twitter.

Amplemarket is your AI-powered sales assistant. Amplemarket takes care of everything from prospecting to outreach, follow-ups, and scheduling of meetings. You tell us who you want to reach out to and wait for meetings to magically appear in your calendar.

Richard

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San Francisco http://amplemarket.com

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