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Drawing up a prospects list for your business

In my previous blog post, we learned how to build a customer profile database, and the challenges while doing so. Taking off from there, today, I shall explain how to go about making a prospects list.

Definition: A prospects list is a place very much like a catalogue of those people or companies most likely to benefit from the products or services offered by you or your company. In fact, the very word ‘prospect’ means just that – a list of “prospective” clients. Such a prospects list is very important in establishing a solid customer base because from thereon, you will need to effectively try and turn each of them, be it a company or an individual, into a customer. The question to be asked while drawing up such a list is – Which is my potential market? or Who needs my product? From Prospect to Lead to Sale is the journey.

Source potential clients from: Unlike some other lists, building a customer list cannot be done on an ‘auto-pilot’ mode. Such a list has to be painstakingly drawn up. It will have the contact details of potential clients. And once the list is ready, the process does not halt there. List building is a continuous process; you need to update it frequently; cleaning of the list is a must for the overall hygiene of your business. You need to also keep growing your list organically, which means, essentially, you need to nurture your leads.

You can scout for potential clients from a variety of sources – Inorganic search, PPC, CPM, social media, even emails, and so on.

Some of the other avenues are:

Referrals: Word of mouth. Your existing customers may have talked about your product or service to others so get a load of such contacts.

Real world networks: Social media is great but people whom you’ve connected at industry events are also prospects.

Website traffic: People who access your company website and show an interest in your offerings must have a signup form ready, or must, in turn, be contacted to understand their requirements.

Your team will need to monitor the customer data base in order to:

  • Source the keywords searched, or the products, categories, and styles browsed by potential customers
  • Search social media signals to update the profile of the prospects
  • To open and select the profile of each prospect or customer segment, and map the list to the suitable profile targeted

Remember, the process may be quite intense and time consuming but after all, a good prospects list is the differentiator between a successful and failed customer acquisition campaign.

Sourcing potential clients (2)

So, as the first step, start off by putting together your prospects list, either by building it on a brand new campaign or using a previous marketing campaign, which was relatively successful. The aim should be to accurately target the “right” kind of customer profiles, otherwise dubbed “good prospects”. Also, do not forget looking at your customer profile base, which should be ready by the time you come around to making a prospects list for your business, and scout for prospects there, too.

A “perfect” prospects list is where you have potential clients who match your ideal prospect profile. For the ideal picture of your average customer, you may look at your existing client base and check what they have in common – that’s a good way to start. Examples: your existing clients have identified a need for a product or service, or they hail from a particular geo-location or a particular industry, or are companies of a certain size.

The information that you thus gather provides invaluable insights into who your key prospects are. Once you have that, you can analyse which of them needs nurturing over the longer term. By prioritizing your prospects, your team can also know where to give attention in the short term as well as in the long-term.

Before ending, there’s one last thing you need to do. To make prospects list building even more accurate, offer your potential clients something in return for their data. On social networks, for example, in exchange of them signing up for your newsletter, give them some valuable tips or insights. At real-world events, give away copies of an e-book & do the same as a freebie to make your website visitors sign up from a landing page.

In the next blog post, I shall talk of the value of a rules engine and how to make one.

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