Four Ways to Ratchet Up Your Prospecting ROI

Image credit StaciJShelton, Flickr

It’s the classic sales and marketing paradox:  The tighter the economy, the tighter the marketing budget – even as sales’s demand for more and better leads increases exponentially.  In an economic downturn, demonstrating a quantifiable return on each marketing dollar spent is more important than ever.

But successful prospecting is about more than simply getting as many leads for as little money as possible.  As Aaron Ross of Salesmachine.com states, “The truth is that sales people care very little about the cost of the leads we generate. What they really care about is how many of those leads will actually become viable sales opportunities.”

For this reason, the most effective lead generation programs adhere to four key principles:

1.    Focus on opportunity building, not brand building. According to Mac McIntosh of the B2B marketing blog Sales Lead Insights, successful online and database-driven marketing campaigns that have an immediate impact on sales make it easier to cost-justify continued marketing investment.  “Yes, brand image is important to your company’s success,” he says.  “But unless you can spend a half-million dollars or so on brand advertising, such efforts probably won’t move the sales needle much.”

Image credit StaciJShelton, FlickrMcIntosh recommends allocating one third of your marketing budget toward building a high quality database of viable leads leveraging what has worked in the past.  “Review your existing database and identify the most profitable clients or customers.  Create models for the best types to target with one-to-many marketing programs.  Then acquire a database containing information on these kinds of companies through database marketing services.”

And this doesn’t mean trolling through the same old list providers either.  Several new services and applications are changing the database market for the better by providing accurate, detailed information that enables you to more precisely target the appropriate decision makers for your offer – enabling you to maximize not only the dollar value of each lead, but the productivity of each team member.  As NetProspex customer Rachel Bair of Lore Systems explains, “Inaccurate or incomplete data is a tremendous waste of time and dollars.  And it’s hard to keep your team motivated if every lead turns out to be a dead end.”

2.    Use lists strategically as well as tactically.  Every seasoned salesperson knows that pre-call research can mean the difference between a call that is returned and a voicemail that is deleted.  Mining key data elements from your list – title, geography, industry – as part of that pre-call research effort can help craft an approach more likely to resonate with your prospect.  As Jill Konrath writes on her blog Selling to Big Companies, “To get into big companies, you can’t make a 100 cold calls saying the same thing to everyone. Several years ago corporate decision makers stopped answering their phones and rolled all calls to voicemail. The only way to capture the attention of these corporate decision makers was to create a very personalized message based on in-depth research in their firm.”

At NetProspex customer Quintiq, the Director of Marketing agrees, adding that leveraging multiple touch points across a single company can also increase the likelihood of success.  “For us, it’s all about the value proposition – and that’s something that is very specific to a prospect’s title and functional area.  Many times, we’ll roll out parallel campaigns targeting both the business and the IT side of the same company.  Understanding who we are talking to – and presenting a value proposition that appeals specifically to that individual – gives us an extra edge.”

3.    Make sure your CRM system can keep up – and vice versa.  As prospecting and marketing automation tools grow more sophisticated, compatibility with CRM and SFA systems becomes even more critical.  Integrating a current, accurate prospect list into an existing SFA application makes it easier to develop a seamless, easily trackable campaign that can be analyzed, adjusted, and duplicated within minutes.  Inside CRM’s Chris Bucholtz explains:  “Knowledge of customer preferences, behaviors and needs empowers you to plan marketing campaigns faster and execute them more quickly. It also displays results faster, which allows a campaign to be tweaked once under way on the basis of customer feedback.”

In addition, CRM systems that offer advanced segmentation and other analytical capabilities can help make the case for increased marketing investment.  “Explaining a marketing campaign’s rate of return can be difficult,” writes Bucholtz. “Although no system can deliver a perfect analysis, integrated CRM/SFA solutions let marketers examine the efforts made from first contact to the close of an opportunity and attach a price to the process.”

4.    Keep opportunities fresh through continuous review and refinement.   Maintaining a constant, constructive feedback loop between sales and marketing helps ensure the right information is being sought and captured.  Lisa Cramer of FirstWave Technologies recommends developing a simple scoring system that assigns point values to sales leads based on specific behaviors or responses to previous offers.  For example, a prospect who registers for – and attends – a webinar might score higher than one who downloads a free white paper.  Analyzing the relationship between prospect behavior and actual close rates will help you reduce unproductive activities – and replicate successful ones.

Cramer cautions, “No one devises a perfect system from the start. Your system will never be perfect, but it will improve with each marketing effort. Get started with a plan to review results and tweak as you go.”

Unlike in previous economic downturns, today’s e-marketing tools and techniques make it much easier to not only maximize the value of our marketing investment, but to measure what is working in hours, rather than weeks, and adjust efforts accordingly.  This mix of measurement, rapid analysis of returns, lowered campaign costs and scalability should have a very real – and positive – impact on how sales and marketing react to current conditions.

Using Saved Search Features

Image Credit gadeagarcia, Flickr

Image Credit  gadeagarcia, FlickrWhen searching online for sales contacts or marketing campaign lists, a saved search feature can help you quickly update your list, or set up controlled campaign tests.  Once you have created a search that matches your most productive customer profile, save the search and rerun at regular intervals to pick up any new prospects that have been added to the source database.  Be sure the service indicates which records have been previously captured. (With the NetProspex Saved Search feature, you can see which records have already been downloaded, and you won’t pay again for any records that are already in your account folders.)

The saved search feature can also be used in testing variable marketing campaigns.  Save searches with different variables to test against a particular marketing program.  You can also test successful searches in different geographic markets by altering the geography filter to create a new saved search.

NetProspex Releases Free Sales Lead Validation Tools

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Waltham, MA, March 28, 2008– Reaching the right person with the right offer is the key to effective selling.  Now, a new set of sales lead tools from NetProspex, a leader in providing accurate sales information, helps sales professionals validate their contact information. The tools are free, and available on the NetProspex web site.

Image Credit colorworks700, Flickr“The new suite of sales lead tools increases NetProspex’s value as a time management tool for sales,” says Gary Halliwell, CEO of NetProspex.  “The goal of NetProspex is to reduce the time sales people spend digging for accurate, targeted information so they can spend more time selling, which has a direct impact on sales cycles.”

“Our core competency is ensuring data accuracy of user-contributed content,” continues Halliwell, “which we achieve through several layers of quality control.  No one else in the industry is doing this, so we can go deeper into mid-management and provide a higher level of confidence in our data”.  Customer David Haas, vice president of strategic exhibitor services at BDMetrics agrees. “NetProspex’s deep coverage into mid-management level contacts augments our database significantly.”

The NetProspex Sales Lead Toolkit:
•    Got a contact name but need an email address?  NetProspex Company Email Pattern Lookup fills an important gap in sales contact information.  Use this tool to select a company, and NetProspex will return the email pattern for that organization.

•    Want to be sure the email address for a prospect is valid?  NetProspex Email Checker evaluates an email address without actually sending email to a recipient.  This is useful to check individual emails for validity or to verify a group of email addresses, to evaluate the overall health of a campaign list.

•    Got a list of target company URLs? The NetProspex Leads by URL tool maps available executive contacts in target companies.  Simply input a target company URL, and NetProspex returns any matching records from their database of over 2.4 million contacts.

•    Find the contacts you need using the NetProspex Custom Search function.  The NetProspex search interface allows sales professionals to easily evaluate NetProspex coverage by sales territory.  Specify job function, title, industry, company type and size, geographic location, and more.

NetProspex is a database of sales information, including over 2 million contacts that go deep into mid-management decision-makers at over 350,000 companies across North America, complete with title, phone, address and email address.  What sets the Netprospex model apart is adding value to community-contributed content by actively ensuring data accuracy with rigorous quality control measures before the data is published to the database.

NetProspex offers both subscription membership to its database of business executive contacts (for as little as $25 per month) as well as the free NetProspex Exchange service, for users who wish to trade in existing contact information in return for new contacts.

About NetProspex
Founded in 2006, NetProspex understands that effective sales efforts require the most in-depth and accurate prospect data. The company’s core product line overlays user-contributed and commercial sales lead data with layers of quality control to produce an entirely unique and highly effective sales and marketing contact database. With over 2.5 million accurate business contacts across 350,000 companies, NetProspex is a major new source of contacts – including difficult-to-find mid-management decision makers across North American businesses.

In its first year of business, the company has seen significant sales growth and already has over 300 enterprise clients across a range of industries including technology, media, business services and financial markets. The company recently secured Series A funding from angel investors.  For more information or a free trial, visit www.netprospex.com.

NetProspex Releases NetProspex Exchange: Easy and Accurate Sales Contact Trading

NetProspex on Weighing-Machine

Waltham, MA, February 15, 2008

It’s an age-old problem for sales and marketing professionals: How do you realize value from existing contacts in your Rolodex, and how do you find new leads? The answer is NetProspex Exchange, launched by NetProspex, Inc., a provider of accurate sales intelligence.


NetProspex Exchange
is an easy-to-use online service that allows sales and marketing professionals to pool their contacts. In return, contributors download new leads from the database. Also, if another user downloads the contributed information, the contributor is further rewarded with more contacts, so the value of contributed contacts can really add up. NetProspex already has over 2 million contacts that go deep into mid-management decision-makers at over 350,000 companies across North America, complete with titles, phone, address and email address.

What sets the Netprospex model apart is adding value to community contributed content by actively ensuring data accuracy with rigorous quality control measures before the data is published to the database.

“The power of user contribution is that the combined knowledge of sales and marketing executives is aggregated into one place, providing enormous benefits to the sales community. The key issue is ensuring integrity and accuracy of the contributed data. Our job as data experts and as the publisher, is to weed out good contacts from bad ones,” says Gary Halliwell, CEO of NetProspex. “The goal of NetProspex is to reduce the time sales people spend digging for accurate, targeted information so they can spend more time selling, which has a direct impact on sales cycles.”

NetProspex clients welcome the addition of the NetProspex Exchange service. “NetProspex Exchange is extremely easy to use. NetProspex makes trading contacts quick and efficient, taking care of checking the data behind the scenes. In just a few minutes I had credits I could use to access new contacts from the database.” said Brian Mackley, President of Techadvocacy.

To learn more about NetProspex Exchange, or for a free trial, visit www.netprospex.com/exchange.php.

In other news, NetProspex has recently secured Series A funding, which it will use to produce new tools to further enhance database quality.

About NetProspex
Founded in 2006, NetProspex understands that effective sales efforts require the most in-depth and accurate prospect data. The company’s core product line overlays user-contributed and commercial sales lead data with layers of quality control to produce an entirely unique and highly effective sales and marketing contact database. With over 2.5 million accurate business contacts across 350,000 companies, NetProspex is a major new source of contacts – including difficult-to-find mid-management decision makers across North American businesses. In its first year of business, the company has seen sales growth of more than 200%. For more information or a free trial, visit www.netprospex.com.

Read the story at http://weighing-machine.com/rous/risks522715rest/spray183530

NetProspex Releases Quarterly Update

Image Credit SurvivalWoman, Flickr

NetProspex has completed its quarterly update process, adding new contacts and companies that are available to you right now for your Image Credit SurvivalWoman, Flickrsales and marketing campaigns. As always, we’ve purged old records to ensure that your prospect list is accurate and up to date. We have added and updated over 1 million contacts in this update, so you should find plenty of new opportunities in the database. If you have a active account…click here to get straight to the new data – it’s top notch!

Also, we have added several new features, including one which allows NetProspex users to contribute contacts directly to the database, and already many new records have been contributed. Our new trading feature promises to boost our totals with some unique and often hard-to-find contacts.

Rest assured we will put contributed records, and any records, through our rigorous quality checks. Like you, we know that effective sales requires accurate contacts – and that’s what NetProspex delivers

A Hot Month in August for NetProspex Sales

Image Credit Bodhi S., Flickr

Image Credit Bodhi S., FlickrIn what is traditionally a quiet time of the year, August has surprisingly strong for NetProspex sales with more than 40 new corporate accounts signed.  A leading player in the charitable foundation management space added a subscription following an intitial trial purchase and provided very positive feedback on accuracy and ROI they have experienced.  The leader in web conferencing software signed a deal for multiple seats.  In addition, one of the top technology conference organizers added their third list purchase to promote their latest up-coming events.

In launching this business late last year, our hunch was that depth of coverage, transparency and data accuracy and would be important USPs. We believed that these differntiators would resonate in a crowded market of static directories or list brokers with too few controls on data quality.  Our customer acquisition to-date seems to bear this out.

Skype Toolbar on NetProspex – Now We’re Talking

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Just downloaded the new Skype Toolbar which turns every phone number on my Internet Explorer screen to a clickable dial-up.  When we run NetProspex that means all 2.5 million phone numbers are now clickable.  What a great time-saver for sales with both email and phone now clickable directly from the NetProspex results screen.

Sales managers take note of the efficiency gains here.  Sales people don’t have to wait to be fed by marketing and in fact they can take control in unearthing mid-management decision makers in seconds and even see a partial map of the company they are targeting to find alternate ways in.  Think how much time that saves…then they can quickly dial from their desktop.

Take a look

Accuracy from our Recent Phone Survey Looks Good at 73%

Image Credit plenty.r., Flickr

Image Credit plenty.r., Flickr Every few months we run snap-shot phone surveys on our data to get a fix on the current accuracy of the database.  Accuracy is a big thing for us because it’s an important issue for customers.  Sometimes we offshore the surveys to third party companies, but this time we used our intern Sam to make the calls and find out how we are doing.  The results are as follows:

  • 377 contacts were phone verified
  • 138 contacts had left their companies or could not be traced with the information provided
  • Overall accuracy 73%

Sam tells me that he sometimes has to dig to find people if using headquarters phone numbers and the person happens to be at a regional office, but that’s OK because that’s what a sales person would do anyway. The most important thing is to prove the contact be tracked down at the company give the information we provide.  It’s the end of our data update cycle right now and the data is due to be refreshed soon, so we would expect accuracy to increase by another few points.  We’ll report back in when we run another accuracy check with the new data in a few weeks.