Finding customers: where to start ?

Last modified:

Thursday 31 October 2019

Each year, you lose 20% of your customers on average. Therefore, prospecting is vital.  But only targeted prospecting will increase your sales.

Prospecting is not the same as simply selling. The aim is to establish a list of qualified "leads", or a list of potential customers or "prospects" interested in your product or service. In this respect, preparation is everything.

Prospecting techniques

Currently, you can attract new customers in a variety of ways. Firstly, there are the traditional techniques such as the phone, mailings, information letters, events, membership of economic associations or common interest groups. You also have a series of technical options open to you: online prospecting, email campaigns, SMS, etc.  

You can sign up to digital platforms, you can subscribe to online services that compile open tenders in your sector for you, and send them to you by email or even buy address books.

New trends currently relate to social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, or video sites such as Youtube or Viadeo: you can create groups based on a specific theme, connect with professional contacts, and regularly update your page with a constant flow of information.

However, nowadays new trends are increasingly focused on small teams responsible for testing the commercial potential of a new product or service beforehand. If the results are satisfactory, the traditional sales team then takes over.

Other companies also apply the sales technique in two stages, the "give to get" technique. The principle is simple:  firstly, offer a white paper, a study, a test offer, or advice to a specific target audience. This approach allows you to collect contact details and information on your potential prospects. Then, a fee-based offer is sent to these same people.

In short, there are plenty of these channels, and some of them present non-negligible economic advantages.

Success lies in follow-up, follow-up, and more follow-up

A well-designed and coherent prospecting policy requires planning, knowledge of listening techniques, online research, contact management, phone skills, a clear and concise message and, above all, follow-up.

  • Follow the leads online and offline

Who signs up for your newsletter, who fills in your online form, who clicks on an ad, who signs up for an event or browses a promotional page on your website, which writes a comment on your blog, who joins your LinkedIn group, and who visits you stand at an event to get more information? In principle, obtaining an email address does not automatically make this person a lead, but a valuable contact to whom who can send targeted marketing actions. You already have the information you are looking for, so try and find out more and do not hesitate to consult social networks to do this.

  • Find appropriate profiles

Which company profiles correspond to your products? Define an ideal profile from the database of your existing customers and then look for companies with similar profiles. You will probably approach people you don't know, a technique also called "cold acquisition", but there is no question that you will increase your chances of success by performing an analysis beforehand.

  • Favour "warm calling"

This involves proposing services to people you already know, or to whom you have already provided services. This leads to an order more quickly. Also, consider maintaining your existing relationships and increasing your profits by giving certain special customers more attention.

  • Keep your market in mind

Who is active in this market, who writes the articles, who reacts to your company's blogs or in the forums, etc. 

  • Focus on data exploration

Make use of the information in your own database. We often collect information and then don't look at it again, depriving ourselves of a precious source. Special software may help with this.

  • Networking

A very effective way to find new customers is to use your network. This technique is called the "referent strategy" which consists of receiving orders through an intermediary providing recommendations, presentations, or guidance. You can also ask people you know (friends, business partners) or your network (local association, common interest group) for this purpose.  Naturally, you can also use some "inactive methods" to generate sales or additional leads (such as affiliation for example).

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