The importance of account-based prospecting

20 April 2016 Darren Lewis

For many SMEs, the biggest problem they face is how to find new customers. It’s often the most important factor in determining whether a company can scale – as without new logos, profits and revenues remain flat, and growth stagnates.

As DueDil’s VP of Sales, I know that it’s also vital for a business to find the right customers – those who close the quickest, have the highest average order value (AOV), lead to the largest cross-selling and upselling opportunities, and who remain as customers for years to come. Wrong customers can weigh a business down; the right ones are building blocks for continued success.

Prospecting plays a crucial role in locating these. By properly segmenting new opportunities and identifying customers that are an ideal fit, sales performance is dramatically increased.

While most sales teams recognise the importance of prospecting, far fewer are actually effective at it. A recent comprehensive DueDil survey of global sales professionals found that one reason for this capability gap is the failure of many to use suitable data sources – resulting in so much time wasted chasing poor-quality leads that don’t close.

Spider web of Sales Marketing

Successful sales teams segment prospects as standard practice and go after the right businesses based on characteristics. This enables salespeople to focus on the best performing segments, resulting in increased conversion rates and higher quality revenue streams. To achieve this, sales teams must first establish a reliable prospecting process.

The problems with prospecting tools

Unfortunately, many of the tools most commonly used for prospecting are not fit for purpose. For example, many teams use LinkedIn, but it lists only some 270,000 UK companies – less than 10% of all the companies in the UK and Ireland.

This means that teams that use LinkedIn are actually missing out on the vast majority of opportunities that might be out there. They also can’t segment companies based on characteristics, except by broad categories like ‘Information Technology’ – making it hard to narrow down on specific sectors like fintech – and are ultimately reliant upon content supplied by individuals, rather than the companies themselves.

In addition, looking for individuals at companies to sell to is a flawed strategy. According to the Corporate Executive Board, 5.4 people are involved in the average B2B decision-making group. So vendors should be looking to sell to ideal customer profiles, rather than to individuals found via services like LinkedIn.

No Code

Another problem comes with SIC codes – the standard way of classifying and segmenting companies used by most company data providers. Unfortunately, this system of classification is woefully out of date.

Although there are over 1,000 SIC code categories, many industries are not covered. For example, SIC codes cannot identify hedge funds or ecommerce businesses. Instead, these companies are grouped in broader and less defined categories, where they are hard to find.

In addition, the fact that SIC codes are so commonly used means that many sales teams are finding prospects in the same way. According to Forrester, the first viable vendor to engage a seller has a 74% average close ratio. But if everyone’s using the same SIC codes to prospect, then many companies will struggle to find new opportunities.

For successful sales teams, SIC codes cannot be relied upon alone. Their limitations make it difficult to identify ideal new opportunities.

Solving these problems with account-based selling

At DueDil, we provide solutions to both these problems. We use authoritative data sources and proprietary technology to ensure prospects can be discovered easily. And our comprehensive business data is reliable and up-to-date, meaning there is no need to depend on multiple data sources.

Our advanced search enables users to properly map and size any segment of the UK economy across a wide range of metrics, including age, location and financial performance. It is ideal for seeking out new prospects that match target customer characteristics. And we also provide a unique way of identifying and classifying a company’s activities with keywords that cover a wider range of businesses.

This enables salespeople to take an account-based approach to selling, whereby vendors prospect for companies giving off certain purchasing signals. This tactic is critical to success in modern B2B sales, where the landscape has never been so competitive.

These targets can then be appropriately segmented, allowing teams to focus on high-quality targets and improve the efficiency of the sales process. Investing in better prospecting means that sales teams are able to increase their conversion rates, cover more ground and increase revenue. Indeed, many of our customers report a return on their investment within one to four weeks.

As a result, I am confident in saying that DueDil is the ideal solution for uncovering hidden prospects and finding new opportunities through account-based selling.

I’ll be talking more about our approach and how we can help your business at the Sales Innovation Expo at the ExCel Centre on May 11-12, or we’ll be at stand #1576 – please come and say hello!