Product Marketing
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December 18, 2020

How To Do Lead Research And Prospecting Like A Boss

By Aggelos Mouzakitis

How can we do effective lead prospecting? Which are the tools and strategies we need to use to be efficient in our outreach and BD efforts?

In this article, we are going to be looking at how you can use signals, intent data, and similar technologies to do effective lead prospecting. I recently spoke with Mark Colgan, who shared his 15 strategies on how to do lead prospecting like a boss if you are a SaaS founder. I wanted to find out about the automation tools that can do the heavy lifting of lead generation for you.

Who is Mark Colgan?

Mark Colgan is currently the Chief Revenue Officer at TaskDrive, a B2B lead generation company. Mark did, however, cut his teeth as a business development representative for the first two years of his career. During this time, he was doing a significant amount of outbound reach, so his career has come back full circle into the world of prospecting.

Mark Cologan has been running outbound campaigns throughout his whole career. He was incredibly enthusiastic and keen to share some ideas and secrets with us. Prospecting is all about the process of searching for potential customers, clients, or buyers in order to develop new business. Today, Mark wanted to focus on the research part of it.

Why is Prospecting important?

As Mark told us, “There are three essential business activities for any business. You’ve got your lead generation, your lead conversion, and then your customer fulfillment. And even in SaaS businesses, it’s the same, but prospecting is just one part of the lead generation process, but it can often be the most time consuming and the most difficult to do consistently”.

Mark continued, “It takes a lot of that time, but before you do any sort of prospecting, you really need to define your ideal customer profiles and your buyer personas. And I have some very, very high-level definitions of what these are. An ICP is a hypothetical description of the type of company. So it’s only the company that you want to work with, not the people then you buy personas or the individuals within those companies that you want to prospect to”.

The Power Of Personalization

“You can have different buyer personas in the same ideal customer profile. So, it’s really important to understand this before you do start anything I’m in. The second thing that I wanted to mention about prospecting is that in 2019, you can’t just pull a list of 2000 people that are in your ideal profile and send them an email. You really need to personalize these emails. And there are ways that you can personalize emails or three main ways”, Mark said.

Mark believes that by personalizing your outreach to these individuals and doing the research to enable the outreach, you increase your chances of getting response rates and you build better rapport with these businesses too.

Building A Dynamic List Of Prospects

“I want to mention that there is definitely a big difference between having a static list of prospects that you want to target and a dynamic list, which is based on signals. And what I mean by that is that at any one time, only 3% of active customers or prospects are going to be actively buying 7% might be. And the 90% just aren’t and you can’t force somebody to be in a buying cycle or to be in a buy to be wanting to make a buying decision”, Mark said.

He continued, “You put in the job title you put in, maybe the location. And then from here, you can use tools to locate the contact details and populate a list based on the contact details you find. I’m starting off simple. I’m going to go into something a little bit more complex. The next one is a web scrape”.

“This is really all about scraping structured data from websites and using that data to then inform you of who the right prospects are. On some websites, you’ll find that they have the contact details and other websites you won’t. One example of this is if you’re a SaaS product, you could potentially go to a business’s website and scrape a list of all of their employees, just as an example, because you know, these people are your ideal customer and they’re on a platform, which is that you’re familiar with”, Mark explained. 

“The third is the event hijack. A number of industry events will list out their attendee list or in most cases, their exhibitors. If a company is exhibiting or attending an event that typically open to meeting new vendors and you, what you can do is take this data from where the source of where you find it, scrape it or manually go through it and pull out all of the actual personas or the people within these companies that we’ve used this successfully”.

Finding Key Decision-Makers

Mark manages to find the key decision-makers that attend specific events. “We reach out to them ahead of the event and booking calls, meetings, coffees, beers, whatever it may be, but we’re using that as that’s the signal, because we know they’re going to be somewhere and it’s almost like a, a point to, um, approach to event hijacking”, he said. 

“A number of events use hashtags for the event or for the name of the actual event. And they encourage people to share. You can use this as a reason to build a prospect list and use this in your outreach, because you can mention that you notice that they are at the summit or they’re at the event. And there are other tools that actually listen out for these keywords”.

Scraping Contacts For Email Lists

Mark told us that you can use a tool like Phantom Buster to scrape contacts who have engaged with influencers in your industry. “For example, Patrick Campbell has had 423 people comment on a post. Using Phantom Buster, what you could do is pull a list of all those people who have interacted, and then you can go through their LinkedIn profiles and pull out their contact details and then put them into your outreach campaigns”.

“What you’d want to do is reference the fact that they had engaged with Patrick Campbell’s content that he shared. You may not have, you may not want to say the specific thought leader, but you can say that you saw that they were interested in pricing or discounting the topic here. What’s important here is just to remember to fish where the fish are. You could also try Quora. You could try Slack communities, Facebook groups”.

Mark found that there are lots of places where people are almost putting their hands up to say that they are interested in this sort of content, similar to the social expansion playbook. “You’ve also got the competitive playbook. This is where you can find your competitors, social channels, or the groups that they may own. And again, you could use tools to pull data from these channels and groups and enrich that data”.

He continued, “If it’s Facebook, you may only get the first name, last name, you might get the company name. You could go through and put those into LinkedIn and try and find the individual. Again, it takes time, but these people have expressed an interest in your competitor’s product”.

Leveraging LinkedIn Alerts

Companies that are currently hiring are actively investing in the growth of their business and Mark has found a way to leverage this in his lead generation campaigns. “If your product can help with that, then this is a perfect time to speak to them. So you could use LinkedIn saved alerts. This is just a safe job alert. I’ve got four, I think one of them is sales development. You could go more niche, you could go even broader. It sends me alerts every week to tell me that these companies are recruiting certain roles”, he said.

“I have one of my SDRs go through the companies that are advertising, identify the decision-maker or the recruiter, the group recruiting manager, or the hiring manager, and then collect those contact details and enroll them in an outreach campaign”.

To conclude his thoughts, Mark shared some final pointers: “Start a conversation with a potential customer as they are starting a new role. They’re likely to want to make some changes and have a big impact in that new role. And there are some stats out there. I just couldn’t find them in time for today, which talk about the percentage weighting that people will make a decision or a purchase decision in the first 90 days of their new role”.

“That is very similar to the hiring manager setting up an alert for all these people or the job titles. You can look at some other job boards or specific job boards to your vertical, but I find LinkedIn is usually the best place to go as it’s the most up to date”.

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed reading about how you can turbo-charge your lead generation strategy for your SaaS business. There are so many incredible opportunities out there that you can be capitalizing on to grow your SaaS. I found Mark Cologan’s thoughts to be very insightful and I hope that you also found value in his experience and perspectives.

Aggelos Mouzakitis

Aggelos is the founder and Growth Product Manager of Growth Sandwich. He is among the first Customer-led experts in the world, leveraging advanced, Jobs-to-be-done customer research to orchestrate and guide Growth for B2B SaaS companies. A- and B- series SaaS are hiring him to organise, design and execute programs that infuse the whole company with qualitative data, empathy and the necessary knowledge to address any growth dilemma. In the last 4 years, he has worked with more than 100 SaaS companies and trained literally, thousands through my physical and online courses.