Often times our clients need to generate additional revenue. They may have a dozen good reliable customers but in order to increase their profits or cover their overhead or replace customers who stop using your services; you need new customers. You need to generate new leads and educate those prospects as to your services and abilities. We need to determine their needs and show them how we can satisfy those needs. Before you can sell however, you need to generate the leads that will allow you to “get your foot in the door.”
The first step is having a library card or access to a library card. This can be done in person usually at any branch. You may need a proof of residency for the county or city that runs the Library. Oftentimes, you can also obtain the card by going on-line to the library web site.
Next, make sure that your Company Website is current and up-to date. Once you make contact with someone they are sure to look-up your Company to make sure you are legitimate and to size up your capabilities. A website with typographical errors or incomplete sentences or grammar mistakes will not reflect well on your Company or your professionalism. Ensure that the website gives an accurate picture of your goods or services and any unique abilities that your Company possesses. Ideally, a good website should be a major factor in creating “demand generation.” In other words, creating an awareness of your Company that people in need of your services or your products might see your Company as a means to fulfill these needs and actually reach out to contact you through the website. However, if we are not getting calls or inquiries, we need to seek out our own new leads. This is where the next step can be very helpful.
The next step is to have an understanding of the North American Industrial Classification System or NAICS. This system classifies and assigns a number to every industry in North America. This system can be accessed on-line by searching “NAICS.” This will give you various industries with the appropriate numbers to enable you to track these industries. For example, if you provide services such as maintenance, servicing and repairing of industrial equipment (conveyor belts) you may want to research those industries where a conveyor belt would be used. They most likely run 24/7 and need regular maintenance or repair frequently. Some examples would be tire plants, paper mills, quarries, and food processors. By going to the NAICS website you can enter the keyword for your industry (paper mills) and the number 32213 comes as a general class number but this can be “drilled down” to Corrugated or Folded. The corresponding numbers are 322211 and 322212. This process can be repeated for all of the industries that you think might need your services.
Another method for selecting industries is to research your biggest customers and determine what are their NAICS Codes. (They may have more than one.) Be careful because the codes are often entered on the tax return by their accountant and can be erroneous or are a code for a segment of the company you are not familiar with. Double check that the number is linked to the service you want to track. Once you have determined the correct number you can research other companies that you could approach to sell the same services that you currently sell to your existing customers.
The next step is to make a list of all the NAICS codes for the industries you are interested in approaching. Once we have our list, we can now access the local Library databases.
Now you need to get online with your local library website. As part of their reference department, a most all libraries subscribe to a database service which have numerous research possibilities. Some of the popular systems used are “Reference USA”, “Hoover’s”, and “Mergent.” Any one of these systems would be suitable. Once you find the “databases” on the library website you select “databases.” This will give you many choices for research. However, we are most interested in those that have “business statistics.” In one database the choice is Mergent Intellect. Once you access this database, you should select the setting for “Advanced Search.” Then select “industry” and select “NAICS code” to use the codes selected. Enter the NAICS code that you want to research and then hit “add to criteria.” Now if you want to check for industries in your region, state, county or city, you can now do that by clicking on “location” and then scrolling down to select the geographical criteria you want. You may want a list of companies in your state or neighboring state; or you can select your county or neighboring county depending on the size of the industry you are tracking. You then add this to “criteria.”
[There may be some small variations between databases and how they are set-up to accept data, but a call to the library reference desk will usually get a very helpful librarian to walk you through any unfamiliar steps.]
This process will produce the names of the companies that are in the selected industry in the geographical location that you want. Highlight the name of the Company on the list produced and it will drill down to give you other essential information such as, number of employees, sales volume, phone numbers, pay history, family tree and date of founding. All of which will help you determine whether you want to pursue this company as a prospect.
As you research each company you can make a list of those who you may want to follow-up on and those who do not look like good prospects; not enough sales, slow pay, too far away etc. Get the phone number and address for those you are interested in.
At this point, someone should be designated to make a call to obtain the name of the decision maker such as head of maintenance or facilities or head of engineering. This will give us the ability to customize a brochure or pamphlet with his name and title and mail it directly to his attention. Ideally the brochure will fit into an envelope that we can mail first class and it will not get put into the “junk mail” category. This may allow you to bypass the “gatekeeper”.
Some people may prefer to call right away and try and reach the decision maker but you may be dealing with the gatekeeper who will not forward the call. For that reason, a brochure or pamphlet sent in advance might open the door or get some name recognition when you do call. The pamphlet or brochure could be the reason for your calling and it gives you an opportunity to explain the types of services you can provide to their company.
All of which can be done without leaving your office and wasting time in non-productive cold calls.
At Cogent Analytics, we never stop looking for ways to improve your business and neither should you. So, check out some of our other posts for helpful business information: