New ways to find business customers your competitors overlook, or can't see

Published 15th of June 2017

Looking for innovative answers and strategies to win more business deals

How do you pinpoint new prospects that competitors might not be giving any attention to?

It's a question that came up in a conversation I had last month with the sales director of a £10m firm supplying software - and one he was desperate to answer, given the huge competitiveness of his sector and a pattern of customer spending only on essentials that is taking hold everywhere.

Out of some great ideas we brainstormed, one seemed to have real potential. We tried it, and it worked. Now I want to share it with you as it's a technique that could be used by any business - large or small.

Our big idea for targeting new leads

We decided to pinpoint companies where sales had a strong growth trend BUT alongside a profits slide. There can of course be all sorts of reasons why profits head off in a different direction than sales, but our thinking was simply that if revenue growth was not being matched by profit growth, the company might be receptive to services that improved efficiency. The IT services my client offered, maybe?

Rather than just leave that as a gut instinct, we decided to delve into some business insight data to see what we could find to shine a light on our thinking.

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What our research revealed

From the Alert database we selected a group of 50 companies in north-west England that had sales of £10m - £25m per annum and a turnover growth of 10% or more in each of the last three years.

We then looked at their profits over that period. Twenty of the firms had profits growth matching the 10% uplift seen in sales, seven hadn't seen a rise in profits, and three had experienced a severe decline.

We did a bit more digging to find 10 peer companies for each of these three in decline. This insight data showed we were onto something as in each case the sector profitability was better for the peer group than for the firm we were studying. Interesting!

How our client utilised the research

While the seven on a profits plateau certainly merited further investigation, my sales director client immediately started thinking about how they could capture the attention in the three firms in biggest trouble.

He decided to launch a content-rich marketing approach along the lines of: 5 steps to take to ensure profits grow when sales do. In it, the value of up-to-date business software was promoted that could ensure efficiencies are gained and profits retained.

Working in partnership with the client

Alert supplied the key contacts - 10 decision makers or influencers in each company -and the client's marketing team created a three-part e-mail campaign, delivered at two-weekly intervals. Tracking software pinpointed who had opened the emails or had circulated the message. The sales team were then hot on the case and have already booked meetings with eight of the contacts.

Top tips for finding your new leads:

1. Brainstorm the ideas.
2. Test the assumptions.
3. Try something simple.
4. If it works repeat it!