Ambulance chasing is one of the oldest sales tricks.
Bad reputation set aside, it simply means knowing the signals identifying a potential customer and following them while they are “warm” instead of approaching leads who have shown no recent interest, i.e., “cold” leads.
Leads generated in traditional ways — like trade shows and lists — are already irrelevant by the time they reach you and are considered highly ineffective today. To reach the sales goals you desire, your lead stash needs to be constantly replenished with new and relevant leads for businesses/individuals with an urgent need for your services. Additionally, prospective clients expect you to reach out to them quickly with proven, effective solutions.
The data available across multiple online sources today offers a wealth of opportunities to discover quality leads. It is virtually impossible, however, to exhaust the potential of this data without the help of specialized applications. Here are three tools that will optimize this data for your lead generation.
1. Public web source tracking: Google Alerts
Most people use Google alerts to keep track of news items about themselves or their own company and competitor. If you know the “trigger keywords” that signal a potential customer, Google alerts can be a great, free tool to generate hot leads.
Examples could be setting an alert for “application outage” when you are selling IT management services or “marketing campaign optimization” when selling SEO software.
Pros: It’s free and very simple to set up.
Cons: Like Google search itself, alerts would require tweaking the phrases and signals to increase accuracy.
proprietary or social sources will not be covered.
2. LinkedIn & Twitter tools: LinkedIn Saved Search, Socedo
If you are in B2B sales and not using LinkedIn and Twitter for prospecting and customer intelligence, you are missing on the best data source available today.
Most people still manually search LinkedIn and Twitter for prospects but very few utilize the still little-known free tools to automate this process.
LinkedIn’s Saved searches bring the leads to you just like Google Alerts. You can set up queries based on your desired criteria (industry, company, LinkedIn group, etc.) and receive email notifications when there are changes in the search results. With the free (Basic) LinkedIn account, you are currently allowed to set up to three saved searches. Upgrading to a paid LinkedIn account allows you to set up more saved search alerts, thus creating more opportunities to find quality leads.
Socedo does the same for Twitter. This service lets you define the keywords that identify your customers and signals along with organizations and people they might already be following. It sends you a daily list of leads and allows you to provide feedback on their quality along with Twitter-based initial interaction with desired leads.
Pros: Scalable cost from free and up per different saved searches. Each network gives you the tools to reach out to leads which in many cases gets you better results than email and phone.
Cons: Requires a bit more knowledge of how LinkedIn and Twitter work to set up and best practices of how to interact with leads.
3. Multi-source signal tracking tools: Lead Space, Infer, Colabo
Cost: starts at $50 per month with free 30 day trial
The next step up in automatically finding your leads goes beyond keyword searches on the public web and LinkedIn searches. It covers multiple sources and applies smarter algorithms to identify the best leads.
Beyond static keyword searched on public web and social sites, these tools also look at live signals across multiple sources (e.g. look for companies that are growing fast in the sales department). Sources can include proprietary apps (e.g. your support forum), vertical news sites (new members of a group or attendees to an event), or geography-specific sources (companies that hired a CFO in the local paper).
This group of tools also has the capabilities to learn the ideal profile of a customer for you and apply it on it’s search results to qualify results.
Last, cross-source tools are useful in determining the optimal mediums (LinkedIn message, email, Twitter DM) through which you should reach out and engage with your prospects.
Pros: Data sources can be customized. Profile of leads are modified on-the-go based on what seems to work. More efficient channels of communications to prospect are discovered.
Cons: Price scales with usage but depending on the vendor can be high. Most likely not suitable for those who haven’t started to use newer sources like LinkedIn
As prospects are changing their behavior, cold emailing and dialing from an acquired list is becoming a thing of the past. Event-trigger sales is emerging as the new way to discover and qualify leads. The tools mentioned in this post allow you make your first steps in this direction which should yield shorter sales cycles and increased conversion rates quickly.
Yoav Dembak is the CEO and co-founder of Colabo, a self-service data integration and analytics platform that provides lead generation and qualification solutions for sales professionals. Prior to Colabo, Dembak was an executive at VMware following the acquisition of his previous startup, B-hive, a service level analytics provider. Dembak has over 15 years of B2B sales experience.