Acquiring and maintaining prospect information

Having knowledge of your prospects is crucial if your prospecting campaign is to succeed, but equally crucial is to ensure that the information you hold on your prospects is accurate, up-to-date, and easily retrievable. To do this you need to follow a four-step process:

  1. Develop a list or lists of prospects

Begin by gathering all the information you can on potential prospects and organising it into appropriate lists. Prospect information assumes many forms but can generally be found through resources such as:

  • Industry sources
  • Libraries
  • Partner information sharing
  • Professional referral source network information
  • Research leads through local business newspapers
  • Staff information
  • Prospect websites
  1. Track prospect information with a central database

These days, a computerised database is a must for any prospecting program. This enables you not only to have information at your fingertips but also to sort prospects into different lists according to your prospecting programme. Your database should include as much of the following information as possible:

  • Company name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Email
  • Website
  • Directors
  • Initial meeting date
  • Current accounting firm
  • Their business type
  • Their sales volume
  • Potential fees
  • Calls and meetings with the prospect
  • The decision maker’s feelings about the current accounting firm
  1. Develop a contact schedule

Once you have a list of prospects and information on each prospect, you need to develop your contact schedule so that you can be systematic about contacting prospects on a regular basis. Gather any personal information about the prospect that might give you a reason for contacting them, such as membership of a particular association or participation in a particular sport. Enter all this into your database. Bear in mind, though, that keeping such information is subject to the Data Protection Act, so do not record information that might be embarrassing or unethical.

  1. Maintain and update your database

Nothing can be worse than calling a prospect only to find your information is inaccurate or out-of-date, or attending a meeting only to find that you still have the prospect’s old address on your database. By definition, a database is worthless unless the data is accurate. It is one thing to be enthusiastic about setting up a database, it is quite something else to sustain the enthusiasm by keeping it constantly up-to-date.

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