Daily people (prospective customers) are creating profiles, indicating their preferences, discussing their pain, and describing their vision. Really, what’s left in the sales process? Connecting with them and building a trusted relationship. Actually, social networking assists in that too. These tools show you pathways to connection and trust.
The trick is learning to efficiently mine this amazing database.
Most people use Google by typing in a couple of keywords into the Google.com search box. Typically, this returns thousands of results filled with companies or websites competing for these top spots. Of course, there isn’t a single prospect to be had in these results.
Frustrated, we end our pursuit. Let me show you the secret to finding prospects with Google.
Finding Prospects with Google
It’s all about looking for your ideal sales scenario. Here is the worksheet that I use to organize those thoughts. As you fill in this tool with keywords keep two things in mind:
- We are searching conversations and discussions. Use simple words.
- Use keywords appropriate to the power levels you are searching.
I’ll illustrate my point.
If I am looking to find network engineers solving problems (pain) then I’m likely to find things like, “those damn developers love SOAP, but all I get is transactional errors all day.” If I want to find customers revealing pain I might find, “Match.com’s website is down again. This is not helping my dating.” Finally, if we are looking for C-Level folks I might find, “Virtualization is going to be the buzz topic at our presentation to the Morgan Stanley investor conference.”
Your keyword worksheet should reduce your ideal sales scenario down to conversational and level appropriate keywords.
Understanding Different Content Types
The next step is to consider content types and sites you might be targeting. Here is my simple strategy guide to dissecting content types Google indexes (thanks to Google’s new sidebar this is very easy to slice and dice):
News: This is where you can find the latest on market trends, companies, and people as they are covered in press releases and news outlets. I have found these types of searches best for giving me prospecting campaign themes, not necessarily prospects themselves.
Blogs: Searching through blog content is important on two accounts. One, they are typically authoritative or thought leading content. They draw in a community of prospects researching solutions (i.e., potential customers), which means you should be hanging around here too. And two, these blogs are likely to shape your prospects’ perceptions of the “right” solution or best practices. It’s best you are prepared for these perceptions.
Updates: This is a relatively new content type for Google to index, it is the real-time Web results (i.e., Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, and more to come). These results are rich with real-time pain–customers complaining and companies responding. You are likely to find targets of opportunity in this content.
Discussion: The secret hide-out of all experts. Niche discussion groups and forums are where all the experts hang-out and help friends and trusted colleagues. Google does a pretty nice job of indexing most of these treasure troves. Discussion searches are filled with new initiative and complex problems being hashed out. Plugging in your expertise can yield a steady flow of new prospects.
Understanding and segmenting the various content types Google indexes can dramatically improve the efficiency of your online prospecting campaigns.
Creating Prospecting Campaigns
The final step in prospecting online is taking all of this brainstorming and turning it into a productive search query. Each of these queries should be narrowed and focused into a targeted campaign of potential opportunities.
Here’s a quick example of finding market opportunities and themes for your campaigns:
Here’s an example of how to use Linkedin and Google together to target people:
Do you have any favorite online sales prospecting techniques?