When preparing to launch your startup, you will have carried out some initial research on who your target market is, who your potential competition is and validated if there definitely is a gap in the market that your company could fill. From this research, you should have a vague idea of where you could find the data for your target market – which is always a great start.The benefits you have of making B2B sales is that all businesses want to be contacted (not necessarily by the salespeople) but still, the majority of them will have a website, contact name and contact email address. If we compare this to startups with B2C.
Many accelerator programmes I speak at, have a common trend for early stage startup founders to spend the majority of their time manually researching data. When I witness this, I always ask the following question:
As a B2B startup, you should be able to get a full list of all of your potential customers contact details before you even launch your product using the methods below.
I have worked with a brilliant freelancer on fiverr.com for the past 2 years. He charges $5 to scrape around 10,000 contacts, he is very reliable and his work is always high quality. To use him just go to: Fiverr Data Mining
A word of warning when working with freelancers on these types of jobs – make sure you spell out exactly the information you require such as name, email, website, full address etc.
Using this method you can very quickly get all the data you need. However, if you want to set up all the scraping yourself, then I advise you to use Webscraper.io.
Filtering Data and Improving Quality
Now you can get a list of all of your potential customers, you will have a large database of everyone you can start selling to. However, before you start emailing or calling I would advise you to filter and tidy the data to ensure the highest quality for your sales team to call. The better quality data means higher conversions and less wasted time when emailing and calling companies. Here’s how you can do it step by step:
Step 1 – Verify Emails
I use Email Hunter to verify all emails. Simply bulk upload all of your data into Email Hunter and you will get a report of all emails that are accurate and all of the ones which will bounce back. Although the results are not perfect, it is a very quick way to validate how good your data is.
Step 2: Replace any incorrect emails
I want to help you to get all of your data perfect, not just some of it. Therefore, the next step is to find any of the incorrect data.
1. From the Email Hunter validation report, simply select all of the companies with incorrect details and create a new spreadsheet.
2. Using another Email Hunter tool Email Finder, to bulk upload all the website domains that you have with incorrect emails and Email Hunter will find all of the email addresses for you. Again, these emails will not always be 100% correct but it is a lot quicker than manually searching for them.
3. For any of the emails that cannot be found, use a freelancer to manually research the email information. I run a separate business where you can find Timelypa.com and register to have a call if you want to find out more about this service.
When working with data researchers, I always make sure they use the following tools for all the research:
- Google Docs: A simple one but it’s important that you can check the level of work in real-time
- Remove Duplicates: Simple Chrome Store plugin to avoid duplicates
- Rapportive: This is another plugin which allows you to get all personal information. If you can guess the email format of a company, e.g: firstname.lastname@example.org then you can validate if you have the right information. This is a brilliant tool particularly for finding managers and owners information who rarely have their contact details online.
- Facebook About Page: Often companies only have a contact form on their website,
- However, on their Facebook about page they will often list contact details, names and emails.
- Who.is: This software shows you the name, mobile number, and name of the person who registered the domain. Although more relevant for targeting small businesses, this can be one of the best ways of finding the owner’s personal details.
Testing the Quality of Data and Establishing Decision Makers
This is a controversial technique and not something I always condone, but it is something that it is worth you knowing about. Now you are at the stage where you have all of your data scraped and filtered. Here you have two options:
- Send a cold marketing email to introduce your startup and establish interest in the customer wanting a demo on your product
- Send a cold-email from a private Gmail address pretending to be a customer and enquiring about information. The outcome of this is that you will find out the decision maker, contact name and direct email address making your future email campaigns more personalised and relevant.
However, I do not feel too comfortable carrying out stage 2. If you feel that your product can genuinely help the business you are targeting, and that your ‘fake customer’ email will not waste any time of the recipient, then you may want to test this technique out. To do this, I would advise using the following steps:
- Create a new Gmail account that has no association with your business account
- Install Streak CRM as a chrome plugin where you can email 500 contacts per day (read this blog on why only 500)
- Using all the data that you have scraped and filtered, create an individual pipeline on Streak in batches of 500.
To import the data into Streak, go to ‘More / Import boxes’ and simply upload all of your data.
Once all of your data is imported, you will need to create a snippet which will have a saved email template that you can send out. To do this go to ‘compose new email’ and write the email that you want to send. Imagine if you were a customer, which information would you want to ask to get the required outcome of the decision maker replying? Once you have written the email at the bottom of the email, you will see an orange icon on the far right. Click on that and choose ‘create new snippet from current message’. Once the snippet is saved you are ready to launch your first email campaign. Simply go to:
- Compose email;
- Choose the snippet you want to use and you should see the email template you have saved
- Click ‘recipients’ and then ‘mail merge’ and you will be prompted to choose a pipeline
- You will then be prompted to ‘Choose boxes’
- This will direct you to the pipeline you have created. Just click the tick box to select all of the people in the pipeline
- Once selected click ‘continue with mail merge’. You will see a message in the bottom right-hand side of your screen
- You will then be redirected back to your email that you have drafted.
- Double check you are happy with the content then click ‘send’.
- If everything has been set up correctly, you will see another message in the bottom right-hand side of the screen showing you the progress of the emails being sent.
- It usually takes around 20-30 mins to send all 500 emails.
Linkedin Lead Generation
If your target market is focussed on larger companies, you may feel that connecting with key decision makers via Linkedin would be a better approach to creating leads. If so, I would recommend using Linkedeep.
This software allows you to:
- Search for anybody on Linkedin based on specific criteria, in this example ‘business development’.
- Linkedeep will then find every connection on Linkedin that fits that criteria. Try and be as specific as possible to get the most relevant data, such as ‘sales manager’, ‘London’, ‘Lettings industry’.
- Then, Linkedeep will allow you to connect with all contacts in bulk which can help to really automate your lead generation process.
- On top of this, you can personalise scheduled messages for each connection when they connect with you.
In any company that I work with, I always stress how important the data research process is. It is the first step of building momentum for all marketing efforts and the better quality data – the higher likelihood that it will lead to sales.
Also, remember that once you have a great set of data for the people who do not respond to you or buy straight away, you can always message them again in the future when your startup is more popular and may have a better chance of converting.