Now that you have planned, documented, and are closely tracking customer acquisition strategies, you’re ready for data acquisition.
Today we’re going to walk through how to find the exact people you should target when you implement your customer acquisition strategies.
Without a significant amount of inbound interest, your company will likely have to rely on an outbound customer acquisition strategy in order to do market development. Outbound customer acquisition can often be a resource intensive activity both in time and money.
With your limited market development budget, you’ll need to execute on strategies that only focus on your highest priority ICPs.
The most successful outbound strategies are not the ones that cast the widest possible net. Rather, they are the ones that deliver a highly targeted message to a highly targeted audience.
The same goes with data acquisition strategies.
Data acquisition is far from exciting. However, it is critical and filled with potentially fatal pitfalls. Avoid the common mistake of cutting corners on your data acquisition strategy!
The only way to reach your ICP and build a predictable revenue engine is if you have the contact information of the people you are trying to seek fit with.
Quality Over Quantity
By this point, you’ve done the work to identify exactly who you want to reach out to and what to say to them. You should already know which companies you want to reach out to and you should already know the exact titles of the people you’re targeting at those companies.
Don’t be afraid of the hard work when it comes to finding this contact information. It’s worth it.
One of the biggest mistakes that startups make when it comes to actually finding contacts to communicate and test their hypotheses with is compromising on contact data quality and over-compensating with data quantity.
Get used to the fact that acquiring contact data is the equivalent of digital ditch digging. That’s no excuse for rushing through this phase and compromising on list quality (i.e. acquiring more contacts even if some or most are not your ICP).
Reaching out to a targeted, largely ICP-homogenous group of contacts will provide a clear and definitive answer to whether or not you are on the right path to product-market fit. On the other hand, reaching out to a large list of contacts that are loosely related will lead to shiny object syndrome and an unfocused cacophony of product feedback.
As you move from an ICP hypothesis to tangible contacts, do not compromise. To compromise on your contact data is the same thing as deciding to change your ICP based off of no market feedback.
Focus on getting the right contacts with verified information to see the best results. You don’t need thousands of contacts because we’re going for quality over quantity.
Remember, market development is the pursuit of learning first and then revenue. At this stage, more leads means more distraction, not more revenue.
Mining for Digital Gold
One of the best parts about doing data acquisition or prospecting manually is the learning gained from reading every LinkedIn profile or company profile online. It shows you how people talk about the industry, which companies are industry leaders and most importantly how your targets describe their own job responsibilities.
Likewise, manual data acquisition is also a great way to get luck on your side by finding mutual connections or interests that enable you to quickly get a conversation started.
Where do you look for contacts? LinkedIn is a great place to start. We recommend searching wide and finding more LinkedIn profiles or titles than you need (you can always narrow it down later).
Also, look online for company list sources. Companies that find themselves on any kind of “best” or “top” list are usually there for a reason and want to stay there. In turn, they are more willing to spend budget in order to maintain their competitive advantage.
Once you have a qualified company or account list, then take those companies and source them further. Go to LinkedIn or the company site to find the contact information for the specific titles you’re targeting.
Data Acquisition Exercise
Go ahead and download the Data Acquisition Strategy spreadsheet from the Resources/Downloads section and open it up.
Here’s what to include in each column:
Avoid Pipeline Volatility
The Data Acquisition Strategy spreadsheet, along with your Customer Acquisition Strategy document, will allow you to keep your sales engine moving at all times. It should be a living and evolving document.
Building a new customer contact list requires between 2-4 weeks of lead time.
Following our process and using our documents enables you to stay ahead of the lead time by always having your next list in a ready-to-activate state.
Staying ahead of your lead time helps you avoid pipeline volatility. Once you lose momentum, it could take months to start seeing revenue potential come back into the pipeline.
If you’re not one step ahead and ready to activate a new list before you need to, then you’ll be in a difficult place when you need revenue. Not being ready to activate a new list or strategy can leads you to make quick fix decisions that aren’t in your best interest.
The best path forward is a consistent flow of new opportunities, leads and conversations. And that starts with a consistent flow of data.
Tracking for Future Success
Another important utility of the Data Acquisition Strategy spreadsheet is for you to keep a record of which data sources and ICPs you had success reaching out to.
Keeping a record of both successes and failures is the best way to objectively identify where you should begin to deploy more resources and which data sources you should avoid in the future.
Additionally, one of the worst practices among companies big and small is to stop using a contact list after the first use. This practice is unsustainable and leads companies to compromise data quality in turn for quantity.
If you have a list that generated a 50% response rate and 10% converted to new customers, then find new ways to activate and exhaust the rest of that list before moving on.
We have only one more step before we complete Market Discovery. Next week, we’ll reverse-engineer your funnel and identify the exact resources you need to achieve your next market milestone!