#gxmxp Series

Data Acquisition Strategy

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!

Your customer acquisition strategy is only as good as your data. Click to Tweet

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 = finding list sources w/highest concentration of your ICP. Click to Tweet

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: 

  • Data Source – This isn’t about where you’re getting the email address or phone number from. This is for the actual list source. Are you getting it from a website? A trade show magazine? It’s important to know the data source to remind you later when you want to expand or update this list. 
  • Description of Data Source – Describe where the data source is from and what the list is.  
  • ICP – What ICP does this list match up with? Pull the ICP name right from the document you created during the ICP stage of the #gxmxp. 
  • Outreach Channel – How will you activate this data once you have it? Will it be a targeted Facebook campaign? An email campaign? Maybe you’ll show up at someone’s office. When you’re acquiring data, you should always have the channels you’re going to use for outreach in mind. Likewise, as you review this document later on, you can use it to identify new channels to reactivate old lists.
  • Ideal Roles – List the titles of the people you want to focus on with this data. 
  • Number of Companies – As you complete this list, what are the total number of companies that you actually pulled out of it? This will tell you the total number of accounts that you’re going to reach out to which will provide you a clear picture as to the size of the top of your funnel.
  • Number of Contacts – What’s the total number of contacts that were acquired with this list?  Ideally, you should have between two and four contacts per account (smaller companies may have fewer contacts). 
  • Additional Data Parameters to Acquire – What else is useful to acquire besides contact information? This could be information like the technology stack the company is using, awards they’ve won, company size, or where the company is based out of. Focus on data that you’re going to use in your sales conversations. What makes this contact relevant to you and your business?
  • Cost Per Contact – This helps you understand the price you’re paying for each contact. Aim for anywhere between $.50 and $5. If you’re paying at the higher end of that range, all of the information should be verified and the contact should be open to taking phone calls. Keep this in mind when evaluating list brokers. Some may sell you 20,000 contacts for $5,000 but consider if there’s another way you could spend that money to get a smaller list of targeted, pre-qualified verified contacts. 
  • Data Acquisition Tools – What tools are you going to use to actually scrape the data? This could mean you’re manually looking people up and finding their contact info or maybe you’ve outsourced this to a person or list building company. The main reason you’re tracking this is that you want to know who provided good data so you can keep using them. 
  • Data Acquisition Stage – Similar to the customer acquisition strategy spreadsheet, this document is a tracking tool you’ll continue to use. This is where you’ll include what progress you’ve made acquiring and organizing data. Is it just an idea? Has the list been activated? You also want to know what happened with this data so you can recycle it if you need to. 
  • Link to Account/Contact List – You probably have a spreadsheet or a list somewhere with all this data that you’ve acquired. Link to that here to make it easy for you to come back to this sheet and evaluate your lists. 
  • List Activation Results – What happened once you reached out to this list? What did you get out of it? This goes back to the three main pillars of the MXP: (1) find the truth, (2) build a learning organization, and (3) find a scalable path to profitability. You have to know what worked and what didn’t to find that path to profitability. If something works, then you can scale it, but you can’t do that if you don’t have the right information. 

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! 

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