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From suspect to new business opportunity

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Identifying and nurturing the best targets

New client acquisition used to be a hit and miss affair. Spread the net wide, get your message out to as many people as possible and hope some of them took the bait. But times have changed. Firms have to act like snipers, aiming at the best targets for conversion. And CRM systems have a major part to play. Here’s how.

The usual suspects

Clearly, when it comes to growing your business it makes sense to focus on where your biggest strengths lie. So the first step in any business development activity is to define your ideal customer profile. And, with a good CRM system, you have lots of data to help you do that.

Company data can be automatically imported from external sources – such as Dun and Bradstreet or Bureau Van Dijk – complete with a whole range of valuable information about turnover, employees, areas of operation etc. This can then be compared to existing client data, to determine the companies that have the closest match to your existing clients. These are then the target firms for your business development activity.

But this process isn’t – and shouldn’t be – a one off exercise. All the time your firm is receiving information about potential client companies – through business cards received at events, contacts with intermediaries or news feeds, for example. Today’s CRM systems can be set up to automatically take this information, compare it to your ideal client profile and flag up opportunities that improve the return on investment for events and other marketing activities.

Prospecting for gold

Once you have your target list of companies, the question becomes how best to approach them. The traditional approach is to run marketing campaigns and events aimed at starting the engagement process and there is no reason to stop them. Most CRM systems provide excellent support for creating and executing marketing campaigns, as well as managing the leads that ensue from them.

However, your CRM system can also help you be smarter about how you approach potential clients, by providing you with a relationship map that helps you leverage the relationship intelligence that already resides in your firm. Perhaps you have a partner that used to work with the company at a previous firm. Or maybe one of your partners sits on a professional body with the company. Associations like these are often more powerful than even the best marketing campaigns.

Another avenue your CRM system can help you explore is whether any intermediaries can be used to broker an introduction to the target firm. And once contact has been established, your CRM system should be able to help you nurture the new relationship, by allowing you to proactively plan activities and providing reasons and reminders to maintain contact with the target company.

And tracking the activities associated with your prospecting is essential, so you can monitor progress and evaluate the next steps to take your prospects from cold to warm to hot. Your CRM system is crucial here, providing valuable reports and key performance indicators that quickly show progress and where action needs to be taken.

With your CRM underpinning suspect identification and prospect targeting, you will be in a great position to move to the next step of identifying concrete opportunities and turning them into new business. And your CRM system can help with that too. Watch out for my next blog, which will show you how!

Tags: InterAction

About the Author:

Fiona Jackson is a CRM Manager at Pinsent Masons. She has spent the last 14 years implementing and running InterAction® solutions in a variety of professional services firms (including legal and accountancy) in roles which have included managing marketing communications, business development strategies as well as fee earner mentoring and training. Fiona works closely with her internal clients to understand their end to end business processes and provides support in utilising all the 'intelligence' they have gathered throughout the firm to help them be successful with CRM.

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