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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 has spent over 15 years implementing and working with InterAction in professional services firms, including legal and accountancy. In these in-house roles, supported by InterAction, she managed marketing communications, devised and implemented business development strategies as well as trained and mentored fee earners. She worked closely with internal clients to understand their business processes end-to end and guided them in utilising the 'intelligence' gathered via InterAction to help them be successful at customer relationship management.

Fiona was previously a Client Advisor for five years at LexisNexis Enterprise Solutions; and was often described as "an extension to our business" by her clients. She has now returned to the company to drive an InterAction ‘repositioning’ project for a large London law firm. Fiona is also working with other firms to help them align CRM to wider business development strategies. She specialises in strategic and tactical CRM best practice, and as an expert in devising user adoption strategies, her experience in rolling out and repositioning InterAction as a business tool is proving invaluable to clients.

Fiona is mother to two teenagers, who keep her firmly on her toes. Living in Hertfordshire, she loves walking, is often found obsessing over the latest box set and enjoys all that country pubs have to offer. She also has a spectacular Gin collection of her own. Recently, Fiona has discovered a love for cooking – the varying degrees of success hasn’t stopped her from continuing to giving it a go!

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