How To Find Clients: The Guide To Prospecting | Sam Ardley | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

How To Find Clients: The Guide To Prospecting

teacher avatar Sam Ardley, Sales and Business Development

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (30m)
    • 1. Class Introduction

    • 2. How To Build A Prospect List

    • 3. Cleansing Your Prospect List

    • 4. Prioritising Your Prospects

    • 5. What Makes A Good Prospect

    • 6. Finding Key Stakeholders

    • 7. Conclusion and Project

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels
  • Beg/Int level
  • Int/Adv level

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

In this class, I am going to be sharing everything you need to know about my approach to finding prospective clients. Whether you're a complete beginner or somebody that has sales or client management experience, this class touches on how to build a strong prospective client list, filter it down and finally begin to engage with them.

With the sales environment across most industries becoming more competitive, it is becoming ever important that sales and new business executives are as prepared as possible when approaching a prospective client. In this class I share some of the tools that are available to help you build your prospect list and the criteria I consider when building my prospect list. I will also begin to discuss how I take research one step further before I begin to engage with my prospects, considering where they are as a business, as well as the key stakeholders within which I would like to connect with. 

By the end of this class, you’re going to have all of the knowledge you need to develop targeted prospect lists and improve your cold engagement. 

In this class you will learn the following:

  • What tools I use when prospecting
  • How I filter down my prospect lists
  • How I cleanse my prospect lists
  • The things to consider when researching your priority prospects
  • How to identify key stakeholders
  • When to engage

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Sam Ardley

Sales and Business Development


Sam Ardley is a sales and business development expert from London, England.

He discovered his passion for business development shortly after leaving school, when he joined a sales and marketing team within a global financial services organisation. Over the last fives years he has held both sales and relationship management positions, giving him a very rounded perspective of the B2B services environment. 

Sam will be using Skillshare to pass on his experience to those looking to develop their sales skill set and develop an understanding of the B2B environment. All views are his own. 

See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • Exceeded!
  • Yes
  • Somewhat
  • Not really
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Class Introduction: Hello everyone. And in today's class we are going to be talking around the subject of prospecting. Now, prospecting is the stage earliest in the South cycle and one in my opinion, doesn't have enough time spent on it in the majority of sounds environments I should say. Why? I think there's a number of reasons. Prospecting is seen as just research. And in many cases, it is 99 percent research. It's not the most glamorous part of the sale cycle. And I've personally found in my experience that a lot of salespeople that are very good at engaging with other individuals with businesses sometimes lack the skill was around research and disciplined prospecting. So in today's class, we are going to be bringing it right back to the beginning of the sales cycle. We're going to focus on, firstly, what is prospecting? How you prospect? And there's a few ways or methods in which you can approach it. How to prospect in depth around key target prospects, whether they'd be businesses. It's more so, more suited to businesses and individuals. So this class will be focused on the B2B environment. So how can you build in-depth prospect profile is feel key prospective clients. And then how to leverage all of that research order that prospecting, moving down into the next stage of the cell cycle, which is ordinarily approaching an organization or an individual within an organization. And then one final point, which I think I touched on at the end is, how can we look at the way we prospect within, within our businesses and really critique some of the methods that we use and how our time is spent prospecting, how I tie might be better spent prospecting. And then in the, in the class project at the end. I think what it's probably going to be focusing down on his three to five of your major prospects or key prospects, going away and building a real prospect profile on them. So how the business is, where it sits, key stakeholders within the organization, and then maybe the foundations of a prospect engagement plan. So for now, I'll wrap up the introduction there and we will crack on with the class. 2. How To Build A Prospect List: So the first stage of prospecting or the first station I usually approach within prospecting is building a prospect list or prospect universe as it's referred to in many organizations. Now, I've seen some organizations I've worked with or within look to build a prospect universe made up of every single prospect of they could possibly go off to across all of the target markets they look to engage with. That's very challenging. And I've seen spread laced with tens of thousands of global organizations of varying sizes from top, top market caps in the US down to UK businesses with ten people. So yes, it's a good method to get a grasp on what you have to play with in terms of the prospects you have to go off to. What is your prospect pool? What is your target market? How big is it? Where does it sit in the wild? It answers a lot of questions like that. Which for high level sales and strategy meetings is very good information to have. Because you are, you can flavor around topics and discussions around investment and business strategy and where you need to be engaging better as a business and the drug fees you need to be focusing on and select target markets need to be looking at, and that's all well and good. But if you are a salesperson or a relationship manager or an account director that is working with prospective clients and clients on a day-to-day basis. Some of those conversations are absolutely relevant to what you're doing. So in this class, we're going to be focusing on when looking at building prospect lists, how do we make them more targeted? Now, for me, one of the first things that I do when I'm looking to build out prospect lists and build target audiences for a certain proposition, or a certain product or a certain offering. The first thing I do is have a think about what industry are we focusing down on? Now, for example, if I'm looking at the mining industry and that's very easy industry to prospect because a lot of significantly sized mining organizations are very obviously mining organizations. However, you'll also find financial vehicles that have money organization sitting within. So building out a prospect list can be quite challenging. Simply because, yes, you can pick up the majority of the money organizations that are publicly, very obviously mining organizations. But when you come down a level to the slightly more mid-market mining organizations, these businesses will sit within other, other businesses that will be a financial vehicle or a global investment portfolio or something like that. It can be a variety of things. So if you're looking to build a prospect list, that can be one of the first hurdles that you've come across. Now, there isn't a particularly easy way to work around that. But I will be talking about what I do personally and the tools that I use. So moving on from there, we're looking to build a prospect list. We've got the target market, which is mining. So the first criteria we have to build a prospect list around is the industry group mining. Now, across the world we have SIC codes, which are known as special industry codes. There is an array of industry codes that relate to mining. So that's one way you can build a prospect. Start to build a prospect list is by filtering companies by this special industry code. Now, there are other services out there which have their own slightly more accurate industry codes or industry criteria groups that allow you to search for lists of companies within that certain industry. Now, the reason they claim to be more accurate is because what they do is they look at the businesses sit below the global ultimate. So what I was saying a second ago under a second ago around there being large financial vehicles carrying smaller businesses within it. That's how you that's one method that you can get around that and still be able to prospect or create prospect list. So I should say that cover as many organizations within your set criteria within. So when I'm looking at the tools out there to build a prospect list like this. You have some obvious ones. So factor you've probably one of the most well-known global databases for business and cooperation information. Now on there they have a very, very powerful tool which enables you to export lists onto an Excel spreadsheet of businesses based on a certain criteria. Artesian is another one. Oxygen, however, is slightly more GB focused. So if you're not within GB, prospecting GB businesses, although the data's really, really rich on their RGB businesses, if you were looking type with multinationals, it really doesn't limit those that you'll be able to pick up when searching. A third one that I've used a number of times in the past is CrunchBase. Crunchbase is more global than artesian, doesn't quite have the same reached that Factiva does. But the information within CrunchBase is, again, probably slightly more rich than what you'd find on the lights of Factiva. Now CrunchBase really focuses down on the financials when organization and not in terms of assets, revenue. Audited accounts, etc. More investment. Where where's the money coming from as an organization? Divestments, have they sold any entities within their organization within the last 10 years? They acquired any other businesses within the last 10 years. So there's more information on CrunchBase which gives you an understanding of whether business sits as an organization direction they're moving in. If they're looking at non-organic, organic growth, if they have a good cash-flow. So that's a third system. Now, my personal favorite is Factiva, I think is very good to have the in-depth information the Artesian and CrunchBase can offer when you're at this stage at the beginning of your prospecting process. Factiva, if you give it a Google, there are many alternatives to Factiva that provide a very, very good and very similar service, all coming at very different price brackets. So i'll, I'll go through all of them now, give it a Google alternatives Factiva and see what services are out there that sit within your price budget. But anyway, when you this early in your prospecting process, you're focusing on building a list. A list which I always break down by a handful of things and factor you have a menu and you can actually click and select all the different criteria you want to filter by and then hit go. It's incredibly easy. But some of the criteria that I use just so you can get an understanding of how I would approach it. Firstly, the specially in the tree code faculty that also have an industry group, group TO within the system which enables you to filter down by industries again. Now sometimes I will do to extractions from Factiva one by special industry code. And one by the way, that Factiva puts businesses into industries, I would recommend if you are using Factiva specifically, you should maybe have a look at that as well. And then also look to filter down by geography. Incredibly simple. You know, the drug fees that you want to operate in as a business, you know the drug for his way, you want to build new business, filter down by them. Silos revenue. So how big is the business? And, and sales revenue isn't always the best indicator for how large the businesses, but it does give you a first grasp of where it sits and also faculty that can provide your year on year revenue. So also you get an understanding of whether or not the business is growing or shrinking. Sometimes I look at market cap, if I'm looking at large public organizations, I think when you get up to that level of organization, market cap sometimes is a slightly more relevant figure than revenue. Another one for you to consider, employees and employees is one, especially when I'm looking at estimates and mid-market employees can be so much more relevant when you are looking to understand the size of an organization, rather than using a revenue. Looking at revenue to judge the size. Now, I've found in many SME organizations and mid-market organizations, especially those that have key investors and other businesses scattered around them. The revenue that they turn over year on year sometimes isn't actually representative of where they are as a business because I have many strands of their business all going off in different directions and with the asterisk, the way that their revenues reported. So I find, especially as the majority view, I would imagine a looking at the SME to mid-market space employees is one of the best indicators for you to get a grasp on how big the organization is. And that's important to you because you have to remember, you're selling your service, you're selling your product. You need the organization to have the budget to be able to purchase a product or service you're selling and for your product or service to be relevant. So keep that in mind. And the final criteria that I sometimes felt my accounts prospect list down by how long I've been running full, especially in the estimator mid-market space. I think it's very interesting to look at how premature and organization is. Has it being spun off of another organization and as it appeared quite quickly, or is it an S, Is it a startup? Is it a FinTech? I think when you're looking at how new businesses, how long it's been running for. It also gives you an understanding of how mature they will be when looking at purchasing process. Because a well-established multinational organization will have procurement teams or have a, have a code of conduct around the buying process. I have stringent measures around buying. And that's a good thing in 99 percent of cases. But if you're a small organization looking to sell low value products to these large multinationals. Getting your products through these procurement processes, processes, and through their sounds processes can be incredibly time-consuming for you as a business, what you as a salesperson. And that's something to consider. So that's three tools that I use to start building out my prospect list. 3. Cleansing Your Prospect List: And once I have my prospect list, I then spend some time actually looking through it. Now I've seen in many, many cases, as soon as an individual has a prospect list, the first thing they do is think, how do I contact them? I'm not going to call them. We're going to aim animal going to LinkedIn. Do I know do I know this person I've spoken to before? Let's do the same for that. Take a moment and actually review and use your head and look through the list of organizations or businesses that are in front of you. What you expect it to be on that list, because these tools have very good. But it is just a tool and you still, in my opinion, should go through your prospect list with a fine tooth comb to make sure your prospect list you have in front of you is representative of the criteria that you want it, the prospect list to be made out of. That's the first thing. Secondly, are there any businesses on this list that you should not be contacting as an organization either due to them already being a client. Book, bad experiences in the past. Paul, personal relations between individuals in your organization and their organization. And these are things to consider. Doesn't mean don't contact them and don't try to engage with them. But it does mean you have to have that in the back of your mind when you are engaging with them. Because if they reclined five-years ago and they had an absolutely awful experience and fired. You went to a competitor. And then five years later you're talking to them saying that we've got this fantastic proposition. We got great accounting that can provide this, this and this to you and I just haven't ago. Well, what can you do that five-years ago? If you're not aware and conscious of that as as a salesperson or relationship director, you are going to look 11, going to look a little bit silly. Firstly, and secondly, it just shows that within your organisation, organisation that there isn't those records reason that communication because if you're a salesperson coming to me and trying to sell me broadband, which I used in my last my last class. And I had to five years ago and your speeds with crap and I had to terminate the contract early because of how poor your customer service was. And I get a call from you saying, Hi Sam, we've got this great deal on broadband, 45 megabytes a second. Fiber optics can be fantastic. I tend to go to yea, well, you saw being that five-years go, that is all for. Now in those situations, it's not as big of a deal because it's B2C, high turnover. The person who called me just gone to the next person. But in the B2B environment where reputation and relationships are key, that does hurt your reputation and it certainly doesn't work to improve that relationship you have, which has already been tarnished. So this is the first step of really giving slightly more in depth with your prospect research. 4. Prioritising Your Prospects: So that is where I would take a pause for a moment and reflect on where we've come so far. So we've looked at prospect lists and the tools to put together prospect list. We've looked at criteria which you consider when building a prospect list. And we've now started to have a think about actually spending the time reviewing the prospect list that you've managed to build that in front of you. So the next step is starting to think about whether or not you want to engage with these prospects you've you've got rid of those are in no, no. And those that don't fit the criteria, it's now time to think about, are these prospects going to be good clients? And to be honest, and a lot of cases, you aren't going to know the answer to that, but you can start to make a judgment and prioritize that list. Because prioritisation of anything you do in the work environment is incredibly important to ensure or to support you in delivering as good of a, as good of a result as soon as possible. So I would work through this, press that list and prioritize by organizations and businesses that I know have an avid interest in the product or service. Whether that be our product or services, a business or a competitor's, either all works very well. If we have any prior relationships, if we've got a prior relationship with one of these organizations going in with a warm relationship and a warm connection. Really expediter South process. And it gets you talking to a decision-maker much sooner than it would trying and trying to build a cold relationship up to a warm relationship from no contact in the past. I would then have a think about if there are any big names on your prospect list that you would like has clients within your book of business. Now, for some organizations, this probably wouldn't ever be something you'd think about, but for others, having a book of business, blue-chip names in or big recognizable names is actually very important and it's something that has certain businesses relish and Dr. upon and others see it as the complete opposite. They see blue-chip and recognizable names is probably more work than those that aren't. But it's another thing for you to consider and it comes back again to building your criteria are out for that prospect list at the beginning. See you've got a list. It's been filtered once by the system, it's been filtered to gain by you and then a third time by you again, prioritizing that list. So now you have a prioritized prospect list made up of organizations within a set criteria. Any outliers removed, any bad relationships or bad terms with organizations, with other organizations removed. So you now have a list of prospects which is in priority from most important to us, we'd love to wind down to if we get time to do the outreach, make the calls, send the emails, that would be great to have still because I still felt down good prospects that fit your target criteria. And that's, that's the thing Sometimes I find is if you don't do this work, before you start the outreach stage, you'll calling and you're engaging with prospects. And frankly, you don't want as a client, they aren't going to be profitable. They don't really fit your target market for the proposition service you've put together. And you could do very well. You could code outreach, cold, cold, cold, get a meeting and get a second meeting in, Meet the Team for them to go. Actually, you know what, what you're offering us isn't quite what we're after because it's more suited to these types of businesses. And you knew that from the beginning. But you've wasted three meetings and phone calls trying to arrange the meeting in the first place. So it's always good that you remember good prospects are better than a lot of prospects. Good meetings, Good call was a better than a lot of meetings. And those cause and i've I've seen certain organizations get that wrong. 5. What Makes A Good Prospect: So now you've got your prioritized list of prospects. It's time to think about how we can do more in-depth research into the individual prospects. Because yes, we're in a position now where we've got a good list of prospects. But what we don't know is, where are these businesses individually before we pick up the phone and going talk to someone, how they're doing as a business the last 18 months, anywhere in about as being very challenging. The economic environment in most countries in the world is unstable. At minimum, businesses have felt that some businesses have done very well. And actually the pandemic has provided a lot of opportunities for them. Whereas you can see that in certain share prices. I'm not gonna make any comments on that in this class, but go away and have a look because there are some organizations that have had one hundred, two hundred and fifty percent share price increases throughout throughout the pandemic. Sui. Now looking to see where, where, where are these businesses, how are they doing, how they coped over the last 18 months? As a revenue going up, has it gone down? More or less employees. And when you look at employees, LinkedIn and other great place to look for that as well. Go into the corporate LinkedIn page and CME people that have working for them on LinkedIn. Sometimes it gives you a slightly more real sense of how many employees I have working for them? Yes, certain organizations, the employees I have wouldn't have LinkedIn. But I find it gives you a sense of a more realistic, more, a more representative number. Maybe you'd get from the line. So Factiva, which I sometimes sense could be overinflate to buy contractors and other other outliers like that. So you know whether businesses individually, how they're doing, I've been doing. And that's also a consideration that should give you a sense of from a budget perspective where they are now doing good or doing bad. From a budgeting perspective, businesses today are still very, very tight and where they're spending their money. Because although, yes, you can look and say, we're coming towards the end of the pandemic. I think in a lot of countries and there's, there's been substantial amounts of financial support for businesses and individuals throughout the pandemic. And eventually that will be cut. And with that, many, many people are predicting there to be some form of recession. So businesses are keeping that in mind when they're looking at their year or their yearly expenditure? I would then if all is well, when you're happy with where they are, you think you've got a good story to tell them around, either saving money or spending more money to drive more value within their business. Both work just because IT businesses during bad documentation contact them. It just means as a salesperson, you should be conscious and black tie into your conversations because yes, they will be spending money on your product or service. But if they're spending the same amount of money on your competitor's product or service, or more or less. And you believe that your product or service will deliver more value to them, then there's still a lot of merit in them having the conversation and considering it because you still have something interesting to say. Well, whereas if you go in and say, we've got this great product and what we'd love to talk to you about it. And they just turn around and go look, we've got a crap here. We've made people redundant from a cash-flow perspective where we're in a really bad place. And you'll come into us and you're wanting us to spend 0.5 million pounds a year on a new internal network or something like that. I don't know. It's not going to be received very well. So keep that in mind and change or tacked on the phone via email, via LinkedIn when engaging. 6. Finding Key Stakeholders: And then finally, and I was think this is incredibly useful. And looking at the internal stakeholders within the organization or business. So you're looking to sell to. Now if you're working in financial services, it's quite likely you'll be selling to a CFO or the Chief Financial Officer or similar type, rho. Find out who the CFO is, find out who the financial drivers are, find out by name. In a lot of cases you can find out their e-mail addresses and phone numbers as well, Starting more challenging for the larger organizations, but you can still find names incredibly easily. And this is why LinkedIn comes in. Now I think LinkedIn is the most valuable tool the salesperson has. In there our summary today, I use LinkedIn more than any other tool. I have available. I use LinkedIn more than I make cold calls. I use LinkedIn more than ISN code called a warming mouse. I will sometimes just, even with contacts and relationships I've developed over time, I would still talk to them more and what's happened? Linkedin a little bit over email or the phone. Just because it's easy. And especially when you're looking to develop these relationships. Having LinkedIn there to support you in engaging with them cold directly with that stakeholder you want to talk to buy your product or service is going to be relevant. It avoids making cold calls and especially the senior buys within an organization. They hate cold holes. I hate receiving cold calls. You probably hate receiving cold calls as well. Unfortunately, people have to make them. But with a cold LinkedIn, it's personal. Personal. You can answer at your own leisure. You can explain why you're contacting them in Y0. Contact, contacting them individually. Why you think your product or service will be relevant to them. The value you think that product or service will bring. And then a call to action or next step. Whether that be, Let's arrange cool, Let's arrange a meeting. View, cold message on LinkedIn. They react well when you get a colon that cool that you have will be so much more valuable to you as a salesperson than a cold call you could have made two weeks before. 7. Conclusion and Project: So that was today's task class, I should say, on prospecting. So we call it a law. I think for a high-level introduction to prospecting, we've covered the importance of prospect lists and the criteria that goes into building those prospect lists. Some of the tools available to help you prospects more efficiently and build better lists. The importance of prioritizing that prospect list into a more manageable number of prospects that you think would make great clients for your business. We then looked at how to better research in depth prospects. And then how to engage hard fast fire who the stakeholders are, and then how to engage with them. So that's, that's a nice eight-step process for how to approach prospecting from code. Now, I hope you found it valuable. And I think it's very important that you go away and you think about within your business, how could you improve the way your prospecting, either to drive efficiencies, all to increase your success rate. So for your class, homework, class project, and it sounds we're better than homework home. That sounds awful, isn't it? We have class project. Go away and look at your prospect list. If you have one, if you haven't got one, build one. Now off the toes, I mentioned today from memory, the cheapest is CrunchBase, and that is an affordable tool. So if you're working in a slightly smaller mid-market organization, that might be the one to look at. I don't know how the pricing works in fact, either because I think it's more targeted at the upper mid to multinational market, but check it out. Build a prospect list if you haven't got one with set criteria. Once you've got that list, look through that list, cleanse it, and then prioritize it. Select your top three prospects from that list and put together prospect profiles for each of the three and upload into the portal. So what I want to see in there is where the business sits as an organization today. And how has the last 18 months being for that business? The key stakeholders you're looking to engage within those businesses and how you're going to do it. And then finally, maybe just a few words on how you put together your prospect engagement plan. Because that's something I'm looking to cover in the next task, in the next class. And I think it'll be very important for me to get an understanding of how you're approaching building a prospect engagement plan and how I would look to perfectly done that myself to build one that is more targeted. And I think that's usually what's the issue with weight prospecting and engagement is undertaken in many places is that just isn't targeted enough. So for now, I hope you found that interesting. Any questions? Drop me a note, and I'll happily get back to you. And I look forward to reviewing your class project work. I'll talk to you soon and I'm sure I'll be back with another video next week.