This is a piece inspired by a very good question I’ve come across on Quora. It will be especially helpful to those of you who either prepare to start their first sales email copy, or they’ve been sending cold emails that don’t bring the desired effects.
Why do I need company research in the first place?
For starters, let’s switch the perspective from a cold email sender’s to the cold email recipients. You know the emails that sometimes come to your inbox asking or “just checking” if you need something: Maybe you need a web development services? Or a product explanation video? Or a mobile app?
Have you ever responded to such a B2B sales email?
As a cold email sender, you need to know that the “just checking” emails sent to thousands of prospects will not bring you many responses, not to mention valuable business relations. What they may bring you, though, is a ban on sending anything from your email provider, or a spam report from some of your addressees.
So before you decide to reach out to a company and ask if they need your service, you should have a very good reason to suspect they may actually need it at the moment. In other words, you need a context.
If you do your research, you’ll be able to create the right context and verify if your prospect may actually be in need of your solution. Then, instead of “just asking” you can actually propose some value in advance. And that significantly increases the chances of getting positive replies.
What should I do before sending my first sales email?
First things first, you need to know what companies you should actually look for and make the subjects of your research. This is the point at which having some hypotheses about your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) is necessary to move on. Without this profile defined, you won’t really know the direction of further research.
Read What’s the First Step to Building a Good Prospect Base? if you’re not sure about your ICP yet and couple it with the article that talks about why success is the only thing that sells in B2B sales.
How do I start the research?
As you have in mind a profile of the companies you see as your ideal customers, you can start looking. I already wrote about 15 Places Where You Can Find Prospects, Other than LinkedIn, but you can, of course, use LinkedIn as well to look for the companies that match your ICP and will be the subjects of your research. As soon as you gather a list of such companies, you can start collecting specific info about them.
What information should I look for and collect?
First of all, you obviously need the names of those companies and their websites. Then, you will also look for other profiles, on social media and business or marketing platforms, which will allow you to get to know a company better, like their social profiles, blogs etc.
So firstly, there are some basic facts like:
- their size,
- age (how long they’ve been on the market),
- the business model they operate in,
which you can collect to make sure the company fits your ICP.
Secondly, you’ll collect another set of information, which will allow you to craft more valuable sales email copy. This is not a fixed set. These types of info will be specific to your cold email campaign. I’m listing just a few ideas here:
- their target group (who are they marketing and selling to),
- the number of their customers,
- their most significant competitors,
- the topics they write about on their blog and social media,
- the types of job positions they recruit for,
- the characteristic/unique features of their website, product, or service,
- the awards/prizes they’ve got,
- the publications they created or co-created,
and much, much more like, for example, what success means to them.
But you don’t need to collect all info
So once again – the key is to focus on, find, and collect the information that will allow you to:
a) confirm that this is the company you actually want to do business with,
b) create a cold email campaign that will be personalized enough to draw their attention and offer some real value in order to get a response to your sales email.
If you plan to contact the companies via cold email, the information you should be looking for will depend on the very campaign you are planning to create later. So for instance, if you’re planning to start a sales email campaign for an online payment service, perhaps you would be interested in your prospects’ pricing pages because this is where you’ll find some information relevant to your offer.
If you want to learn more about the process of creating such tailor-made campaigns, check out one of my previous posts What Should Go First: Cold Email Copy or Prospect Base? , where you can also download the PDF with a step-by-step tutorial to the process.
What tools can I use in the process?
Company research takes some time, so to make the process as efficient as possible, you will probably want to use a set of tools best adjusted to your workflow. Here I’m sharing what I’ve been using.
I’ve used Excel and Google Spreadsheets, and both will do the job if you organize your spreadsheet well. In the first column, you’ll have the name of the company, and then an email address to the person you chose as your best contact (yes, you should always email people at your target companies, sending your emails at general email addresses usually will not bring you many replies). When your list is ready, you can export it as a CSV file and import the contacts to an email sending automation tool like Woodpecker.
if you prefer to collect your prospects data straight in your CRM, you can also go for that. It’s important, though, to collect there also the specific information you’ll need to use as personalization snippets in your email copy. There are numerous tools of this type, you may have probably heard of Highrise, Pipedrive, Base CRM, ZOHO and many others.
If you haven’t had a chance to watch this video by Peter O’Donoghue, do that and see how you can use Google Alerts to collect information about some ongoing events at companies who might be interested in your solution. This will allow you to constantly grow your prospect list and get relevant pieces of information which you can then refer to in your messages.
If your target group is active on social media, you can use a monitoring app like Brand24 to look for posts on topics connected to your offer, and thus, grow the list of companies that might be interested in your product or service. Another way is to monitor posts related to specific companies that you’ve chosen to contact and then refer to the posts in your emails (more of an ABSD approach).
What’s in it for you?
A good sales email sent to a cold prospect should offer some value. The value can only be a real value to your prospect if it’s set within the right context. To know the context and create a message that will refer to the context, you need some research before you start your cold email campaign.
Yes, the research is time-consuming, and it doesn’t guarantee that you will get a reply to your email. But it will increase your chances to get a reply and to start a mutually beneficial B2B relation.
Don’t just close your eyes and hit “send” before you know your prospects. Get to know them as much as you can before you craft your sales email copy. The research will help you create messages which will really resonate with your prospect group.
Hope this helps.