A couple weeks ago, we covered 3 of the best, and most underutilized commercial lending prospecting tools (HERE). Due to multiple requests, we build on that today and show lenders and business development officers how to derive contact information out of thin air. As we pointed out, the art and science of commercial banking sales isn’t taught by traditional education and is largely ignored in banking schools, conferences and training programs. This training is important as we have found that lenders do not rise to the level of their hope, but fall back to the level of their training. Today, here are 3 ideas that will help prospecting that are often overlooked or unknown to many lenders.
If your bank isn’t dollar wise, but time foolish, you have access to a set of private databases to save you time. Companies such as Hoovers, S&P IQ, D&B , Experian, SNL, Sageworks and many others can save invaluable time and help with educating your business development officers as well as providing contact information.
In similar fashion, many banks purchase lists with contact information. Contacts run between $0.25 and $3.00 depending on your set of qualifications and often average around $0.50 per name. While purchasing lists is common, we urge bankers to do their due diligence wisely and check out a sample, plus get adequate guarantees to refund your money or replace the contacts. However, if you are dealing with a reputable company with a steady history of references, then these lists can be very effective, especially if they are highly specialized such as funeral homes, wheat farmers or doctors.
The problem arises when your contact is new or not in a database or a list. Then what? Here is what you do:
Search: It is likely your lenders know the target company, but lack a contact. Here, a little investigation is in order. The first stop is usually social media, particularly LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook which we have covered. However, should social media come up dry, the next move is to go back to basics and search. Of course, lenders know about Google, but most lenders don’t go farther. That isn’t ideal as there are search engines that specialize in people and can be more effective than Google.
For example, Pipl is a people search engine that scours the invisible web for contact information. This includes a variety of databases that are not crawled by Google. Zabasearch is another application that is free and focuses on public information and records including court records and phone directories. PeekYou is another site, but the twist is that it specializes in usernames. For instance, if your target prospect has the handle of “big borrower”; you can search that user name across the web and see if they are active on other sites. While there are plenty of other sites, our point is that there is an astonishing amount of information that you can dig up on someone that might not be readily available in Google’s first couple of pages.
Validation: Let’s say you found the prospect’s name off their website or from one of the searches above. Alternatively, let’s say you went to a conference and have a list of attendees but now need contact information. You conducted a search using the engines above and that still didn’t get you a telephone number or email address. What do you do?
The answer is easy, you guess and then validate. It is highly likely that since you know your target company and that company has a website (if not you have to think twice about do you really want them as a prospect). In all likelihood, the proxy address of the Company’s domain is also used for their email server. Thus, if the company is at www.acmewidgets.com, then that is probably the end of your prospect’s email. If your contact is John Smith, then the following structures cover about 95% of the possibilities (in order of probability): jsmith, johns, john, or john.smith. Occasionally, someone works their middle initial in, but that is rare.
Next, go to one of the variety of free email validation websites such as Cobisi or Validateemailaddress.org and run each name in order, starting with firstname.lastname@example.org. Each site will tell you if it is a valid email address or if you get rejected. If you get rejected, then just work through the list until you get a hit. Bingo – you now have free contact information with about 3 minutes worth of work.
Submitted by Chris Nichols on April 24, 2016