As Akita are a Customer Success company, we are well aware of the first rule of Customer Success – ‘avoid acquiring bad-fit customers’. This begins at the prospecting stage.
Back in 2015, I wrote an article describing the suite of tools I was using for sales prospecting. 3 years on and my focus hasn’t changed so much. I’m still looking to find, contact, engage and convert as many prospects as possible. I’m always interested in tools that can help scale my prospecting efforts while retaining the quality of leads and the quality of my outreach. As part of a bootstrapped company, I’m also looking to do this on a budget.
I find there is no getting around some pretty manual graft (if you consider surfing the web and typing graft 😉) but there are some great tools out there that lighten the prospecting load. Here are my go-to choices:
LinkedIn Premium Business
$47 per month
As a LinkedIn Alumnus I actually receive a free premium profile. Thanks, Jeff Weiner. If I didn’t I would still have to invest in a LinkedIn Premium account. Now, bearing in mind my parsimonious nature, I wouldn’t go with the more expensive ‘Sales Navigator’. I’d go for the ‘Premium Business’ plan instead. All I need is the ability to run as many searches as I need and view an unlimited number of profiles (the free version has limits).
I select from the industry and location filters, then I add a string of keywords into the title field and that gives me the list I need. I also keep an eye on the jobs section to see who’s hiring, this shows me who’s investing in their Customer Success department.
Who is the absentee landlord behind MailTester? I’ve been using this free tool for years to check the validity of email addresses and it works. The UI isn’t very sexy but who cares! Plug in the email address – a Green result means it’s a legit address, red means its bad, and yellow means the mail server won’t let us validate. In ‘yellow’ cases you might try using the next free tool in the list…
Sales Navigator Lite
LinkedIn bought Gmail plugin Rapportive in 2012 and left it pretty much unchanged until its recent rebranding as ‘Sales Navigator Lite’. Hover over an email address in Gmail and a snapshot view of a person’s LinkedIn profile will appear (if they have associated that email address with their LinkedIn profile). This is another way to confirm the validity of email addresses. We can only hope LinkedIn (Microsoft) don’t start charging for it!
$27 per month
The old reliable. There are many CRM platforms out there that can do the job (we integrate with a bunch of them). We’re on the least expensive version of Salesforce and it works for us. I bcc every email into Salesforce and also capture unsubscribes. This allows me to intermittently export and revisit contacts/leads that have not opted out.
$25 Per month
This Gmail plugin allows you to track email opens, which is useful in helping to time your follow-ups to perfection. Upgrading to the Premium plan also allows you to schedule follow-up (drip) email campaigns right from your Gmail inbox. For the cash-flow conscious, Yesware now offers a pay-monthly option!
Sorry Microsoft but, you know … you can’t beat free ¯ \_(ツ)_/¯. Although, if you want to use your work email you’ll need the $5 per month plan. But for email, docs, webex, phone calls etc, it’s a pretty great deal.
Of course, there are tons of great budget prospecting tools out there and I have only scratched the surface.