It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when you prospect for new business. When you exhaust your database of qualified prospects, even the best sales tools don’t always turn up enough of the companies you need to get in touch with, and sales drop off as a result.
Recruiters run into the exact same problem when they search for qualified candidates, but there are a few sourcing (read: prospecting) tricks common in the recruiting industry that haven’t found their way into mainstream sales conversations just yet.
Get a head start on your competitors (and your colleagues) by using these three recruiting tips to expand your base of prospects and create an effective strategy for outreach.
1. Conduct X-Ray Searches
An x-ray search is a method for entering very specific parameters on a regular search engine. It takes some time to master, but it’s a particularly useful technique for scrubbing websites for specific phrases or grouping lists of profiles from LinkedIn.
In order to conduct an x-ray search, you need to create a string with operators that will tell the search engine what you are looking for. When you want to only look at LinkedIn profiles, the string looks like this: site:www.linkedin.com (inurl:com/pub | inurl:com/in) -inurl:pub/dir
The “site” operator tells the search engine to only provide results from LinkedIn’s website, and the “inurl” operators limit the results to only show profiles. For step by step instructions on creating x-ray strings, take a look here, and for a list of operators you can use to conduct searches, look here.
One example for putting this technique to use is to execute an x-ray search for members of LinkedIn groups you can’t gain access to. Just include the group name as part of the search string, and you will get results for anyone who has the group listed in their profile. If the group is relevant to the market you sell to, you suddenly have an entirely new list of prospects.
Keep in mind, however, that you still will not see private profiles– the search is limited to public profiles. If you are thinking it would be way too much of a pain to type out x-ray strings each time you want to conduct a search, move right along to section 2…
2. Use a Custom Search Engine
Google allows you to create custom search engines with specific criteria that save you the hassle of writing an entire search string each time you look someone up. This is a great tool if you find yourself repeatedly going to one site (like LinkedIn) for information on prospects.
The CSE is really designed for businesses that want to make it easy for website visitors to run quick searches for content on their site, but it works for prospecting as well.
You can create a CSE here by logging in with your Google account. This site provides great step by step instructions for setting up your CSE, but the long and short of it is that you enter the sites that you want to restrict searches to, create the engine, and then add filters to narrow the search down further.
The end product is a search bar where you can enter just the basic information you need (personal title, company name, etc.), but the results will still be limited to the parameters you want. A CSE contains the power of an x-ray search with the convenience of a standard Google search.
3. Search Industry-Specific Networking Sites
One other trick that salespeople should try when they are short on leads is to look through networking sites and forums that are specific to the industry they sell to.
These sites offer a much more concentrated group of prospects than general online searches and more mainstream networking sites will provide. You can also glean valuable information about what topics are top of mind for industry professionals by scraping the specialized sites.
Several examples are Github (networking for software engineers), Stack Overflow (a question and answer forum for programmers), and Quora (a question and answer forum for a wide range of industries). This site provides a list of other examples for even more niche sites.
Use an x-ray search on the sites to see if there is a lot of dialogue relating to something your product can address, use that information to guide your cold outreach (it’s a great opportunity for trigger based cold calls), and kickstart your sales.
Recruiters are experts at finding people, and these are three of the most potent weapons in their arsenal. You won’t get anywhere by pulling lists of people from these networks and spamming them with information, but if you use these strategies for timely, targeted outreach, you won’t have a hard time breaking out of prospecting ruts.
Need a few more tips on how to build out an effective prospecting team? Look no further, download our free ebook and get all the information you need.