As a senior business management consultant, I know many fellow entrepreneurs.

And one of my favorite questions to ask them is, “What’s the business mistake that cost you a lot?”

It takes a lot of courage to open up and admit that you’ve been wrong. That you are also human with many faults.

Being able to answer this question myself is how I defeated my business ego and became human again.

Yes, I’ve made many mistakes.

Some small, some big, some horrific.

Some of them cost me a lot.

Making decisions is a constant while starting a business.

It’s a fact.

And many of them will end up being costly errors.

Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of buying excessive stuff before they even have an interested audience. Others take on an excessive debt too quickly, establishing credit cards to cover office space costs and legal bills before even having a workable business strategy.

Anyone who knows me well would have predicted my biggest mistake when I first launched a business.

I tried to handle everything myself like it was a do-it-yourself project. A business is not a bookcase or a backyard coop for chickens. It’s a problematic, continuing, and dynamic entity. Your task will eventually become so overwhelming that you cannot handle it alone.

You’re used to completing many tasks by yourself as an entrepreneur. A very high percentage of small enterprises were founded in the basement or garages of the entrepreneur. But may your inclination to go it alone be stunting your development?

I also made the mistake of making my team do it all manually. And that cost them a lot of effort. Especially when it came to database creation. Instead of focusing on nurturing the prospects, they focused on building the prospect databases manually.

A grave mistake.

It cost me a lot, so I had to restructure how I did things.

Read on to find out how.

Why do you need a database?

Like it or not, whether you’re an owner or a part of a sales team – you’ll have to source leads for your product or solution. Building landing pages, offering free resources, creating content for boosting SEO, etc., are all part of the marketing mix. There’s a lot of work, but we’re not here to complain, aren’t we?

Be sure to get the notification of your inbox to pop up. Instead, start looking proactively for clients.

First and foremost, you need to understand your target.

Knowing what companies can benefit from your solution or product is your starting point. Make sure you’ve downloaded all the necessary tools, subscribed to the needed platforms, and set up your spreadsheet. It’s all part of the preparation phase.

Prospecting companies involves using search engines mainly, but also many other techniques. Surprisingly so, contacting the CEO is only sometimes the best choice when targeting clients. Instead, go for the person in charge of what you have to offer.

Sending emails manually is an outdated method. I say so cause it leads to mistakes and requires a lot of work. You must double/triple check your list to make sure that it’s error-free.

Once you understand how to perform company and contact prospecting manually, you can start considering automating some prospecting aspects to increase your prospecting efficiency.

To better understand how to create highly-targeted and high-quality prospect databases, I divided this article into seven chapters, each covering a distinct component of creating the ideal B2B prospects database for your company.

In the following, I will share and explain each of them.

Understand your target

Do you know who your target is? It’s a fundamental question, but I’ve noticed that many CEOs and sales/marketing executives need help answering it. Here are a few examples of inappropriate usage:

  • “Every company can benefit from our service/solution.”
  • “We are targeting all entrepreneurs.”
  • “We are targeting all SMEs.”
  • “Our target is anyone that needs a mobile app.”
  • “Our target is anyone that needs a website.”

Having a particular target will allow you to laser-focus your marketing efforts, making you more relevant in the eyes of your target.

However, this does not imply that you must pick only one. You can have multiple targets, but remember that each will require special marketing/sales efforts.

Setting up the spreadsheet

After completing the required fields, you should create a spreadsheet to store the prospects. I recommend a Google spreadsheet for establishing a prospect databases since it is the same as Microsoft Excel- except you can access it from anywhere- computer, phone, guest computer, you can share it with a team, and it permits multiple entries in parallel.

In-house, we use a BizzBee lead generation template spreadsheet. It has been developed over time to avoid typos and duplication in creating high-quality prospect databases, which can occur when numerous employees work simultaneously.

As a result, we created a bulletproof template that eliminates 99% of the difficulties mentioned by our clients. You should create one because it will help boost the quality of your prospects while also making you more efficient.

The spreadsheet is completely organized with categories and formulas. You only need to build up the spreadsheet based on the facts that will be valuable to you. For example, if you require a website, company name, and location but not the number of employees or industry, you should delete those.

Additionally, if you need to add any criteria that are significant to you but are not currently on the sheet, there are ‘spare’ columns available. You can move through the information you submit using the counters and ‘spreadsheet signalization’ under the ‘board’ tab.

Tools/accounts we recommended

When the spreadsheet is prepared, we recommend using the following tools:

  • Gmail account – A Gmail account is required for quality checking leads and using chrome extensions. Additionally, we advise setting up a Google Chrome account linked to a Gmail account.
  • LinkedIn account – Most of the time, LinkedIn is used as the primary research tool. Having a LinkedIn account is vital for lead generation and creating B2B prospect databases. LinkedIn gives you a free one-month Sales Navigator profile, which is more than enough to know better what it can accomplish for you.
  • Email permutator – This online spreadsheet may provide possible combinations once you provide names, middle names, surnames, and domains. It is useful when you are unsure of a prospect’s email address and want to try different options.

The spreadsheet is a view-only version when you first open it. Go to ‘File’ and then “Make a copy” – a window will appear where you may name the understanding you will use to construct your prospect databases.

In addition to these three tools, we use additional Chrome Extensions, which is why we recommend Google Chrome.

Chrome Extensions needed for Lead Generation

  • Hunter Chrome Extension: To utilize Hunter, you can register a free account and get free monthly searches. You can acquire a list of email addresses with the domain of the site you’re viewing every time you visit it. The extension uses the first name, the last name, and the company’s domain to find the email address in the database.
  • Sales Navigator for Gmail: Creating a prospect databases requires using Sales Navigator for Gmail. It is a crucial tool for confirming email addresses. When using Gmail to send an email, an extension searches for the Email and notifies you if it has a LinkedIn connection. The extension would display the relationship if the person used the Email to sign up for LinkedIn, proving that the Email is legitimate. There are instances where an email linked to LinkedIn fails to transmit, indicating that it is most likely no longer operational and that the person using it is no longer employed by the organization.
  • Name 2 Email: Name 2 Email is a beneficial extension that allows searching for an email address directly from Gmail using the user’s name. Insert a person’s name, last name, and corporate domain name beginning with @ into Compose Dialogue “To” the field. This tool will generate this person’s most prevalent corporate email address patterns. Then move your mouse over the generated emails to see if the Sales Navigator for LinkedIn (previously mentioned extension) can connect the address to a LinkedIn profile. If it can, you can assume that the address is correct.
  • Get Email: Get Email is an extension that may be used to find the email address and pattern for the contacts you require. It employs specific algorithms to determine the person’s email address based on the person’s first name, last name, and the name or domain of the company in which they work. Also, a free account can be created, and you will receive 10 credits (emails) each month.
  • Prospectworx: Prospectworx is a B2B marketing and sales prospecting website and Chrome extension that provides sales leads, email lists, and business email addresses. You can create an account using your Gmail account. When you enter the company name into the search box on the website, a list of contacts with email addresses will appear. On the other hand, this extension works on LinkedIn profiles, generating emails using the company’s most often-used pattern and domain.
  • Datanyze: Datanyze is a browser extension that displays company information. We utilize this extension when the client requests information, such as the company’s address, phone number, the expected number of employees, estimated revenue, funding, etc. You must first create an account and add the browser extension to use it. When you visit the company’s website, click the extension button, and a popup with the necessary information appears.
  • Hola VPN: Hola is a browser extension that allows us to access websites worldwide. Often in our work, we encounter websites that are blocked or can’t be accessed from our country. Therefore, Hola “lands” a VPN address from other countries, e.g., the USA, and allows you to access the website and its data. Visit the website you require, select the extension, and then select the nation from which you want to explore.

Prospecting Companies

Let’s dive right into this section and help you create a prospect databases. Let’s start by compiling a list of companies that meet your requirements. Here is how BizzBee Solutions would handle it.

However, the first and most effective method is to use LinkedIn Sales Navigator. With a searchable database of 30.000.000 companies, LinkedIn has proven to be the best tool for finding companies. Try LinkedIn Sales Navigator’s one-month free trial to have access to powerful filter options and effortlessly develop your prospect databases.

You may filter by country/region, industry, and a number of employees to get a list of companies that meet the criteria. Not all shortlisted companies are automatically relevant; they must be checked, simplifying the search.

LinkedIn is limited to having pre-defined industries, and some industries are not available. You can still use the advanced search filters, but it would also involve some manual work to ensure that the recommended companies by LinkedIn are relevant to your campaign.

A different approach

Yellow page is another method for establishing a B2B prospect databases. When you are more interested in local area companies or industries that do not have or are not available on LinkedIn (e.g., dentists, local restaurants, hairdressers, or other small entities), Yellow page or Yelp can be of assistance. You can narrow your search by industry, sub-industry, or location.

The limitation of the Yellow page is that you cannot add more search factors, such as the number of employees, which means you must manually visit the shortlisted companies to check that they meet the rest of the criteria.

You’ll be able to identify your possible companies using LinkedIn or Yellow Pages, as those are the two most straightforward methods. There are other methods, but each takes additional complexity or manual labor to validate each company. Here are some alternatives:

  • Google Maps is also an excellent place to start because you can search for a company type in a region and get a list of companies.
  • Look for associations or non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that work in the same field/industry. An association will frequently display a list of its members, which represents a list of potential companies.
  • Look for Fairs and exhibitions related to the field/industry. Fairs also show a list of their participants, sometimes even with their contact info.
  • Finally, you can Google companies in specific industries/regions and scroll through the search results.

Prospecting positions

In the following, we will share the steps for finding the target positions:

  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator: When it comes to positions, LinkedIn has proven to be the most reliable source. Once you’ve learned about the company, you can look into its employees or look for the required position. It is the most effective method for finding target positions within the company.
  • Company’s website: The Company’s website is the second best place to look for a target position. Most often, there are pages like “About us,” “Contact us,” and “Meet the Team,” where you can find the staff with their Email, phone number, or social media profiles.
  • Google: Google is the third source that we use. You can google “Company Name” + “Target Position” and look at the results from the first page. For instance, “Gree” + “General Director.” In many cases, Google will highlight news, an event, or anything mentioning that specific position, followed by the name and surname.

Additional tips for finding positions

  • Executives and decision-makers. Our clients frequently request that we contact the company’s decision-makers. The company website is an excellent place to start looking for the CEO, CTO, and Managing Director. They can be found under “About Us,” “Leadership,” “Company Management,” “Meet the Team,” and so on. Also, try googling “Name of the Company” + the desired position, and you will get many results.

The data must be current and up to date; you don’t want the CEO who retired ten years ago. Almost every company now has a LinkedIn profile, so you can go to the shape and search for the position you’re looking for.

  • Nonexecutives, managers, and others. These positions usually are not listed on the company’s website, so LinkedIn is the best starting point here. For executives, go to the company profile and search for available positions. When searching on LinkedIn, one tip is to use the advanced filters on Sales Navigator to select the desired company and position. LinkedIn will shortlist all relevant positions within that company.

You can try to google the position and the company name, for example, “PepsiCo. Marketing Manager,” but you’ll have to filter the data for relevance yourself. 

Finding the contact’s information

Now that you’ve identified the company and the person, the next step is to find their contact information. What you will most likely need is their business email address, which you can use for an email sequencing campaign, their direct phone number, which you can use for a cold calling campaign, or their LinkedIn profile, which you can use to connect with and initiate cold outreach from LinkedIn.

Also, remember you don’t want a generic email from the company; you want a personalized email from the most relevant person you can reach out to.

Here are several ways how you can find personal contact information:

Company website

The company website is an excellent place to start when looking for the contact’s email address. Contact emails are frequently left on the site so you can collect them. Check the “About us” or “Contact us” menus for emails.

The company’s website is an excellent place to start looking for the company’s email domain. In many cases, the company will have one domain for its website and another for its emails. Furthermore, here are the ways how you can check the patterns that the employees have for their email addresses:

  • Use “Hunter” – When you have installed this extension and are on the company’s website, click on the Hunter icon, and a window will pop up with employee emails. Please take note of the pattern; it can assist you in finding the email address of the contact you are looking for.
  • Alternatively, you can Google the “Name of the Company” email pattern or email format, for example: “Philips email pattern” or “Phillips email format”- there will be a few web pages you can check to find the pattern. It is an “unwritten rule” for companies to have one or two email patterns for their employees.

Next, you can try combinations with that pattern:

  • Use the Email Permutator: Enter the contact’s name, surname, middle name (if they have one), and domain. They are then using Sales Navigator for LinkedIn to find the appropriate email address.
  • Contact Hunter: this is another web page you can use for patterns, it works the same as Hunter, but it’s free. You need to enter the domain in the search box ex. @domain.com, and the page will give you a list of emails with that domain. The pattern used by the company can be noticed from there.
  • You can also use Name2Email. It permutes the name, surname, and domain (similar to the Email Permutator), but it gives you fewer results and does not work with a middle name.
  • However, if you know the name of the contact, you can google “George Smith contact,” “George Smith email address,” or “George Smith @domain.com.” Google will display the search results; go through the first two pages to see if there is a match to your search.

Domain alternatives

Check if the company has other domains. Many international companies have multiple domains, such as: .com, .com.mk, .co.uk, .fr, .net, .org, .nl.com, .sk.com, or even completely different domains. If you have this in mind, you can look for alternative domains and check them at Hunter and Sales Navigator.

You should investigate all the possibilities. The domains that the company uses are typically found in the “Contact us,” “Privacy,” and “Terms and conditions” sections of the website.

The most common place to find generic mail from a company is in the “Contact” section on the company’s website. But also in the “Terms and Conditions” and “Legal Notice” sections. You can also perform a Google search for: Company name @ Email contact and look for a generic email address in the first 2-3 page results.

Social media. You can check the company’s social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest) and find their contact email address there.

Phone numbers

Phone numbers are another crucial aspect of lead generation. It is crucial to refrain from using customer service numbers when looking for the company’s phone number. (Often starting with 1-800, 1-88, 800, 888, etc.).

Use the following search terms to find valid phone numbers for their offices: “Company name,” “Head address,” “Headquarters,” or “domain.com phone number.” Google Maps can also help you find the phone number you’re looking for.

If you know the office’s address, enter it, and Google Maps will show you the exact location, address, and phone number if one is available. Alternatively, you can search for information by typing the company’s name, city, or state.

Quality control

After you’ve found the Email, double-check it’s correct. Each email address is verified before it is added to the B2B prospect databases. The ultimate goal is to achieve a bounce rate of zero.

The spreadsheet provided above assists in removing the most common human typos. For example, if there is a space in the cell or another standard error, the sheet will highlight that error.

In addition to the spreadsheet, we use BulkEmailChecker to check all emails. We deliver that platform to perform automated checks to ensure the highest level of quality. The email verification checks for a variety of factors, including spam traps (emails designed to capture senders), formatting and syntax checks (missing @ or double @@), domain verification (DNS records), and individual mailbox validation (SMTP protocol).

Lead automation

If you are an expert in lead generation, you are ready to consider automation. Only try it if you’ve learned the fundamentals of prospecting, as you’ll get lost in all the options scrappers are offering and won’t be able to tell whether the scrapper delivered on their promises.

Furthermore, how will you know which scrapper to use for what purpose if you need help understanding the process? You’ll quickly realize that using scrappers is an art form in and of itself.

I compared 10 scrapers from the internet. Each of them had advantages and disadvantages, as well as a focus on specific aspects rather than a comprehensive prospecting solution. Have you created a new scrapper that you’d like me to test? Send me an email, and I’ll gladly give it a shot and report back. Here is a list of a few scrappers:

  • Snovio
  • ZAPinfo
  • Phantombuster
  • Texas
  • LeadGibbon
  • RocketReach
  • Prospective
  • Leadbeater
  • Linked Helper
  • Skrapp

It would take too much space to evaluate each of these, and comparing them is nearly impossible. Each tool has its own set of advantages and depending on your requirements, it will add a different level of value to your prospect databases.

And finally, lead automation is the last step. This complete guide on creating a highly-targeted and high-quality prospect databases was helpful to you.

But if you want to learn more about creating your prospect lists, check out our academy.