Turning Referrals into Higher Quality Leads
At Coface, Tate Parker is responsible for providing something incredibly valuable — a guarantee that when his client companies do their jobs, they’ll get paid for it. It’s called trade credit insurance, and it’s enormously important to Parker’s clients, who range anywhere between $1m and $300m in revenue. Those current clients have to decide whether to renew each year, while at the same time Tate seeks out new potential business for Coface.
While the service may be complex, the goals of business development at Coface aren’t all that fundamentally different from those at other service companies :
- obtain a minimum number of leads, in the form of applications
- close a minimum percentage of those applications
While Tate closed several new policies each month last year with premiums of $10,000 or more— that kind of success doesn’t happen by itself. It happens because Parker focuses on what matters when it comes to big, long-term deals; high quality referral business.
"At 2 in the morning, I’d think about how I hadn’t talked to someone in a while, and it was stressing me out."Tate Parker, Business Development Officer
With referrals as the primary source of new leads, staying in touch with the people who can potentially generate them (banks, property insurance owners, etc.) is a must; that’s why Tate tried Contactually.
More than contact “storage”
In Tate’s business, having complete, accessible information on everything from referral sources to current deals is essential. Before Contactually, the collection of systems and tools (ACT, Outlook, Salesforce) he tried simply didn’t do it well enough.
“We actually have Salesforce and I tried to do this; it’s powerful, but hard to use. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time or money tailoring stuff in there.”
Instead, Parker did the best he could managing his sales pipeline with the time-honored combination of Excel and a paper notepad. While it was easier to use — and more directly useful — than Salesforce, the limitations of such a general solution were a constant source of frustration. Important notes got lost in the shuffle, and his pipeline information was constantly out of date.
“There was no way to build a process into that.”
Today, Parker is using Contactually to build a sales pipeline that’s actually connected to the people he’s tracking, so he has instant access not only to an up-to-date pipeline, but a connected database of relevant information available with a few clicks. He’s also sleeping easier knowing that he’s not forgetting about anyone important.
“At 2 in the morning, I’d think about how I hadn’t talked to someone in a while, and it was stressing me out. People were slipping through the cracks and I didn’t have a system for regularly following up.”
“The simple fact that you can categorize your contacts in buckets and set up reminders to stay in touch, is huge. That’s the basis for Contactually and the basis for how I build my business. You can log into Contactually every day and know immediately who you need to talk to, instead of having to manually remember who you need to talk to — and almost always forgetting people.”
"We actually have Salesforce, but nobody uses it. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time or money tailoring stuff in there."
In addition to keeping him connected to referral sources and the people in his pipeline, Contactually enables Tate to act quickly and effectively when he senses an opportunity. Here’s how that played out recently for him :
- Tate gets an email about a major bank in the news, which leads him to believe they may be a good fit for Coface.
- He logs into Contactually, and immediately pulls out a list of people he knows who are connected to the bank.
- In minutes, he’s able to reach out to his strongest relevant contacts, and prime the referral process.
“Contactually makes that so simple and easy,” says Parker. And even basic email logistics are easier with Contactually — when he’s invited to host a lunch and learn, he’ll reach out to the attendee list a few times prior to the event with a few ScaleMails, simply because it’s so easy.
Business development experts just get Contactually.
The world Tate Parker’s business lives in may be constantly changing, but Contactually has him in great position to stay on top for the long haul. While it can’t do his job for him, it’s certainly made him better at it.
“I’ve found cold calling to be a big waste of time. I set a huge percentage of my appointments by email — I hardly ever use the telephone anymore. People don’t want to talk on the phone. I’ve gone all-in on networking and focusing on getting referrals; that’s where Contactually has really helped me.”
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