Prospecting Trade Associations June 2017

One way to find a large volume of new top of funnel leads is to prospect trade associations. Trade associations exist so that merchants can share industry knowledge with each other. They are often geographic to certain states or provinces, rarely advertise and usually have members lists that provide a relevant list of currently active, decently sized companies.

To prospect from a trade association, you have to choose the geography you want to sell into. Using California as an example, you can find the trade associations for that geography by typing “california (industry) trade association” where the industry you list (retail, wholesale, apparel, jewelry, cosmetics) is the vertical you want to pursue. In almost all cases at least one trade association will show up as a result which you can then visit the website of to prospect.

When you are on the website there is typically a section for member resources or about the organization, that often has a list of members. 50% of the time the list will be available to everyone and include relevant contact details (phone and email) for decision makers at those companies. It really is that easy. In the other 50% of cases, they either password protect the members list or do not have one at all. In either case, move on and try a different association.

When you find yourself in a new vertical with little data on what customers exist that you could be selling into, this can be a effective way to build a list of potential customers. Do this in the various states you think you can be competitive in and build a list of 20-40 relevant trade associations across North America. This should take a day or two of effort and yield around 50 companies per association. 50 companies * 20 associations = 1000 companies.

The reason it works well is it takes active effort to participate in these organizations. Further to that the companies tend to be larger and to have been around for longer because trade associations are pretty old school and have existed for a long time. As a result of this the hit rate for finding good companies in your vertical is pretty high and it can be a good source of leads.