Developing a prospecting strategy for a human-centered design firmFiveStone

innovation firm case study
For a firm focused on research, innovation and branding for purpose-centric organizations, prospecting and pre-qualification wasn't without (layers of) challenges.

FiveStone is a human-centered design agency specializing in research, innovation and branding for non-profits and social enterprises. Kelly was called upon to help the agency discover ideal prospects—mission-critical organizations aligned with the core values of the team and in need of design thinking to reimagine how they might tackle new challenges.


FiveStone’s intensely thoughtful and meaningful work allowed the team to lock arms with some incredible clients, yet pipeline predictability was an ongoing issue. Kelly’s work addressed three critical challenges for FiveStone:

• Referrals: limited and non-scalable:
One of the main challenges was that the FiveStone relied predominately on referrals within the networks of the respective leadership team members. For a predictable pipeline, they needed a more diverse source of prospects with a strategy and framework for opening and building relationships for potential work.

• Lack of outbound strategy:
FiveStone had worked out a solid business development process, but quickly found a gap at the first stage. Without an outbound prospecting strategy and personnel to carry out the tasks effectively, the agency couldn’t fill its pipeline in a meaningful way.

• Positioning messaging:
The company’s diverse communications needed to remain authentic to the brand. While they knew that they should use language that touched on probable pain points and how they’ve helped similar organizations over the last 17 years, the agency’s unique value proposition (UVP) was difficult to crystallize.


First, Kelly created a strategy to address the first portion of the sales process. The first step was to identify and pre-qualify prospects with challenges that FiveStone can solve.

She added a third-party tool for on-site prospect identification so that the firm could add warm leads from organic search to their outreach funnel.

To help prospects understand what FiveStone could do for them, Kelly create targeted messages for each persona—including various versions of scripts for LinkedIn connections, InMail, and warm email. Rather than trying to create a one-message-fits-all solution, individual messages were tailored for each platform and each kind of targeted prospect. In many cases, scripts were modified to speak directly to the prospects’ sub-category and to utilize messaging on their own sites for maximum resonance.

To create the most effective messages, she then A/B tested content variations for segments in Adoption, Education, Faith-based Higher Education, Higher Education, Nonprofit (General), Poverty Alleviation, Social Enterprise, and Theological Seminaries.


As a result, FiveStone reached 715 cherry-picked prospects, resulting in 33 responses, 14 intro calls, 5 follow-up calls, and 3 in-person meetings.

Open rates on outbound, warm email measured between 29% and 72%. Click-Thru Rates (CTRs) were between 3% and 16% across all campaigns.

The agency is equipped with winning template versions for various outreach methodologies, tools for prospecting, and a proven framework for opening up new dialogues.


Kelly was an amazing resource for us during a pivotal moment at FiveStone. She quickly learned what we did, how we did it, and how we talked. As a result Kelly was able to provide value fast. I look forward to working with Kelly again (and again!).

Jason Locy
Jason Locy
President & Founder, FiveStone
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