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Sales Prospecting Perspectives

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4 Types Of Sales Prospect Lists And What To Expect From Them


There are a lot of different types of automobiles. Most cars are actually pretty good if you use them for what they were made for. For example, a Ferrari is one hell of a sports car, but it won’t get you through the long snowy New England winters. A minivan is great for families and the amount of supplies they take with them when they travel(hence the name Dodge Caravan), but it’s not a great choice for the eligible bachelor. Don’t try to pick up a date in a van, bad first impression. An SUV is great for people that have to drive in tough terrain, and of course for parents that won’t concede to the minivan, but don’t try and take off ramps at high speed in it. You should expect certain things out of certain cars.

Your sales prospect list is much like a car. I talk to a lot of people that have one kind of list and expect results from it that are unreasonable based on the origin and age of the list. Seeing as though this is a “marketing and inside sales” blog, let’s assume that you are going to prospect into these lists via phone. What should you expect based on a couple more common list types?

Old and Cold – The O&C list is any list that you have that hasn’t had any follow-up in 6 or more months. “But I bought this list off a great vendor”, doesn’t matter. “This list is from a webinar we ran to a very targeted audience”, good for you, still doesn’t matter. “I hand built this list”, doesn’t matter and you wasted your time. Any time you have a list that is 6 or more months old you are starting fresh. Many could argue that this timeframe can be shortened to as little as 2 months. These lists aren’t a waste; just don’t expect high lead volume immediately. Treat your list like milk. Drink it before it goes bad. Sitting on a list leads to contacts changing titles, getting fired, changing duties, prospects forgetting that they were interested in you, etc… You can expect to have to put in multiple dials and emails (5+) into multiple contacts within the company in order to get anywhere. Your initial goal with this list is to find the right person first and once you have that you can start thinking about pitching. Based on about 100 activities per day, you can expect to start passing a regular flow of leads after about a month. Good thing about these lists is that they often times yield a ton of forecast when you show patience and allow the calling to develop opportunities.

Sign me up! Often seen as marketing gold, the “opt-in” list is one of the favorites of an inside sales rep. I always liked these lists because there was less of chance someone was going to verbally assault me on the phone. These are all the people that have gone to your website and given their information knowing that they are probably going to be called by someone trying to sell to them. You can expect a high connect rate from these 15% - 20%. It will not take many dials to get someone live, you will get calls back and you will get sales leads from these conversations. What may surprise you however is the number of leads on that list that don’t turn into forecasted sales opportunities. Just because someone signs up for something on your website doesn’t mean they are a qualified buyer. People love free stuff. I’ve signed up for demos for anything from candy to “a chance for a free vacation” and I have the authority to buy nothing! Depending on the promotion or content distribution you can expect to have to separate the wheat from the chaff on these lists. Unlike the cold list, opt-in lists will yield leads immediately. Just make sure that your inside reps are able to identify who the tire kickers are before they send a lot of unqualified leads to sales.

The Elephant list. This list is usually smaller than the other two and has huge companies with multiple business units all of which may or may not have their own budget. These lists are a high risk and high reward. On the plus side, if you are able to penetrate these companies you have the shot at landing an enterprise sized deal. On the other hand, everyone in the world is targeting these companies resulting in enterprise mandated and standardized buying procedures, RFPs, RFQs, beta tests, pilots, land and expands and any other dog and pony show you’ll put on to win the business. The enterprise account can be an enterprise sized pain in the….. Mitigate the risk and time it takes to grow in the elephant list by not using 100% of the inside team’s time on it. These leads can take months to find and then many more months to close. Returns probably will not be seen for some time. You will want to use another list with a shorter time to lead in correlation to ensure that you find short term opportunities and not put all your eggs in the elephant basket which will take a long time to develop and may or may not pan out.

The CIA list. The CIA list is the one that people won’t talk directly about, but they want you to know what they have. “Lets say I have a friend and this friend works at a competitor and this friend was able to get me a list of all their clients…..what would you say to that?” I would say you should plan to run a nurture campaign to it. Funny thing about competitor lists: you have trouble getting into them as they are all using your competition. These lists are great to run nurture calling and drip marketing programs to. Bottom line, no matter how much they like you, they probably are not going to buy until the contract with your competitor is up. Stay in front of them. Keep your name in their head and find out when the current contract ends so that you can ask to compete for the next one.

There a lot more list types out there, but these are the ones I see the most. Feel free to add in any that I missed. All of these lists are good and serve a certain purpose. Just make sure you have the proper expectations from each.


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