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The Perfect List — A How-to Guide: Part 2

In Part 1 of this two-part blog post, why did I say, “Let your sales reps make perfect lists for you by letting them make perfect lists for themselves”?

Because making perfect lists is easy if you start with any OK list and efficiently have conversations with most of the people on it. The trick is to exploit the fact that there is no better way than a live conversation — with someone at a target company — to get current, accurate information about:

  • Who you really should be talking with about your class of solution.
    • The chances of getting this right, based on title or anything else known to the public, are modest.
  • Need for your product. I call this being “intrinsically qualified,” meaning that if they knew what you know, then they would agree they have a problem your offering can help solve.
    • This is actually the easiest thing to figure out when you are constructing your OK list, but it is impossible to really know until you talk with someone.
  • Timing for entering a buying process.
    • Given that replacement cycles for most business solutions are measured in years, your chances of catching that perfect combination of need and readiness to buy are not that big.

So, now for the “How-to Guide” part.

I’m a little stuck here: it depends on using a certain class of advanced sales-acceleration product, without which this “how-to” is not very practical, as I think will be obvious below. Here are the steps:

  1. Beg, borrow, or buy an OK list.
  2. Inspect the list to remove companies that you are pretty sure don’t need your solution.
  3. Load the list into ConnectAndSell or whatever else will let your sales reps talk to about 50 people per day.
    1. Set the list up as a “lead pool” that is automatically shared among active reps.
  4. Coach the living daylights out of your reps to make sure they learn how to:
    1. Get someone to listen to them for 27 seconds.
    2. Say something compelling that creates curiosity in that precious 27 seconds.
    3. Stop talking about your product or, worse, your company.
    4. Ask for a 15-minute meeting and overcome the obvious objections.
    5. Get a referral to the right person when they have called the wrong person.
    6. Set a follow-up date and, most importantly, a “teleprompter” that their future self can use to get the follow-up conversation started effectively.
  5. Make sure your reps are having about 50 conversations per day.
  6. Replenish the master list to replace companies that you have discovered truly have no need for your offering — now or ever. Do the same with people who are not in the right role to talk with further and who refuse to give your reps a referral to the right person.
  7. Watch your conversation-to-meeting yield grow as your list — which now consists of the original lead pool plus all of your reps’ automatically managed follow-up/referral lists — gets richer and richer in qualified, warmed-up contacts who are ever closer to being ready to buy your category of offering.

It’s a few steps and takes real execution plus the discipline to focus on the future — often tough for sales managers under pressure to deliver TODAY — but the rewards are immense. Rather than flitting like a frantic hummingbird from one list vendor to another, looking for that magic list woven from a rare combination of market coverage and predictive magic, you get to eat heartily from an ever-growing hot stew of prospects that gets more tender and tasty with each passing day.

Because the fact is, there is only one perfect list — yours. And there is only one reliable way to make that list — talk to people and use the results of those conversations to focus in on real prospective buyers at organizations that really need your product, and to stay with them until they are ready to buy from someone. At which time, they will buy from you.

Link to Part 1 of this two-part blog post.

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