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The Perfect List — A How-to Guide: Part 1

Everybody who does outbound prospecting thinks about lists, talks about lists, buys lists, scrubs lists, allocates lists to reps, reallocates lists to new reps, re-reallocates lists as territory models change, tries new list vendors — and often (usually when new management shows up) throws their hands up about their data and starts the whole thing over.

The question is: Can you create and, more importantly, maintain a “perfect” list for outbound calling? And if so, how?

The answer is surprisingly simple: let your sales reps make perfect lists for you by letting them make perfect lists for themselves.

Before going further, I should say what I don’t mean by that statement.

I don’t mean that your reps should spend their days doing research on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Google to search for contacts to call. A sales rep may not be the very worst resource for doing data work, but they are pretty close. Here’s a short list of why reps making their own lists is generally not a good idea:

  • You didn’t hire members of your sales team for their research or data analysis skills. At least, I hope you didn’t. I’m sure there are great data researchers and analysts that are also really good at talking with prospects, listening to their situation and needs, qualifying rigorously, following up relentlessly, and closing for meetings, new business, or renewals. And I’m sure they don’t work for either you or me. Data work is a specialty, requiring specific skills, tools, and radically different job rhythms from selling. Mixing the two jobs is a formula for frustration, failure, and waste.
  • Your reps probably won’t end up talking to these highly researched contacts. It takes something north of 20 phone calls to get even a brief first conversation with someone you don’t know — that thing called a “cold” call — so that’s about two conversations per day. Some people say four per day. Even fresh and frisky inbound leads average less than 9% conversation coverage before they are thrown back to marketing for nurturing — so you should expect more than 90% of the contacts unearthed by your reps to simply never get spoken with. That means 90% of that research time is pure waste. It’s just math.

So why did I say, “let your sales reps make perfect lists for you by letting them make perfect lists for themselves”? Stay tuned. I’ll explain in Part 2.


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