Building a sales prospect list is more than just inputting potential clients’ contact information into a database: it’s about prioritizing leads and figuring out who to contact based on how well they fit your ideal buyer persona.
The key to identifying relevant prospects is building a strong ideal customer profile and buyer persona. This will help you develop a strategy that’s highly targeted to people who have the highest probability of purchasing your products or services.
It’s important to build a great list right from the beginning so you don’t miss opportunities you may have otherwise overlooked. Most importantly, you must be sure the prospect data you collect is clean and up-to-date so your company can pursue those new opportunities more efficiently.
At EBQ, we’ve found that the most effective outbound sales strategy heavily relies on a comprehensive prospect list. To build a strong prospect list, you need the following information:
When you’re identifying leads, you need to determine if a company fits your ideal customer profile. Otherwise, you will be wasting valuable time chasing down an account that won’t convert.
To make sure a potential buyer is a good fit and can afford your solutions, you need the following information:
To reach the correct point of contact and personalize your message to them, you need to know exactly who you’re contacting. We often collect multiple contacts for the same account, depending on who is the decision-maker and who else has influence in the purchase decision. That said, you need more than just their name.
You need enough information to determine if they fit your buyer persona and to get in touch with them, such as:
Now that you know how to identify great prospects and what you need to know about them, it’s time to figure out how you’ll get all of this information in the first place.
Since collecting contact information individually gets tedious, many companies choose to purchase prospect data from large data providers. However, these organizations need to be critical of the lists they purchase because they often contain outdated information.
Inaccurate data can cause more harm to your business than you’d think. Bad data may include contacts who no longer work at the same company, phone numbers or emails that have changed, or even companies that have since been acquired. Bad data translates to your sales team wasting a lot of time chasing dead leads, and this impact on productivity is costly.
We’ve found that the 1-10-100 rule developed in 1992 still holds today: it costs less money for a company to simply prevent mistakes from happening than to clean up data later on.
The 1-10-100 rule states that an average organization spends around $1 per contact to verify that the information is accurate. Should the organization choose to cut corners, it’d need to spend $10 per contact to correct inaccurate data. If the organization continues to utilize a bad database, the cost would rise to $100 per contact.
To put it in perspective: a database with over 100,000 contacts with just over 40% bad data can translate to nearly $4M in lost revenue over the lifetime of that data.
Instead, organizations should look into buying human-curated prospect lists. With a more accurate prospect list, your sales team won’t need to waste time searching for up-to-date information.
For example, EBQ’s Data Specialists offer database building services to clients. We understand how time-consuming the process of finding leads can be, so we’ve found a way to curate high-quality sales prospect lists through a combination of automated and manual processes.
While our customers focus on growing their business, we help them identify target accounts and relevant contacts through:
Social media has grown beyond a tool to help stay in touch with friends and family; it’s a powerful tool with a staggering amount of information. We start with LinkedIn, as you can specify which industry, company size, and even the geographic location your target contacts are in. LinkedIn is typically a reliable source because users update their profiles themselves.
However, it’s important to note that you still need to cross-reference your research because users don’t always update the platform in a timely manner.
If you’re still struggling with figuring out a company’s leaders, you can always refer to their website. Many companies have an “About Us” or “Leadership” page where you can see key decision-makers, learn more about their roles, and even obtain their contact information.
Another use case for reviewing company websites is that you can quickly verify whether someone is still working for that particular company or not. This helps make sure you’re not collecting outdated contacts.
An easy way to passively gain prospect information is by adding a contact form and gated content forms on your website. Since people are giving you their information willingly, the data you collect is largely accurate and up to date–assuming the user didn’t provide a spam email to download gated content.
Gated content–like whitepapers and downloadable guides–can be about more than just being thought leaders in your industry. They can be used as another passive way to collect prospect information. However, you don’t have to do it all manually. After your readers sign up for your content, you can automatically add them to your database and even email them through marketing automation.
If you’re interested in using marketing automation to collect prospects through contact forms and gated content, check out our B2B Marketing Automation Guide where we discuss this strategy in detail.
Learn everything you need to know about collecting contact data and maintaining the health of your database.
Having bad data in your database can lead you to waste time chasing irrelevant leads–or even worse–missing out on key opportunities. It’s critical to not only build a reliable database but also maintain it to ensure you’re not working with outdated information.
Here are our tips for creating strong prospect lists:
The purpose of building a sales prospect list is to identify the target people and accounts that match your buyer persona. This helps you understand not only who to contact, but also how your potential customers make purchase decisions.
That’s why it’s important to start with building a buyer persona before you even begin researching. Eventually, you’d want those in charge of reaching out to prospects to use your buyer persona to prepare for their calls and emails.
At EBQ, we call the people responsible for reaching out to leads Sales Development Representatives (SDRs). They’re in charge of turning cold leads and marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) into prospects who are interested in setting an appointment with a salesperson. We’ve found that employing SDRs is beneficial, as they handle the slow early stages of the sales cycle. This leaves your salespeople more time to focus on closing, while SDRs warm up cold leads and gather further primary research on your buyer persona.
Building a database using a spreadsheet is cost-effective, but it can get tedious. That’s why growing organizations with the available budget often look into investing in a CRM. Not only does a CRM help you avoid human error, but it also helps you sift through data faster. We also dove into the fundamentals of a CRM in another guide, The Beginner’s Guide to CRM.
Automating your prospect list can also save you the headaches of having to manually go through your contact information and figure out which clients have a higher probability of converting. A CRM keeps your list of prospects organized, which is helpful further down the sales cycle.
Another reason to invest in a CRM is that you can pull meaningful insights from the data. From understanding which company size led to the most conversions to which annual revenue you should be targeting in the future, it’s helpful to continue revising your buyer persona as you collect data.
However, consistency is key for this approach. When building out your database, make sure you’re formatting data and fields similarly. For example, you want to make sure that your naming conventions for each industry and vertical are consistent across the board. Otherwise, they may show as different segments in your reporting.
Having an effective sales prospect list is more than just figuring out who to contact–it’s all about finding accurate and relevant data that saves your sales team time in the future.
We’ve found that, before working with EBQ, many of our clients had wasted a lot of time figuring out if contacts even worked for the same company anymore, or burned through expensive contact lists of inaccurate prospect data.
That’s why it’s important to set your business up for success by using a strong database to build your strategies off of. Once you’re ready to start building your prospect list, download our template here.