Call Lists: How to Create a Highly Targeted Sales Prospecting List to Clone Your Best Accounts

How do you select the proper targets for your lead generation campaign?

You better know the answer to that question and get it right. If you don’t, no matter what else you do correctly, you are sure to fail.

That is correct. You can have killer scripts, a superior offering, be working an efficient and effective call process, and yet it will all be for naught… if you don’t select the right targets.

Get this right and be mediocre at everything else and you can still get results.

Pick the wrong targets and no matter how good you are at everything else, you will fail. Guaranteed.

Many times call centers or in-house teams will ask me to review a campaign that is failing. Very commonly I find that 70%, 80%, 90% or more of call activity (and expense) is directed to targets that never should have been called in the first place.

Even more sadly, almost always there is an easily identified reachable pool of targets that are high-probability buyers, who are not getting called at all. When the phones ring at those buyer’s offices it’s not you, and others are getting the accounts and checks that should have been yours.

Every business has limited resources. You must get maximum return for dollars and time invested.

You must make informed decisions about whom to call, in what order and in what priority. You must at all times allocate your limited time and resources to where it will do the most good. You have to make choices.

Very commonly those choices are not made. Under the guise of “anyone could be our client,” “I don’t want to miss anyone,” ”  “You never know” or trying to save a few pennies per call record, the prospecting net is cast far too wide. When there are typically enough higher probability buyers to keep you or your sales team busy for a long long time, resources are wasted with far too many lower-probability and no-probability buyers, simply because prospect pools are not prioritized.

Huge waste and totally unnecessary.

When you don’t prioritize you are making the choice to wade through sludge looking for a few nuggets of gold.

When you set priorities you can jack hammer through a solid vein of gold. Which would you rather do?

Your objective is never to “not miss anyone.” Your objective is always to allocate your resources to where it will get you the greatest return.

Basic marketing 101 says that the people most likely to buy from you, look like the people who have already bought from you. Genius.

So you start by building a profile of those that have already purchased by you. The component parts of that profile will commonly be industry (SIC code,) revenue range or number of employees.

Create a list of the accounts or clients you wish to clone. Name and address. Include your best accounts and your solid bread and butter accounts but exclude the smaller accounts.

My suggestion is that there should be at least 30 accounts on this list. If your company doesn’t have at least 30 good names, then use companies you know have purchased from competitors.

Take that list and go to a business database such as provided by infousa. (There are others.) I personally have always used their salesgenie product for this purpose. There is a free version called referenceUSA available at many local and college libraries.

Look up each company on your list. In separate columns make note of the location, industry (sic code,) revenue range and employee size range.
You may choose other criteria as well but the above usually suffices.

Once you have looked up all the names, you want to find patterns. Very simply, what are the most dominant industries (SIC code ranges), revenue ranges and employee size ranges of the accounts you would most like to clone.

As to each characteristic, ignore the stragglers above and below the dominant range.
Once this is done you now have a profile of your current accounts you would most like to clone.
Armed with this profile go back to your business database tool and search by those criteria in the geographic area you are targeting.

For example: If your dominant profile is companies with sic codes in these ranges 20-23, 50-51 and 7311-7999; revenue range of $2.5 – $20 million; with an employee range of 25-100, use those parameters for your search.

Guess what? You have now identified the companies who look the most like the companies that buy from you. Call them first.

Now you want to segment your list by priority. Run counts and set priorities.

Depending upon your business goals, competitive situation and resources of time and money, you want to identify segments of potential targets and set priorities.

You might identify a segment of “whales.” Companies most likely to result in a very large sale. These will typically be harder to penetrate, longer sales cycle type accounts.

You might identify a segment of “bread and butter” accounts. Average size account potential and moderate sales cycles.

And maybe you have an emerging segment. A class of prospects that you have not yet solidly established but you feel has high future potential.

Based upon your needs you may decide to allocate 20% of time and resources to prospecting whales, 15% to emerging segments with grown potential and 65% to your bread and butter accounts.

Pull down enough records in each segment to accomplish that.

Let me share two crippling mistakes commonly made that will self-sabotage your prospecting efforts.

Mistake #1:
Casting the net too wide. You might look at your profile, note which of your current accounts fall outside of the dominant profile and say “Hey, those are good accounts. I don’t want to miss those.” So you have the urge call through those fringe segments so that you don’t “miss anyone.”
Don’t do that.

You want to keep your calling in the high-probability zone and allocate limited resources of time and money to those groups of records that are most likely to produce an account.

Once you call those out, you then have the option of calling out lower-probability groups, but not before.

Those that refuse to prioritize and cast the net too wide end up calling a severely diluted quality prospect pool.

Set priorities among target groups to call.
Call the most-probable before you call the least-probable.

Mistake #2
Buying too many records.

I strongly recommend that you not buy more records than you/your team can call in three to six months’ maximum.

Many times, in order to save a few cents per record a company will bulk buy thinking they are saving money.

Not so. Those few cents of savings per record will come at a high cost you and your team. You have now doomed yourself to more wasted time, more calling inefficiency and decreased results in the future. Why? Because your database has aged so significantly by the time you get around to calling it.

Compared to the cost of prospecting and sales time, your list cost is miniscule. Don’t buy too much.

Also, as you start calling in an organized systematic manner the “profile” of records you decide to call may very well change. Don’t get married to a list prematurely.

The probability of success of your business to business calling effort is often largly determined before you even pick up the phone. Call the right list and you can be average in many ways and still make money. Call the wrong list, your team could all be sales superstars and you will be doomed to losing money and lamenting that “calling doesn’t work.”