I constantly read stories and hear salespeople say:

Cold Calling is Dead.”

“Phone calls are a waste of time – No one picks up the phone anymore.”

 “I will send out 10,000 emails that will get the phone ringing.”

“I’ll spend a couple of thousand on Google Adwords – yeah that’s the ticket.”

“I’ll send a text – I don’t really want to talk to a prospect anyway.”

I disagree with all this negativity and believe that we are now in the “Golden Age of Cold Calling”   – Never before has there been so much information available to salespeople to help them identify excellent prospects for their products and services.

What Hasn’t Changed

Making phone calls to potential prospects is a time-consuming process, but it is still one of the most effective ways to establish a new relationship – Let’s face it, nothing happens until we have an actual conversation with a decision-maker.  The “Hard Reality” of  Cold Calling is that it still can take seven or eight phone calls at different times of the day  (early morning, lunchtime, and after working hours) for a skilled salesperson to reach a senior executive via the telephone.

A warm prospect list is required to ensure a high ROI on the time and resources necessary to make these calls.  A Warm List will dramatically increase the probability that when you get the prospect on the line they will be interested in your product or service and qualified to make a purchase.

What is a Warm Prospect List?

A warm prospect list is based on a well-researched prospect profile and its members should theoretically have an interest in learning about your product or solution.  Equally important, the prospects on the target list must be decision-makers with the authority to buy your product/service.  The list should contain pertinent contact information on these decision-makers including Company Name, Executive Name, Title, Email, LinkedIn Profile, and Direct Phone Number.

When I started in sales back in the Pre-Internet Dark Ages, developing a quality prospect list was an expensive and difficult exercise.  While providers like Dun and Bradstreet, Bloomberg, Hoovers and One Source could provide you with corporate statistics like annual revenue and number of employees, their information on executives was limited to high-level corporate officers (CEO, CFO, and COO).  These resources didn’t include pertinent contact information like the executive’s phone number and remember, the email didn’t exist yet– Yes I’m kind of old!  The world has changed since 1990 and information on everyone and everything is now just a click away if you know where to find it.

This Blog will focus on the Tools, Sources, and Processes you need to create Warm Prospect Lists, which are the foundation of all successful sales campaigns.

The Prospect Profile

Prior to starting any cold calling or outbound sales campaign – salespeople need to create custom target prospect lists based on specific prospect profiles.   We believe a prospect profile should answer the following questions.

  • What is the specific geographic market(s) that you want to focus the sales campaign on?
  • What is the specific industry vertical(s) that will be targeted in the campaign?
  • What is the target corporate/organization size in terms of revenue, employees, assets or other criteria?
  • Who are the decision-makers in the prospect company that your company needs to engage with in terms of title, job responsibility, and authority?
  • Are there other specific criteria that are unique to this campaign? (Such as particular events or circumstances which will cause a prospect to actively seek your company’s product or services)?

 

The Warm List – “Multiple Sources are Critical”

Just as a skilled journalist needs to research and reference multiple credible sources prior to publishing an article, a salesperson needs to use multiple sources in the creation of a truly  “warm prospect list”.

The following tools and sources are essential to building high-quality prospect lists:

  1. LinkedIn Premium with Sales Navigator – LinkedIn is the biggest “game changer” in B2B sales since the invention of the telephone. Yet many salespeople are reluctant to spend a couple of bucks to get a premium versionLinkedIn can enable a salesperson to find and connect with literally every corporate decision-maker in the developed world.  You can search by Company, Title and most importantly by Keyword.  With the free version, your search universe is limited by the number of connections you have.  However, by upgrading to the premium version with Sales Navigator, the wider prospect universe is opened up to you.  You are no longer limited to 2nd-degree connections – you can research and find the executives you truly need to talk too.  Currently, LinkedIn does not provide you with prospect’s emails and phone numbers, but the name, title and professional information is an invaluable starting point.
  2. Data.com – To obtain the critical contact information of phone number and email address, I recommend Data.com. There are other sales databases like Hoovers and Spoke, but I have found Data.com to be a reliable source that includes small and mid-market organizations and high-quality information.  Keep in mind that even if the prospect executive you found in LinkedIn is not in Data.com, the executive’s company most often is and so you can get a general phone number and more importantly the email syntax for the firm.    With this information, you are a step away from reaching the prospect.  Although Data.com and its competitors are not free, they are reasonable given the ROI on a salesperson’s time and potential rewards from new sales.
  3. Corporate Websites – These sites are critical sources for warm prospect lists. They are goldmines of information for salespeople.  The About Us Page, Exec Bios, and Recent Press Releases all contain pertinent information and can further enhance your warm prospect list with additional decision-makers that you may not have found elsewhere.

 

You Are Now Prepared – Don’t Procrastinate

You have dedicated time to creating a prospect profile which clearly specifies the key attributes and qualities of your ideal prospect.

You have used the profile to set the parameters of your search for warm potential prospects using multiple sources including world-class tools like LinkedIn and Data.com

If you’re smart, you have put all this information into an Excel Worksheet and uploaded it to your CRM  – Perhaps you may want to send a warm-up email and now most importantly at long last . . .

 It’s Time to Pick up the Phone !!!!!  This Telephone Won’t Dial Itself!