How to Build The Perfect Prospecting List and Smash Your Goals This Year
Do you ever get that uncertainty feeling when you hear about a new opportunity but don’t fully understand how it will equate in terms of dollar signs?
This must be how some salesmen feel when they’re given their quotas and goals for the quarter. I’ve never been one to jump into something without fully understanding it, so I thought I would make this post to help you hit your goals this year, seeing it’s the new year and all.
I’ve written about knowing your numbers and plotting your goals in a previous post about getting started. But here I want to show you that breaking down your sales goals even further with Prospecting Lists is the most optimal way to move forward.
Before we dive into that, there are generally two problems that can be Feedback Loops From Hell if you don’t tackle them first.
The first problem is that most people haven’t tried enough prospecting to know what works for them.
The second problem is that most people haven’t tracked their prospecting. So even if they do know what method works for them, they can’t accurately gather their previous numbers to know how well it works for them.
The good news is that you can solve both of these at the same time by simply starting to do things properly. The reason most don’t try enough prospecting is because they don’t have structure to their efforts. And the reason most don’t track is because they don’t have structure to their efforts. See? Same problem.
The reason structure is good is because it not only solves these problems from a math standpoint (averaging out sales numbers), but it also solves it from a psychological standpoint (consistency, motivation).
Everyone craves consistency in their business and growth. If you know for a fact that you are going to predictably hit your goals by doing the same, consistent actions, you would never worry about money a day in your life. You would just keeping doing the actions.
This structure for a salesman comes in the form of Prospecting List. With a Prospecting List, you can go to the office each day and bang out the next 20, 30, or 100 prospects as your daily effort. It’s sitting right there, staring at you, begging to be tackled. At the same time, all of those efforts are being tracked. It’s the solution to everything and gives you that consistency you’ve been looking for.
Let’s delve into which business leads should go into your Prospecting List.
The Sweet Spot of Marketing
Nothing is a bigger time waster in sales than speaking to unqualified leads. Sure, you could get 100 businesses to agree to speak to you about your SEO service, but when they just started their business last week and have no money or a proven product, experience, etc, it’s not going to be a good fit.
When you define the sweet spot of the market, your prospecting becomes so much easier, not to mention more enjoyable. In general, there are four things you want to keep in mind when deciding if a business should be added to your Prospecting List:
1. Niche – Are they in the niche or vertical that you work in and know how to service? I’ve written a small guide on whether or not you should always focus on a niche when prospecting- and how to choose one- that you can find here.
2. Wherewithal – This is a fancy way of saying “Can they afford what I charge?”. It doesn’t matter if they seem cheap and only paid their last agency $200/month. If they seem like they can afford you, then you can probably convince them to pay you what you’re worth.
It’s important not to generalize and think that any dentist, lawyer, doctor, etc can afford your services just because they sell high ticket services. Everyone has their struggles, and you have to do your due diligence so as not to waste your time.
Some telltale signs can be found on their website:
- how long have they been in business?
- how many employees do they have on their Team or About page?
- do they seem family-owned or do you see an entire fleet of trucks on their website?
- do they have multiple locations?
- do they have investors?
These are all great questions that will give you a good hint if they fit the sweet spot. Some of this data is already answered if you purchase a list from certain brokers. More on that later.
3. Need – Does the business have a problem with their current marketing activities or funnel that need to be fixed? If these problems aren’t fixed, will they suffer? If they are fixed, how much of an increase in business can they expect?
This really depends on what it is you sell but some dead giveaways that I look for when building my Prospecting List are:
- Poor/no use of headlines on their website
- Poor use of copywriting. They talk about themselves too much instead of how their service benefits the customer
- No calls to action on their website. Call Now, Opt-in, Get a quote, etc
- Website not responsive and mobile friendly
- Glaring SEO mistakes. On-page keywords, messy URLs, wrong meta titles, etc
- Glaring PPC mistakes. Too many outbound links, no landing page, no CTA, etc
All of these problems pose a massive need and can lead to massive results for the business if done properly. Which leads me to…
4. Ability – Do you have the ability to actually solve the problems that the business has? Or more importantly, is there a problem that you notice with their website that needs to be fixed by another professional before you can help them? A great example of this is if you only sell SEO but their website is so ugly and messed up that no matter how well you rank them, it won’t help.
Part of Ability is also Preference. Do you even want to help this business? What would it mean to you if you helped them? This is completely subjective but in the end of the day, you don’t want to end up working with someone that you don’t like. So if the owner Joe’s ugly face just strikes you the wrong way, you really don’t have to help him. Screw that guy.
3 Methods for Building Your List
Now that you’ve defined your Sweet Spot, where do you find businesses to actually prospect to? Let’s explore 3 methods for building your Prospecting List:
1) Buying Lists – Let’s get this out of the way first because we don’t want to waste our time here. You could easily search online for list brokers in any niche and for any business criteria. The most popular reason for this would be for email blasts, but often you will get incorrect and outdated information. If you’re doing it just to build a list for cold calling or physical mail, use a trusted service like InfoUSA.
2) Automation Software – Let’s get my shameless plug out of the way as well. There are many softwares out there that will just scrape lead sources and spit them back at you. I also built one for my own agency, but it only finds leads that actually need help with their digital marketing using 8 different criteria and one advanced algorithm.
Check out ScopeLeads for unlimited hot leads and the ability to send automated email sequences to them in one click. Phew.
3) Manually – The most accurate but longest way of doing this is to sit there with your buddy Excel and add each prospect one by one. There are several sources here that will be your best friend when doing this, depending on what you sell. For example, if you sell PPC services, obviously your best bet is to click on Ads in Google and see where they are going wrong with their marketing.
Remember our Sweet Spot from above? Great, take that and head over to Google. Type in your niche’s keyword, open each result in a new tab, and start inspecting. Do they have a Need? Do they have Wherewithal? Can you see yourself working with Joe’s face? Great, add it to a new row on the list.
Other sources for leads:
- Yellow Pages. Yes, the physical yellow book. It’s full of ads, meaning these businesses are actively looking to grow, which means they need marketing, which means you can help. Yay! The best part is that those ads are so expensive that it usually means they have the wherewithal for digital marketing.
- Yellow Pages Online. Great website for general business listings.
- Google, page 2 and beyond. If you’re selling SEO, this is self explanatory. You can usually get up to 500 leads from here which will cover almost every lead you can find.
- Google Maps. This is often overlooked, but every single “Place” on Maps is a business. Think about it…
- Facebook Sponsored Stories. If you sell Facebook ads, this is one great way of seeing who is doing their ads poorly. By spending your time on Facebook.
All we are doing here is looking for a source- a list of websites that we can inspect and find a Need in. Don’t overthink it!
Include These in Your Prospecting List
There’s something to be said about CRMs – especially for the tracking capabilities and structuring your daily tasks. In the beginning though, you really don’t have to overdo it and Excel will work fine.
If you’re using Excel, you have to consider what information you need in order to reach out to this person. Are you sending cold emails? Then you will probably need the email address and the Owner’s first name in order to make it personal.
Are you sending physical mail? Then get the address. Cold calling? You get the point. I tend to find everything just in case I need to followup with a different form of contact, which I often do when prospecting. Physical mail–> phone followup–> voicemail–> email followup.
Another column you will need will be based on the actions you are taking. If you’re making a landing page with a custom audit and video, you’re going to need to track all of those stages as well.
In no particular order, here is what my lists contain as column headers:
- Company Name
- Website – The URL where the problem lives
- Notes/Angle – What was wrong with their site? Needs?
- Keyword – What did I use to find them?
- Video – Did I make a screen recording of their site to outline the problems
- Wistia – Did I upload the video to Wistia?
- Prospect’s Name
- Landing Page – The URL of the page I made for them
- Tested – Does everything work and look proper?
- LM or CE – Am I cold emailing or lumpy mailing this lead?
- CRM? – Did I log it in my CRM?
- Email Address
Or, skip doing this manually and download my own template with a real lead’s example in Excel.
The hardest part by far will be finding the owner’s name and email address. Luckily for you I wrote an entire guide for it which is read by hundreds of people every day.
Hitting Your Goals
In order to bring this altogether, I have to address the whole purpose of the guide which is in the title- hitting your goals. You have structure now to the core of your business, sales.
The reason I love having this structure (and you will too) is that it takes the guesswork out of prospecting. It becomes more about math than pure luck. Everything was converted from luck to consistency. We no longer have to scramble to find that contact information, we have them in a neat list. We no longer have to wonder what to do everyday, we have a neat list of people to contact.
Even if you’re having a bad streak of no sales, it will give you something to work on every day and keep you busy instead of giving up. At least you know that this number will contribute to your average and help you prospect better. You will also be able to look over at the notes column and see a trend in who ends up being a bad prospect.
The best way to start with this is first to plan your goals using math. If you haven’y yet, check out the previous post and plot your goals using the goal calculator based on your current prospecting stats.
Do you need to send 50 cold emails in order to get 1 consultation? You want to hold 10 consultations per week? Now you know that you need to send 500 emails a week, or 100 emails per business day. That means you will need to prepare 500 prospects on your list, ready to go each week.
I prefer to do this over the weekend or in the evenings. Sell while your prospects are awake, grow your business when they’re asleep. If you don’t know your numbers, give yourself a reasonable goal that won’t drain you in the beginning. Remember, you don’t just have to find the prospects, you also have to reach out to them.
Alternatively, have a VA prepare the lists and you do the outreach. Something like 20 prospects per day is a great place to start and you can work up from there.
Are you going to start using Prospecting Lists to hit your goals with ease and certainty? What columns, sources, or methods would you use to build your List? Let me know in the comments below!
I hope this helped, and don’t forget to start slowly. One thing at a time, broken down into tasks.