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The interesting thing about the business process of setting appointments is that you have very few levers to pull in order to improve performance – three to be exact: Lists, Best Practice and Caller Skills.

With this blog, we’re going to take a departure from discussing the art of cold calling, and focus on another lever instead—Lists…

Here is the short list (no pun intended) for evaluating and improving Lists:

  1. For telephone prospecting, you don’t need more names than you can call: Unless you do a lot of marketing, the size of your list is dependent on how many calls you are going to make. If you call 100 companies a week, with a standard, proven Best Practice, your caller may not need but 500 companies to call.
  2. Don’t condemn your current list too quickly: The only sure way to ‘vet’ a list is to call into it. We see a lot of companies who buy a list because their current list is ‘so old’ only to find out that the new list ‘ain’t that great’ either. Remember, list companies do not have real-time update capabilities.
  3. Don’t condemn your current list, part 2: Are the companies on that old list Qualified? For a lot of callers, having a list of ‘qualified’ accounts without a valid contact is preferred to having a list of companies with a valid contact but not known to be qualified. It is easier (and more efficient) to find the new decision maker in a qualified company than to dig out the information to determine if the company is qualified.
  4. Buy in small quantities: Once you know how many names you can call each year, purchase that list over a 5 month period. The arithmetic to calculate how many names can be called a year is pretty straightforward. Given that lists deteriorate, why buy them all up front? Buy them as you call into the list.
  5. Another way to improve a caller’s list is to email market: Blast and drip the entire market and notify the caller of who in their territory is opening the emails and clicking the links. The calls may still be cold calls, but the target is more aware of you than one who has not been ‘attracted’ to your marketing efforts. My company has such a process to notify callers of targets who are opening emails and clicking links.

As a general rule, most lists are improved by simply calling through them once and qualifying them as ‘in or out’ by designating the first call a scrub call – to find someone to answer the qualifying questions. Each subsequent time calling through a list improves appointment setting performance.

Check out our Contact Science blog regularly for more info on improving your inside sales techniques.