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Tennessean Column- Sunday, June 1st

Posted on: June 05

Author: Tom Black
Tennessean Column- Sunday, June 1st

Prospecting with Power

A salesperson without a prospect list is unemployed.  The single most important tool a sales person has is his prospect list, yet company after company I work with does not put enough emphasis on this one thing. 

Here is what I teach people about prospect lists.  First, get one.  I don’t mean a list of names in your laptop.  I mean a list of prospects that have these qualities: 

  • A prospect is a decision maker not anything else.  A non-decision maker is not a prospect.
  • You must know something about the name on the prospect list.  Recently, I was working with a company calling for appointments out of a “Domino Data Base”.  That is not a prospect list.  Here are some things you can look for:
    • Are they in your current verticals of customers?
    • You sell manufacturers.  Are they a manufacturer or a services company?
    • If you sell individuals and your average customer is 50 years old, is the name on your prospect list 50 years old?

                        In other words, don’t just call a name.

For example, ABC company sells mostly to businesses in two verticals (lawyers and accountants) and they haven’t had as much success with consulting companies but they have a few customers in that vertical.  History says put lawyers and accountants on your prospect list until you run out of them.  In other words, shoot lay-ups versus half court shots.

In addition, ABC company has most of their success with firms under five partners and 100 employees.  So put that qualification on your prospect list also.

  • A prospect list has at least 70 names on it at all times.  Not two or three or 10 but at least 70.  My experience says with 70 you can call through in about three or four hours.  I recommend, no matter what you are selling, taking one full office day to set appointments with new prospects and to set follow up meetings.  If you are calling on prospects without an appointment (cold calling in person) you still need 70 names to make a productive day.

When you eliminate a prospect from your prospect list immediately add a new one.  Make a rule that you will not start a new day without 70 names on your prospect list.  By the way, sales is not a 40 hour/week job.  Do your prospecting before and after your people time (roughly 8:30-5:00).

  • A prospect list is printed on paper.  Keep it in your CRM, on your laptop or anywhere you choose, but have a paper copy you can carry with you to make notes on.  I have seen hundreds of prospect lists on paper that you had to squint to read and left no room for notes.  This is not a prospect list.  It is a list of names that is hard to read and work with.

By having your prospect list on paper you can call from anywhere.  If you have a dead hour between appointments you can call prospects for new appointments.  If you are at the airport you can call for new appointments.  Paper prospect lists allow you to maximize any time you have during the day.

If your prospect list is in your computer, laptop or iPad there is a barrier that sometimes stops you from calling.  Eliminate that barrier.

With a place to take notes you can keep track of details you learn after every call.  For example, their assistant’s name, their direct phone number, whether they work late or come in early, if they are on vacation or when to call back.  With a prospect list on paper you are in control of your time and your future sales at all times.  I ran two software companies.  I have four PC’s in my house, three iPads and a lot of cell phones.  I believe in technology but in this one area you need to go old school. 

Michael Altshuler said, “The bad news is time flies.  The good news is you’re the pilot.”  You can be a better pilot if you have a proper prospect list.


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