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5 Best practices to optimize your prospect lists

Don’t let outdated data cost you leads or sales

Anika Temperante
Anika Temperante
Director of Sales and Marketing

In a perfect world, cold-calling would be just like the name implies: You pick up the phone, dial directly to your target contact and initiate a conversation that hopefully plants the seed for a future sale.

In reality, it’s a much messier situation. Few business development representatives (BDRs) or inside sales professionals have the luxury of working from a clean and accurate prospect list. Instead, most business development representatives (and marketing teams) spend a good portion of their time working from a variety of lists and using their experience to improve the quality and contacts available.

B2B data changes rapidly

Why is this an issue? Because business data needs to be updated on a regular basis. According to one industry list provider:

  • Up to 25% of B2B database contacts contain critical errors
  • 40% of business objectives fail due to inaccurate data
  • Every year, 37% of email addresses change

B2B and medtech are two industries with high rates of change. Individuals change jobs within the company. They leave one organization for another. Mergers and acquisitions occur. Even a simple name change can make a contact’s email address invalid.

Much of the value of a team of business development representatives (or an outsourced calling team) comes from keeping the sales and marketing database in tip-top shape.

Here are 5 best practices for improving your prospect lists:

1. Narrow down a cold list 

When you receive a cold list, such as one you purchase from a list broker or other reputable source, it’s important to narrow it down before your inside sales team starts calling. This ensures the most efficient use of these important sales resources’ time and efforts.

You can segment a list by SIC or NAICS codes, which specify the industry or type of business. You can also parse a list by company size, geographic location, annual revenue or other characteristics. What’s important is grouping “like with like” so you can use a targeted approach rather than a one-size-fits-all net. If you aren’t sure which segments of the list will be most successful, run a small test first and compare results before going full force ahead with larger outbound calling campaign.


2. Re-visit old lists

Ever miss a call or an email? Or have a need for a product today that you didn’t have six months ago? These are two valid reasons why you never want to take a “one and done” approach to a B2B or medtech prospect list. A great place to start an outbound calling campaign is by looking through your CRM system for past leads that have gone cold, or past customers who might be interested in your products or services again.

When you re-engage your inside sales team or BDRs for cold calling, remember that companies evolve and new decision-makers are hired. Needs change, and it’s worth reaching out periodically to keep your data fresh and your brand top of mind.

3. Don’t worry if names are missing

Ideally, a list will contain contact names and titles for various individuals within an organization, but that isn’t always the case. If you don’t have a contact name, it doesn’t mean that the list is worthless. Even if you have a list with names, depending on the solution you’re selling, it may not be the right person you want to connect with. Experienced callers and sales professionals know how to navigate within an organization to find the right person. A two-pronged call with give you double value: Updating your database or CRM system with the right names and contact info, and starting the conversation to determine if the organization is a good fit for your solution.

4. Call a combination of phone numbers

In many cases, your list will not include direct dial information. Don’t feel limited by this. Calling a main line and speaking to a receptionist is a great start. Just be prepared in advance to know who you’re asking for and to have a valid reason for your request. The larger the organization, the longer it may take to find the right department and individual. An experienced caller can obtain the necessary information (often from administrative staff or gate-keepers) and build out a sales strategy from there.

5. Compare lists before calling

One very important task, especially if you have multiple people on your sales team, is to make sure you aren’t duplicating work. Breaking your list into territories is one way to handle this. Another, if you’re working with multiple lists from various sources, is to cross-reference and de-duplicate the contacts before you begin making sales calls. A final comparison is to weed out current customers or prospects that are already in your sales funnel. This helps your company conduct a coordinated outreach.

Scale up your efforts

Remember, there are many places to find lists, but very few will have all the details your sales and marketing teams need from the start. Get creative, and once you have the lists you need, be sure to follow the best practices outlined above.

When you’re ready to optimize your in-house lists and power up your sales efforts, contact Volkart May. Every B2B and medtech lead generation campaign we execute provides accurate data and valuable insights, from opt-in email addresses and decision-maker names and titles to buying timelines, budgets and competitive intelligence. Learn more.

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