Peyton | April 13, 2015
It’s the bottom of the ninth inning, bases loaded with 2 outs. The score is tied and the count is 3-2. The air is still and the crowd is silent. His chest is pounding, his heart nearly leaping out of his body, but his hands are still and his breath is steady. He adjusts his batting gloves and grasps his bat once more. He calms his thoughts and looks towards third base for his coach’s signal. Approaching that batter’s box, he plants his right foot firmly into the dirt and then his left. Sweat beads trickle down his jawline as he waits for the pitch that will define him. He hears the catcher inch into position as the pitcher begins his wind up. His grip suddenly slackens, and his legs become weak. The top of his bat drops and he takes his eye off of the ball. The pitch is released and he swings wildly. His grip was so loose and he swung so violently that his bat flew out of his hands, into the stands, and hit a baby in the face. Now, not only does he have to face the shame of losing the game for his team because he lacked fundamentals, but he just maimed a newborn baby.
Alright, maybe that’s exaggerating the consequences of not developing fundamentals early on, but what might happen if you approach a sale without a good foundation? That’s where having clear, well-defined criteria for list building becomes essential. Every sale begins with a contact, making effective prospecting essential for your entire outbound sales system.
Like the batter above, approaching the plate, you may similarly approach your sales with a plan, and confidence in that plan. However, the batter didn’t have the foundation – the fundamental knowledge he needed to follow through and hit the ball. Maybe he had the best bat out there, the coolest shoes, an awesome coach, and all confidence in the world, but he just couldn’t hit the ball. Instead, he hit a baby.
The list is what your sales system feeds off of. You could have tons of confidence in your product/service, the best sales team, and an awesome pitch (no pun intended), but if you don’t know how to swing the bat effectively, your sales efforts will be futile. Basically, if you’re trying to sell baseball bats, you don’t want to reach out to the mother of the baby that just got hit. Your list needs to have a clear audience, and needs to reach out to the decision makers in the field that you are looking to speak with.
How do you do this?
Sure, you may know who you’re trying to target, their geographical location, company size, NAICS code, etc., but do you know the best way to generate contacts that match those criteria? By A/B testing, you will build lists of prospects through many different channels to determine which source gives you the best data and greatest ROI. Maybe purchasing a 3rd party list works the best, or having your sales team prospect on their own. By testing multiple sources and looking back on results after running prospects through your campaigns, you will begin to optimize your list building process.
Having good equipment and confidence at the plate is important if you want to make it to first base, just like having a good sales system in place is important to closing a sale. But the best bat can’t get you a hit if you don’t know how to swing it, and the best sales system is ineffective if you don’t have solid list building fundamentals.