“You are only as good as your data.” 

Nowhere is this phrase truer than in sales. Should you take the time to organize your database? Will the effort be worth it? In short: you can’t afford not to!

Whether you are trying to leverage the efforts of an experienced sales rep or set a new business development hire up for success, a properly organized database will provide accurate information that ensures time and energy spent is productive. 

Prior to your next sales push, take the time to quantify and cleanse your database. The investment upfront will pay off by ensuring you are targeting marketing qualified leads (MQLs) who are more likely to become a customer, and getting to the right decision-making contacts.

The steps below will get your database in tip-top shape:

Step 1: Cull the information.

Prospect data comes from a variety of sources including LinkedIn profiles, third-party introductions, and business cards collected at trade shows and networking events. Information lives in lists, email messages, spreadsheets, and memory. However, only a fraction of this data will lead to sales.

As a rule, if a contact is someone you can potentially help by providing a product or service in exchange for revenue, they should be in your database. “Influencers” can also be included, with the intent to target them through marketing initiatives.

2. Batch and clean your data.

Set a goal for the size of your database, using the company as the metric. Start with 100 companies and identify 2-3 contacts who are decision-makers or influencers.  As you evaluate each contact, ensure you are capturing their complete name, title, phone number, and direct email (rather than an info@company.com or other generic address). Use tools like https://hunter.io/ and https://rocketreach.co/ to find the specific information you need.

Grow your database in batches — 50-100 companies at a time, or more (10x) if your market is bigger and your goal is to scale faster.  If you have a database in the thousands to work through, and your lists have been purchased, consider that your initial pass through the database with calls and/or emails may yield bleak results. Purchased databases require a level of cleansing before you can cultivate the valuable contacts in it. *If your database is in the thousands, you’ll need to use a power dialer to sell into the lists. 

3. Define your ideal client profile (ICP).

Identify the attributes of your ideal client. Company size, budget, maturity, industry, and previous interactions are all important factors to consider.  Review successful professional relationships to understand what makes them work. What roles and responsibilities have you been most successful in cultivating? Who do they report to? Are they the decision-maker?

4. Decide on the A-list for sales outreach.

Your top prospects are those with whom you have the highest probability of success. Review your database, calling out viable prospects who:

  • Meet your ideal client profile from both a company and contact perspective
  • Are buying from someone
  • Are a former or current customer
  • Are a former or existing prospect
  • You can call today

Using these criteria, create an A-list of prospects. Not only can this list be used by experienced sales reps, but it is a great way to do a test run of a new sales person. Provide him/her with a specific number of qualified contacts to pursue and evaluate progress against expected results.

5. Decide on the B-list.

Contacts who don’t make the A-list are still valuable to your sales funnel. Review your database to identify those with whom you want to do business, but don’t yet have a direct relationship. Target marketing efforts at these leads to support the sales effort.

6. Prospects live in a customer relationship management (CRM) system.

A CRM is vital to driving and tracking current and prospective data and interactions. The capabilities and costs of CRMs vary; a list of the 10 best CRMs for small business can be found at https://fitsmallbusiness.com/best-crm-for-small-business/.

Add your A- and B-lists to the CRM and use it to drive and monitor activities:

  • Ensure someone is calling on the A-list regularly, using a good sales process that has a strong cadence. Without a concentrated sales effort to these top prospects, money is left on the table.
  • Conduct a drip campaign for the B-list. In addition to descriptive and message-specific language to grow brand awareness, the campaign must include a sales-oriented call-to-action that asks for a distinct commitment to a meeting, demo, or call. Working together, the marketing and sales teams can move B-list prospects to the A-list.

A little work up front to get your database clean, organized, and current will pay big dividends in your sales efforts!