Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Your Prospecting List and List Broker

Once you’ve made up your mind to prospect the first step is determining exactly who you want to contact. As we’ve discussed, a good place to begin putting together a prospect list is deciding what your ideal client looks like.

How many employees do they have?

What are their annual sales?

What industry or industries are they in?

Developing your ideal list criteria is a high leverage activity. Minutes here will save hours and hours of non-productive prospecting later.

One you’ve developed your ideal list criteria, you are ready for the next step, selecting a List Broker. There is no “best” List Broker, but in our opinion, good List Brokers specialize. At Ekstrom & Associates we can offer recommendations for companies with proven track records. We think Farm Market Id has the best agricultural lists available. Dunn and Bradstreet are usually recognized as the List Broker with the best financial information. Suffice it to say that we would be glad to provide whatever insights we can in helping you come up with the ideal List Broker for your needs. You are welcome to leave a comment or email me privately with your questions. If I can’t answer them, I will pass them onto someone who can.

Over the years different systems have been developed to group similar types of businesses together. The most popular system is called the Standard Industrial Classification or SIC codes. Don’t be mislead by the word “industrial” in SIC codes. SIC codes contain an entire listing or breakdown of virtually every business type. Everything from wholesalers, to manufacturers, to all types of Federal, State and local government entities, retailers, banks and financial institutions of all types, farmers by crop, contractors by specialty, etc., etc, etc. There are over 12,000 SIC codes and they remind me a bit of the Dewey Decimal System used by libraries. SIC codes move from the general to the specific. It can seem overwhelming, but using these codes can provide greater accuracy in the resulting information. At Ekstrom & Associates we can help you navigate the SIC codes effectively. Again, if you have questions, please email me. I promise to respond in a timely manner.

What information can you expect a List Broker to provide? First, you should expect your List Broker to provide you a count of the number of businesses within the geography you select that match your criteria. This count should be free. Then, depending on their specialty and the criteria you defined, here is a general idea of the information a List Broker should provide:

  • Both company and decision maker names
  • Physical and mailing addresses
  • Telephone numbers
  • Employee sizes
  • Annual sales
  • Email addresses
  • Fax numbers
  • County information, etc.

The vast majority of List Brokers have a minimum order size. Whoever you work with, you want to know up front what their minimum order size is and how they price their lists. If you check around you will find there is little standard pricing among List Brokers. We know of List Brokers that charge less than 10 cents a name while another List Broker charges over 30 cents for exactly the same information. Watch it carefully. Ask questions and do your due diligence.

Also keep in mind that the more specific your list criteria are the smaller and less expensive your list will be. By changing the criteria even slightly you can open up more possibilities and add more names to your list. As you are deciding how many names you want, consider your future needs as well as your current needs. That way you can get a large enough list to draw from as your projects change.

I’m sure you have heard the old adage about measuring twice and cutting once. Putting your list criteria together is a great example of how true that adage is. This is why it is so important to begin your list search with a clear sense of your project purpose and ideal client.

Once that you have your prospect list, you will next want to consider several other essential steps in formatting your Marketing & Sales Database. I’ll talk about these steps in my next blog.

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