how to build a highly targeted prospect list

A highly targeted prospect list is key to successful sales, lead generation, and marketing campaigns.

Without a doubt, the more accurately you target your prospects, the better your chances of making a sale. Why waste time and money on people who may not be interested in what you have to offer?

By taking the guesswork out of your sales prospecting, you can create a laser-focused list that will help increase your conversion rates.

This blog post will share tips and discuss how to quickly and easily build a prospect list and find the ideal customers for your unique business and industry.

What is a Prospect List?

A prospect list is a list of potential customers you can reach out to and generate leads. This list includes contact information and other key tidbits about the prospect to make them easier to profile and close.

Prospect lists can have many different forms. Very commonly, prospect lists are created in spreadsheet format, but they can also be filled out on PDFs or managed with sales software such as CRMs (customer relationship management systems) or sales prospecting tools.

A good prospect list is going to be highly targeted and only include contacts that could potentially be interested in your product or service.

Here are some things that a good prospect list should include:

  • name
  • phone number
  • email address
  • job
  • company they work for
  • age
  • gender
  • location
  • preferred communication channels
  • or anything else that could help you learn more about the prospect

Generally speaking, the more information you can include in a prospect list the better. In whatever form you choose to compile your list, good prospecting provides direction and jumpstarts the sales process.

Reasons You Need to Know How to Build a Prospect list

building a prospect list

Building a highly targeted prospect list allows you to focus your marketing and sales efforts so you don’t waste time and energy talking to the wrong people.

A study by Forrester Consulting and Marketing Evolution found that 21 cents of every media dollar spent were wasted by organizations in 2019. According to the study, this ad spend wastage is a direct result of poor data quality resulting in inaccurate targeting.

Instead of taking your ad spend and throwing it in the trash bin, you can get a jump on the competition by prospecting like a pro.

Additionally, great prospecting will set your sales reps up for success. As I’m sure any salesperson can attest, a short list of piping-hot leads is far better than a long list of icy-cold leads.

Now that we know the importance of building prospecting lists, lets look into how to do it.

Step-by-Step Instructions to Build a Prospect List

Here are the 5 steps you should follow to build a highly targeted prospect list:

1. Outline your Customer’s Pain Points

The root of all business starts from a pain point – what is the issue that you solve for people? When you’re building a prospect list, it’s especially important to hone in on this point.

While it may seem obvious on the surface what kind of issues your business solves, it can be useful to outline as many as you can and then hone it down from there.

Create a list of pain points by asking yourself the following:

  • What are your customer’s hopes and dreams?
  • What keeps them up at night?
  • How do their issues make them feel?
  • How would they feel if you alleviated their issues?
  • What are their likes and dislikes?
  • What kind of metrics do they track and care about?

Asking yourself these kinds of questions should start to paint a picture of the kind of people you can help and how you can help them.

2. Decide What You’d Like to Try and Sell

Once you have a detailed list of pain points, decide on one or two issues you would like to address. Yes, while your product or service may address dozens of pain points (or maybe you have a whole line of products that each address different pain points) it’s important to give your prospecting efforts structure and focus.

Choose one or two products or services that address your chosen pain points – these products will act as the focus of your prospecting campaign.

3. Describe your Ideal Customer

Once you have some pain points to focus on and some products or services to solve them, it’s time to describe your ideal customer.

Your ideal customer will have the pain points you described and therefore a need for the solutions you offer.

Try to describe your ideal customer like a Christmas wish list – what characteristics would a home-run prospect have?

  • What is their job title?
  • what industry do they work in?
  • what is their company size?
  • where do they live and work?
  • how much money do they earn or manage?
  • what other products and services do they also use?
  • where do they look for and find information?

Once you’ve gone through these questions, you should have a short description of your dream customer that looks something like this:

Operations manager in the manufacturing industry that works for a mid-sized company with ~ 200 employees in California. Manages about $200,000/year to ensure smooth operations of machinery and orders manufacturing components from XYZ Inc. through their online catalog”

A great ideal customer outline will make sure that you’re prospecting with a laser-like focus.

REMEMBER: Your ideal customer is a wish list and not a filter – you’re aiming for prospects that fit the bill, but they won’t necessarily have all these characteristics.

4. Use Prospecting Data to Build a List

Once you have a good idea of who you want to target, this is where the magic happens. Go into your prospecting tool of choice and search for your ideal customer using the preset filters.

Some common prospecting tools include LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Crunchbase, or any other business database.

Using filters based on industry, location, company size, job title and other criteria (found in step 3) will allow you to quickly find a list of prospects that are highly relevant to your business.

Once you’ve inputted all your filters, let the prospecting tool do its thing and generate a prospect listing.

NOTE: Pull a list that’s much larger than you need so you can trim down the excess contacts. A good-sized list could have anywhere between 100 and 5000 contacts, it’s really up to you and how far you want to spread your net.

5. Clean Your Data to Make Your Prospect List Usable

Once you pulled a list of contacts from your prospecting tool, its time to trim down the junk to make your highly targeted prospect list.

Depending on what tool you use, your list could be in spreadsheet format, exported to your CRM, or managed directly in the prospecting. However, managing your list in a spreadsheet is a reliable and common way to clean your data.

To clean your data, go through each contact individually and delete the rows that have incomplete data or aren’t relevant to you. Because no prospecting tool is perfect, you’ll probably have a lot of list items that are missing information or just aren’t what you’re looking for. Oftentimes, you’ll want to focus on one person per company so as not to overstay your welcome with your welcome.

REMEMBER: The goal is to produce a highly targeted prospect list so only keep contacts that closely resemble your ideal customer.

Key Considerations for Successfully Building a Prospect List

successful sales team

When you’re building a highly targeted prospect list, there are a few key things to keep in mind.

First, make sure you spend adequate time building your ideal customer profile. Focusing on the right characteristics is crucial for getting accurate data from your prospecting tool and filtering out irrelevant contacts.

Next, don’t be afraid to experiment with different prospecting tools or databases

to get a taste of different contact pools. If one tool isn’t pulling the lists that you want, try another one!

Check out our list of the best prospecting tools for sales.

Taking it to the Next Level: How to Reach out to Your Prospects

Once you have your highly targeted list in hand, its time to reach out and turn these prospects into leads!

Outreach is a deep topic in itself, so we will have to save that for another blog post. But to get you started, here are a few ways that you can reach out to contacts on your list:

Email marketing drip campaigns

One of the best and most automated ways of reaching out to prospects is to send an email drip marketing campaign. Email drip campaigns are highly scalable and allow you to reach 100s or 1000s of people at once.

Email marketing and sales engagement software allow you to schedule a rules-based drip campaign – if they reply, send this email, if they don’t, wait 2 days, and send a different email. This way, you can set it all up at the beginning of the campaign and let it run on autopilot.

Make sure to take advantage of the email marketing tool’s personalization features as well. This allows you to include the prospect’s name in the email or any communications that you send out.

Reach out on social media

If you’re not having any luck reaching out over email, try contacting your prospects through their social media. Many prospecting tools can pull social accounts from their contact pools.

LinkedIn is great for B2B while Twitter and Instagram are good for less formal communications.

If you can reach out through multiple platforms, try messaging the LEAST-FOLLOWED account to get a higher response rate.

Cold calling

Sometimes the best way to make contact with your prospects is to pick up the phone and call. While cold calling can be time-consuming and nerve-wracking, you have nothing to fear – remember that you have a highly targeted prospect list.

If you did your due diligence, a large proportion of your contacts on your list should be interested in what you have to offer. What a pleasant surprise it will be to receive a phone call about an offer that will highly benefit them.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by picking up the phone and calling down the list.

Wrapping Up and My Experience With Building Prospect Lists

A prospect list can be extremely helpful when trying to expand your customer base or grow sales. By taking the time to build a quality prospect list, you are increasing the chances that you will reach your target market and reduce wasted time and media spend.

There are a few key steps to building an effective prospect list, which we have outlined in this article. If you master these steps, you’ll be on your way to effortlessly building a highly-convertible list of prospects and successfully growing your business.

For more tips on online marketing and selling, stick around and check out other articles on our blog.

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