Trying to Build a Bigger Sales Lead Database? Make it Smaller First!

Herein lies the irony: how can you expand your sales lead database by compressing it? The answer is more obvious than you might think: quality over quantity. It’s utterly pointless to stuff your leads database with as much prospects as you can without considering how qualified or warm each entry actually is. In this way, you’re not really growing a solid list; you’re just blowing an empty bubble which is bound to burst sooner or later.

This post is based on a highly thought-provoking op-ed by Dan McDade published in the Direct Marketing News website in early July (see link below). Dan shows the importance of a smaller yet more manageable targeted B2B sales lead database where reps can source and follow genuinely promising prospects as opposed to leaving everything to chance with a cumbersome list of questionable prospective business buyers. Here’s how Dan outlines the process of streamlining marketing or sales databases to truly let them grow:

1. Define and refine.

Having a clear set of targets is the crucial first step toward a more efficient sales prospect list. But this step actually involves two distinct but related phases. First, you need to define specific objectives for your prospect list. What do you want your contact database to become and achieve? Next, you need to refine the characteristics that the individual prospects must meet before being considered as entries in your database.

2. Include key attributes.

Dan McDade recommends attaching important firmographic or company-specific information to entries in your sales database. These attributes include title/position, company size, industry, annual sales, and other granular data to enhance targeting precision. Along with these, it’s also our additional recommendation to consider data on prospect behavior, interest, and pain points as part of the term “key attributes” in list management.

3. Slice it up.

Now that you’ve included all the necessary records and attributes in your sales database, it’s time to do what successful marketers have been doing for generations: segmentation. There is a whole universe of possible segmentation tactics but the most important ones are those that help you carry out accurate tests/measurements and maintain relevance in your communications. Use your objectives and prospect profile as your guide in coming up with segmentation rules.

4. Test every segment.

Once you’ve completed thorough segmentation of your main list, you need to test every segment you’ve developed in the process. The goal for testing is to identify which particular segments are the most promising in terms of sales-readiness, level of interest, revenue potential, etc. Although Dan McDade suggests keeping a close eye on metrics such as lead-to-opportunity conversion rates and closed-deal sizes, these form only part of the analytics that you should consider in the test results.

5. Prioritize top segments.

Your test results should reveal which segments perform well and which fare badly. Once you’ve noted this distinction, commonsense dictates that top performers should be prioritized in terms of sales team focus and resource allocation. However, in some cases, poorly-performing segments may warrant higher priority in terms of marketing efforts to get them up to par with other prospects.

These five steps only lay the foundations for you to build your list management strategies on. Your tools and tactics should eventually fill in the gaps and make your marketing or sales campaign firmly stand. The main takeaway here is to always strive toward keeping your sales contact lists clean, updated, and manageable. From your targeted calling list all the way to your active email contact database, the growth of your lists significantly depends on how well you started building them.

Work(s) Cited:
McDade, D. (2012, July 1). “Shrink databases to grow leads.” Direct Marketing News. Retrieved August 29, 2012, from