May 14

Do You Expect Your Inside Sales Team to Practice Alchemy?

Inside Sales

26  comments

Too many marketers think that their inside sales teams are alchemists. They dump data that’s absolute garbage into the top of the sales funnel and expect sales lead gold to come out the other side.Marketing Sales Funnel

This came to mind when my teleprospecting team was struggling with one of our lead-generation clients.

They had promised us a “high-quality list” from their database: tens of thousands of names of c-suite executives who were in their target-market sweet spot.

The reality: nearly half the contacts had disconnected phone numbers, and another 30 percent definitely wasn’t in the target market for this particular product. Think fast food joints and mom-and-pop businesses. The remaining contacts had missing or inaccurate information. My team spent at least 80 percent of their time doing research and investigation to make a list usable so they could do what they were actually hired to do – generate leads.

Unless you want your inside sales professionals to be mere data entry clerks, test your lists! It takes about 30 hours of calling to attain a fairly accurate understanding of list quality by answering these questions:

  • Is there duplicate data?
  • Is the information current and complete?
  • Are the contacts truly in your product’s target market?

If more than 1 out of 20 contacts fail this test, I advise cleaning this list before you pass it along to a lead-generation team. Unless, of course, you don’t mind your team spending their time tracking down and entering data instead of generating leads.

Here’s the crux: you may think you have this awesome, robust database, but only a small segment of it may actually be the customer you want to reach. Unless you’re constantly updating your lists, too much of the data is likely old and unusable.

Indeed, your team may be alchemists and generate impressive numbers of leads regardless of the garbage you’re giving them. My team did. They ended up giving the client with the horrifically bad list an 800 percent return on investment, but not without a lot of extra work and stress. I can’t help but think how much higher their ROI would have been if given a better list. Think about what your teams could achieve, too.

About the author 

Brian Carroll

Brian Carroll is the CEO and founder of markempa, helping companies to convert more customers with empathy-based marketing. He is the author of the bestseller, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale and founded B2B Lead Roundtable LinkedIn Group with 20,301+ members.

  1. Brandon

    Your post calls out a very commonly observed scenario with regards data and I have witnessed the same scenarios that you describe. Many B2B companies still do not have the right approach to data – the quality and more often than not, the ongoing health of the data. I don’t however feel it is always the marketers who are at fault here but rather a general lack of organisation wide appreciation as to how important data health is to the overall goals of effective and efficient lead generation and sales pipeline fill. Data is hidden and forgotten about most of the time and many executives see maintenance of data as a cost rather than a business imperative. What organisations don’t see however that it is probably more costly to hold and store data that is inaccurate or outdated. Data can enter an organisation in several ways and therefore it is important to police entry at source as well as have strategies in place both for maintenance, ongoing acquisition as well as data disposition.

  2. Brandon

    Your post calls out a very commonly observed scenario with regards data and I have witnessed the same scenarios that you describe. Many B2B companies still do not have the right approach to data – the quality and more often than not, the ongoing health of the data. I don’t however feel it is always the marketers who are at fault here but rather a general lack of organisation wide appreciation as to how important data health is to the overall goals of effective and efficient lead generation and sales pipeline fill. Data is hidden and forgotten about most of the time and many executives see maintenance of data as a cost rather than a business imperative. What organisations don’t see however that it is probably more costly to hold and store data that is inaccurate or outdated. Data can enter an organisation in several ways and therefore it is important to police entry at source as well as have strategies in place both for maintenance, ongoing acquisition as well as data disposition.

  3. I agree 100% with your premise and would offer that there are additional ways of testing your lists prior to even making a single phone call. For example, the USPS offers the NCOA product to validate the basics that can cleans a large percentage of your list without incurring the cost outbound calls.

    Additionally, I’ve stressed with clients the importance validating the quality of their database on a regular basis, not just at the beginning of a campaign. Time is the ultimate data quality killer. You can never achieve 100% data accuracy but you can with the right processes in place make sure you’re not wasting time with a poor quality list.

  4. I agree 100% with your premise and would offer that there are additional ways of testing your lists prior to even making a single phone call. For example, the USPS offers the NCOA product to validate the basics that can cleans a large percentage of your list without incurring the cost outbound calls.

    Additionally, I’ve stressed with clients the importance validating the quality of their database on a regular basis, not just at the beginning of a campaign. Time is the ultimate data quality killer. You can never achieve 100% data accuracy but you can with the right processes in place make sure you’re not wasting time with a poor quality list.

  5. Great blog!

    While I agree with Kevin that there are many software solutions out there that will let you know whether the address is standardized and deliverable (we actively use these ourselves), they do not tell you if the person you are trying to reach is even there anymore.

    Knowing who you are prospecting is just as important as knowing that information will get to them. That is where our team of specialists is constantly updating names & titles for our clients, as well as prospecting for them.

  6. Great blog!

    While I agree with Kevin that there are many software solutions out there that will let you know whether the address is standardized and deliverable (we actively use these ourselves), they do not tell you if the person you are trying to reach is even there anymore.

    Knowing who you are prospecting is just as important as knowing that information will get to them. That is where our team of specialists is constantly updating names & titles for our clients, as well as prospecting for them.

  7. I cannot agree with this more!

    I was doing some work for a ‘friend’ who said he had 2,000 leads from an event and they just needed calling to qualify. It turns out the ‘leads’ were just people that had put their business cards into a box at the event and none had a requirement (except for 1 person that was interested in chatting in about 6 months). A waste of time.

    Good quality date (even if low in numbers) should yield good quality leads.

    Nice post Brendan.

  8. I cannot agree with this more!

    I was doing some work for a ‘friend’ who said he had 2,000 leads from an event and they just needed calling to qualify. It turns out the ‘leads’ were just people that had put their business cards into a box at the event and none had a requirement (except for 1 person that was interested in chatting in about 6 months). A waste of time.

    Good quality date (even if low in numbers) should yield good quality leads.

    Nice post Brendan.

  9. Hi Brandon,

    Great post and hits on an all true situation. There is no quick fix for a great database. Built from the ground up and constantly cleaned and checked seems to be the only way to make it really successful!

    Spencer

  10. Hi Brandon,

    Great post and hits on an all true situation. There is no quick fix for a great database. Built from the ground up and constantly cleaned and checked seems to be the only way to make it really successful!

    Spencer

  11. Praises for this post, and of course to the author. I must admit that the analogy of alchemy and lead generation was somewhat very interesting and substantial. I agree with you, Brandon, that the volume of business database will not warrant a perfect lead generation. Success still rests with other factors, especially the competencies of the people.

    Thanks!

  12. Praises for this post, and of course to the author. I must admit that the analogy of alchemy and lead generation was somewhat very interesting and substantial. I agree with you, Brandon, that the volume of business database will not warrant a perfect lead generation. Success still rests with other factors, especially the competencies of the people.

    Thanks!

  13. Bravo Brandon!

    This is spot on and confirms how important a good list is and the difference it makes in your prospecting efforts. When lists are so bad it shows an inherint disrespect for inside reps- just treating them like data hounds- they are more than that.
    Thx for championing their efforts- with your thought-provoking post.

  14. Bravo Brandon!

    This is spot on and confirms how important a good list is and the difference it makes in your prospecting efforts. When lists are so bad it shows an inherint disrespect for inside reps- just treating them like data hounds- they are more than that.
    Thx for championing their efforts- with your thought-provoking post.

  15. Good point on the analogy of alchemy and lead generation. It’s kind of refreshing to find a strong comparison and contrast like this. I do hope business owners will be able to read this great post.

  16. Good point on the analogy of alchemy and lead generation. It’s kind of refreshing to find a strong comparison and contrast like this. I do hope business owners will be able to read this great post.

  17. Thank you so much for your thoughtful feedback. Norman, Meagan and Kevin – you’ve made some excellent points. It’s good to know that I am not alone in my appreciation of solid data.

  18. Thank you so much for your thoughtful feedback. Norman, Meagan and Kevin – you’ve made some excellent points. It’s good to know that I am not alone in my appreciation of solid data.

  19. i agree that the list provided to the companies for lead generation mostly contains useless data which kills the useful time of workers working in your office for lead generation. As said above there are some software that can be used to check the usage value of any database provided to you.
    And its really sad that they promise to give high quality list but give a garbage list.
    it is against business ethics.

  20. i agree that the list provided to the companies for lead generation mostly contains useless data which kills the useful time of workers working in your office for lead generation. As said above there are some software that can be used to check the usage value of any database provided to you.
    And its really sad that they promise to give high quality list but give a garbage list.
    it is against business ethics.

  21. I cant agree with you more !! This is 100% correct Brandon …

    Data lists plays a very vital role for the upliftment of any company . I am always in need of good data sources but whenever i purchase a list with a 100% exclusive commitment , i figure out that at least 3 other companies have already been using the same file . After years of search , i have realized that the best way to obtain quality data or clients is to make your own landing pages and have the customers contact you directly. I dont think any other way can get you better prospects . More suggestions will be appreciated ..

  22. I cant agree with you more !! This is 100% correct Brandon …

    Data lists plays a very vital role for the upliftment of any company . I am always in need of good data sources but whenever i purchase a list with a 100% exclusive commitment , i figure out that at least 3 other companies have already been using the same file . After years of search , i have realized that the best way to obtain quality data or clients is to make your own landing pages and have the customers contact you directly. I dont think any other way can get you better prospects . More suggestions will be appreciated ..

  23. Thanks Brandon. Indeed lead generation is a complex process, right? I agree that those 3 questions you gave are really crucial in terms of testing your list.

  24. Thanks Brandon. Indeed lead generation is a complex process, right? I agree that those 3 questions you gave are really crucial in terms of testing your list.

  25. So true. You get a bunch of leads that needs to be filtered until you think you have come up with a good list but the truth is, it still needs to be qualified and it takes a while for the inside sales team to generate revenues.

  26. So true. You get a bunch of leads that needs to be filtered until you think you have come up with a good list but the truth is, it still needs to be qualified and it takes a while for the inside sales team to generate revenues.

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