How to Build a Highly Targeted Prospect List

The foundation of any successful sales / marketing campaign is a quality list. Regardless of where you obtained your list, chances are it still needs further pre-qualification. Most lists allow you to narrow down your search criteria to specific industry and geographical sectors or, size by revenue / number of employees; however, to ensure that you have a properly targeted prospect list that offers a high rate of sales conversion you will need to do a little extra work.


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    What makes a quality list? The answer is simple; a company that fits your ideal prospect profile. What is an ideal prospect profile? Look at your existing client base – what commonalities do they share?
    • They either already identified a need for your type of product or service (your offering), they had a budget and were ready to buy or,
    • You ‘pitched’ your offering and they realized that the return on investment (ROI) in this type of product or service would be substantiated and decided to buy from your company
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    Develop a series of questions you would ask a company to identify if they fit your ideal prospect profile: This information is crucial to identifying new business opportunities and maintaining a sales advantage. The questions you develop can be drilled down to specifics relating to your own particular metrics. However, for the purpose of this exercise, we shall be a company who sells a controls solution that drives down energy costs through improved efficiency. Among other things, we are looking for companies who own their commercial building and that their facility is a minimum of 10,000 square feet:
    • Questions to ask about their company:
      • Do you own your building?
      • How many square feet is your facility?
      • Who are the key decision makers and influencers?
      • Does a parent company have any influence over purchasing decisions?
      • Do you have other locations that you are responsible for, if yes how many and what is their square footage?
    • Questions that relate to your particular offering & identifying opportunity:
      • Do you have any existing control solutions (if they answer yes continue otherwise jump to next question…)
      • What system do you have in place?
      • How many years ago did you install it?
      • Do you have a mandate further reduce energy consumption?
      • Do you have a time-frame for meeting those objectives / budget provision?
    • Questions that relate to your particular offering & identifying opportunity / alternative:
      • Do you have any existing control solutions (if the answer is no)?
      • Would you like to see a reduction in your utility costs?
      • Do you have a corporate mandate to reduce utility costs?
      • Do you have a time-frame for meeting those objectives?
    • Key eliminator questions - The make or break questions:
      • Based on the answers to these questions alone, you could literally stop and move to the next prospect (if using our example, a company does not own their facility or, has less than 10,000 sq. ft.).
      • Do you have any key eliminator questions that would determine whether a prospect should stay or be removed from your target list? If so, they should be the first questions you ask – you will save a lot of time and more importantly, wasted marketing dollars selling to companies that do not fit your ideal prospect profile.
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    • The information that you gather through this exercise is invaluable insight into who your key target prospects are, which companies may require nurturing over the longer term before an opportunity presents itself and those that do not qualify. By prioritizing your prospects, you will know where you should be focusing your attention over the next 6-12 months / 12-24 months / 2 years and beyond.
    • And remember, you do not have to speak to the key decision maker to get the answers to your questions. Often, information can be effectively obtained lower down the food chain within the appropriate department. This tactic is highly effective twofold:
      • It will significantly increase your productivity as key decision makers can be notoriously difficult to get hold of.
      • In addition, when you finally do get through to the decision maker you will be armed with pertinent knowledge of their existing setup and potential opportunities.


  1. Start by flagging the prospects in your database that you have not spoken to in over a year.2
  2. Make a commitment to pre-qualifying a minimum of 10 prospects per week.
  3. Flag those companies that you think offer a sales opportunity for immediate or future follow-up.

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Categories: Marketing | Sales