Lauren Bailey, president, Factor 8

In my 15 years of inside sales, I’ve noticed that most reps struggle with their approach to managing their book of accounts. To find great opportunities in your accounts, you must be like a miner sifting through rocks looking for gold. Whether you have 300 or 3,000 leads in your book, chances are that only a small percent will be gold, quite a few will be fool’s gold and most will just be rocks. Unfortunately, most reps fit one of these four miner profiles:

  1. If I don’t see the gold on the surface, I throw away the rock
  2. I’m going to carry around all of the rocks in case one might have gold
  3. I’m going to methodically study each rock one at a time
  4. I don’t really have any strategy and I’m calling my book in alphabetical order (ouch!)

Let’s agree right now that option 4 shouldn’t be an option. On the same note, I love using great Web tools, like ZoomInfo, LinkedIn and InsideView, but I recommend only taking the time for this when we smell the gold (Category A and B leads – see below). Finally, scenarios 1 and 2 can work for a while, but only if we have a manager who doesn’t require territory management or a marketing department that buys unlimited leads or drives killer inbound traffic you get credit for. If you agree these aren’t long-term winning strategies, here are some simple ideas to start to more efficiently mining your book for gold:

The quick-sort

This is especially good when you’re first getting started. Make a list of the top five “at-a-glance” attributes of a good lead and then sort your book to make a prioritized call list. Here are a few of my favorite quick-qualifiers: a buying history, multiple decision makers, populated titles and contact numbers, the industry is one in which I have knowledge or the territory is one I like. Voila! Attack your book from the top.

Qualify first

Just like the adage “pay yourself first,” make your first call about qualifying the account instead of trying to reach the decision maker. I promise, this will save you months of wasted dials into accounts with zero gold. The key is to think of two to three easy questions that anyone in the company can answer; these will give you the clues you need. Chances are your qualifiers will have something to do with company size, growth, direction or activity. Phrase your question in a simple and non-threatening way and prepare to ask a receptionist, service or sales rep something like, “How many people work there?” “Do you guys all work in that one location?” “Does everyone have a computer?” It isn’t foolproof, but it’s better than wasting months carrying around worthless rocks (and faster than lots of Web research!).

Now categorize

A good categorization system dictates how hard you work for the gold. Try a simple ABCD system, where A has the highest potential for revenue/profit (however you are compensated) and D is dead. When you’re done with the qualifying call, categorize the account and start working smarter. Sort your book by the qualification category and attempt “A” accounts at least 10 times (and use those Web research tools!), “B” accounts at least six times and “C” accounts at least three times. Remember, on average, inside sales people quit calling decision makers after two to three calls.

Be the smart one who doesn’t throw away the gold and who doesn’t weigh himself down carrying around a bunch of rocks. Happy mining!

ZoomInfo’s profiles of 65 million businesspeople and 6 million businesses include details that can help you find the gold in your account book – including up to 12 year’s-worth of Web references, all in one place. Learn more.

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