Business Speaker on Compiling Sales Leads
Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a motivational keynote speaker whose topics include the list development and engaging prospective customers. He’s a leading authority on self-employment and the author of Marketing Shortcuts for the Self-Employed (2011, Wiley). The 8th chapter of this award-winning book (2012 Small Business Book Awards) is entitled List of Prospects (in Part 1 of the book: Define Your Business Model) and is included below for your review. The book has a total of 80 short chapters, each ending with an Implementation Checklist. His perspective on mailing lists and sales leads is also summarized below.
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Keynote Speech about Building Mailing Lists
There’s no point in launching a business before you have first compiled an extensive list of prospective people and/or companies you can contact. Many entrepreneurs focus exclusively on the product or service being delivered, and not enough on who will actually buy it. Patrick’s keynote speech is based on doing things in the right order. Businesses can save an enormous amount of time and money by getting their list of prospects in order before launching the business. The good news is that the internet provides a host of resources to do just that without spending a penny. Patrick lays them out in an easy and accessible format.
Chapter 8: List of Prospects
Now that your business is almost ready to launch, who will you call first?
You would be amazed how many businesses try to launch before they have assembled a list of potential prospects. Don’t waste precious time and money attempting to get sales without building a list first. If your customers are all in a single profession, your job is fairly easy. For example, let’s say you plan to sell your product to dentists or auto mechanics or lawyers. You can quickly go to switchboard.com or yellowpages.com and do a search for those keywords. These web sites then offer you a list of categories to refine your search. By selecting a particular category and entering a ZIP zip code, you can immediately get a list of all your prospects in that area.
Of course, the list will probably span multiple pages with only ten 10 listings on each page. But with a little patience, along with the copy and paste functions on your computer, you can transfer all that information into an Excel spreadsheet in an hour or two. In Excel, you can manipulate the data and organize it into different columns or categories. Is it a menial job? Sure. But the list is invaluable; the time spent is well worth it.
I did this back in 2002. I was compiling a list of Escrow escrow Officers officers for my notary business and used switchboard.com to do so. In less than two hours, I had a list of 200 local escrow offices in an Excel spreadsheet with columns for company name, street address, city name, state, zip zip code, phone number, and fax number. Done. That list then determined who I introduced myself to. It became the foundation of my business. As I visited those offices, I collected business cards and added specific contact names for each. I then imported the list into my ACT! software and used that database to manage my business. But it all started with that tedious two-hour copy and paste job!
Here’s another golden secret that will help you as you compile your list of prospects. You may be familiar with a company called InfoUSA. They maintain an enormous database and sell lists to paying customers. As it turns out, you can go to your public library and access a database called ReferenceUSA, a sister company to InfoUSA but one that is paid for by the government. What does that mean? It means you can get for free the exact same data as that InfoUSA sellsfor free. The only downside is that you’re usually restricted to the number of listings you can download in one sitting. Other than that, it’s exactly the same.
ReferenceUSA is an incredibly powerful resource and it doesn’t cost a penny. It’s one of the best kept secrets I’m aware of. Take advantage of it. Schedule an hour to visit your local library and ask the person at the Reference Desk to show you how to access and use itthis resource.
In many cases, you can access it Reference USA from your home computer with a library card number and your last name. Once logged in, you can sort on a variety of different criteria and quickly put a list together that will let you and your business hit the ground running. It’s worth noting that recent budget cuts have reduced the number of libraries providing ReferenceUSA. In the San Francisco Bay Area (where I live), there are only a handful of libraries that still have it. Ask at your local library; if they don’t have it, and they’ll let you know where to go.
Lastly, do a few Google searches for your keywords and the word “directory.” Most industries have public online directories. When I first opened Box14 Financial, a company that liquidated seller financing business notes, I compiled a list of over more than 5,500 business brokers across the country. It only took about four hours—all because I found two online directories and was able to copy and paste the entire list to my own computer. Once you have your list compiled in Excel, import it into your contact management system (like ACT! or Goldmine or Salesforce.com). Growing your business is a lot easier when you have a list of prospects. It’s Compiling the list is a tedious job but you only have to do it once. Set some time aside to do the research. When it’s all done, you’ll be happy you did.
List of Prospects: Implementation Checklist
Search your keywords on switchboard.com.
Search your keywords on yellowpages.com.
Ask for ReferenceUSA at your local library.
Google for your keywords plus “directory.”
Copy and paste the information into Excel.
Organize the data into a series of columns.
Import your prospect list into a contact management system.
Compare notes and ideas with a colleague.
End of chapter – click here to buy the book on Amazon.