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Creating a Winning Sales Prospecting List

Prospecting lists are datasheets filled with the names and contact details of potential customers. These can be mobile contact lists or email lists. B2B sales teams use these lists to contact customers they know will fit their ICP. 

Since these lists contain information on pre-qualified prospects, sales reps are more likely to convert and maintain positive relationships with customers, as opposed to cold calling random numbers at will.  

For B2B prospecting lists to be successful, you’ll need quality, compliant B2B data that’s valid and up to date. This ensures your sales team has all the information they need to succeed.

Additionally, you can enrich your prospecting list with intent data and sales triggers to prioritise in-market prospects.

How to get a prospecting list?

Nowadays, companies use sales prospecting platforms like Cognism Prospector to generate multiple B2B prospecting lists on demand. 

The best way to get prospecting lists is to run company and contact searches in the Cognism web app. You can narrow down the results to specific contact-level criteria (e.g. include or exclude job titles, seniority, departments, and other user details) depending on your ICP.

Why don’t you take a self-guided tour of our platform to see for yourself?👇

Alternatively, if you’re prospecting on LinkedIn, you can get prospect lists using the Cognism browser extension. The plugin works over LinkedIn and Sales Navigator lists and LinkedIn profiles and enriches them with accurate contact data.

Prospecting lists you generate with Cognism are easy to export to your integrated CRM or sales tool (Salesforce, Outreach, etc.).

Sales prospecting technology saves your team time, reduces inefficiencies, and speeds up list-building time.

Here's an example from Director of Sales Development at GWI:

You don’t need to be tech-savvy to use the platform and it seamlessly integrates into the tools you’re using already. Best of all, it delivers fast results. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it
Joshua Silvera, Director of Sales Development
reduction in lead list generation time

Why do companies choose prospect lists from Cognism?


Prospecting lists and compliance

When it comes to B2B sales prospecting lists, many business owners buy leads instead of creating a data list of their own. 

Lead data providers scrape the web to extract contact data for resale and process the large datasets to make them usable. However, some of those vendors provide less reliable prospect data that may contain outdated or personal phone numbers and emails.

If the provider fails to process the collected data in compliance with regulations like GDPR or CCPA, it may put your organisation at legal risk. 

In fact, buying cold call lists or purchasing email lists from unreliable sources can work out to be more trouble than they’re worth. For example, two companies were issued fines totalling £180,000 for using incompliant prospecting data to make 48,000 marketing calls.

What's more, inaccurate prospecting lists waste sales reps’ time and lead to missed opportunities. 

Buying cheap lists for prospecting instead of investing in a prospecting tool might be tempting for businesses with tight budgets.

Fortunately, Cognism provides quality data to create up-to-date, complete, CCPA- and GDPR-compliant prospect lists. Cognism licences are seat-based and suitable for SMBs and enterprises with 20+ SDRs. Cognism pricing allows for:

  • Individual prospecting (with unrestricted viewing and page-level exporting of global data within generous fair use policy).
  • Building and exporting bulk prospect lists with credits for teams with operational workflows.
ROCCI used Cognism’s compliant data to build compliant business lists for prospecting:

Compliance is essential. If Cognism wasn’t compliant, it could land my clients and I in a lot of hot water
ROCI Agency
Frank Whiffen, Founder
click through rates
reply rates

What should a prospect list include?

Your prospect list should combine different information depending on how targeted your approach is. The bare minimum is a combination of contact and account data.

But to prioritise prospects and generate revenue more efficiently, add chronographic and intent data.

Types of data you should include on prospecting list.

That said, your prospect list should include the following:

  • Company name
  • Industry
  • Prospect's name
  • Job title
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Buyer intent data 
  • Selling triggers
  • Technographics

Kelly Services's BDMs enhance their prospecting lists with contextual data to reach out at the right time in prospects' buying journey:

The BDMs conduct their own prospecting by looking at businesses who are actively hiring. Cognism’s intent data plays a key role in identifying these companies. Intent provides them with the ammunition to have a much more tailored, targeted approach.
Kelly Services
UK Sales Enablement Lead
contacts generated with intent data

How to create a successful sales prospecting list?

Keep in mind that developing a sales contact list shouldn’t be slap-and-dash. Rather stick to the following six steps that’ll be sure to support any prospecting plan:

1. Learn your product

2. Build a buyer persona

3. Get a CRM

4. Collect and update your data

5. Create campaigns

6. Score your leads

1. Learn your product backwards

Coming up with a good sales prospecting plan all depends on understanding what you're selling. You need to know how your product can help a customer solve pain points, and in turn, this will inform you of who your ideal customer profile (ICP) is. 

Start by taking a look at your most valuable customers:

👉  Who are they, and why do they enjoy your product? 

If you’re a new SDR, then you’ll need to surpass the basics when it comes to understanding the product you’re selling. Study use cases, watch Gong calls and do a deep dive into success stories. 

A better understanding of your product won’t only do wonders for the way you sell, but it will help you understand what factors drive buyers to make purchases. 

2. Build a buyer persona

Once you understand what you’re selling, you’ll need to establish which prospects are best to target. This will also help you define your sales prospecting list format.

Take everything you’ve learned about your product and define your ideal customer - our TAM calculator can help. 

After this, start researching:

  • Who are these prospects?
  • Where do they work?
  • What roles will be best to reach out to etc.?

Then, create a buyer persona to use when outreaching these sales lead prospects

A well-defined buyer persona not only improves the success of your sales process but also helps you get into the minds and hearts of your customers to understand their needs better. 

3. Invest in a CRM

There’s no formatting rule when building a prospecting list. Anything goes from VCF and CSV files to Excel and Google Sheets. However, having a contact list spreadsheet, while cost-effective, can be time-consuming and result in errors. 

Investing in sales automation like a CRM can help you avoid human error, save time and update and clean your data easily.

Salesforce, Pipedrive and Zoho are some popular CRM software examples.

4. Collect and enrich contact data 

Now, it’s time to start populating your prospecting list for sales development. Start by cleaning your existing B2B contact database by removing any phone numbers and emails that are out of date. 

You can use data enrichment solutions like Cognism or ZoomInfo to fill in missing data and update stale records.

💡Check out this interactive workflow if you need help enhancing Sales Navigator lists.cognism-data-provider-cta

5. Create lead generation campaigns 

Other than investing in a data provider, your prospecting list strategy should include collecting new contacts via B2B marketing campaigns, website forms, webinars, organic SEO, and newsletter sign-ups.

Lead generation campaigns run through paid advertising via lead sources like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google can help you generate the most new contacts.

Be sure to include a CTA that encourages data sharing, such as providing contact details to download a free eBook, guide, or template. 

6. Implement lead scoring

Once you’ve collected enough marketing data through your prospecting activities, analyse and categorise the leads you’ve collected. Then, add the most relevant leads to your sales follow-up prospecting list.

Using lead scoring, you can categorise your sales leads on any factors you think are relevant, such as the level of their intention to buy, the size of the company, the value the account will bring to your business, etc. 

Is creating prospecting lists in Excel worth it?

Using Excel prospecting lists works fine if you need to make a list of names and phone numbers. It's easy to set up, edit  and access. But it's difficult to keep it updated.

Sales prospecting tools that integrate with popular CRMs are the best alternative for Excel spreadsheets. They allow you to automate outreach, keep the prospecting list fresh and remove the need for manual data entry.

Prospecting list checklist

When choosing a prospecting list provider, make sure you check the following:

  • Are they compliant with privacy laws (i.e., GDPR and CCPA)?
  • Do they verify B2B data (especially contact data)?
  • Do they restrict access to their database (geographically, with credits, or otherwise), and how much do they charge for extra data points?
  • What types of data points are available (intent data, sales events triggers, technographics, firmographics)?
  • Are there integrations with leading SDR tools available?
  • Is the setup easy to flatten the learning curve?
  • Is post-purchase support available?

Michael Iannuzzi, Director of Marketing & Sales Development at Drift, speaks about his experience with tech adoption with different providers:

ZoomInfo’s plug-in took approximately 20 seconds to load a lead, and more often than not, the contact details were incorrect. This was a productivity drain. With Cognism, it’s either instant or takes four seconds. The plug-in’s velocity enables quick-fire prospecting allowing our salespeople to get on with what they do best - selling!
Michael Iannuzzi, Director of Marketing & Sales Development
faster prospecting over LinkedIn
in 30 days

SDR prospecting list templates

The best way to create a prospecting list is to use a template. We’ve created two versions to help you get started. 

Right-click and save these sample prospecting lists for when you create your own👇

1. Target prospects list

Target prospecting list template from Cognism

2. Target companies list

Company prospecting list template from Cognism

Need more resources about prospecting?

We’ve collated our best and most entertaining resources for SDRs and sales leaders to access on-demand:

  • Cadences.
  • Objection handling.
  • Cold calling scripts.
  • On-demand training.

SDR Zone features tactical sales content and an original video series that will help you book more meetings, build a better pipeline and take your mind off the day job. 

Check out the Confessions of an SDR series 👇

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