Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
“The leads are weak!” says Shelly.
“The leads are weak; you’re weak,” exclaims Blake from downtown.
This dialogue from Glengarry Glen Ross shows the great struggle that salespeople have when trying to find a qualified lead. The struggle is so prominent that it’s become a pitched battle between management and sales. Management blames the lack of success on bad salespeople, while reps point their fingers at the leads as being the culprit for missing quota.
I am talking specifically about issues of bad data, wrong numbers, old information and names being incorrect. These all waste precious time for sales reps.
It can be extremely difficult to find qualified leads for a cold-calling team or salespeople. Often list providers make grandiose claims about how verified their data is, when in reality it often turns out to be garbage, as in — garbage in, garbage out.
The good news? There are four ways you can get qualified leads for your sales teams.
1. Manually qualify your leads
This is by far the cheapest technique, but it is the most time-consuming process to get a qualified list to make prospecting calls. The basic idea is to look for your prospects on Google and LinkedIn, find a list of companies and then look for the decision makers’ contact information. It can take as long as a week to comb through these sites and build your own highly qualified marketing list.
2. Buy a list from a leads provider
One reason to conduct your entire qualifying process manually is that it takes so much time in the beginning just to get a list of target companies. One way to shorten that process so it’s not so daunting is to buy an inexpensive list from a leads broker. You don’t want to use just any broker, and you must have the right expectations about what you will receive.
Sometimes list providers aren’t right, but it won’t matter too much because you need the C-level decision makers’ names anyway. The advantage is that you are starting with a list of qualified targets.
Related: 3 Cold Calling Tips from Entrepreneur and Podcaster John Lee Dumas
3. Use artificial intelligence to automatically qualify your list
Since nearly all the information we are trying to gather on these prospects is on the internet, why not use AI to get that information and automatically create a qualified marketing list? Some companies have already done this and have become remarkably successful at making this process work for salespeople.
The one caveat is that while this system can save you tons of time, it will take a little bit of training to get it up and running. Also, it is still a good idea to look over the data and verify it so that you have a quality list. This represents an affordable option that most SMBs can fit in their budgets without spending too much money.
Related: How to Get Over the Most Challenging Part of Cold Calling
4. Just pay for a highly qualified list
The simplest way to speed up the process of getting a qualified cold-calling list is to simply pay for a qualified list. List providers I trust, like ZoomInfo, can offer a highly qualified list with all the decision makers’ names, extensions and even the C-level names.
While trustworthy providers can provide a highly qualified list fast, it can be a little pricey. This option, however, allows you to get your cold-calling teams on the phone and productive in the shortest possible time frame.
I have found that many companies use a mix of these techniques and services like a hybrid patchwork of services. No matter which direction you go, any of these options will make your cold-calling reps or salespeople far more efficient.