How to Build a Free Prospecting List

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So you’ve found yourself in need of a prospecting list.  You are hoping to find a way to start your sales or marketing campaign without breaking the bank. I’m here to let you know that it’s not only possible, it’s also a very effective way to launch your next sales initiative.

Here are some of the most common list generation questions I’ve been asked about building sales lists and starting new sales initiatives.

Can I get a prospecting list for free?

Yes, you can get a prospecting list for free, as long as you’re willing to do a little legwork.

We like to use a tool called Reference USA.  As long as you have a local library card and create an online account, Reference USA allows you to generate all the same lists that a marketing list provider can offer you, except without the hefty price tag.

What kind of extra work will it require from me?

Once logged in, Reference USA allows you to populate a list by selecting demographic criteria. Do you know the job title, region, and SIC code of your target market? Add it to the tool and take a look at the list.

Reference USA provides you with almost everything about a business with one caveat.  If you want the email address of each contact, you will be required to pay.  If you don’t need email, this prospecting list approach works great for those who are looking to do cold calling or even door-to-door sales.

Download speed is the one drawback to getting this list for free. The tool only allows you to download 10 pages at a time, a total of 250 contacts. This can get time-consuming, but if you’re willing to spend the time, it’s worth it in the end.

How up-to-date is a free list?

Reference USA is an affiliate of Info USA, one of the most reputable list generation companies around.  They invest over $20 million every year and dedicate over 350 full-time researchers to ensure that business and consumer records are continuously updated.

While no company can provide 100% accurate contact and list generation data, we’ve found this resource to be one of the most dependable.

How do I get the most value out of a list like this?

Control of search criteria

One of the biggest problems for most people is when they start setting up search criteria, they reach too far outside of the target market. There are millions, and I mean millions, of ways to break down your search. The fewer details you use, the less likely you are to get high-quality records. But the more details you use in your search criteria, the fewer prospects you have to target, potentially limiting your chances of closing new business.

With the use of Reference USA, you are in control of your list search criteria. You can test several searches and see how more or less detail effects the size and quality of your list. I recommend that you use that freedom to your benefit.

Know your target market

Knowing your target market will allow you to be more effective and efficient in the step above. Which companies or prospects have been your best success client stories? If you have always had success with clients who have an annual revenue of 200k to 500k, do not try to search companies with annual revenues between 100k and 1 million. Stick to what has worked and exhaust those records before widening your parameter.

Test different segments

Do not be afraid to omit certain criteria out of the search. Smaller, more precise lists can be attacked quickly.   They allow you to tweak the next search if it proves to be unsuccessful. We like to treat different list segments as small individual call campaigns. We’ll usually run a test with each segment we think could be our ideal prospect segment.  We ask the prospect a few survey questions to gauge pain points, authority on decisions related to the product or service, and whether or not they are in the market for that type of purchase. The outcomes of these surveys help us determine which segments to invest in and which ones to avoid.

So if you’re looking for a cost-effective way to launch your next sales initiative using a prospecting list, I recommend you check out Reference USA.  If you have any questions about the tool, building your prospecting list, or launching your next sales campaign, don’t hesitate to reach out!