Outbound prospecting sales teams can be a tremendous asset in terms of growing your sales pipeline. However, they can also represent a significant portion of your overall sales budget. Along with the costs of hiring, training and onboarding prospecting sales teams, they also require another expensive sales management consideration – buying lists of names to call.

While prospecting reps can scour LinkedIn or other sources on the internet to find names to call, lists of names still represents their best chance of actually reaching one of their ideal customer targets and having a productive conversation. One problem? These lists aren’t cheap.

Furthermore, a list might yield only a handful of worthwhile connections that turn into leads, opportunities and eventually deals. This puts an even greater onus on the Sales VP to find lists of names that generate a high return on investment (ROI) and optimize their prospecting team’s calling strategy.

Which takes us to prospecting list source testing, an absolute must for prospecting sales teams looking to analyze their efforts and churn out a more effective and efficient sales process. We recommend implementing a clearly defined list testing strategy. Some of the elements to include in this strategy are:

  • X number of sources a month – You want to test a multitude of different list sources to expand your sample size and draw truly statistically significant findings. Buy several varied lists from different companies. These lists could be segmented by any number of variables, from industry to company demographic to geographic location. The greater number of sources, the more information you can derive.

  • X number of names and calls – If you’re only making 500 calls on a list of just 100 names, chances are that there isn’t enough of a sample size there to produce telling results. Diversify the names that you are reaching out to and make sure that a concerted effort – i.e. X number of calls – has been expended on contacting those names.

  • Threshold of Success – Is the threshold of success on a particular list determined by how many opportunities get sourced from the deal? Maybe the bar is set lower, such as connecting with a certain proportion, or having x number of productive conversations (indicating the quality of the list). Determine what would be the best threshold of success for your team.

Check out this sample list testing matrix below:

Assuming each of these lists cost the same, and all other variables remaining equal (the time spent on each list, the same people working each list), we can safely say that List Source #2 is the most worthwhile spend, by virtue of producing the highest connect rate. In that regard, List Source #3 produced a poor ROI, and likely did not justify the spend on that list.

Diving deeper can produce even more meaningful insights. What if List Source #1 actually led to more deals than List Source #2? Was this a function of better work by your sales rep down the line, or were the names on this list simply better customer fits? What if List Source #2 led to a whole bunch of connects, but those connects ultimately resulted in few meaningful conversations? Without testing, Sales VPs won’t be able to point their team in the right direction, while squeezing the most they can out of their budgets.


Keep testing your prospecting list sources and you will eventually reach a point where you can optimize your team’s efforts. Once you have determined which lists to buy that generate the best ROI, you will improve the efficiency of your prospecting team and see your overall sales success soar.

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