Prospect List Templates: Everything You Need to Know [+ Free Download]

Maddy Martin

Prospecting is often one of the most dreaded parts of a sales or marketing job because it involves so much work upfront. As a result, some companies opt to outsource this step, but if you’re rolling up your sleeves to do it manually, a strong prospect list template will make the process much easier.

Our Smith.ai live agents are experts in outreach campaigns, working from prospect lists our clients send us. We’ve taken what we’ve learned and compiled it into a prospect list template and a sales call checklist that will set you up for prospecting success.

What is a prospect list?

A prospect list consists of businesses and contacts that fit your ideal customer profile. Rarely does it include leads, which are different from prospects because leads have already indicated an interest in your service or product. 

You or your sales or marketing teams will use your prospect list for outbound lead generation. The more complete and targeted it is, the easier it will be for your team to get results from cold calling.

A good prospect list helps you:

  • Reach those likely to make a purchase: Even if the prospect perfectly fits your ideal customer profile, if they lack the means to purchase your product or service, it may not be worth your time to pursue them. Your time would be better spent contacting someone who is ready to make a purchase.
  • Plan pitches effectively: The more data you have in your prospect list, the easier it is for your sales team to tailor a pitch specifically to that customer, making it more likely they’ll be interested.
  • Save time and money by only focusing on quality prospects: By vetting prospects as you assemble your list, you won’t waste your sales team’s time with leads that aren’t a good fit.

What you need before you start

To build an effective, targeted prospect list, you’ll need to do some preliminary work. Doing this work upfront will save you time and money.

1. An understanding of what you’re selling

You should know the ins and outs of your product or service. That means you need to know not only how the product or service is intended to be used, but how clients are actually using it.

Go beyond the basics like pricing information and features. Dig into how the product or service has helped past clients, and look for how it solved their problems. Success stories or unexpected use cases can help a prospect see the value of what you’re selling.

2. An understanding of who you’re selling to

If you’re a startup company, you’ll need to build your ideal client profile (ICP) from scratch based on the product or service you offer. Identify the following:

  • Industry
  • Location (headquarters and potential client base)
  • Size (number of employees)
  • Budget
  • Factors that impact decision-making
  • Pain points
  • Goals and objectives
  • Anything else that might play a role in a prospect signing up for your product or service

Once you’ve completed your ICP, use it to develop a buyer profile, which identifies probable characteristics of the decision-makers you’ll be reaching out to. Knowing this information will help you personalize your pitch accordingly. Consider the following:

  • Job title and salary
  • Age of company
  • Current or recent company initiatives
  • Pain points
  • Any future expansion plans
key features of a strong prospect list

What to include in a prospect list

There is no specific formula for a prospect list because there will likely be variation based on your industry, product/service offering, and company needs. 

However, there are several standard features of a prospect list you’ll want to include:

  • Company name
  • Point of contact name
  • Contact information
  • Time zone (important if you are a national or international company)
  • Notes on anything you can use to help you build a connection with the point of contact
  • Space to take notes during/after a call

To get started, download our prospect list template and make a copy to add your prospect’s information.

download prospect list template

How to build your prospect list

The more care you put into this step of the process, the better and more accurate your results will be.

You have two options for building your prospect list:

  • Outsourcing to a lead generation company
  • Doing it yourself through data automation or manual research

While outsourcing can save you time, digging into the research yourself may make your pitches more effective since you have a better understanding of the prospects. You can also opt to use marketing automation to initially populate your prospect list before manually validating it to save some time.

A good place to start your research is actually with existing clients. First, consider where you can pitch upgrades or add-ons to develop your working relationship further. You can also ask them for referrals or reach out to their partners if they list them on their website.

Next, dig into your competitors. Read their reviews online to find customers who are unhappy with their current products or services and who may be amenable to signing up with you. Even customers who write positive reviews may be open to switching companies if the price is right or if your product or service is better.

Once you’ve learned everything you can about your existing clients and competitors, expand your horizons. Here are a few suggestions for finding new potential customers efficiently:

  • Use social media, especially LinkedIn, to find contact information for companies that need your product or service. This streamlines your search instead of digging through the company’s website.
  • Read prospective clients’ About Us pages to find contact information for points of contact. Even if the person listed isn’t exactly the right person, they’re more likely to get the information to the right person than a general “contact us” email.
  • Attend networking events to find other companies that fit your ICP. By making these connections, any future contacts with the company will be warm leads instead of cold calls.
  • Set up Google Alerts for industry news and brand mentions. For example, if you offer a data security service and you set your Google Alert for companies experiencing a data breach, you’d find companies in desperate need of your services without lifting a finger.
  • Check job listings for hiring sprees. Companies hiring several people in one department may signal an upcoming priority shift, and they may need your product or service to achieve it. If a company is hiring a lot of new employees, it also signals they are investing in growth, which means they may have the budget for your product or service.
  • Follow up with former customers or stalled deals. If they were interested once, they might be interested again, and the timing may be better if the deal stalled due to budget constraints or if the point of contact has changed.
tips for getting the most out of your prospect list

Tips for building a great prospect list

Prospect lists are only as effective as they are accurate. You can have the best sales team in the world, but if they’re working from an inaccurate prospect list, they won’t be able to convert prospects into customers.

Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your prospect list.

Prioritize your list

Prioritize your list based on the value you can provide to the prospect, not the prospects representing the biggest potential contracts. It’s better to focus on the people who need your product versus those who only have a big budget.

Another way to prioritize your list involves using what you know about the prospect’s level of need and potential budget to determine their readiness to purchase. It’s great to talk to heavy hitters, but if they aren’t ready to buy, it’s a waste of time for everyone involved.

Automate what you can

Data in prospect lists can become outdated quickly, so it’s important to automate what you can. For example, if a current client gives you a referral, automate that information to populate your prospect list. You can also automate data removal if a prospect does not respond to prevent you from wasting time reaching out.

Don’t forget to automate emails to prospects as well.

Use your current client roster to refine your ICP and buyer personas

If your business is already established, you should take some time to study your clients, especially those who are happiest with your company, have the biggest deals, and have been around the longest. When you see what those clients have in common, you may find that your biggest and best clients don’t match your initial ICP or buyer personas. Use that knowledge to update them accordingly.

Invest in a robust CRM

Prospect lists consist of a lot of data, and they also generate a lot of data. A robust CRM program will help you stay on top of all that information without devoting too much time to data migration. Always make sure the CRM you select integrates with your pre-existing software.

Make sure you’re prepared 

Even the best prospect list can’t deliver results if you aren’t prepared for the call. Create a sales call checklist to help you and your team make the most out of your time with a prospect. 

Your checklist should cover the following:

  • Reviewing the information in the prospect list
  • Researching the company and your point of contact
  • Establishing a goal for the call
  • Creating a plan to achieve the goal
  • Taking a moment to ready your phone voice

We’ve put together a sales call checklist so you are prepared for any call you make to whoever is on your prospect list, and make notes in our note-taking sheet.

download the sales call checklist

download the note-taking checklist

Outbound calling is a crucial strategy for growing your business, but it can be time-consuming and overwhelming. Use our prospect list template and sales call checklist to make the process easier, or let Smith.ai’s talented live agents take on your outreach campaign so your sales team can focus on what they do best: nurturing leads and closing deals. Book a consultation today to explore how Smith.ai’s outreach campaigns can help your business thrive.

Maddy Martin

Maddy Martin is Smith.ai's VP of Marketing. Over the last 15 years, Maddy has built her expertise and reputation in small-business communications, lead conversion, email marketing, partnerships, and SEO.

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