To Buy or Grow Your Own Contacts

Even in the good old days, when the world was stable and hardly anyone had a car or went abroad on vacation, one contact in six vanished every two years. They moved, died, emigrated, got hospitalized, or whatever. Most of the lists were sold by mail order houses on the principle of used cars: while they were still capable of some mileage.

Things haven't gotten better. Cheap lists have a significant proportion of out-dated companies, contacts, and phone numbers. In addition, their poor unsuspecting listees will have been punished by many other uninvited mail order firms.

Lists that claim to be carefully screened come at a premium, sometimes costing 10 or 20 times more than cheaper counterparts. In a good list, almost all the contacts will exist (sellers will normally give you a guarantee as to the efficacy of the list). Furthermore, all the people on the lists will have been contacted, typically within the last three months.

The most reliable lists are those you build up in-house from the following excellent sources:

♦ Previous customers

♦ Respondents to ads

♦ Competition entrants

♦ Tradeshow visitors

♦ Logged telephone inquirers

♦ E-mail newsletters subscribers

However, the combined numbers from all such sources are rarely sufficient.

Sometimes salespeople are good at building up their own additions. More frequently, this is a task for someone else who is particularly good on the phone, but they have to have terrier-like tenacity. Building up a list requires intelligence and patience, takes time, and costs money. Most people find it tiring. Because of the high run-off of energy, some can only cope with it in 30-minute stretches.

Telephoning is a great way to let respondents know that your program exists, particularly if you use the opportunity to simply whet their appetite and refrain from any attempt at selling.

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