If you are just getting started in a sales career, or restarting one, one of the first things you need to do is make a list. The purpose of a list is to get as many names written down as possible, this will accomplish many things for you. One it gives you confidence to see all the people who might need your services.
There are many schools of thought on the contact list. Some say the more the merrier, others say to only put enough names that you can really invest the time to cultivate the relationships. Personally I say both, make a huge list, get as many with contact information as possible, then score them into "A", "B", and "C" names depending on the level of activity you choose to give them. You only will be investing money on mail or marketing for them maybe once before you choose which ones you invest in, and which ones you market electronically only.
Let's start showing you how to build a big list. Anyone can create a list of a thousand names with enough effort. Keep in mind that there are many names who are not going to be the meat of your list. In this exercise the most important thing is not to prequalify the names, don't decide for them if they should or shouldn't be on your list, don't leave off those who you would be intimidated to call, if you are too intimidated you won't call them anyway so there is nothing to be afraid of putting them down on your list.
Today it is so much easier to build a big list than it used to be due to the Social Media phenomenon. If they are on your Facebook, Myspace, Linked in, or any other Social media site, put them on your list.
Who went to your wedding? The average wedding has two hundred guests, put them down. Your Christmas card list, you Church Directory, who do you work with, have you worked with at each place you have worked, your bowling league, your high school friends, your civic organizations, your clubs, your extended family, put them down. Go through your address books as well on paper, and in your phone and computers.
Some tricks, don't just try to think of people, think of them in groups. If you sit down and try to think of people you will draw a blank, if you think who was in our softball team all their faces appear in your mind. Think of them in context of places and groups and you will find them popping into your head.
Once you exhaust the lists above now is the fun part. Sit down with someone who will help lead you through this part. This is kind of a free association type of exercise. Have your partner take a Yellow Pages and you sit opposite them at the table with a pad of paper and pen. Have them start with the A's like Accountants and you write down everyone you know who is an accountant, or are reminded of by the word. Then one by one, go through every listing of jobs and businesses types from A to Z. So you should have Ambassadors to Zoo Keepers. Again don't prejudge these names, just write them down. Keep in mind, the names on your list may never be a client for you, but might know someone who would.
Once you have your list start working on putting contact information with them. Those from your social media and from your address books should have it already, put it down as you are filling those out. However, on the free association part, don't stop to get the contact information until you have finished the process of creating the names on the list. You don't want the distraction at that point. Fill in the blanks later.
Now that you have the list, you will start looking at it with a more critical eye as to who you want to start contacting and start adjusting the grading on the names. However, it is wise to get word out to as many as you have contact information on to let them know that you are in business, and how they can get with you. I would request an email in hopes at least some would return your outreach with an email to you. You can then capture theirs as well.
When you have a list, it is time to start contacting them. That will be the topic for another blog. However, one of the most important reasons you need a big list is that if you only have a list in your head, or a list of say a dozen people, you will become frozen if you get a handful of noes in a row when you start calling your list. You will naturally start looking at your list and see it half gone and fear if you call more you will be out of business before you start. If however, you get a handful of noes in a row and see hundreds of names still on it you don't care as much. With that said, if you get a handful of noes in a row, I would call a mentor to see if you are saying something wrong and tweak it.
So, get started on a BIG list.