Increasing Salespeople’s Ability to Know “Who To Call”

Let’s face it, most sales and marketing databases are a mess.  Salespeople struggle to make sense of thousands of leads and contacts assigned to them or their territory.

This impacts the salesperson most intensely when it comes to figuring out who they should call to be most productive in generating new business.

Potential leads originate from lots of places:

  • New leads
  • Recent campaigns, newsletters, emails
  • Scheduled tasks and activities
  • Web site traffic and download activity reports
  • Key accounts that are being focused on for new business
  • Current installed base / customers for upsell and cross-sell opportunities

Situational Analysis

With so many sources of potential new leads… what do salespeople do to prioritize who they are going to call?

Sadly, most salespeople resemble a herd of animals aimlessly grazing through the CRM system… continuing to follow the scent of where the most valuable leads might be, but never really having a master plan or an effective way to filter the database.

It seems that most salespeople have been left on their own to effectively navigate the sales database.  This is a huge mistake.  Most salespeople either haven’t been trained or taken the initiative to learn how to build filtered searches, campaign reports or call queues in the CRM system.  For salespeople, it’s like working in huge factory… where the individual parts haven’t been pre-sorted… and the salesperson needs to somehow locate all the raw parts and assemble them into a finished product in an efficient manner.  Where do you start?

Who’s Job Is It To Bring Order to the Chaos?

This area of “who to call” is yet another victim of the gap between sales and marketing.  In most organizations no one “owns” that problem.  No matter what CRM system your company uses… it didn’t come pre-configured with a “who to call” feature.

Many people might argue that this is the role of sales operations.  In most organizations the role of sales operations is focused more on support, basic training and maintenance tasks vs. optimization.  Most sales operations people that I have met come from an administrative background vs. a sales background.  As a result they don’t have the experience to understand the issues of the salesperson or how to best optimize their work environment.

Clearly technical skills with the configuration of the CRM system are a requirement as there can be some “heavy lifting” work involved to get the system configured to support each individual salesperson’s view of the database.  Sales operations should be one of the stakeholders.

But, look beyond technical skills to develop the requirements that will best support your team.  Involve salespeople, sales management and marketing so you can ensure the best outcome as well as covering the bases to make sure that no leads are getting lost and that the leads that are being generated are being properly dispositioned by the sales touches that do occur.

Where To Start?

For organizations that have very little in the way of supporting infrastructure, start with the basics.  Look at where your leads come from and ensure that salespeople can access them.

Ensure that someone in the organization (sales operations) builds and maintains the following as a top priority task:

  • Lead and contact views to support the most desired filtering of the database
  • Activity and task views so salespeople can plan and execute follow ups
  • Campaign reports that deliver your freshest leads to the salespeople in a timely manner

For more advanced organizations using automated marketing systems, lead scoring or web activity tracking, there is great value in integrating this data into a centralized place for salespeople to develop their “who to call” activities.  The introduction of these additional systems further compounds the problem of where to go to get access to “who to call”.  Many of these systems offer their own filtered views of the database.  It is critical that salespeople are trained and monitored in their use of these systems… because too frequently these systems are ignored or perceived as too complicated to use… negating their benefits.

Single System of Record

Centralizing information into a dashboard or single place for each salesperson to conduct their “who to call” activities will offer the following organizational benefits:

  • Time savings – salespeople quit looking for “who to call” and instead work on pre-filtered lists that allow them to quickly prioritize and execute each day’s calling activities
  • Campaign ROI – ensure that your leads get worked… by delivering timely, clear views of the leads from each campaign to each salesperson
  • Calling performance – track calls made, contacts, conversations, etc. against your goals to ensure that calling activities are measuring up to expectation


  • Salespeople waste significant amounts of time figuring out “who to call”
  • Sales and marketing databases are a mess
  • Develop the capability to effectively filter your database so salespeople can call the most promising leads
  • Centralize all of your lead sources (new leads, campaigns, web activity, scheduled follow-ups, etc.) into a single view to simplify the salesperson’s efforts on “who to call”

Bottom line – don’t leave this up to each salesperson.  Your organization owes your salespeople more than that.

For a video on ShadeTree’s “Who to Call” solution click here to watch the video:

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