Image representing Jigsaw as depicted in Crunc...

Jigsaw is one of the new tools you can use to improve your database of sales prospects (Image: CrunchBase)

It’s tough to sell anything if you don’t know the name of the buyer.  That’s been the problem with Business to Business sales… “prospect databases” are hard to find and are rarely accurate.  People move around and change jobs so rapidly that yesterday’s prospects are today’s wrong numbers.

In an excellent interview, Ruth Stevens of the Columbia Business School says that more than 4% of your business contacts change jobs every month.  Imagine — fully HALF of your prospect database will be worthless at this time next year. 

That’s a pretty good argument for following up rapidly… and for investing in a new breed of collaborative tools, like to help you keep your data up to date.

I recently submitted my entire prospect database to Jigsaw — all 17,200 names — and let them score it against their massive reservoir of business names and contact info.  We invest a huge amount of time keeping our list current, so I expected to find out that my data is pretty clean.  I guess hygiene is relative.  According to Jigsaw, fully 10% of my contacts are in their “Graveyard” — people who have died, retired, or other wise moved on, but for whom no forwarding information is available.  And another 10% have changed their phone numbers since I last contacted them!

I’m now in the process of letting Jigsaw beef up my numbers.  Its unlikely that we’ll ever get 100% perfect, but we will continue to make regular contacts, keep our database current, and seek help from companies like Jigsaw.

Good data is the life blood of sales… And now there is no reason to let your data go bad.  So keep in constant contact with your prospects, or be prepared to pay for someone else to clean up the mess.

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