easystreetIn sales, the easy street is paved with landmines. Buying lists won’t boost your sales, but referrals will.

Picture a world where we can buy lists of qualified leads and convert each one into a new sale. Better yet, let’s put that podcast under our pillows and awaken to find hundreds of new sales to qualified clients—all of whom then refer us to their colleagues, co-workers, and family. If only it was that easy!

Companies that sell lists of sales leads promise instant access to decision-makers in your target markets. With their lists, these companies imply, you’ll learn more about your prospects before you pick up the phone.

Stop Kidding Yourself—You’re Cold Calling

Lists are not leads. They are names. Period. You might as well open the phone book (if you still have one). In fact, many salespeople report that the information on these lists isn’t even current.

Anytime you contact someone who does not know you and does not expect your call, you’re cold calling—whether by phone, email, or the old-fashioned knock on the door. You’re interrupting that person’s busy day. And you haven’t received a referral introduction from someone the prospect trusts. Why would he talk to you?

I receive daily emails from companies promising lists of qualified leads for me. Qualified? For me? Who says? How do they know? I am the only one who qualifies my prospects.

Do the Work—Get the Referral

Successful salespeople are “make-it-happen” people, and they know that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Think about it: If making sales was as easy as buying lists, wouldn’t we all be retired to exotic islands by now? It’s our job to develop qualified opportunities, not to harbor unrealistic expectations that hot leads magically appear from purchased lists.

Study after study has shown that cold calling doesn’t work. On the other hand, referral selling converts prospects to clients 50 to 70 percent of the time. You do the math.

There’s no easy street in sales. It’s time to walk in a different direction.