What is bucketing leads?
It’s easy to waste time on the wrong prospecting activities. There are lots of moving parts, and it can be very difficult to effectively manage your time and prioritize leads.
We use a technique called “bucketing leads.” This is how we ensure that we’re always maximizing our prospecting time.
BUCKET 1 – UNCONTACTED
These are people you’ve never spoken with, including both cold outbound leads and new inbound leads who have yet to be researched.
Primary Bucket 1 activities:
- Removing any accounts outside your swimlane
- Attempting to contact leads via phone, email, and social media
- Performing additional research or preparation
BUCKET 2 – WORKING
These leads were researched in Bucket 1 and already have at least one outbound call attempt with a verified dial. A verified dial is when you can confirm that the number associated with that person actually reaches them.
For full-time appointment setters, this bucket should consistently hold at least 100 leads so you have enough people to contact regularly. For full-cycle sales reps or closers trying to supplement their pipeline, this bucket shouldn’t drop below 50 leads.
Primary Bucket 2 activities:
- Calling regularly (as often as multiple times daily) to make contact
- Documenting phone tree path on first attempt (e.g., “Dial 1, then 314, then 1”)
- Continuing with other outreach (email, social, etc.)
BUCKET 3 – PRIORITY
These are the prospects who meet any of the following criteria:
- You spoke with them but couldn’t schedule a meeting.
- They engaged heavily with your email outreach in Bucket 2, but never replied.
- They’re an inbound lead and are in your swimlane.
- They were once in your deal pipeline but failed to close over the last 6-9 months.
The only activity in this bucket is continuing with outreach via phone, email, and social to schedule an appointment.
BUCKET 4 – SCHEDULED
This bucket consists of all upcoming appointments you have scheduled. These prospects are where the money comes from, so you have to watch this bucket like a hawk to ensure that they show up for the meeting.
Primary Bucket 4 activities:
- Confirming any appointments scheduled 1 or more weeks out, during the week the appointment is due
- Confirming all appointments within 12–24 hours via email
- Calling to confirm 2–3 hours before the scheduled time if the prospect doesn’t respond to final email confirmation
If your prospect misses the appointment, put their name back in Bucket 3 until their appointment is rescheduled.
How to Work Buckets
In order to optimize your effectiveness to prioritize leads, you work the bucket system in reverse.
Here’s a typical workflow:
- Bucket 4: Call to confirm any appointments due in the next 2–3 hours not yet confirmed via email.
- Bucket 4: Confirm any appointments due in the next 24 hours via email.
- Bucket 4: Confirm any appointments set more than 1 week out that are due this week.
- Bucket 3: Contact anyone you’ve already spoken with who’s asked to be contacted today.
- Bucket 3: Call through the remaining leads in this bucket.
- Bucket 2: Call through the entire list in this bucket.
- Bucket 1: Call through any leads you’ve already researched.
- Bucket 1: Research all brand-new leads to ensure they’re in your swimlane.
If the only prospecting you do today is confirming tomorrow’s appointments, you’re much better off than if you had started by sending cold emails to brand-new leads in Bucket 1.
We hope this technique helps you prioritize leads better.
Our bucketing leads method is from our book, Outbound Sales, No Fluff. If you want to read more about the fundamentals of sales, you can get a copy below. Or signup for our free tool, UpLevel, and get instant access to our Outbound Sales, No Fluff – The Course playbook! Just login, go to “My Playbooks”, then find Au Partners: Outbound Sales, No Fluff – The Course.