B2B Sales 101 - Sourcing the right B2B data for prospecting

Leanne Clegg

Aug 27, 2020 • 6.5 min read

If you’re anything like me in a B2B role, you’re constantly inundated with outreach from companies trying to sell you sales and marketing data.

At first, just buying a huge list of potential opportunities who match up to the persona you’re trying to reach might seem appealing.

I mean, why wouldn’t getting 10,000 names and email addresses for the top 1,000 B2B companies in your industry without a whole load of manual work and marketing spend sound like a dream?

Well, that would be because…

  1. The data is probably out of date
  2. You’re contacting them cold
  3. The data is often not GDPR compliant
  4. They probably don’t actually fit your ideal customer profile
  5. It’s not just you who’s bought the list

Therefore, getting data quickly and easily isn’t necessarily as time saving and convenient as you may initially think.

In other words, don’t buy ready-made lists.

1.The data is probably out of date

Unfortunately, many sellers of B2B data don’t expose when the data they’re about to give you was actually curated. They lure you in with a false-sense of hope that you’re going to get a spreadsheet full of the most up-to-date details of a business. But in reality, you often find yourself getting a lot of missing or incomplete details, or completely out of date and inaccurate information (like email addresses and job titles of previous employees).

This just ends up becoming a painful task of contacting incorrect people, getting email bouncebacks and generally being unmotivated that you aren’t making sales.

Data has a short shelf life so it’s important to make sure you’re regularly checking over your lead list to make sure the details are as up-to-date as possible, which is pretty much impossible when you’re given a huge list of 10,000 lines of data that you have to start working through.

By the time you get to the bottom of the list, chances are the ones at the top will be stale once again.

2.You’re contacting them cold

How frustrating is it when you get a call or an email from a company you’ve never heard of? I imagine, like me, you find it very annoying.

These people on the list have, more-than-likely, never heard of your business. They’ve shown no intent on purchasing your product or service, and you do not have any idea whether what you’re offering is actually beneficial to them personally or not.

This doesn’t bode well when you try to contact them. Like you probably would be if the shoe was on the other foot, they get annoyed by unsolicited contact. And, as a result, you’ll probably find that response rates to completely cold contact is particularly low and these people may even block your calls or emails as spam and ruin your reputation.

3.The data is often not GDPR compliant

In May 2018 (in the UK and Europe), GDPR came into practice. Since then, in order to contact people who you’ve not spoken to before, the contact details you use must be publicly available or you must have explicit consent from your contacts to communicate with them.

More often than not, when buying ready-made data lists, there is no indication of where the data has been pulled from and therefore you cannot be sure that it is actually GDPR compliant - leaving you in hot-water and potentially facing legal action.

In addition, because of this lack of consent, if you email people on this list, you may also find that they start to mark your emails as spam. Not only will this will then affect your future emails going into inboxes without being flagged as spam, your email provider may actually close your account, meaning prospects won’t see future emails at a time when they might be ready to buy.

4.They probably don’t actually fit your ideal customer profile

A good salesperson knows what their ideal customer profile (ICP) looks like - this goes beyond just targeting anyone in a specific industry or with a particular job title. They know what their customer needs and problems are, how their product or service benefits the lead and when the best time to reach out is.

The main problem with bought lists, is the lack of all this knowledge. The appeal of getting all these leads in one go can make you forget that just because they’re in the industry you’re working with doesn’t mean they fit your ICP.

We find that it’s much more productive to have fewer, hand-curated leads that are likely to convert based on your current customer habits, than a long list of names and contact information for people who you have no other information on. Let’s face it, where would you start with prospect research for a list this long?

5.It’s not just you who’s bought the list

Yep, that’s right. That curated list from that unknown B2B data company isn’t actually custom-made for your business (not at least most of the time).

They’ve more than likely sent a batch of emails offering that exact same list to you as well as your competitors and beyond.

This already puts these people on the list on the back foot. They’re probably already sick of having marketing email after marketing email landing in their inbox so less likely to listen to you or accept your offer.

How many times have you seen a random email come into your inbox from a company you don’t remember giving your email address and then how many times have you actually opened that email (unless it’s only to unsubscribe). I can guarantee it’s few to none and they go straight in the trash folder. These people on this list are no doubt going to do exactly that.

What does B2B business data include?

B2B data is vital for any outbound sales or account-based marketing. It’s what helps you determine what businesses are a good fit for your product or service.

What business data generally includes and what we believe it should include, are two different things.

The old way of collecting data on leads before starting the sales process included only collecting name, business name, company size and contact details. And then starting the arduous process of calling each name on the list and attempting to get past the gatekeeper.

The new way of collecting data includes actually doing more research on a particular business. This includes finding leads that have a similar business problem to your existing customers and are more susceptible to purchase. You should also be gathering more firmographic data, social data and looking at what’s happening to their business and industry in the news.

It’s about understanding the needs of the prospect before making that initial “cold” call.

Gathering this amount of data and putting the time into this amount of research is more time consuming, but it is a lot more valuable than cold calling someone and becoming demotivated when they do not want to give you the time of day.

B2B data becomes out-dated very quickly. So by cutting down the number of people you’re going to call, and doing more research on a smaller list to qualify them quicker, means you’re less likely to end up with stale data by the time you get to the bottom of the list.

At Ricochet, we appreciate how much effort it does take to gather information to do successful prospecting and sales outreach so we’ve built a completely free browser extension that enables whole sales teams to find all of the business data they need to research and qualify a lead while browsing their website, in just one click. Install it today to start improving your B2B data gathering today.

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