Far too often, marketing and sales teams expect qualified leads to proactively find their company’s solution online and raise their hands for help. This strategy can work, especially in today’s digital world. That being said, if you’re looking to achieve exceptional growth, you need to marry inbound and outbound strategies.

In order to do so, many companies are turning to B2B contact databases and providers to help eliminate the guesswork and reach more of the right contacts within their target market.

But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s discuss vendor selection.

Here are four warning signs that lead to sunk costs & headaches when purchasing B2B contact data:

1. Poor free trial results vs. the competition:

Here’s the good news about your looming selection: with a small amount of legwork, you can run your own DIY-style vendor bake-off.

Leading B2B data providers should offer a limited trial to their respective platforms. Here, your buying committee can stage a vendor vs. vendor showdown, in a test to find out which solution offers your business the most relevant contacts in your Total Addressable Market (TAM).

From a usability perspective, the search mechanism within each vendor’s platform should be relatively intuitive and require little-to-no training. Similarly, from a functionality perspective, top-tier vendors should have demographic and firmographic filters within their search tools to help your team drill down with precision or cast a wide net.

Best Practice:

Your buying committee can run the same queries through each vendor’s respective database, then juxtapose the results. If a particular vendor is not returning adequate volume for your needs, then you can cross them off the list. Simple as that.

2. No time stamps on profiles:

Data decay is a real thing. For this reason, vendors should have filters such as “last updated date,” which remove any contacts that have not been validated within a certain time frame from your search results.

Best Practice:

When comparing vendors, make sure to filter contacts that haven’t been validated within the past 12 months. To get even more granular, also check that individual profiles include the specific dates when they were last verified.

3. An incomplete sample file of contacts:

So after completing the free trial stage, your team has narrowed the playing field and wants to engage your shortlist of potential partners. The next step is for the vendors to prepare a list of contacts matching your buyer personas.

There are two ways to accomplish this:

  • Have their delivery teamwork with sales and marketing leadership to establish pre-determined criteria.
  • Have their delivery team analyze your existing customer database to define your organization’s buyer personas and provide contacts matching those demographic and firmographic characteristics.

Either way, upon agreement of this criteria, vendors will provide a masked sample file of contacts for your organization.

Best Practice:

This process should take no more than 24 hours. Anything longer is disconcerting. But what’s more important here, is that your team really takes the time to examine the sample file. Some information will be masked, but the sample file itself should offer critical details about the contact data.

Specifically, you should know whether or not the vendor has direct dials and email addresses for the contacts you’re potentially purchasing. And before you make a decision, take a high-level approach, asking yourselves if the job titles and company names in the file match your expectations.

4. No sample provided for testing:

Many of these engagements involve hundreds of thousands of contacts. Granted, this is the gold that vendors offer, but they should be willing to part ways with a few freebies in order to establish proof of concept and, more importantly, trust.

Best Practice:

This is when you can really gauge quality. Have marketing execute test email campaigns and let your inside sales team reach out via phone.

Success is in your hands:

Make no mistake, there are technical components not covered here. But really, these details don’t matter as much during the selection process. You care about output. Follow the guidelines above, and that output will meet your expectations.

Interested in adding net new, targeted leads to your B2B contact database? ZoomInfo can help.

About the author

Ryan Hadfield

Ryan Hadfield is a content marketing director at ZoomInfo, the leading B2B contact data solution.

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