How to select the right B2B contact data provider in 6 steps

b2b contact data provider

Don’t like hopping around and renegotiating with different B2B contact data provider every now and then? Read on, this post is for you.

B2B contact data is the backbone of any outreach campaign be it cold emails, cold calls or social. Although accurate and targeted data helps in generating qualified leads, building accurate contacts lists is a time-consuming process. 

As per 2018 Salesforce State of Sales report, 50% of sales reps feel they spend way too much time finding the right contact information.

Hence, the right B2B contact data provider can take on the hard work leaving your team free to do the most productive task, i.e. reaching out to prospects and closing deals.

On the outside, all contact data providers may look equal but some may be more equal than others for your specific use case. They should be able to work with you as business partners rather than mere providers of contact information.

Here are the 6 steps you can follow to select the right b2b contact data provider for your company.

Step 1 - Define your lead generation process 

First, you need to work with all your internal stakeholders - outbound sales reps, inside sales team, and marketing team to identify how your lead generation process will be set up. 

Consider these key points in your discussion

  • Work out a well defined Ideal customer profile on which everyone is aligned. You can have a few variations to find the sweet spot.
  • Decide what channels you will be targeting for lead generation activities. Your ideal customer profile will give you an idea as to where your prospects are spending most of their time. If they are active on emails reach them via emails or if they are more responsive on phone call them.
  • Based on the above two define what data points you need to get started. For example, do you also need extra information like funding, hiring, management changes to qualify companies over and above the basic contact information?

This will help you in deciding 

  • Whether you actually need an outside B2B contact data provider depending on how niche or broad your requirements are.
  • How closely different contact data providers are able to align with your process in the long term.

Step 2 - Define key KPI’s to measure ROI  

Defining key KPI’s from the start will help you in measuring the ROI of your investment and understanding whether it is cost-effective in the long run to keep outsourcing contact list building to an external partner or not.

It also aligns all the stakeholders towards utilizing the data effectively and set up a consumption rate. 

To define the KPI’s work backward by first defining the number of leads you need to generate to reach your revenue goal. 

For e.g. Let’s say you are planning to run a cold email campaign and your objective is to get around 100 positive responses to fill up the pipeline of your sales team of 4.

Now set a starting value for 

  • Open rates, 
  • Response rates and 
  • Positive response rates you plan to achieve 

Based on above calculate the total number of contacts you need to procure.

calculation of contacts required for cold email campaign

Monitoring KPI’s will help you -  

  • Understand which contact data provider would be able to provide you with not only accurate contacts but contacts matching your customer profile to achieve the desired response rates. 
  • In assessing whether data provider is flexible enough should your requirements change depending on your key performance indicators.

Step 3 - Cost Comparison

Compare the cost of building prospect list in-house vs the cost of outsourcing.

Consider the following factors while doing your calculation, you can add more scenarios depending on how your team is currently building their contacts list.

cost calculator

You can access the Spreadsheet and run calculations to your specific use case.

Step 4 - Quantity of Data

Quantity of data available with any vendor would directly affect the speed, scale, and flexibility with which you can run your lead generation campaigns. 

Apart from the overall size of the database of companies and contacts consider following factors 

  • How fast are they able to scale their database i.e. number of new contacts they are able to add to their database on an average monthly basis.
  • Amount of flexibility you would have going forward in case you plan to expand your lead generation campaigns to new geographies. How much of your total addressable market can they cover?
  • Turn around time i.e. how fast are they able to provide data on the basis of your requirements.  
  • Flexibility in terms of excluding what you already have and only paying for new contacts?

A single data provider will not be able to cover your complete TAM w.r.t. geographies, in such a scenario, consider multiple vendors combining their individual geographic strength.

Step 5 - Quality of Data

Assess the quality of data as per your specific use cases and remember it goes beyond just the accuracy of email and phone numbers. 

A data vendor should be able to match your complete criteria in terms of - 

  • Type of companies you want to target 
    • Size
    • Revenue
    • Industry
  • Type of decision-makers
    • Titles
    • Seniority

For e.g., If you are getting correct emails and phone numbers of Marketing managers and your target are Marketing heads you are still hitting off the mark.

Additional key points you can consider while assessing the quality -

  • How data is processed, do they pull contacts out of static lists or do they run real-time processes for verifying contacts? Real-time processing almost always ensures 5-10% better accuracy. 

For e.g. At Easyleadz we build fresh contacts list on the basis of target requirements and run real-time verification of emails which enables us to commit 90% accuracy on our data.

  • The number of data points included in the data set. For e.g. do they provide additional information about companies like Funding, Hiring or Social profiles for contacts which can be used for running multi-touch campaigns.
  • Ask for the source of data and how often it is validated. Based on the sources and how frequently it is validated you will get an idea of how accurate data can be. 

As per Marketing Sherpa research, B2B data decays by 2.1% every month and turnover is higher for middle management compared to the top management

Depending on how fast any data vendor validates its database, will give you an indication of overall accuracy. 

  • Finally test whatever any data vendor is claiming by asking for a sample of contacts for your quality check, if they don’t provide one, it's a big red flag.

Step 6 - Pricing and SLA’s

All said and done Pricing is going to play a huge role in your decision to go or not go with a data vendor. 

While how affordable any data vendor is will be driven by the budget at your disposal, still you can look at the structure of pricing contracts.

You can ask the following questions

Are they asking you for upfront commitment with long term contacts although the price per unit may be low or 

Do you have the flexibility of paying on the go and scaling up and down as per your requirements?

It makes more sense to pay a reasonable premium for higher accuracy instead of getting more contacts for less or the same price. 

Understand different SLA’s (Service level agreements) any data vendor operates with. For example  - 

  • How much accuracy are they willing to commit upfront.
  • How fast do they replace bad contacts beyond the committed accuracy limit?
  • Is there a refund available in case of non-fulfillment.

In conclusion, you should spend time in bringing on board a partner who can work alongside you, understanding your needs and willing to invest in your success rather than simply providing you a database of contacts.

Here is what to do next

  • Tell us how has been your experience of working with contact data providers.