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One of the questions we are asked most often here at Managed Sales Pros is, “Where can I buy a GOOD prospecting list at a reasonable price?”

Short answer? You can’t buy a good list at a reasonable price. Good data is expensive. Assume any list you purchase through a website download will be at least 30 percent useless. There are a few reasons for this, but fortunately there are a few things you can do to make a better list purchase.

Why so many lists are so terrible

So why are the lists that are readily available on the market so awful? Well, for one, lists are only as accurate as the data that is available. Most of the data is prospect-provided, and human error is high. Companies can only verify data when someone within the company willingly provides the information, and list brokers have the same “get people on the phone” challenges that you do, making it hard to create decent lists.

Some lists are “crowd-sourced” and assign point values to people who willingly upload their lists so that they can, at a later date, download the information that they’re interested in. Once again, human error is high, or information is manufactured. These lists are marginally better, in my opinion, as email addresses and direct extensions are required before a contact will be added to the database.

While “C” level contacts don’t typically turn over at the rate that lower-level contacts do, the data is once again dependent on a third party providing the information. You also run the risk here of connecting with people who are quite surprised and angry that their personal information has ended up online. Most crowd-sourced sites offer an option for people to remove themselves from the database, and people often exercise that option. People might not like being cold called, but they hate the idea of people profiting from their contact information even more.

Another challenge with prospect-provided data is deliberate misrepresentation. People round up their employee numbers to sound like a larger company, and round down their revenue for income reporting.

And finally, if you are searching for leads by vertical, you will have already realized that all companies are assigned an SIC or NAICS classification — a primary and a secondary — and it’s easy to end up with a list full of secondary classifications if you’re not setting your parameters correctly.

What a good list should cost

If you think about how long it would take you to build a good, clean list of 100 prospects from “scratch,” assume it would take the same amount of time for a list broker to do this, so calculate their costs accordingly. Individual contacts, confirmed and verified by phone, with an email address, should cost at minimum $20 per lead. When prospecting, part of the role of the caller is to clean raw data as they dial, so that cost gets built in to their salary or the fee that your sales prospecting firm charges.

We use several list sources. The ones we use most often are:

I don’t prefer any one over the others, but here are some tips to get the most out of your list purchases if you’re buying lists for SMB prospecting as an MSP.

  1. Ask for a sample. Most list brokers will allow you to download some leads for free. Don’t purchase a list before you’ve tested it. And remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true. (If you only want 100 leads at a time, throwaway email addresses will get you plenty of free data!)
  2. Don’t buy lists from random spammers. The big name data brokerages have suitable lists at fair prices and will often replace data if you can prove to them that the data you purchased was poor.
  3. Don’t buy more data than you can use in a month. Sure, it costs a little more to pay as you go, but you don’t need a subscription if you’re only going to make 50 dials a day. Assume that prospecting might be like a gym membership for you. You buy it thinking you’re going to prospect daily, and before you know it, you’ve got a $5,000.00 subscription laying there doing nothing.
  4. Before downloading, check your parameters carefully. We normally eliminate all publicly traded companies and all companies listed as branches or subsidiaries before doing a data pull.
  5. Be careful about getting too granular with your selections. Often, if the prospect didn’t confirm a detail — like revenue, for example — that qualifier won’t be available for the list and will be suppressed from your data pull.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Does this all sound like more work than you want to do?  You can pay someone to build a perfect list for you, and this is your best option if you’ve got the budget to do it. Remember, about $20 per clean lead is what you should expect to pay for good data. Good luck, and happy selling!

Photo Credit: Abductit via Used under CC 2.0 License

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Carrie Simpson

Posted by Carrie Simpson

Carrie Simpson is the founder of Managed Sales Pros, a lead generation firm dedicated to providing new business opportunities for MSPs. Carrie teaches IT firms how to build, manage, and grow their sales pipelines. You can follow Carrie on Twitter @sales_pros and connect with her on LinkedIn. 

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  1. […] Thinking about buying a list?  Read this first! […]


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