Sales Leads: Are You Mining for Gold or Throwing Money Down a Hole?

In a perfect world, customers would simply knock on our doors, ready to buy. In the real world, it takes a combination of sales and marketing tactics to find those customers.
If you’ve ever considered purchasing a list of leads, you know that there are lots of sources out there, and it it’s not always easy to differentiate between their offerings. Simply buying a huge number of contacts for a low(er) price does not necessarily translate into the best bang for your buck.
So how do you find the best source of purchased leads for your particular needs? Many of the more sophisticated vendors like D&B’s Hoover’s, Sales Genie and ZoomInfo offer detailed search features that let you drill down to specific criteria like company size, location, industry, sales, etc. and give you access to a searchable database rather than a single-use mailing list.
ZI_ChipTerry.jpgWe asked ZoomInfo’s Chip Terry, VP and GM of Enterprise Products to give us some tips on what to look for when buying leads, and to share a some details about how ZoomInfo is different.
In the wake of LinkedIn and other tools like Facebook and Plaxo, are services like ZoomInfo and D&B needed less?
ZoomInfo’s products and services are in more demand than ever by small business executives, marketers, recruiters and sales executives. Social media tools such as those listed above offer a means to connect to specific individuals and stay in contact with people you already know, but not identify and target large groups of potential prospects across a specific criteria of characteristics.


It is also important to recognize that the content from most social media sites is user dependent. The amount of information, its accuracy and if it is up-to-date is dependent on the motivation of the person listed. Because ZoomInfo’s database is created by scanning the Internet on a daily basis and finding fresh information on companies and people it is often a more accurate representation of a person or company’s history.
Our customers value the fact that we provide access to passive candidates, critical buyers, and non-tech savvy companies. Some of the best prospects are those who may not have time to regularly update information on a social media site.
What are some ways businesses use a service like ZoomInfo?
ZoomInfo business intelligence enables corporations and executive of all walks of life to improve the efficiency of their sales force, create impactful business-to-business marketing campaigns and recruit top talent.
As an example of this, one of our customers was looking to target CFOs, but it was not enough just get a broad list of CFOs across America. Using ZoomInfo Lists, she was able to first narrow the list down to CFOs in the tech sector, then narrow the list down to one region of the country – Mississippi. Because ZoomInfo uses natural language processing she could take it even further by focusing the list on CFOs who graduated from Ole Miss (University of Mississippi). In the end she had a targeted list of 50 or so CFOs who she had a direct connection to in one area of the country.
Because we crawl the web daily, customers are able to rely on the timeliness of the data. Because we keep the data fresh, the information that we provide is actionable by the customer. This is especially important to finding the buyer, with the right title, the right need, and the right contact information.
One of our customers recently used this feature to identify potential customers who had just been let go by a major financial management company. It is common practice to for financial management companies to require their employees to have their money managed by their employer. Once they leave those employees can switch who manages their money. By identifying targets who had left this institution they were able to identify a very relevant potential customer.
In today’s economic climate, business intelligence is essential to accelerating prospecting, shortening sales cycles and identifying talent. Information is power and we help our customers be more intelligent about their customers, prospects and potential employees.
When looking to purchase lists and find prospective customers, what are some important things one should consider?
There are four things that a business should consider before buying a list – the reliability and freshness of the information, the depth of the profiles, breadth of the coverage, and restrictions on how the list can be used.
Unlike traditional lists, ZoomInfo’s database is constantly being updated – with millions of records being verified, added or updated on a daily basis. We provide our customers with the ability to create targeted marketing campaigns from a CAN-SPAM compliant database of 45 million people and 5 million companies.
We also provide much more than name, title and email address. Our in-depth profiles deliver deep insight into prospects including their career history, educational background and insight into extracurricular business activities and interests, such as board memberships and trade organizations. This allows businesses to create intelligent and highly targeted campaigns, not just send out a blind blast and pray for a response.
Surprisingly, many lists today are very limited in how they can be used both in terms of frequency of use and segmenting the list down into smaller groups of prospects. By using ZoomInfo Lists marketers can email targets as many times as they want over the course of one year, allowing them to nurture prospects over time rather than depending on a single blast to communicate key messages. We also allow selects on over 24 dimensions and we don’t charge for selects—allowing marketers to craft focused campaigns to very specific audiences without incurring additional costs.
Should businesses look to one source for information or buy from several sources, e.g., ZoomInfo & D&B?
It depends on your needs. If you need information on companies outside the English speaking world, or detailed financial information then we recommend working with another supplier alongside Zoominfo. Many of ZoomInfo customers depend solely on our products and services. Others complement ZoomInfo data with the use of social media tools for individual networking or leverage databases such as D&B for its in-depth financial data.
ZoomInfo is also fully integrated with SalesForce. Users of Salesforce can leverage ZoomInfo’s advanced search capabilities from within Salesforce to find and de-dupe new leads, qualify prospects, and enhance and complete the data quality of their existing Salesforce information.
Your press release states that ZoomInfo gives access to intelligence on the under-researched SMB space. Can you explain why these smaller companies are harder to get research on, and how your data is different from the other big list providers?
According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau figures there are 13.5 million small to medium sized businesses in the US with five or more employees, representing a $500 billion marketplace. In the past, because of the limitations of technology and the dependency of business information providers on cold calling companies to build out their databases most of the intelligence available has been on Fortune 500 companies. Finding information about SMB, their employees and practices has been extremely difficult. Companies that sell and market to small and medium businesses have had to rely on word of mouth marketing, blind cold calls and partnership relationships to target this class of business.
Leveraging the combination of ZoomInfo’s semantic search engine and artificial intelligence algorithms, ZoomInfo is uniquely suited to find information on any company that has a website. As a result we offer a much broader segment of the business population. Unlike competing business intelligence solutions, ZoomInfo’s company database includes a significant number of small and medium sized businesses.

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Ramon Ray, Editor & Technology Evangelist, Smallbiztechnology.com . Editor and Founder, Smart Hustle Magazine Full bio at http://www.ramonray.com . Check him out on Google Plus, Twitter or Facebook