We all know the initial step in the sales process is Prospecting. It is the process of searching for potential customers, clients, or prospects in order to develop new business. The end goal of prospecting is to move prospects through the sales funnel until they eventually convert into revenue-generating customers. A strategic prospecting plan should fit the individual needs of the marketers and it is required to retain customers, grow revenue, and ensure high ROI of the business. When a business starts prospecting, it seeks out potential customers using a variety of prospecting tools in the market. This may include resources that can be found at https://reputation.com/products/insights-actions/, to help gain important insights that can help grow a business.

Nearly all the prospecting tools in the market help businesses to find their companies or prospects that are a perfect fit. But they ignore one important element -” Are they interested in your product or services?” So the prospecting tool must allow the business to find prospects that are a good fit and also those who are interested. This will help sales professionals to convert their prospects into qualified leads quickly and accurately.

Below are some of the well-known prospecting database tools which hold a bulk list of pre-fetched prospects. Let’s have a look at them below

  1. Salesgenie
  2. Hoovers
  3. DiscoverOrg
  4. ZoomInfo
  5. Sales lift
  6. LeadGibbon
  7. Any mail Finder
  8. Find that lead
  9. Toofr
  10. Clearbit

These tools are efficient in providing the essential details of the prospects like name, email and their contact numbers. They are also capable of providing leads ranging from 1000 to 50000 based on the subscription plan we chose. This is quite easy for them because the information they have is pre-fetched and a ready-made one.

The process of getting leads from them is like:

  • Sign up for your desired tool
  • Select your desired subscription plan
  • Make the payment
  • Get the instant prospect list

Looking excited about the list? But you shouldn’t! Here we tell you why!

There are a number of crucial reasons to invest time into growing your targeted prospect list instead of buying one. Buying a list may seem like a quick fix, but in the long run, it will lose money and damage or ruin your business reputation. If you want to reach your right prospects, make sure your prospect lists are properly targeted and have been grown the right way. The time spent building a targeted prospect list will pay off when you have a high-performing list of people. Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t purchase a list (from a database prospecting tool).

1) You Can’t Trust The Quality Of The List:

Unfortunately, the company which sells prospect lists aren’t necessarily very honest. The prospect list we purchase might not have the information of most suitable prospects for the business and they may make all sorts of claims about the list, but there’s a high chance you will find that it has lots of problems, such as:

  • Missing or incomplete data (e.g. incorrect contacts, lack of direct phone numbers)
  • Out-of-date information (individuals or companies that no longer exist)
  • Lack of update (Refreshing the list with a right prospect is necessary)

While it might sound great to get a prospect list of leads ranging from 5,000 or 10,000 overnight, it is going to be pretty worthless if it is an out-of-date list full of junk data made up of people who never wanted to be on the list in the first place.

2) Be Aware – Your Competitor May Have The Same List:

This is the thing which most of the customers fail to consider when buying a prospect list from the vendors. The same list that a company buy is also purchased by their competitors and they are using the same list of users for prospecting. There is a possibility that the people on the prospect list are already frustrated with the number of sales professionals so these prospects are unlikely to be receptive to your offers or service. The reputation of a business seriously gets affected due to this.

3) Pricing Structure Is Not Awesome:

The pricing scheme for many prospecting tools will change based on the size of the list. Intuitively, higher prices presumably make customers less satisfied. Some prospecting tools like DiscoverOrg, Salesgenie whose prices increase exponentially based on the size of your list. We get leads to range from 100 to 50,000 depending on the pricing plan like $49, $99…..$499 per month. We will be getting a lot of leads overnight but when we look at the quality of the prospect list it is not worth the money we spent.

For example, a list of 1,200 leads is basically free; a list of 12,000 leads will cost you more than $1,500 per year. A list of 120,000 leads? That’s nearly $7,000 per year before you’ve even sent a single email to your targeted prospects. These prospecting tools are only interested in money and figuring out ways to trap the customers into contract and auto-renewal of the subscription.
Pricing is far too high for what you get. You were forced due to budget to get the cheapest plan possible, which is still $49/month with a 1-year contract. They will try to force the customers into an annual contract renewal that is not even part of the legal language in the actual contract they sign.

4) Easy With USA, But What About EMEA?

It is very important to segment the prospect list according to geographic, due to the fact that the purchasing behaviour of the customers are influenced by where they live, work etc. So it is advisable to divide our target prospects into segments based on geographical areas such as nations, states, regions, counties, cities or neighbourhoods. Many prospect list building tools are very efficient in providing the prospect lists of US-based geographical location. They work with hundreds of public and proprietary data sources to reach over 98% of the U.S.locations with accuracy and precision. The list can be segmented based on various cities and counties in the USA. The major issue is lack of quality(depth) of leads outside of the US areas.

The EMEA(Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) market is greatly lacking in coverage and struggling to provide prospect list for countries like the UK and all over the world. In specific, these tools are extremely lacking in covering areas like Saudi Arabia, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Norway etc., and also public sector entities. The other issue is the prospect list building tools are deficient in building the prospect list for satellite offices or branches of the companies other than HQ locations.

5) Lack Of Contact Information About SMBs And Startups:

Prospecting tools are capable of providing contact information about big companies but they have only minimal information about SMBs (Small and Mid-sized Business) and high-growth startups. Many SMBs and Startups still lack tools to analyze and score them methodically. These SMBs and startups may be small salons in a city or a destination spa in a street and even a coffee bar. Because it is a good idea for marketers to focus on finding the right type of companies (like Startups, MNC), rather than finding people in certain positions(like CEO, VP). In the process of determining the right prospects for a business, the marketer should focus more on the size of companies and business models than on the people in the companies. For smaller organizations the data provided by prospecting tools like Toofr, Salesgenie and more is always underestimated when it comes to revenue, employees, and any other information.

6) Poor Contract And Refund Policies:

Mostly all the prospecting tools are available only when the customer accepts their contract. The contract period may vary from 6 months to 1 year. With or without having benefit with the leads they provide, the customer wants to be in their contract. If the marketers are not satisfied with the service or didn’t get expected business growth with the leads provided by prospect list vendors, chances for cancelling the contract is a tedious process. At the same time, the refund for those unused leads is not given back properly. Nearly all the customers get fed up with the prospecting tools contract and refund policies. The unpleasant things about them are their customer service, communication and the lack of data/features that we needed to effectively use these tools for prospecting.

Let me use the experience of a marketer who got a bad impression about one of the above-mentioned prospecting tools.

We initially signed up for an annual contract in 2015 and attempted to cancel at the end of our contract in December 2016 but we were informed of an auto-renew clause that kicked in and they would not let us cancel even though we try to do so before or actual renewal date. We informed them that we would not move forward if they kept the auto-renew clause in the contract. After negotiating on the price we decided to remain a customer for 2016. We attempted again to cancel in December 2016 and they again said we were forced into an auto-renewal for 2017 even though I let them know on multiple occasions that we were not okay being in an auto-renewal agreement. They did not send any communication regarding the renewal. The auto-renewal language is not listed in the actual document we signed.

Thus, they are not clear on their contract terms and try to hold you, hostage, when you try to cancel. Their customer service is a nightmare to deal with and they are money-hungry rather than genuinely wishing for your success.

7) UI Is Hard To Follow:

User Interface facilities are complicated in some tools which would make users feel clumsy. Sometimes it is very hard to navigate at times to tailor searches the way you want. Filtering is not very intuitive and not able to download as many exclusive results as we like. For example, If we are using the DiscoverOrg tool, we need to manually export data to Excel sheet, due to their outrageous pricing and year-long contract forcing us into the cheapest plan possible. In their grid view, there are 5 scrollbars on the screen (3 vertical and 2 horizontal)so it is difficult to see all of the data. The mobile interface of some of these tools is not effective because when we zoom in a specific area, we will lose visibility on the top part where the leads are.

8) Latency Issues:

Latency issues are the annoying hurdles in the prospecting tools which the users experience often. Since they maintain a large database of pre-fetched data, the response time is incredibly slow. This particular issue is reported by a maximum number of users which denotes the state of poor user experience in the prospecting tools.

So, how a properly targeted prospect list should be?

On the whole, one should come up with the conclusion that for building up a new business or to boost up the growth of the business, a highly targeted prospect list is mandatory. But the critical part in the prospecting is to find the eminent prospect list builders. Buying a list from prospect list vendors like ZoomInfo, DiscoverOrg and more would certainly ruin your business reputation [due to the above-mentioned drawbacks].

In a prospect list, verification should be done on every checkpoint to ensure your targeted customers are targeted well. A large quantity of prospects delivered in quick-time sounds good, but the quality is important. The complete research on the targeted prospects’ contacts and hand-picking valid prospects in quantity requested by the clients is the right method of building a prospect list. Even basic pieces of information like employee size, annual revenue, direct phone numbers etc, should be accurate and should convert each lead into a profitable one. The list should focus more on global data (better in US locations and also target countries like Saudi Arabia, Bulgaria, and more). The customer service should not be more upsell rather it must be solution-based. Thus, a list which possesses all the above criteria is said to be a properly targeted prospect list and certainly, it would tweak up the business growth.

Finding prospects and buying lists for a business is now easy and inexpensive, but the top issue in prospecting is to qualify leads, focusing on the best and most promising ones, and be able to close sales deals (which is not easy). Undoubtedly, the foundation for any successful marketing campaign is a properly targeted prospect list built by an expert who specializes in prospecting, understands your requirement and makes sure that you get a quality list that is current and updated and helps to reach your targeted prospects in a right time.