Love them or hate them, sales prospect lists are here to stay.
The theory behind prospect lists is a good one – instead of spending time and energy on the hard work of prospecting, businesses can purchase or rent lists from third-party providers.
But the reality behind prospect lists is that their contacts are often outdated or unqualified. If you're not careful, an over-reliance on prospect lists can lead to a dysfunctional sales cycle and a significant drop in revenues. It's possible to buy sales prospect lists online and achieve sales success – but you'll need to arm yourself with information before you start shopping.
- Renting vs. buying. The issues involved with renting and buying prospect lists are similar to the issues involved with renting and buying real estate – when you rent an apartment, you have less control over the property than you do when your name is on the deed. Although rented prospect lists are cheaper, you won't receive actual email addresses. Instead, you'll work through the list provider – and that can severely limit your ability to conduct follow-up campaigns with the same list of prospects.
- Cheap = weak. Cheap lists are all over the Internet. Once word gets around that you're interested in buying prospect lists online, you'll receive a steady stream of promotions promising top-tier contacts for pennies on the dollar. But the bottom line is that cheap lists are almost always tired, ineffective lists with high mileage and low potential. Thoroughly vet your list provider before you commit to a purchase.
- Quality list providers. Ideally, you'll want to limit your search to providers with a proven track record of providing lists that contain a large percentage of qualified prospects. References from other sales teams can be useful in narrowing your search to a handful of list providers. However, the real payoff comes from identifying providers that are capable of creating lists based on a range of criteria including company size, current contact information and other categories.
- Right expectations. Due diligence is the name of the game in buying prospect lists online. But no matter how thoroughly you evaluate list providers, don't expect purchased prospects to be as fruitful as the ones you generate in-house. Why? Because your first contact with a purchased list prospect is essentially a cold call. There's a good chance the prospect has never heard of your company or your products. Most in-house prospects, on the other hand, have indicated some level of interest in your brand and are pre-conditioned for engagement by sales team members.