Is buying prospect data a good idea?

Wanna talk through how an insight like this can impact your company?


Data is one of the biggest problems facing business development across the spectrum of commercial finance businesses or any business for that matter. Many of our clients, at least at first, don’t have great data on their existing customers, much less the prospect universe. And as your company starts to build a targeted prospecting effort, how many times over the years do you find yourself considering the purchase of data lists? Is it a good idea?

The Negative Nancys.

Every single email marketer on the planet will tell you no. Emphatically no. And from their perspective, they are right. Send a bunch of emails to bad email addresses and the sending server can be “blacklisted” which means almost all emails coming from that server can be banned. That’s really bad. And if you have Canadian contacts in there, forget it. The Canada Anti-Spam Legislation has different email “opt-in/out” requirements and if you mess up the financial consequence could be massive for sending just one email. Just stay away from Canadian email marketing of any kind right now or at least be meticulously cautious.

The academia of marketers will also tell you no. “The best list is one that is cultivated over time by the sales team”, they’ll tell you. Duh. You see they understand the universal truth that great direct marketing works well only if you have great data. They will give you some methods to build a data list over time (which are all really good ideas and we do the same thing). But you need to grow the business…now!

Potential solutions.

We think buying data can be acceptable where no other option exists. (Totally against the ethos of our marketing brethren BTW). That said, there are some best practices to consider:

  1. UCC Data. EDA ain’t cheap, but the data is good. Hunting and pecking off the Secretary of State websites is grueling and doesn’t provide accurate contact records often. Other sources than EDA exist and will work so we recommend you start with UCC data because of the obvious details on secured financing.
  2. Associations. This is a no-brainer many of you miss. Most associations give you full contact records of their membership. If you are looking to pay for data, you might be better off joining the industry association of the target audience. The cost will be similar in many cases to buying data and you can get far more out of the association than a simple excel spreadsheet from a data company. And if you are members of associations and are not leveraging that data…get off your keister.
  3. The data companies. Going to Hoovers, Lead 411, D&B, etc. This can work too, but think of this data as a process. First, buy the data with full contact records. Then divide it up and have your sales team highlight names they might recognize as higher value prospects. Finally, and most importantly, pay for a validation service verify addresses and emails. “But doesn’t the data company already do this?” No. The validation service will weed out the predominate volume of bad contacts and save you from the email/spam police or big bucks in bad mailings.

Buying data can work. Not the optimal state, but really can work. If you ever wanna chat about data and how it can bolster business development, give us a holler.

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