Leveraging Lead Data Services for Outbound Prospecting
Expansion-stage software companies have a lot of operational challenges.
There’s management team development, product development strategy, customer experience management and customer retention. The list goes on and on.
A key component of building a company is a great lead generation program, or the creation of prospective consumer interest or inquiry into your products or services. With this foundation in place, further down the road you’ll discover that it’ll break out of its niche of early adopters and devoted customers to take on established incumbents or develop new markets.
Most technology marketers grasp very well the use of both traditional and cutting edge media. Many are well-versed in seamlessly combining outbound marketing methods with inbound marketing methods such as social media marketing, search engine marketing and content marketing, but their efforts are often undermined by the fact that these efforts do not always directly correlate with the growth of “qualified” leads coming to the sales team.
In my opinion, outbound prospecting speeds up the qualification cycles, scales up the sales funnel and generates market waves at the same time. Also, with reliable, comprehensive lead data, outbound prospecting becomes much more predictable and scalable.
Building a successful outbound prospecting campaign requires resources commitment and cooperation between marketing and sales. In the short term though, growing software companies can rely on a variety of lead data services to support their outbound prospecting programs, while internalizing the best practices and people and system required to support it. We also find that the more targeted lead data services are often a better match for such purposes.
The traditional lead providers are Hoovers and Harte-Hanks, and though these sources provide a large pool of leads, the leads are more generic and often require another round of verification and re-segmentation (both lengthy processes) to turn them into truly qualified leads for outbound prospects.
Using list-building companies to collect high-quality leads is an effective yet expensive endeavor. B2B Online provides many positive testimonials advocating lead services, but gives a financial warning as well: “High-octane list-building isn’t for every company or campaign. The cost-per-contact may be 10 times or more than that of merely renting a subscriber list. Weber said a list built using ReachForce, with its intense level of telephone prospect verification, might run up to $25 per contact.”
Still, the benefits may just outweigh the consequences. “[Lead generation services are] an easy way to increase your ROI and get more business on your books. Approach it just like you would any other advertising endeavor, set aside a reasonable budget to test it and see if it works for your business. The key to being successful in lead generation is to brush up on your sales and marketing skills so that the leads you receive convert at a high sales rate. Do not try to approach this method of marketing without the ability to follow through and close the sale.”
Business Week speaks out in favor of lead generation services due to their ability to speed up the sales process: “Some products and services, especially big-ticket items, have longer sales cycles, while others require you to generate higher quantities of traffic to reach certain sales levels, so it’s important to consider the amount of time and energy required to get customers or clients to purchase the product or service. It might also be important for you to start generating income quickly, and certain products and services can take much longer to generate profit than others.”
If you’re convinced, now’s the time to start looking at your options. There are many companies vying to provide you with leads, each attempting to individualize themselves from the rest of the group. Here are the four I find most exciting:
ReachForce separates its services into branches: discover, capture, refresh, relevance and repair, insight, and convert. ReachForce also guarantees 100 percent accuracy (within 30 days of delivery of contacts), so if you find imprecision in their findings, you can get your money back.
Lead411 promises a complete experience by delivering a two-pronged approach to generating leads, which utilizes auto-tech and manual research. Lead411 recently beefed up its database to include 1.4 million executive profiles. It also released “deeper info” and automatic e-mail alerts.
Smarte differentiates itself from the rest of the pack by highlighting its far-reaching capabilities and “Total Solutions,” which compasses a “software plus services approach with unparalleled domain knowledge.” It also pans across global boundaries, language barriers, and “Commercial and non-Commercial Contacts within Enterprise, Small Business and Government.”
NetProspex’s information is crowd-sourced, mostly packed with user contributions. This can provide the most accurate and up-to-date information—assuming that these add-ons are true. To ensure they are, NetProspex analyzes posts using CleneStep technology. NetProspex recently announced a partnership with Demandbase to create a database of over 20 million contacts.
In combination with inbound prospecting, outbound prospecting can bolster your business connections, create more brand awareness, and build valuable leads.
Photo by: Kamil Porembinski