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Why is It Crucial to Have Accurate Prospect Data?

Prospecting new customers is the first step in any company’s sales cycle, and most companies rely on pre-existing prospect data to identify and connect with potential customers. With an assortment of leads, your company will be able to build a sales pipeline that constantly has new customers.

There has never been a time in history when sales and marketing were so data-driven. While in the past salesmen used to show off their Rolodex as a visual representation of the relationships they had built, sales teams are now looking outside their own networks to get the best prospect data. Of course, not all prospect data is good. In a recent Demand Metric study, it was reported that only 40% of B2B organizations have highly accurate data. Therefore, there are two different kinds of sales teams:

The first kind of sales team puts a great deal of time and effort into the gathering, researching, and correcting of their prospect data. The second kind treats data as an afterthought. They tend to work with outdated or incomplete prospect data. I don’t have to tell you that the first kind of sales team will outperform the second kind in almost every situation, purely because of their data policies.

Only 40% of B2B organisations have highly accurate data. Learn more about our self-healing solution right here.

You wouldn’t be an effective salesperson if you didn’t want to outperform your competition, so the issue of data is probably leaving you with a couple of big questions:

Why is it so crucial to have accurate prospect data and what aspects of your sales process will it affect?

In sales, you need to be able to identify your potential buyers with accuracy so that you will be able to contact them in an efficient way. For that reason, accurate prospect data is essential to getting the best results from your outbound campaign. Unfortunately, not all data providers are created equal. Some less scrupulous actors will sell prospect data that is 6 months old, a year old, or even older. So why is that a problem?

Think about your office. Even in those that have low turnovers, you will still see a number of people coming in and out of the company over the year. And of course, high turnover offices will see waves of people regularly changing their jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American will have 12 jobs throughout their career with most working at the same place for less than 5 years.

What these statistics mean is that your average company will potentially have a much different line-up each year. Because of these circumstances, older data is usually at best 70% accurate. There are a few ways in which you will run into problems if 30% of your prospect data is bad.

Older data is usually at best 70% accurate, and data goes stale fast.

The most immediate and obvious implication of poor data is that you are not getting 100% of the prospect data that you paid for. Imagine you bought a sandwich at a deli and when it was handed to you, you found that somebody had bitten off a third of your sandwich. While the thought of that would put off most sandwich buyers, the other implications of bad prospect data would put off any salesperson.

prospect data

  • You waste time working on bad data
    After most sales teams receive their prospect data they work to enrich it. It can mean researching the prospects and their companies or crafting personalized messages to each prospect. Now imagine you did this for a week on data which was 70% accurate. It would mean that the work you did on Thursday afternoon and all day Friday would be unnecessary and pointless.
    And you wouldn’t be alone. IBM estimates that bad data costs the US economy 3.1 trillion dollars every year from the time wasted dealing with it. In other words, bad data is a big expensive waste of time.
  • Bad prospect data will lead to high bounce rates
    Your bounce rate is the number of times your emails get sent back to you by your prospects’ email servers. One of the most common reasons that this can happen is if you send a message to an email address that no longer exists. If it happens enough times, your email domain reputation could be hurt causing your domain to be blacklisted and blocked by spam filters. This takes a while to resolve and would shut down your outbound campaign if it happened.
  • Your team is not able to tailor their pitch accurately
    Let’s say your product solves one problem for a customer with a ten-person team and another problem for a customer with a twenty person team. In order to pitch your prospect accurately, you need to know the exact number of employees they have now, not eight months ago.
  • Inaccurate prospect data can make you look foolish in the eyes of your prospect
    When you personalize your message to your prospect, you try to include information that is relevant to the prospect. This can include using the prospect’s current position in the company or their superior’s name (e.g. “From one Head of Lead Generation to another…” or “I sent a message to your boss John Park…”). Your prospect would be reluctant to have anything to do with you if he got promoted to VP of Sales 7 months ago and you used his old position in your message.

prospect data

  • Outsource prospect data collection to an offshore team
    Outsourced teams can provide you with reasonably good data. Unfortunately, they are not very flexible when it comes to targeting. Additionally, they tend to be much more expensive than a data provider and take a few weeks to deliver.

Find a reliable prospect data provider
A reliable prospect data provider is like a Japanese car: it always works. What is important, you don’t waste any time enriching or verifying bad data and you don’t cause any harm to your domain or message’s reputation. Access to complete and up-to-date data is the only way to make your sales team perform their best.

What to Do After You Prospect Data to Stay Accurate

Even with a reliable prospect data provider, you will need to keep your data up-to-date for all of your clients. While you or provider will give you a list of valuable contacts, it’s always best to keep them in a separate document for your company’s records as well. Here’s how to keep this information accurate and current:

Avoid Duplicates – CRM systems will usually have a plug-in that will automatically remove duplicate contacts that are an exact match. However, what if you have the same contact in there three times but with different phone numbers? Many CRM plug-ins will simply keep adding separate contacts, leading you to have numerous emails or phone numbers for the same person. Try to go through your contact list once a quarter to get rid of any duplicate contacts.

Maintain Multiple Data Points – Far too often, salespeople will enter the most basic possible information while inputting numerous leads. This can lead to them looking at the list a few days (or weeks or months) later and wondering about their history with the contact, if an appointment was scheduled with someone else or even how they were contacted. This is especially useful if multiple people are using the list. Another great aspect of thorough tracking is that you can look at rejections. Remember, just because someone isn’t looking to use you or your company today doesn’t mean they might not be looking a year from now. Most people who reject will tell you exactly why they rejected you as well, which can help you refine your pitch process. While it can feel tedious, look to include the following data points for each contact:

  • Last time and date prospect contacted
  • Who contacted the prospect
  • How your representative contacted the prospect
  • Interaction summary
  • Prospect’s status (denied, completed, pending)
  • Appointment date
  • Follow up requirements, if needed

Limit Who Uses the List – Look, I get that it’s important to share your contact list with your employees and co-workers, but does Pam from accounting really need access? When too many people have access to a list, you are more likely to see inaccurate information included as well as wire crossings. Trust me when I say nothing can ruin a relationship with a prospective client like multiple people contacting them from the same company. It shows them you’re unorganized and not communicating with one another, so why would they want to use you? By limiting how many people can access your prospective client list, you’re avoiding embarrassing errors that could potentially result in the loss of sales and make you look foolish.

Still looking to get a thorough prospect list? Don’t know what to look for in a data-provider? Want to know how to check whether the data is top-notch? You can find answers to both of these questions in our next post.

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Chris Zawisza

Chris Zawisza

Head of Sales @ Growbots - laser-focused on the growth of Growbots’ customer base. Always eager to brainstorm and explore new ideas.