The Ultimate Guide to B2B Leads Data
Table of Contents
It doesn’t matter what you’re selling, how much it costs or how strong your B2B customer service is – if businesses don’t know about your product or service, you won’t ever reach successful sales numbers. Sales are the lifeblood of any business, and to increase sales, you must first generate quality leads.
Compiling a leads list is simple in theory, but in practice demands a huge amount of a sales team’s time and resources, and the leads generated aren’t always the ones which will get you the most sales. That’s why more and more businesses are buying B2B leads from verified data vendors, who can provide high-quality sales leads as soon as you need them.
(Click image to enlarge)
With B2B leads, both quality and quantity come into play. If you’ve already got a solid first-party database of leads, you probably also have a clear of what your target audience looks like. Now, you can find data providers offering streams with leads which are similar to this target audience, allowing you to increase the scale of your outreach hugley.
Think about it like this: if you can expand your tried-and-tested prospects lists by 10% using high-quality B2B leads from a data vendor, your sales will increase by 10%, too. Likewise, if your existing leads aren’t giving you the conversion rates you need, then buying leads from a verified B2B vendor can transform your marketing approach, revealing prospects you never knew existed.
Buying more B2B leads is one of the wisest investments a marketer in 2020 can make. We’ve produced this guide to ensure you generate the best leads from the vendor that’s right for your business.
What makes a lead?
B2B leads refer to the information about any organization, or the people who work for the organization, that engages with your company’s advertisements, websites, or products. This information includes B2B contact data (which is usually a list of important names and their role in the company, phone numbers and email addresses), firmographic data (e.g. the vertical the company falls into, its annual revenue etc.) and B2B intent data (are they interested in your product, based on their online behaviour and survey responses).
A combination of these data types will tell you which businesses to contact and how, in order to increase your B2B customer acquisition - and there you have your B2B lead.
What is B2B lead generation?
B2B lead generation is the process where marketers collect B2B prospects and qualify them for a company’s sales team. By ‘qualifying’, we mean organising the information about these prospects into categories, the most basic of which are contact details, business characteristics and intent (the three data types we mentioned above). A highly-qualified B2B lead is a dataset which gives you all of this information. Once a sales team has a highly-qualified lead, they can tailor their outreach campaigns based on what the data tells them about the prospect to achieve the highest conversion rates.
Whether you’re a huge multi-million dollar business or a startup, lead generation is important. It’s especially important for B2B marketing, where sales teams have to compete with huge amounts of web traffic to bring their organization’s product or service to the attention of the right people. B2B lead generation is the first step to securing sales with high-quality clients; in fact, 85% of B2B marketers say that lead generation is their most crucial content marketing goal.
Remember, more leads mean more potential clients. There are tons of methods that B2B businesses use to generate leads. These include:
Email marketing – reaching out to prospects via email
Content marketing – white papers, blog posts, viral content, eNewsletters, videos etc.
Search marketing – gauging intent by looking at what businesses are searching for online
Social media marketing – pop-up and banner ads displayed on relevant platforms like LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator site
Why can it be costly and difficult to generate your own leads?
Maintaining a constant feed of leads demands a huge amount of resources, and relies heavily on constant communication between the marketer and the sales team. B2B leads can also change sporadically: the contact information you have for a buyer in a company may change, the buyer may no longer work there, the prospect you’re targeting may experience a fall in profits which means they’re unlikely to make a purchase from you.
There are also specific pitfalls unique to each of the lead generation methods. For example, email marketing, which on the surface may seem like the most straightforward way of gathering leads, comes with problems if the email addresses are collected manually and aren’t regularly updated. If your company experiences a high rate of undelivered emails, this can damage your sender reputation, which would mean that the emails you send out often land in the recipients’ spam folder.
So, lead generation is only successful when it is timely and meticulous - and, of course, when it’s not diverting vital resources from other aspects of your marketing campaigns. Taking all of these factors into consideration is a mammoth task for a marketer to carry out alone! The best way to ensure that your B2B leads will result in success and growth is to buy sales leads from a B2B data vendor. Verified vendors can provide your business with numerous leads solutions, from lead generation services, to databases of real-time, high-quality leads.
What about the leads you’ve already generated? Enrich them with the B2B leads you buy from a vendor. Enrichment will allow you to see which of the leads you’ve generated are high-quality, and supplementing your first-party data with a third-party B2B lead database gives you increased scale instantly.
Why buy B2B leads?
More targeting opportunities
The more leads you have, the more businesses you have to target. With a wider playing field, you can make sure that your sales are consistent even if your pipeline isn’t being filled up from the top of the sales funnel.. Similarly, buying B2B leads from a vendor can show you buyer intent which you might never have predicted. Knowing where interest in your product or service lies allows you to create new audience models, or add detail to the prospect segments you’ve already created, both of which enhance your CRM strategies.
B2B leads can give you extra information about a prospect which complements the profile of them you’ve already created. If, for example, your first-party intent data shows that a business is interested in your product, referring to a vendor’s B2B leads will let you see exactly how to communicate with them - in other words, which channel of communication to use. Your B2B leads list will give you additional means of contact, both online and offline, so you can integrate email, social media, telemarketing and postal campaigns depending on what the prospect business is responding well to.
Stronger campaign analytics
Data providers have access to vast amounts of raw data that they use to give businesses the most useful and clear insights possible. Analysing a lead generation campaign’s success becomes instantly more targeted, accurate and actionable once third-party data is added to the mix, thanks to the specialized technology these providers have invested in. For example, the client intent signals you’ve gathered can be put into a wider industry context, so you know exactly how far down the purchase funnel your prospect is, and whether they’re a viable lead or not. Again, once you’ve bought your B2B leads, you can continuously monitor which ones are resulting in the most sales. Knowing this can help you devise future campaigns and communication strategies with these leads in mind.
What are the common attributes of B2B leads?
We’ve already seen that a highly-qualified B2B lead is a lead which tells you a business’ contact, firmographic and intent information as a complete data package. Now let’s break these categories down into their more granular attributes:
(Click image to enlarge)
1. Your Contact
When you reach out to the ‘business’, who is the person you’re talking to on the phone or corresponding with via email? Are you communicating with them using the most effective channel? Most importantly, are they in a position to decide whether the business will make a purchase or not?
These are all questions which B2B contact data has the answer to:
- Contact details (their name, email address, phone number, office address)
- Job title (their department, their position in the company and how senior this is)
- Social media accounts integrations
2. Company Profile
This is all information which falls into the data type we call ‘firmographic’. To make sure you have a clear understanding of which kind of organization you’re reaching out to as a lead, take the following characteristics into consideration:
- Company name
- Legal status (public, private, non-profit, NGO, Inc., Llc. )
- Location (region, country, state, city, zip code, address)
- Industry (SIC, GICS, NAIS classification codes)
- Company size (revenue, employees, SME, enterprise)
- Performance (sales, profits, credit rating, website traffic, recent hirings and firings)
- Structure (headquarters, company parents, subsidiaries)
3. The products and services are they interested in
Whatever you’re selling, there has to be enough demand out there for it if your B2B leads are to be converted into sales. B2B intent data analyses how businesses interact with ads and products to gauge what they’re looking for and what they’ll look to buy in future:
- Potential interests
- Ad clicks
- Product pages and website visits
- Social media engagement
- Email link clicks
- Purchase intent signals
- Account activity levels
- Previous purchases
What are the sources of B2B leads?
B2B leads can be gathered from a variety of sources. Some sources work better for some use cases than others; a lot of the time it depends on how far down the purchase funnel your prospect typically goes before deciding to buy. Here’s some of the many ways of discovering businesses which make for promising sales prospects:
Lead Capture Forms
Once you’ve drawn visitors onto your website, you can collect the information which will tell you how they got there, why, and how you can contact them in future using lead capture forms. You can offer visitors different incentives to fill in lead capture forms, like gated content or newsletter subscriptions. The more lead capture forms your visitors fill in, the greater your prospecting opportunities are.
Cookies can tell you a huge amount about a prospect’s intent based on each web page visit, such as the name of the site, products viewed, pages visited, across multiple visits to different webpages. They’re a precise way of ascertaining what prospects are engaging with and which strategies are most effective at converting leads into sales.
Social Media and Company Registries
Data providers have invested a lot into identifying ways to gather lead data at scale. One of these ways that has proven itself effective is web scraping. Data companies have technologies with which they are able to gather information from millions of social media updates and thousands of company registries. Often, these automated means of data collection offer the data provider the chance to bring recency to their datasets, because social media accounts and registers are updated so regularly.
Leads can be collected offline at corporate events. Visitors representing different organizations can be asked to fill in contact pamphlets during registration or the event itself. Including questions about what the business intends to buy and who is responsible for making purchases will give you a selection of solid B2B leads.
Cold calling and direct outreach (via email) can be powerful methods of identifying potential leads.
However, while the information gained this way can be granular and extensive, gathering information in such a manner takes a lot of time and resources and so is not scalable for larger needs. That’s when a B2B leads list from a data provider comes into its own: it eliminates the hundreds of emails and phone calls needed to compile your own leads list.
What are the different types of B2B leads?
B2B leads vary depending on how far they have come in the sales funnel. The level of qualification can be categorized into the following:
a) Information Qualified Lead (IQL)
When a lead is first located, they usually offer their contact details in exchange for useful data or content.
At this stage, we assume that the prospect doesn’t know anything about your business. This kind of lead is known as an Information Qualified Lead. It is regarded as a cold lead.
IQLs are typically directed to a ‘thank you’ or ‘learn more‘ page with a link to another page, with the intention of pushing them further down the sales funnel.
b) Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)
When a business becomes interested in your product or service, they may decide to download data which will tell them more about what you have to offer. If a prospect progresses to this decision stage, then they become a Marketing Qualified Lead.
An MQL is a warm lead. It guides the visitors to the next stage of the purchase journey where the prospect becomes increasingly interested in your company. At the MQL stage, you should think about offering prospects free consultations, trials, and pricing estimates/quotes
c) Sales Ready Lead (SRL)
At this stage, the prospect will request to speak with your company representative, indicating that they’re ready to purchase - the next step in the sales funnel.
d) Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
A Sales Qualified Lead is a hot lead. A lead becomes sales qualified when the sales team has qualified that there is a need for your product or service, that the prospect is actively looking to find a solution, and that this prospect has decision making power in the organization.
So B2B leads can be divided so that they tell you about where the prospect lies in the sales funnel. But this isn’t to say that an IQL is a ‘bad’ lead. To properly understand how useful a data provider’s B2B leads are, other quality checks must be performed.
How can we determine lead quality?
As per Hubspot, 61% of B2B marketers still send all B2B leads directly to sales teams. However, only 27% of them will be qualified for a sales call.
Given the sole purpose of a lead, which is to bring revenue to your business, the data you receive needs to meet the criteria which enables a sale. It’s no use having lots of leads if only a small fraction of them result in a sale.
(Click image to enlarge)
To determine B2B lead quality, we can refer to the BANT formula (Budget, Authority, Need, Timing) which sales teams use to qualify their leads:
Are your services within the price range of the prospects on the lead list?
Does the contact information in the lead refer to someone in the organization with sufficient decision-making power to make a purchase?
Is there a requirement for your product or service? Is there intent?
Perhaps the interest is there, but is the prospect actively looking for a solution like yours at present?
You need to ensure that the B2B leads you receive from your data provider meet the BANT criteria for you to see immediate conversions and ROI. Don’t be fooled by lengthy B2B lead lists - scale doesn’t always equate to quality.
Follow these four steps so that you can measure the quality of any third-party B2B lead:
1. Check provider credibility
Before making any decision to purchase a B2B lead database, it’s crucial that you know what the credentials of the data vendor are. By only purchasing lead information from verified vendors, you can save time and money on verifying the database through a third party tool or building your own list of leads from scratch.
2. Ask for a sample set
Another great way to ensure quality is by asking your vendor for a data sample. Typically, data providers selling large B2B lists will offer samples between 5 and 50 leads to prove that the leads are not fraudulent or outdated. This way, you can test the data in its intended environment and get an estimate of the results it can deliver.
3. Put verification measures in place
Email verification tools can be used to check that your contacts are active and valid - both key quality aspects. In a 3-step process, these tools filter out incorrectly formatted email addresses, confirm the domain name associated with each email, and finally uses SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) to contact the mail server and check whether it can receive messages.
4. Continuously track results
Even after going through with a purchase decision it’s a good idea to continue tracking and benchmarking your sales results, so you can compare the quality of B2B leads from different providers. Going forward, you can then see which B2B lead sources work for your company in terms of creating optimum customer acquisition.
If both the BANT formula and your four-step quality measurement indicate that your leads are indeed high-quality, then you can get to work utilizing them. Let’s see how B2B leads are used in real-world scenarios.
What are B2B leads used for?
Generally speaking, sales and marketing professionals use B2B leads data to track down in-depth information about prospective customers. The relevant departments can quickly find, connect, and engage with the right contacts, enabling them to increase sales and drive growth.
(Click image to enlarge)
There are numerous ways that this works in practice, including:
ABM - Account Based Marketing
You can use B2B lead data to fuel your sales pipelines, learn more about your prospect accounts and help identify companies with high intent.
Whether you’re filling your sales funnel from above, or nurturing your accounts in the middle of the funnel, lead data can help you understand your audience in depth and help craft the right messages.
More importantly, understanding intent through B2B lead data can help your sales teams to prioritize their outreach towards specific accounts.
Making Content Decisions
By buying lead lists marketers can gain a holistic understanding of their B2B audience. Enriching your pre-existing customer database with external data can help you develop the perfect tone and means of communication which will bring the money to your doorstep.
These use cases demonstrate the undeniable power of a B2B leads list to streamline your campaigns and get you the sales you’re after. But of course, B2B leads aren’t without their shortcomings, which we’ll take a look at now.
What are the challenges with B2B leads data?
61% of B2B marketers say that generating B2B leads which result in sales is the most significant challenge for them. This challenge is mainly because businesses lack the time and resources to gather the necessary data about prospective companies which comprise a high-quality B2B lead. This is why more and more B2B marketers are deciding to buy leads.
Here’s some of the common issues we see marketers struggle with - and which can be avoided by buying B2B leads from a data vendor:
a) Outdated and Unreliable Leads
When B2B leads are left dormant for a period of time, as is often the case with leads which a company generates themselves and then fails to update, there’s the chance that the information is outdated, incomplete, or even obsolete.
When buying from a B2B vendor, the risk of this is greatly reduced, but it’s always worth checking that they update their B2B leads lists frequently and programmatically. This way, the lists will reflect changes to the prospect company’s management, organisation of responsibility, accounts, affiliations, and location.
b) Privacy Issues
As with all data types, it’s vital that the data is collected with the proper levels of permission.
With Datarade vendors, you can see immediately which providers have been awarded independent security certificates and which are GDPR and CCPA compliant. Buying B2B leads from these vendors gives you the peace of mind that your campaigns are in accordance with regulation and ethical guidelines.
Now comes the final part of our guide to buying B2B leads: actually buying them! Let’s see how much data providers charge you for high-quality B2B leads lists, and what pricing models they offer.
How is B2B leads data priced?
How B2B leads are priced depends entirely on how large a database you require, and the how highly-qualified the leads offered by the vendor are Remember, it’s always worth investing in quality insights over long lists of mediocre leads!
The pricing models offered by the vendor also vary, too. It’s best to contact them directly for a custom quote. Common pricing models offered by B2B lead providers include:
Price per lead agreement models means the provider will charge you on a per lead basis. This model means you’re free to spread your resources and invest in leads from different B2B lead sources and track the results of each as your campaign develops.
Subscription or Licensing
B2B leads lists can be bought on annual or monthly subscription plans, with the differentiating factor between packages being the number of users or the number of leads you can gain access to per month. The data can often be made available for you to download just minutes after purchasing. Also, after getting B2B leads API access, users are able to use the leads and accompanying data as per their needs.
Vendors can sell you a B2B leads list sufficient to your needs with no obligation to buy from them in future, and without tying you to a subscription. These one-off payments work well for young businesses, or for businesses with limited budgets.
We’ve seen how lead generation is both a blessing and a curse for B2B marketers. It’s probably the most important step to ensuring successful sales, but one of the most difficult and resource-draining stages in the conversion process.
This is why more and more marketers in 2020 are realising the potential of buying B2B leads lists from data vendors. Having all the necessary information about your prospects without having to invest lots of time and money means you’re going to be one step ahead of the competition and experience tangible sales boosts.