The three most important factors when evaluating sales intelligence vendors

In a previous post, we wrote about the different channels for building a lead database. Here are the ones that’ll grow your database most quickly:

  • Building lists by managing a team of freelancers (Upwork, Fiverr)
  • Building lists with dedicated tools (ZoomInfo, SalesIntel)
  • Buying lists from lead vendors (Cloudlead, Uplead, Leadiro)

In this post, we’ll share the top 3 factors to consider when selecting your first sales intelligence vendor.

Factor #1: Coverage

Some tools have better coverage than others for certain industries, because of the different methods and public sites they leverage to collect data. For example, a tool like that specializes in DTC brands is generally going to have better coverage of that industry than a generic list-building tool like ZoomInfo.

Also, evaluating coverage goes beyond contact data. You should also think of all the additional data properties that are relevant to you and make sure the tool you onboard has all the relevant data you’ll need. Back to vs. ZoomInfo: offers website traffic, while ZoomInfo does not. If website traffic is part of your ICP criteria, then is a better fit.

Tip: Do a side-by-side comparison – using the same criteria like job title keywords, seniority, company revenue, locations, etc. – of each tool to gauge which one has the better coverage. Lead vendors and freelancers should also be tested for coverage based on their in-house method for lead scraping.

Factor #2: Accuracy

Coverage doesn’t matter if the data is inaccurate. In fact, if something as basic as email address data is inaccurate, this can negatively affect your startup due to poor email deliverability (we’ve seen this time and time again across our clients.) Any sales intelligence vendor will have its fair share of inaccurate email data, so you’ll need to balance coverage with accuracy to determine which tool is best suited for your startup.

Tip: Test a sample list from each vendor and read the fine print. ZoomInfo brags about having 95% email address accuracy, but offers no guarantee; we’ve found it to be closer to 80% for some of the target personas we explored. SalesIntel also flashes the 95% number, but only guarantees it for their human-verified contacts, which make up a fraction of their entire database. On the other hand, Cloudlead – like most other list building services – guarantees 95% email address accuracy for all contacts they send over.

Factor #3: Operational lift

If you’re using a list building service, you’ll likely need to manually upload every list into your database and occasionally perform data QA. If you’re using a tool, some can integrate natively with your CRM or marketing database to streamline the process.

In short, each sales intelligence vendor requires a different level of manual work, which will affect your database growth strategy. Before committing to one vendor, understand the workflow that will be required, and make sure you have the person or the team in place to successfully run it. 

Tip: One person from Marketing should not be the only one evaluating and documenting the demo results of each vendor. Anyone else that will use this tool – usually the Business Development and Sales team – should also be involved in the evaluation process, so they can add their input on the operational lift requirement.

The bottom line

Choosing your next sales intelligence vendor is a big investment, so don’t go with whatever was recommended to you first or what your competitors are using. Conduct thorough research around coverage, data accuracy, and operational lift to successfully choose the tool that works best for your startup.

Tim is a Marketing Director at Blue Seedling, avid surfer, and proud cat dad.

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