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Who Should I Buy My Prospecting List From?


Ah...the never ending quest for the perfect prospecting list.  I liken AG's search for the ultimate source for a list to Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  A hilariously absurd and blindly optimistic adventure in search of something that doesn't actually exist.  We've had some near misses, but have never found that 100% accurate, 100% relevant source for all things contacts.  We gave up that quest...and you should as well.  It's not out there, no matter how hard you try you are always going to have junk data in your purchased list.  It is a fact of life that a percentage of any list you buy is going to contain contact information that is either old and incorrect or just false.  

Now that you've reached "acceptance" of this fact lets talk about some quick and easy ways to evaluate a potential list partner.

1.  Ask for a small paid trial:  Get them to allow you limited access to their service.  A paid trial is great.  Don't try to get free contacts from them, they work hard and deserve to be compensated accordingly.  That being said, you aren't going to contract for 200,000 contact pulls a year before you've got some idea as to their overall quality.  Pay them for 1000 contacts and require that you get full access to the searching and filtering capabilities within their site.  Don't allow them to send you a sample list.  These are typically the best of the best and won't give you an accurate indication as to what their quality levels are.  Any vendor that will happily give you some limited access for a discount to get a true sample of their quality and overall usability is probably a good one.  This is a sign that they are confident in their own data and search\filtering.

2.  Accuracy Rate:  Get your 1,000 contacts as part of your free trial and load it into your Pinpointe, ACTon or other email marketing solution and hit send.  Run a basic and quick campaign into the list and see what get's kicked back.  If the list is any less than 75% accurate you may want to rethink partnering with them.

3.  How did they "sell" you:  Pay special attention to how you were sold the data and service.  If the salesperson is focusing on their "return policy" for bad contacts, or if they talk about "making good" on bad information, or "giving credit" for inaccurate data I suggest that you move on.  fundamentally I have huge issues with this.  I'm seeking you out as an expert in your field, why are you relying on me to tell you whether or not the data is accurate.  It's an administrative burden on me and my team to figure out which contacts we need "credit" for.  If I'm capable of determining that then why aren't you doing it before you've sold me the data.  Now please keep in mind that I don't expect 100% accuracy and I appreciate the credits for bad data (assuming the accuracy rate is above 75%), just don't sell me with it.  We focus on List vendors that promote their overall cleansing process and data hygene.  We want a partner that is focused on getting all their data above 75% accurate, not one that is focused on giving us credits back when their product isn't up to par.  It's a philosophical thing, but just as important as points 1 and 2 when deciding who to work with. 

That's how we evaluate list vendors.  How do you do it and who are some of your favorite providers?


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