For companies looking to launch direct marketing campaigns (whether phone, fax, email, or direct mail), lead prospectors can be a great resource for acquiring contact information for a prospective target market. In Part 1 of this series, I laid out some questions that need to be nailed down before sourcing a lead prospector. In Part 2, I will detail some questions you need to ask when sourcing a prospector. If you have not read Part 1, you may do so by following this link:

   So, once our primary marketing strategy questions are answered, we can start to ask questions specifically about our prospect list purchase.

What information is provided by the prospector?

   Contact information, such as email address and phone number, is critical for delivering your marketing messages. Equally important is demographic information (such as name, title, company, address, etc.) which can be used to help hone in your marketing campaign, effectively delivering your message to the appropriate audience. The more information given, the more precise your targeting can potentially be, allowing you to more efficiently focus your marketing efforts on the people who are most likely to purchase your product or service. Typically, there is a positive relationship between the amount of information provided in the list and the value you can potentially gain from it. Of course, not all demographic information is necessarily going to be particularly valuable to you, so ask potential prospectors for summary overviews of the information provided before sourcing.

How valid is the given information?

   Just because a prospector shows a list of 1,000 Medical Directors with their respective emails does not mean that they possess a list of 1,000 Medical Directors with their respective emails. I have seen lists where 25% of the contacts given were completely invalid. This occurs for a variety of reasons. For example, the contacts’ information may never have been true to begin with, or perhaps contacts switched companies, and the company emails and phone numbers on record are no longer valid. Information (like fruits, vegetables, and nuclear weaponry) has a shelf life, and a good prospector will find ways to ensure bad information is removed from their databases as best as they can. The greater the lengths they go to ensure this, the more valuable their lists are likely to be. Find out the methods prospective prospectors use to ensure their data are valid before sourcing.

How is contact information captured?

   How information is captured and warehoused will largely determine the quality of the information provided. Just because you sent an email to a contact and did not get an error message does not mean that your contact will be receiving your message. It is not uncommon for people to submit junk email addresses to companies that ask for them—email addresses that are technically active but are rarely utilized (you probably have one yourself, don’t you?). The prospectors that provide the highest quality lists capture contact information from a variety of reputable sources to corroborate its accuracy, such as trade publications and organizations, company websites, networking platforms, and social media. Others may even directly engage their contacts regularly to ensure quality—the higher the quality, the higher the value. Be sure to learn what methods potential prospectors use to capture information before sourcing.

Are refunds available for bad information?

   If you are purchasing a list of substantial size, you are inevitably going to have some invalid information. It happens. The question is: are you going to be charged for invalid information? Good prospectors will give refunds for invalid contacts, so make sure that is their policy before sourcing, or at least negotiate the price down beforehand.

Is the information for sale or for lease?

   Contact information is considered proprietary information, and serious legal ramifications can come about if it is misused. Some prospectors will simply sell you the information, and others will allow you to utilize it for a set limit (either by allotted time or times utilized). Do not assume; find out the utilization details from prospective prospectors and decide what makes the most sense for your campaign.

   No matter what you do, there is always going to be a level of uncertainty when purchasing a list of contacts. However, taking these things into consideration will help ensure you are getting the most value out of your list purchases.

 Happy sourcing, everybody!
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Ben Petock

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