Challenge. Ten key attributes of an effective contact database vendor BUYER S GUIDE TO SELECTING A CONTACT DATABASE VENDOR CONTENTS

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2 CONTENTS Introduction... 2 Challenge... 3 Ten key attributes of an effective contact database vendor Challenge Ten key attributes of an effective contact database vendor 1. Flexibility 2. Accuracy 3. Defined delivery processes 4. Offers demand generation services beyond contact details 5. Strong project management skills - reducing client effort 6. Teaches and supports your staff - training offered 7. Goal-oriented sales approach 8. Presents compelling case studies and recommendations 9. Focus - e.g. generating leads from specific accounts - Experience 10. In house capabilities or trusted partners - Ecosystem Conclusion - Find the contact database vendor that best meets your needs Introduction There are many sources of lists available to marketers. Most come without guarantees of accuracy. The plain fact is that when buying or renting lists from outside vendors, list accuracy is hard to gauge. One study conducted by the Sales and Marketing Institute in 2002 found that over 70% of B2B contacts change some element of their contact information every 12 months. The most frequent change was in title or position (i.e. responsibility), followed by phone number or address change. However, address change was almost as frequent an occurrence. Overall, the analysis indicates a significant error probability - from 40% to 90% for the tested lists - of records associated with outside list acquisition or rental. What is more, the author noted a worsening list accuracy trend between 1995 and 2002, a trend that will likely have only gotten worse since So if you are looking to source a prospect list from an outside vendor, remember - caveat emptor (buyer beware). Many vendors try to get round the problem of accuracy by promising to make up any bad records with new ones from the very large list they offer. Sometimes this works for you, but if the original list is more than a year old, even the "make up" records will likely have errors. Plus if you are trying to penetrate a specific set of target accounts or specific roles, obviously you'll need an accurate contact list to start with. Getting make-up contacts for other accounts or other roles isn't helpful. It's been estimated that between 50 % and 70% of the success of a direct marketing campaign (by mail, or phone) rests on the accuracy of the list used. The best return on investment (ROI) comes from ensuring that your list is as accurate as possible, that it contains enough details (e.g. user roles and titles) to allow for segmentation so that you can target your message more precisely, and that your message and offer is relevant to the target audience and segments you have chosen. Page 2

3 Challenge Lists can be assembled from a wide variety of sources including subscriptions, events, legal filings, company websites, third parties (as in the case of some Internet-based services), telemarketing, industry organizations etc. One problem is that list accuracy declines fairly rapidly, as indicated above, because of job changes and reorganizations etc. A bigger problem is that many list vendors just don't collect the detailed information you need to identify the best targets from within your contact database. Often list vendors will ask contacts about their roles and responsibilities but only at a high level (e.g. "Do you have responsibility or influence over IT purchase decisions?" or "How large is your IT budget?"). In addition, contacts are often encouraged to "embellish" their responsibilities through the offer of a free subscription. If your product is targeted at a specific role within the IT department, e.g. the database administrator or the network operator, then you need Ten Key Attributes of an Effective Contact Database Vendor 1. Flexibility Even with an accurate and up-to-date contact database, the contacts are only valuable if they meet your needs for authority level and decision making responsibility, and if you can segment the list appropriately. Vendors who offer the flexibility to go beyond the standard approach of providing job title, geographic region and decision making authority, and who can work with you to meet your specific project objectives and needs, will likely deliver higher ROI on your end goals. For example, if you have specific target companies in mind, can they deliver a list of appropriate contacts within those companies to meet your needs or do they simply say that their list does contain names of contacts within those companies? Can they take your existing list and update the information within it? Can they segment the list to meet your specific needs? Can they handle your suppression list of existing clients or companies with whom you do not wish to communicate? a) Do you have a way to find the contacts with the roles and responsibilities we need (e.g. VP or C-level contacts) to target or are you just to know who those people are. Other contacts within IT may be irrelevant. Furthermore, typical open rates for mail and messages and success rates for making contact by phone, are in the low single digits, e.g. 1% to 5%. Compound this by sending an irrelevant offer to those that do receive the message and your return on your marketing investment is likely to be very low indeed. Worse still, if you are trying to identify qualified leads for your sales people to follow up, you risk gaining a reputation with sales as an ineffective marketer, by giving them poor quality leads. The challenge then is to access a list that is not only as up to date as possible, but that contains the details necessary for you to execute a relevant and effective campaign that will generate high quality leads. The purpose of this guide is to help you identify the key attributes of an effective contact database vendor. offering access to a standard list? b) If we need additional information or levels of detail about contacts do you have a way to get it? c) Will you work with us to make sure that our goals are met when we use your contact lists? d) Can you help us clean and update our existing contact database? e) Are you able to provide support to help us in executing our campaigns? 2. Accuracy Lists that are sourced from subscription programs or elicited from independent third parties via the Internet are often inaccurate and incomplete. The very process of asking people for their contact information often encourages less than candid input. Most people do not want to be contacted via phone and will give a bogus phone number if forced. In addition, many will provide a personal address rather than their work to avoid being spammed in the office. In general, the larger and more general purpose the list, the more likely is it to contain either inaccuracies or incomplete records for your purpose. In fact, the best Page 3

4 lists are custom built to for a specific purpose. Nevertheless, it is possible to achieve good levels of accuracy and relevancy by starting with a standard list. One approach is to phone-verify each contact. Another is to seek vendors who will guarantee delivery rates. These extra services will increase the cost of list acquisition but the ROI is often better. Super-accurate contact databases reduce waste; names are fresh and s don t bounce. a) How to you verify the accuracy of the records you provide to us? b) What percentage of the records will be delivered with an address? c) What guarantees do you offer with respect to delivery/bounce rates? d) How long are any accuracy guarantees valid? 3. Defined delivery processes For vendors who are simply providing access to an existing, predefined list the process is often very simple. Vendors who wish to help to ensure your success will likely have more robust processes. For example: A set-up process might begin with interviews with key sales and marketing staff. The goal is to understand the key objectives of the project, the lead management process and the roles of the staff involved, as well as your offerings and the attributes that define a strong prospect. The process should include definitions of targets (what kind of companies, what kind of contacts), what qualifies as a good lead/bad lead, how the company current qualifies, how the company expresses its value proposition, etc. A list development process or proven methodology for developing high quality, target market databases drawn from a combination of original research, well maintained master databases, license agreements with other data sources, and lists or targets provided by the client. Optional processes to gain further intelligence about your targeted contacts needs and to produce prequalified leads, e.g. a self-qualifying survey methodology for engaging decision-makers and getting them to discuss their current needs and interest in pursuing further discussions. a) Do you have processes in place to ensure that we get the maximum benefit from using your contact database? b) What process will you go through to develop our contact database or list? c) What other processes do you use to help increase response rates and customer engagement? 4. Offers demand generation services beyond the supply of contact details While it's not necessary for a list vendor to offer additional services, doing so indicates a desire and concern to get you closer to your goals. It also demonstrates a broader understanding of the challenges you face. Vendors who offer additional demand generation services know that your time is limited and that you may need more than just a basic list. Often there's a resource gap that needs to be filled so that leads are followed up in a timely manner, even before they become truly sales qualified. Additional services that can be helpful include: Lead nurturing campaigns (e.g. based on survey responders) Direct mail ( , post) campaign execution and management Telephone appointment setting services Opt-in qualifying surveys a) Beyond list supply and segmentation, what additional lead generation services do you offer? b) How do your opt-in surveys work and what resources do they require? c) What's the process for managing leads? How do we know when leads are ready to be contacted? 5. Has strong project management skills and capabilities Marketing campaigns are rarely simply. They often involve lots of "moving parts". There's never just one Page 4

5 , letter or phone call to make. If you opt for a qualifying survey, survey design and deployment require management, and the coordination of responses, fulfillment of incentives, and lead management and reporting can become resource intensive. If you're like most marketing departments these days you are under staffed, so it's a great help if your vendor can manage a lot of the process for you so that you can focus on the creative side or on sales force liaison. a) What tools do you use to help with project management? b) Will my program have a dedicated project manager? c) What tasks will I be responsible for and what resources will I need to deploy? 6. Teaches and supports your staff - training offered To ensure the smooth running of your program, it's essential that training be available on all processes and systems used. Training need not be a lengthy activity but it will help greatly to make sure that all involved are using a similar vocabulary, that any PC technology needed for input or reporting is well understood and that best practices learning can be shared with your entire team. a) What kind of training is available? b) What does it cover and how long does it take? c) Can it be done virtually or over the phone, or do we have to be physically present? d) Do you do follow-up training after the program to identify and improve best practices? 7. Goal oriented sales approach The simple question to ask yourself is "Are you buying/renting a list or a demand generation service". If the former you'll simply need to know the purchase/rental terms. But if you're interested in having your vendor as a partner who can help you achieve the results you need, you should expect the vendor to use a goal-oriented selling approach during your conversations. Are they concerned to know what your goals and objectives for the program are? Are they looking for ways in which their unique capabilities can not only help, but also provide you with an advantage? Do they use a solution selling approach for their database creation and demand generation services? When they are presenting their capabilities you ll see slides about who they are and what they do, but they should understand that their services are most compelling when they can be seen as potential answers to the business challenges you are facing. They should be asking about the timing and urgency around your program. Other questions they should ask include: How are you being measured? What are the metrics and benchmarks most important to you? Also, what does the size and makeup of your internal team look like? a) Have you worked with clients who have faced similar challenges? b) How does each piece of what you are proposing take aim at my challenges and goals? c) What is the timeframe for achieving these goals, based on the strategy you have in mind/outlined for my business? 8. Presents compelling case studies and recommendations Any vendor truly hell bent on delivering ROI will be eager to show you how they ve done it for others. Ask for this input early on. Case studies should include not just benefits for the end clients, but also results and strategies that summarize the impact of their work. Make sure you consider the core services when looking at these results. Do these case studies cite proof that these guys were able to generate leads from the target accounts? Were there qualified leads that turned into customers and affected the companies' bottom lines? What did previous customers have to say? Ask prospective vendors for references. As long as there isn t a conflict of interest, and a non-compete is Page 5

6 in place, they should have no issues. Award them bonus points if the client they refer to you is actively working with them. Retainer work means the vendor's performance has earned them an ongoing commitment. Key Questions to ask: a) Can you provide case study materials and references from other clients you have worked with? b) What lessons do you plan on applying to our business from success you have achieved for other clients? c) What are the critical success factors when creating an accurate contact database? 9. Focus - e.g. generating leads from specific accounts Does the vendor you are talking with have a sweet spot? If yes, is that sweet spot service or tacticspecific? For example, maybe they ve focused on getting VP and C-Suite contact information for years and gotten great results. Or maybe their expertise is getting the right contacts and contact information in target accounts? Meaning they have developed contact databases for specific lists of target accounts for numerous customers. If they do, look to see if those sweet spots align with the challenges you are facing and goals you identified in the sales process. They should. a) Can you take my list of target accounts and provide a list of contacts that either make or influence decisions regarding the purchase of our solution? b) Can you provide a list of all relevant VP and C-Suite decision makers within enterprise companies in our target geographic region? c) Which aspect of contact database development most distinguishes you from your competition? 10. In house capabilities or trusted partners - Ecosystem Vendors who offer a broader set of services often outsource or leverage trusted partners themselves. This enables them to focus on their core areas of expertise while having the flexibility to expand projects into adjacent areas and to scale up quickly when larger projects arise. And while partnering also benefits their clients, it's important to check out the reputation of partners and to ensure that the project ownership and management remains with the vendor at all times. a) Do you do all your contact database creation work in-house? b) If yes, who on your team specializes in what? c) If no, to whom do you outsource what? And how long have you worked with them? Find the contact database vendor that best meets your needs You're short on the time and manpower needed to execute key marketing programs that will deliver qualified leads to your sales team. Plus you've been asked to find the right contacts and generate leads within a specific set of target accounts. You have a number of programs ready to go but you know that executing them against less expensive but nevertheless, poor quality, lists will result in an inadequate ROI and impact your reputation among sales management. Fortunately, there are vendors who specialize in database development that can help. But like any other partner, make sure there is a good strategic match for the type of goals and challenges you have, as well as the talents of your internal teams and your existing processes. Vendors whose personalities, leaders, skill sets and core values map to the above 10 attributes will be wellpositioned to deliver on their promises. Contact SimplyDIRECT to find out how we can help and take advantage of our offer of 25 free contact records for the titles/roles you need to engage with at five target accounts of your choice. Martha Reid or call SimplyDIRECT has but one goal - Your Success! Page 6

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