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Buying lists as a source for prospecting, either for cold calling or emailing –  is a business-to-business (B2B) lead generation practice that is still in place in today’s corporate world. Why do companies buy lists? Because (1) it is an easy way to access a large number of contacts, (2) it’s been used for a long time, and (3) it’s a very well-known approach. But is buying lists really that effective for generating quality leads? I don’t think so. Here’s why…


Do you pick up the phone every time someone calls you? Or do you pre-screen your calls? Some people direct all incoming calls to voicemail and simply check their messages later. Others have assistants or “gatekeepers”, responsible for filtering calls.  And, sincerely, how many times in the last couple of weeks have you called someone at their office number and they’ve picked up the phone?

And let’s talk about emails. Yes, you can buy lists of emails for cold emailing. If you are in Canada, by now I am sure you are aware that sending multiple cold emails can land you on the wrong side of privacy laws. Emailing someone without their approval can undermine your B2B lead generation efforts, causing you big headaches and risk falling afoul of the law.

I see the value of buying lists as a complement to a more comprehensive lead generation strategy. But relying on buying lists as your company’s main lead generation activities means calling or emailing prospects that have never heard of your company. Hoping for success is a long shot: expensive, time-consuming,  and ineffective – especially when you sell niche products and services.


Three reasons to stay away from buying lists as your main B2B lead generation tool

1 – Targeting a list just because it includes companies of a certain size, a particular industry or someone holds a certain title is not a sign that the people on the list will be good prospects for your business. The problem may not be the list itself, but the criteria used for segmenting it

Most of the time, the list is not detailed enough, and some specific information is required to qualify a lead. Each company has its own criteria for qualifying leads. That means extra work to qualify each of the contacts on the list you buy. Of course you can do it. But it takes an awful amount of time and money to figure out if each of the individuals within the list meets or not your ideal client profile.

2 – People today don’t appreciate someone contacting them out of the blue to try to sell them something they’ve never heard of. Avoiding or ignoring sales calls and emails is now the default practice. If your prospect didn’t give you permission to connect with them, you are simply cold calling and spamming.

3 – Sophisticated spam filters, caller IDs and receptionists are there for a reason. The door only opens to those who are approved to pass through.


The main reasons to build your very own list

There is a solution. A different approach exists.

Companies that sell to B2B niche markets offer a very unique solution, and your company is one of them. After some time in the market, I bet you know your clients’ challenges very well.

How about educating your potential clients instead of trying to sell them right away? How about showing them that you understand their unique challenges? You are the expert, and your potential clients need your insight.

Your knowledge is the natural lure to attract potential clients. You can exchange your expertise – which is highly valuable information – for your prospects contact and qualifying information.

Then you have a natural connection. Buying lists cannot offer this connection.

By generating leads through this exchange of high-quality information for contact information, you will:

  • Reach and identify more targeted leads
  • Engage leads with your solution
  • Grow your list 24/7
  • Have up-to-date information about your prospects
  • Qualify prospects based on your own criteria of what a “quality lead” is, and
  • Position you and your company as an expert in your B2B niche market

It is true that the process for generating leads this way is not as fast as a one-time purchase of contacts. Building your own list takes more time, but the quality of contacts will also be much higher.

Today’s lead generation in B2B companies combines real-time data analytics with modern marketing tools that attract the right audience.

By asking potential clients to raise their hands, with a clear “yes, please contact me, I want to learn more”, companies only connect with the right prospects.  

Buying lists is one of the many marketing tools companies can access to feed their sales pipelines. It’s been a standard and well-known practice for some time. But for those companies ready to innovate and stay up-to-date with modern B2B lead generation tools, there is a better approach to B2B lead generation. Especially if you need to connect with potential clients in global niche markets.   


If you want to learn more about this approach, check out our free strategic guide: “Identify and Reach your B2B Niche Market”.

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