You just acquired a list of names, phone numbers, and email addresses.

Time to plan your next marketing campaign, or start prospecting into your top accounts!

But hold on.

Take a deep breath.

Where did this lead list come from?

You’ve been in sales and marketing long enough to know it’s never quite that easy.

You know a lot of those phone numbers are probably wrong, that many of those email addresses will likely bounce because people change jobs so frequently. You know a lot of target prospects don’t really have those job titles. The horrors of bad lead lists are endless.

Marketing and sales intelligence is different: It’s more than just data. Think of it like a college textbook: They are are constantly being updated. Why? Because time has an effect on data. Marketing and sales data is no different; it also needs to be constantly refreshed to be accurate. The intelligence aspect adds context, such as funding events and employee turnover – plus predictive features.

Are you new to marketing and sales intelligence… or not sure why you should care? Here’s an introduction.


Join us as we examine 7 specific ways that this kind of intelligence impacts marketing and sales processes. First, we’ll take a deep dive into next-level data quality and management.

… or skip our 7-part blog series and go straight our new ebook: The Power of Marketing and Sales Intelligence – 7 Ways to Fuel Faster Growth.

How do you measure data quality?

We like DAMA UK’s six parameters for data quality:

  1. Completeness: Is the company, contact, or prospect record as complete as possible?
  2. Uniqueness: Are there duplicate records? Can records be combined?
  3. Timeliness: Is the data fresh? Has it been recently confirmed?
  4. Validity: Does the data conform to a common syntax? (e.g. “ave.” vs. “avenue”)
  5. Accuracy: Is the information correct?
  6. Consistency: Is the data presented in a way that is the same as similar records?

Which B2B buyers like salespeople

While ensuring data quality is the responsibility of a good data provider, ultimately the end user is affected – plus everyone involved downstream, such as prospects. (DiscoverOrg’s data is guaranteed to be 95% accurate.)

The foundation of sales and marketing is quality data. If it’s not, it should be. At the very least, sales and marketers need to know who to call and how to reach them.

Most data providers offer the basics like employee count, revenue, direct dial numbers, email addresses, and job titles.

But intelligence solutions do the basics better – and go a few steps beyond. They look for in-depth information like org charts, financials, budgets, year-over-year growth, company initiatives, personnel moves, technology installs, and who manage those technologies.

Even more valuable are insights into potential opportunities, such as planned projects, purchase initiatives, and predictive insights about topics or solutions of interest that tell you who is ready to buy, and when.

What is data quality, and why is it important for sales and marketing?

You may think that a motivated sales team can easily conduct manual data mining by searching job titles and company info via Google or LinkedIn. This is a valiant undertaking; however, it is ultimately extremely time-consuming for team members with the primary objective of closing business or scheduling appointments with prospects.

Just because sales isn’t the right team to source intelligence doesn’t mean people shouldn’t be involved in the research.


Quality sales and marketing intelligence is not simply web-scraped or crowdsourced.

buyers want a connection with sales

It is data that experienced researchers personally curate and verify, collecting valuable information

about strategic initiatives and pain points in the process.

The human element gives the data an unmatched level of insight, depth, and accuracy that no web bot can provide.

Following are some of the challenges a reliable intelligence provider can help you overcome.

Get our 2017 Growth Drivers Report: What Does it Take to be a High-Growth Company?

1. Sloppy databases are a waste of time

How many contacts, notes, and valuable pieces of information does your CRM or Marketing Automation tool hold? You rely on it to pull lists, look up contacts, track opportunities, and more.

But 30% of that data goes bad each year. If your intel isn’t up to par, it will sabotage your processes and results. Sometimes the single failure in an otherwise successful sales or marketing approach is bad data.

Salesforce integration broad compatibilityThis is a HUGE problem for businesses of all shapes and sizes.

We’re talking high bounce rates, irrelevant messaging, and time wasted calling wrong numbers or contacts who no longer work with the company. No matter how great your copy or elevator pitch may be, it’s worthless if you can’t reach anyone.If your strategy relies on data that’s stale, it’s a slippery slope to multi-dimensional failure:

  • ROI numbers become skewed; bad news for marketing decisionmakers that likely have this as their primary KPI.
  • Content has maligned messaging, distributed to the incorrect audience (or no audience at all). A proven method of ruining bounce-rate KPIs is getting blacklisted, and earning notoriety as a sender of irrelevant SPAM.
  • Sales calls the wrong people or reaches a gatekeeper, where they will ultimately get turned away or begin the tedious process of calling up the chain.

2. Burned by churn

A reliable sales and marketing intelligence provider will constantly refresh data to ensure you don’t get burned by churn. Churn is corporate jargon for high employee turnover, and it is a part of life in the technology and services space.


When skilled researchers update contact data frequently, you know when employees move around – so you can email and dial with confidence.

Not only do you have to worry about the churn at your target accounts, you need to worry about internal churn.

If your team of marketers or salespeople are working with bad data and constantly hitting dead ends, how long do you think they will continue to be excited about what they are doing?

They will get burnt out by using crap data, in turn, not helping them realize their actual potential in setting quality meetings or generating qualified leads.

It’s a vicious cycle that never moves beyond cleaning up bad data.

3. Data quality vs. quantity

Not all intelligence is created equal.

Selling to CXO - prospect insight reportWhen you are trying to make a sale or influence someone to consider your product or service, who do you want to reach? An account executive or a CRO? A marketing coordinator or a CMO?

You want to reach decision makers and influencers. You want someone who has the power to sign on the dotted line or persuade budget holders to sign. Intelligence helps you skip the middle-man and go straight to the decision maker, effectively shortening the sales process.

Don’t be fooled by the sheer number of contacts available in a database. If those contacts don’t have purchasing power, they’re just contributing to a larger haystack – and make the needles farther and fewer between.

Four C-suite contacts are more valuable than 12 individual contributors.

Read it: The Power of Sales Intelligence: 7 Ways to Fuel Faster Growth

4. Systematizing database hygiene

Your data needs more than to sit in a database collecting dust. It needs to be dynamic.


It should flow in and out of sales and marketing systems, forming a data feedback loop. It needs to fuel, not hinder, your efforts.

Many intelligence platforms integrate with other tools in your tech stack – your CRM, marketing automation, sales development, applicant tracking systems, and more – making the handling of your data more efficient and synergistic. Look for tools that automatically sync, append, enrich, and de-dupe your data as new information becomes available and your database grows.

What does this mean for you? No more spring cleaning. No more hiring interns that may barely scratch the surface of your data problem. Instead, marketing and sales intelligence allows an adopt a “set it and forget it” mentality – and concentrate on the bottom line.

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Verified phone numbers and emails—straight to the decision maker.



How much is bad lead data costing you? What’s it worth to fix it?


Franklin Bear
About the author

Franklin Bear

Franklin Bear is the Manager of Marketing Operations at DiscoverOrg. From building nurture programs to monitoring deliverability to doing analytics, he eats, sleeps, and breathes Marketo. Franklin earned his BA in History from Washington State University.