October 23rd, 2019 | by

The scariest villains are the ones we don’t see. Maybe there’s something passing across the corner of our eye. Maybe we hear something, barely, in the background. Maybe it was a shadow, nothing at all. Or was it?


Ultimately, we start to question our own sanity, or the sanity of those around us. We turn on each other, making irrational decisions because things are going tragically wrong and there’s no reason to think that there is a killer in the shadows…silent, cold, methodical.

This is no Halloween story.

This is what happens with most prospecting campaigns. We work hard to put every piece into place, push the ‘send’ button, and wait. Slowly, we start to see results…but they’re not what we’d hoped or planned for. The open rate is way too low. The response rate is nearly non-existent. No one is picking up on the other end of the line.

The campaign has been murdered in cold blood.

Then the finger-pointing starts. It’s the campaign. It’s the product. It’s marketing versus sales competency. This job sucks. This company sucks. I gotta get out of here.

The cold hard reality: it’s none of that.

It’s your bad data.

Halloween-blog-bad-data-killing-youWhen I founded DiscoverOrg in 2007, delivering quality sales and marketing data was the backbone of what we wanted to build. Ten years later there is something that is absolutely mind bending for me to realize: all – and I really mean all when I say that most sales and marketing data providers really suck. (ZoomInfo Powered by DiscoverOrg is an exception.) And yet, too many people are spending good money on it.

That’s scary!

Let me show you some examples from data vendors we’ve bought data from in the last 12 months.

How bad is it?

One vendor we encountered gathers data through a business card-scanning program. When we evaluated the accuracy of this approach, we found that over half of the phone numbers they provided were incorrect. One of their ‘Marketing’ titles was ‘Cinematographer/Lighting Director.’

Another vendor who uses a 600-person team in India, listed a CEO’s wife as the company’s ‘Head of IT,’ even though she had not worked for the company for more than 30 years. Other contacts they identified as corporate CIOs were, instead, dentists, actors, and aircraft maintenance technicians. One person listed as a CIO was actually a ‘tea boy’ – someone who provides beverages and light snacks during an organization’s break time. I’m sure he hears a lot of gossip during the day, but I’m also pretty sure that doesn’t make him qualified to be his company’s ‘Chief Information Officer.’

Worse, another data vendor that uses web scraping and crawling provided us with tons of ‘chefs’ instead of ‘chiefs.’ Better yet were the IT contacts created from finding profiles with the letters ‘I’ and ‘T’ in that order, leaving us with a large number of joke profiles with official titles of ‘suck IT.’


Since we first started this project, we have acquired lists from some of the better-known bargain providers and tested their bounceback rates. Two of the lists we acquired had estimated bounceback rates of 12% and 15%. This is bad enough to eventually get your domain blocked. One of the lists, however, logged a bounceback rate of a terrifying 43%.

But it gets even worse.

Bounce rates are merely the most visible indication of how bad a list might be. They don’t take into account how many email addresses are still active but completely useless—either because the person has left the role or even the company. These are the monsters in plain clothes. The most common form of “SPAM trap” or “honey pot,” they trick marketers into sending another email – only to have them flag you as SPAM and get your domain blacklisted.

As you can see, bad data is a death knell to everything you’re doing.

bad-data-horror-story-halloweenLeadJen examined 12 lead generation campaigns across industries representing over 100,000 connections made by phone or email. Their study found that conducting a lead generation program without first investing in cleaning data wastes 27.3% of each sales rep’s time. That’s 546 hours on average a year per rep! (Put another way, that’s the equivalent of a three-month paid vacation every year for each member of your sales team.)

A bounce rate over 5% should make you nervous. A bounce rate over 10% should scare you. Anything over 20% should flat out terrify you.

Think of it this way: your bounce rate is used to provide confidence to all the technology involved in sending and receiving your email: that you 1) know what you’re doing, and 2) know the person that you are sending to. Marketing Automation tools use bounce rates to identify those in violation of their terms of service. Email servers, hosting platforms, and filtering tools use bounce rate to route emails to the SPAM folder or quarantine. If you send to one email at an account with an invalid or repurposed inbox, all other emails sent to valid inboxes at that account may be impacted as well. Even worse, the server or filtering tool may submit a SPAM complaint.

Ultimately, a bounced email could land your domain or IP on a blacklist or at the very least ding the reputation of either – which impacts any email communication sharing that domain or IP. For example, if you’re sending from your MAT using mycompany.com and your SDRs are also sending from mycompany.com, the sending behaviors of each impact one another.

If you don’t have great data to begin with, no fancy CRM implementation, cool social-selling app, dialer, awesome service like Connect and Sell, or great training can help you. These “investments” lose much of their value if your data kills your chance to generate revenue before the first email is even sent.


Planning on coaching your SDR team? I hope you enjoy listening to dead air, switchboard operators or just watching your team bounce around between your CRM and LinkedIn for hours before finding someone to reach out to, much less to connect with. (If you want a great vendor that will give you game film on your SDR reps, check out Gong.io.)

Here’s how long it takes your rep to prospect one person without a valid database of prospects:

Bad data without good data sales research time


If you’re looking to build a real system and a real process around your revenue generation efforts, it has to start with arming your sale and marketing team with up-to-date, qualified data on your prospect universe – and call me biased, but there’s one place you can get that, and it’s here at ZoomInfo Powered by DiscoverOrg. Why? Because sitting on the 8th and 9th floors just outside of Portland, Oregon, are hundreds of human researchers pounding the phones to gather and update data: making sure that phone numbers work, that emails go through, that org charts are accurate.

Those researchers are the biggest advantage your sales and marketing team can have when going after new business or expanding existing business.

Seriously – you’re investing a ton of money in driving success from your sales and marketing teams. Your job is dependent on hitting your numbers. Don’t be the victim of a horror story.

Don’t let your data murder your efforts.

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Henry Schuck
About the author

Henry Schuck

Henry Schuck is the CEO of DiscoverOrg, an 8-time Fortune 5000 company, which he co-founded at the age of 23. He has extensive experience managing the sales and marketing activities of fast-growing information technology data companies.