March 24th, 2015 | by

A year ago, if you had asked me what my biggest concern was around growing DiscoverOrg 60-100% annually, I would have told you that hiring great sales talent was our biggest roadblock.

In the last year our Sales Leaders, Patrick Purvis and Steven Bryerton, through a rigorous interviewing, recruiting, and testing process have managed to hire an all-star team of SaaS sales reps who are poised to “crush it” for us day in and day out (see how you can, too).

Fast forward a year – if you asked me TODAY what my biggest concern is, I would tell you Lead Generation and Lead Quality. These are common concerns.  At DiscoverOrg we hear about them more than most, because we actually solve this issue for our customers with a database of more than 805,351 companies within the IT, Marketing and Finance departments of over 52,071 companies that is constantly refreshed by our in-house research team. Quality leads with accurate contact info – what sales or marketing leader wouldn’t want that? Unfortunately for us, DiscoverOrg, as a company, doesn’t sell into those departments (our targets are Sales professionals) and DiscoverOrg’s solution, doesn’t cover contacts in the Sales department… yet.

Last month at our Sales Kickoff, I had a chance to discuss with my team why Lead Gen and Lead Quality are such MASSIVE issues – and this is what we came up with:

Hiring expensive, top sales talent to sift through CRAP is just plain STUPID.

The cost of providing bad leads to our top talent is now way MORE than just their salary; there’s an opportunity cost AND a morale cost – the morale cost is deadly…

We hire talented, proven sales reps. In Salesforce, we build a queue for them and a cadence for their calls and emails with an APEX Trigger, and then we upload a list of “good fits” into their Console View for them to call on. They come in and start calling. It doesn’t take long before they realize that half the list is junk; the so-called “leads” aren’t at the company anymore and these “leads” are low-level contacts – while, of course, they want to talk to Directors, VPs, and CEOs. These top-tier sales professionals aren’t going to stick around to play janitor in our CRM.

“Let me spend my time cleaning up your data!” – said no sales rep, ever.

Sifting through crappy leads as a sales person is incredibly demoralizing. Their commission – which often translates into their ability to save for their family’s future, have disposable income or cover their mortgage and car payments – depends on them being able to close business. Their ability to close business, in turn, depends solely on their ability to find, set appointments with, and CLOSE new opportunities. If the leads provided by your company will not help them do that – how does that feel? They just moved companies to come work for you and their future is uncertain, at best.

If you’re a CEO or VP of Sales and you’re not thinking about what crappy leads are costing you from a turnover perspective – it’s time you did.

Your new reps trusted you, they believed in your company, and they believed that they could be successful there. What sort of package did you offer them when they decided to come work for you? Certainly they were under the impression that the commission reflected a sales structure conducive to effectively closing deals. Is this a reality if they are asked to sift through a CRM filled with bad leads?

Forgive me for some unabashed self-promotion here, but if there is a $50k entry-level solution to this problem and you’re not willing to invest in it (to invest in THEM), then they should leave your company and go work for someone who is willing to make that investment in their success. I know if there was an existing solution that could do for my reps what we do for our customers, I would have bought it on sight, because whatever it costs, it would be a bargain.

The First Step is Admitting You Have a Problem

Here’s a flow chart of what I see happening in my sales hallway every day (which absolutely drives me crazy).


18 Minutes! 18 MINUTES! If you are a sales rep you should be SCREAMING mad about this. It takes, on average, 18 minutes to get through one bad record. And guess how you feel when you’ve gotten through that? Exhausted, angry, and like you just wasted 18 minutes – because you did.

And the worst part? They have to start from the beginning again. Plus, every time the sales rep has to go do some sort of research because the data is no good, they are going to see a clear opportunity for them to quit, go get coffee, go read a blog, go march around the office and complain about the leads. Give your team good data and allow them to feel that every minute is a minute well spent. Never give your team a dead end.

There is a Better Way.

Unfortunately we don’t sell to IT, Finance, or Marketing – so we can’t buy our own DiscoverOrg solution. Instead, we have to BUILD DiscoverOrg FOR DiscoverOrg – and here’s exactly what it’s going to take:

Hire 3 researchers: fully burdened annual cost (salary, health insurance, system licenses, space costs etc.) $58,000×3
Total Annual Cost for 3 researchers $174,000
Hire a Manager: Fully burdened cost $75,000
Hire QA Rep to keep data clean: Fully Burdened Cost $58,000
Average output after fully training: 3.33 profiles / day / rep; or 2, 500 profiles for the year.
Total Annual Cost for 2,500 profiles $307,000


Seems like a lot, right? Guess what? It’s worth it. I’m trying to build a GREAT company; a company that INVESTS in its sales talent, a company that people are EXCITED to come to work for, and most importantly – a company that will continue sustainable, successful GROWTH. When I look at our ability to do those things, it absolutely starts with solving the Lead Gen and Lead Quality issue.

I’ve invested in the top talent – I need them to perform. I can get so much more out of my reps if I take away all the [email protected]*! caused by bad data.

With this plan, I will never have to dance around these questions and excuses again:

  • Isn’t my time better spent doing follow-up with existing opportunities than sifting through crappy leads?
  • This guy is not a decision maker – why should I “waste my time” with him?
  • I spent half my day messing with crappy leads from Marketing – that sucked. I’m burnt out.
  • There’s no way for me to hit my number if I’m supposed to deal with cleaning out our database.

I’ll be the first to say it – shame on me, and shame on us for not realizing this sooner. In all honesty, maybe we did realize it but didn’t have the means to make a $300k investment. Now we do, and it would be foolish not to.

Just Stop It.

Once you’ve armed your team with good data and taken out all of the data cleansing work that your reps no longer have to do – calculate out the time per call and email. We’ve gone from 18 minutes to 2 minutes. WOW. Multiply that across your sales team. Still seem like a lofty investment?


Keep in mind that my solution to this problem is NOT to buy a list and it’s NOT to buy a generic data aggregator – they don’t do the job. Going that route is a waste of time and money. It’s perpetuating the broken system of providing your sales team with bad leads. If you think that you’re solving your team’s data problem by investing in ANYTHING short of a hand-curated, constantly updated database then you’re being delusional – stop.

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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.