3 Tips For Evaluating Business Data Vendors

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You already know the importance of quality business data. Now, you need to find it. With thousands of data providers in the marketplace, it can be difficult to pinpoint the right solutions to address your unique business needs. Using a methodical approach to evaluating data vendors will help you get precisely what you want.

For most teams, B2B data is no longer a commodity; it’s a solution-oriented purchase that deserves thoughtful consideration. Below we highlight 3 pro tips to get what you need from your business data vendors:

1. Define Your Data Strategy

Not all vendors fulfill every data need for your business. Before you start evaluating providers, identify your specific data strategy so you only consider vendors that can check all the boxes.

Say you’re targeting small businesses, and you’ve decided to adopt an ABM (account-based marketing) strategy. Your next step in a data-driven approach would likely be to leverage propensity modeling to develop your ideal customer profile (ICP).

Doing this requires multiple streams of different business data, including firmographics, technographics, intent or behavioral data, customer data, contact data, email and telephone data.

Before you start researching vendors, define your needs in as much detail as possible. This will ensure you can quickly narrow in on the data vendors that meet your needs. For example, if you target small businesses, be sure you seek a vendor that covers in SMB data specifically.

Next, align your data needs to your overall business strategy. Your reliance on internal vs. external data will vary significantly, depending on your business objectives. For example, if you are attempting to market an existing product to a new market, you’ll need a healthy mix of internal and external data. But if you’re marketing new products to the same audience, you will rely much more on internal data.

2. Evaluate 3-5 Vendors

In mathematics, the Optimal Stopping Theory involves the ideal time to stop an activity in order to maximize rewards while minimizing costs. When evaluating data providers, it turns out the ideal stopping point is between 3-5 vendors. Any fewer than 3 vendors and your sample size is too small. Any more than 5 and you risk falling victim to the Law of Diminishing Returns.

Once you identify your list of vendors to evaluate, establish a framework so you can maintain consistent scoring. Include the following steps:

  • Create a checklist of questions that revolve around your data strategy.
  • Research peer reviews from 3rd party sources like G2 and TrustRadius.
  • Understand what it’s like to be a customer with each vendor, including their track record with companies like yours, customer success options, and implementation timeline.
  • Request a free data test, compare how each vendor enriches your database sample, and ask what new business insights they uncovered for you.

3. Assess the Complete Picture

In your evaluation framework, be sure to assess data vendors on both quantitative AND qualitative factors. The best vendors will go beyond the data itself, strategically uncovering new areas to capitalize on that might not be visible until now.

To do this, provide the same 1,000-10,000 records to each vendor and ask them to run a data test. Each vendor will try to match entities and fill them with as much enriched data as possible. The initial results can give you a decent view of coverage, quality, accuracy, and attributes, but the report should not stop there.

Evaluate B2B data vendors using quantitative and qualitative criteria, as follows:

Quantitative Factors

  • Coverage (match rate)
  • Accuracy (data quality)
  • Depth (fill rate)
  • Attributes (# and type)
  • Age of business
  • Pricing (volume-based or unlimited)

Qualitative Factors

  • Customer reviews and references
  • Expertise level & area
  • Ability to uncover strategic insights
  • Customer success & support options
  • How customers use the product
  • Do they understand your unique industry and business needs?

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