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What is B2B Data? Expert Purchasing Guide

News flash—doubling emails and cold calls isn’t going to double your results. Your team needs higher-quality B2B data for higher conversion. The leaders who understand this and integrate different types of B2B data sets into the sales process enable reps to generate revenue more effectively and more efficiently.

Achieving unbelievable revenue results next quarter is all about:

  • Signal-based, intent-selling to discover and prioritise your best prospects.
  • Clean, verified, compliant B2B marketing data to reach them.

Start scrolling 👇 or use the menu to jump to a topic.

What is B2B data?

Business-to-business data (B2B data) is any information that benefits B2B companies, especially their sales, marketing or revenue operations teams. It includes the account and contact information for company decision-makers with purchasing power.

Companies collect first-party B2B data from their audience directly (i.e. email subscriptions, social media followers, and current customers). User-submitted business data may not always be correct and becomes stale after a while as people change companies, roles, email addresses, and phone numbers.

That's why companies turn to third-party B2B data vendors that supply these key resources in an automatic and scalable way. They gather sales and marketing B2B data from various public and private sources, clean it using proprietary methods, and redistribute it.

Redistribute how?

  • Old school way—you get a massive .csv file for download with static B2B data that needs to be manually refreshed and uploaded to your CRM.
  • Modern way—you get access to a sales intelligence platform like Cognism with dynamic B2B data that's refreshed automatically and easily syncs with your other tools. Sounds great, right?

Unfortunately, third-party data comes with challenges, too. Some providers have a more relaxed approach when it comes to data accuracy, completeness or compliance than others. So, it’s important to vet providers and test their data. Luckily, the sales intelligence market is growing fast, providing plenty of options.

Why companies choose Cognism's B2B data:

Ready to test our B2B data?

Where does B2B data come from?

Business data is sourced from two main channels: public and private. Public data sources are freely available in the public domain, including:

Private B2B data sources are secured from public view and can only be accessed via subscription, permission or payment. They include:

  • Paywalled websites.
  • Financial and market intelligence.
  • DaaS (data as a service) providers.

How do providers verify B2B data?

Data sources have different levels of credibility and oftentimes provide conflicting information. Verifying billions of these data points is one of the biggest challenges for data scientists.

The B2B data is as good as the provider's algorithmic and machine-learning models that identify and classify business data. Improving these technologies is a complex process and requires data engineering, research, and analyst teams to work together.

Many vendors in the category view incorporating manual data evaluation as impractical and inefficient. Therefore, humanly verified datasets are hard to come by, but their accuracy is unmatched. 

Cognism is an exception in that respect—

It employs a research team to phone-verify B2B mobile numbers in our database. That global dataset sets a new standard of B2B data quality when it comes to intelligent sales prospecting.

Get better results with manually verified B2B contact data

Our data team calls cell phone numbers in our database to verify they are correct and belong to the right prospect.

And if we don’t have the mobiles you need, we offer on-demand mobile enrichment. Just send us your incorrect or stale mobile numbers, and we’ll find and verify the correct mobile number in under 48 hours.

Try our premium mobile data asset—Diamond Data®:

  • 10M+ and growing.
  • Increase connect rate by 3x.
  • Reach 9 out of 10 decision makers (or their voicemail).
  • Get better results by consuming less data.

From ZoomInfo and LeadIQ to Cognism

Michael Iannuzzi, Director of Marketing and Sales Development at Drift, has tested multiple providers before Cognism. Here's what he had to say:

“We used ZoomInfo and LeadIQ across all of our sales teams. However, finding correct mobile numbers in these databases was like finding a needle in a haystack.”  

“Cognism defeated all the other lead generation providers by a huge amount. Its database had an 80% accuracy rate and the highest coverage of mobile numbers.” 

“The platform was also very swift. The SDRs would find a lead that visited our website, pull up Cognism and get the contact’s number instantly. It was that quick.”  

“The astounding results combined with the platform’s simplicity was critical to getting the deal done quickly.”  

“Our decision to move from ZoomInfo and LeadIQ to Cognism was an easy one. The platform surpassed all our expectations.” 

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How to clean bad B2B data?

B2B data is considered bad if it connects to the wrong contact, numbers are on DNC lists or is duplicated, corrupted and incomplete. You can choose the manual, time-consuming route to clean it or speed up the process with B2B data enrichment technology.

Modern tech like Cognism Enrich allows you to automatically enrich first-party data and refresh historical records in your CRM to unlock new revenue.

It also enriches new B2B data entering your systems to improve productivity and avoid wasting the marketing budget.


“Approximately 4,000 leads each month are enriched by our SDR team using Cognism’s database. On average, 70% of monthly meetings are booked over the phone and every mobile number is pulled from Cognism.”

Is collecting and storing B2B data legal?

B2B prospecting data can only be used for the reason it was collected. This means potential prospects must have opted in and been made aware that you hold their data. 

What’s more, business data needs to be stored in a way that makes it impossible for outside sources to obtain the data and use it for nefarious purposes. 

If your data is not compliant with the country you are using, you risk incurring penalties from the FTC (US) or ICO (UK). For example, two companies that made more than 480,000 unlawful marketing calls to businesses signed up with the UK’s DNC register were ssued fines totalling £180,000.

This is where compliant B2B data lists come into play. Cognism's B2B contact data is CCPA and GDPR-compliant. Cognism's email database doesn't include B2C emails and is notified. What's more, Cognism's phone numbers are checked against more DNC lists than other providers. You can simply hide numbers of prospects who opted out of receiving unsolicited phone calls.

What B2B data is important?

Combining various data types helps sales and marketing teams efficiently target and interact with prospects that fall in your ICP. Here are five the most important types of business data: 

1. Contact data

It’s the most important type of B2B data for sales prospecting, lead generation, and sales. It consists of the prospect’s basic demographic information, including phone numbers and email addresses, that gives you insight into whether they fit your ICP (ideal customer profile). It includes the following points:

  • Name
  • Email address
  • Telephone number
  • Location
  • Role in a company

2.  Firmographic data

The second type of business data is based on company information. It defines which company your prospect works for. It's helpful for segmenting audiences and evaluating markets. It includes:

  • Company name

  • Company location

  • Industry

  • The number of employees

  • Revenue information

A combination of demographic and firmographic data points is a good start to implementing a broad growth marketing plan. Many marketers will stop here. But you can go a lot further if you gather even more useful B2B data.

3. Technographic data

Technographics is related to either:

  • The technology that an employee uses

  • The technology that a company uses

This type of B2B data helps understand prospect's workflows, how they could be improved, and the pain points they might face day-to-day. This is particularly useful if you’re providing a solution that other technologies don’t have. What's more, understanding which technologies are being used by other companies can help you to define your own workflow.

4. Chronographic data

Chronographic data points are also known as sales event triggers. They can refer to the company or the employee and change over time. In B2B, timing is essential, and B2B sales triggers provide contextual insights to sellers for smart prioritization. This type of B2B data helps salespeople or marketers highlight events that may bring a potential sales or marketing opportunity, for example, when your target account appoints new leadership.

Chronographic data includes:

  • Company location move

  • Job join or leave

  • Company funding

  • Company acquisition

  • Company IPO

  • Event appearances

  • Company job hiring

5. Intent data

Intent data refers to behavioural data that shows when an account is interested in buying. Intent signals can be gathered from various public and private sources. Bombora is a leading intent data provider because it collects consent-based data from a cooperative of 5,000 B2B sites where business buyers search for solutions.

The upshot for salespeople and marketers in using this B2B data is that it allows them to target prospects who are actively researching products and arriving at purchasing decisions. This opens up many opportunities to approach prospects at exactly the right time in their buyer journey.

Cognism partnered with Bombora to allow Cognism users to speed up their sales cycle, improve targeting, and create more relevant campaigns. 

Good B2B data to find new business

We interviewed George Mckenna, Head of Cloud Sales at Ultima, about his experience using Cognism's B2B data combined with Bombora's intent signals:

"Our sales cycle is typically 6-8 months long. At Cognism, we saw ROI in 8 weeks from intent data and direct dials. One deal pays for a year’s Cognism subscription."

"Cognism identifies the leads, allows us to target them based on the prospect’s intent, and then follow up with the sales action. Using intent data has massively reduced our time to engagement."

"The sales managers used to make 100-150 calls per day. Now, they can achieve their targets by making 30 calls per day because they are calling prospects who actually pick up the phone. That’s more results, fewer calls."

Data types

B2B data use cases

High-quality B2B data is essential for the following sales and B2B marketing activities:

1. TAM identification

The process of defining your Total Addressable Market (TAM) - the total number of potential prospects in your target market.

😉 Psst, Calculate your Total Addressable Market with Cognism's free TAM calculator 👈 

2. ICP development

Creating an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) - is a representation of your perfect buyer, which you can use as a springboard to find others that match its characteristics.

3. Lead generation

Identifying your ideal customers and sourcing their contact details, ideally direct-dials. Sales data quality is the most important factor for this activity.

4. Outbound sales

The outbound sales process is when a B2B salesperson contacts and engages with prospects via phone, email, social selling or networking.

5. Demand generation

For B2B marketers, demand generation refers to the umbrella of marketing activities that attract new buyers to your brand - encompassing content marketing, email marketing and PPC.

6. Analytics

The process of tracking B2B sales and marketing metrics to manage and improve individual or team performance.

B2B data for sales teams

B2B data enables sales teams to predictably develop a sales strategy, prospect, and generate new business revenue. With a B2B contact database built with Cognism data, sales teams can:

  • Access high-quality, compliant data collected from over 120 public and private sources
  • Find key decision-makers and their direct contact information using filters such as job title, company, industry, skills, technology and more
  • Use sales trigger events to better time your sales outreach and identify the right people at companies ready to purchase
  • Clean and enrich out-of-date records. Fill in any missing gaps in your CRM data and source new opportunities

B2B data for marketing teams

A B2B data solution enables data-driven marketing teams to identify new audiences and build smarter B2B marketing campaigns:

  • Increase your campaign reach by lead intelligence insights to improve the funnel
  • Build targeted ABM campaigns, boosting audience match rates across all your advertising platforms
  • Take the guesswork out of campaign planning by using marketing triggers to target prospects right when they need you most
  • Reach and engage with more prospects, getting your emails seen by the right people at the right time

B2B data for RevOps teams

Revenue operations (also called RevOps) is an emerging but vital discipline in B2B. It combines sales, marketing, customer success and system operations, resulting in a new end-to-end solution - revenue operations.

When it comes to a B2B data service for revenue operations managers and teams, Cognism is a good option for a reliable and globally compliant data source

You can use this technology to:

  • Calculate your TAM and generate complete target account and contact lists

  • Enrich your leads database and plug any gaps with information straight from Cognism’s compliant data asset

  • Help your revenue team meet performance targets with accurate direct dials and mobile numbers

  • Enhance your workflows with Cognism’s data and CRM/revenue tech stack integration

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