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Risks of Buying Lead Lists

Who are you going to sell to if you don’t have anyone to speak to? 🤷

The first and most difficult step in B2B sales and marketing is prospecting. Sales and marketing teams can spend endless hours searching for people to speak to.

If you’re lucky they’ll be just the type of customer you want to reach, or maybe just lucky enough that they’re someone who took your call.

Building a list of leads is the necessary opening gambit for effective sales prospecting. It can take up a lot of valuable time and resources, and often the email addresses or contact numbers are out of date, and really, just not that useful.

It’s no wonder the thought of buying lead lists often crosses the minds of salespeople and marketers alike. An attractive, time-saving way to reach potential customers - sounds fantastic!

But is it really that great? Well, to put it simply, no.

Let’s dive into why you should never buy lead lists! 👇

What are lead lists? 

If your B2B marketing or sales aren't data-driven, you’re doing it wrong.

You need to collect or access data, in order to generate lists of contact information such as names, email addresses, contact numbers, job titles, etc. - any means of contacting a potential customer.

This data, when gathered together, is known as a lead list.

How do sales lead lists help? 

Armed with an accurate lead list, marketers and salespeople can begin their lead generation quest. This is where customer interest or enquiries about your product or service are generated.

How does it work? Once the data (such as email addresses list and cell phone numbers lists) has been collected, it’s then consolidated into a list, which is used by your sales team to reach out to people.

In short, lead lists are essentially large contact directories that your sales and marketing teams will use to send out cold emails or cold calls to get your product or service sold.

Where to get lead lists from?

There are so many ways to get a list of sales leads. You’ll find thousands of ‘gurus’ on LinkedIn sharing their tips. Things like ebooks, sponsoring trade shows, eblasts, sponsored newsletters, content syndication.

But the truth is, these boring lead generation tasks aren't a good use of time.

The best way to generate a targeted lead list is to use Cognism B2B contact database

The platform lets you find companies in your ICP and build lead lists of decision-makers. Then, you can export them to your CRM or sales tool. It gives you access to globally compliant B2B emails and the largest cell phone numbers database.

Cognism also provides an exclusive phone-verified mobile data asset called Diamond Data®. It has 87% of accuracy because our team calls the numbers to verify they belong to the right person.

Generating leads lists with Cognism

Unlike other sales intelligence platforms, Cognism does not restrict record views nor individual and page-level exporting.

On top of that, you get access to consent-based intent data powered by industry leader Bombora and sales trigger events.

Speak to a Cognism expert today to learn more 👇

Cognism's B2B lead data

Now, Cognism knows a thing or two about good-quality lead data. Our global database isn’t stale or static; it’s a living, breathing, constantly evolving data asset.

But you don’t have to listen to us - here’s what our clients have to say about lead lists they created with Cognism👇


MYWW had one goal in mind when they approached Cognism - to build a solid pipeline of leads. Emma Sexton, founder of MYWW, researched a number of data providers and was put off buying lead lists.

“I certainly looked into a number of options. I was very wary of purchasing lead lists, as I was convinced the data quality would be poor.

What I was looking for was a solution that combined tech and people - I really wanted that ‘human hand’ guiding me through the process.”

Emma was extremely impressed with the quality of Cognism’s B2B data.

“MYWW’s target audience is very specific (the C-suite in the B2B/tech industry) but Cognism was able to find them every time. ”

The result?

“We generated 27 new leads in 3 months - which for us was a record! Together they were worth £200-500k of revenue. Not all of them converted, but it was great that we had them on our radar and could start nurturing them. I fully expect some of them to become customers in the next few months.”

Sales on Demand

Sales on Demand’s priority was to reduce lead list building time. They compared Cognism vs Zoominfo and were impressed by the amount of Cognism data as well as the UX of the platform.

Sales on Demand leverage the best prospect data from Cognism to source prospects for their clients and for their own business. 

“We have 15 clients on our books who individually have their own ICP. During the onboarding process, we have a call to fully understand the customer's target market.

I refine a search in the WebApp according to the criteria. Then I generate the data and export the lead lists into each of their separate CRMs to track lead activity.”

The outcome? Jake Hampson, Founder of Sales on Demand, sum up:

“My list building time has decreased by 99.5%. If Cognism disappeared, I’d have to hire someone to do it which involves the added expenditure of paying a salary."

"Cognism not only saves a tremendous amount of time but it also reduces overhead costs. As a small business, this is huge.”

Jonathan’s final word:

“Cognism is the factory for generating lead lists. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to grow my business effectively. It’s the backbone of our business.”

Big risks of buying lead lists from unreliable sources

So, now you know what lead lists are and how they can help. The next question is: where can you get lead lists?

Lead lists can be bought, rented, or created through opt-in sign-ups.

But before you go ahead and start looking for lead providers, a word of warning. Buying lead lists comes with a whole load of risks. Risks that can have a negative impact on your sales and marketing functions, and your company as a whole.

Tip! Learn lead generation strategies without the risks involved in buying lead lists.

Here are a few reasons to avoid buying lead lists from a bad provider👇

1. Useless data

Even the best lists go out of date. List buying will most often give you the most basic data, filled with gaps, and a gaping likelihood that the lead data will be out of date.

You also won’t get qualified contacts and will likely be talking to people who have never heard of you or have no interest in your product. This means that your investment could very well be worthless, if not now, then further down the line.

2. Wasted money 

Moving on from the last point, bought lead lists are often inaccurate or out of date. Your business will be spending cash on data that’s not fit for purpose.

Can you really afford to take that chance?

Tip! Learn how to find CEO email address and CEO phone numbers.

3. Violation of compliance regulations 

The GDPR in the EU and UK, CAN-SPAM in the US, the POPI Act in South Africa...the list of global data regulations is ever-growing.

If you buy lead lists from non-compliant providers, you could be putting your company in the firing line of national and international data legislators. That’s not a position any business wants to be in!

For more information, check out Cognism’s B2B data compliance guide.

4. You won't have exclusive contacts or high engagement 

You’re purchasing lead lists, not the exclusive rights to these lists. The contact information that you acquire when buying a list will also be sold to many other companies, who will be conducting their own outreach in parallel to yours.

The recipients of the cold emails or calls often find themselves flooded - which for you, means lower open and click-through rates and higher lead costs.

5. It will get you a bad rap 

When you buy a list, you have no way of knowing how many different companies have used those addresses. You’ll immediately increase your chance of being marked as spam - threatening your company’s reputation.

Tip! Find out how lead scoring can help you build better rapport with prospects. 

6. Unpredictable revenue

Unpredictable data makes for unpredictable sales. This can be a big problem, and not only when it comes to presenting to stakeholders.

When you can’t count on the predictability of your data, it becomes much harder to optimise your processes. 

Was our cold calling worse since we tried a different script? Or was the data bad?

Was this email campaign worse than the last one? Or was it the data?

Uncertainty around your leads will cause uncertainty around your processes. It becomes a lot harder to improve.

7. It's long and boring!

The process of buying lead lists from a vendor often looks like this:

  1. You buy X number of leads.
  2. You look through this list and are not satisfied that these contacts fit your target audience.
  3. You request new leads.
  4. The company processes this request, and eventually sends you a new list.
  5. You test this list. The data quality is not as advertised.
  6. You go back to the lead list vendor and complain about the data quality. They apologise and promise to send you a new list.
  7. Eventually, the new list arrives.
  8. The data is somewhat better, and you’re able to get started on your actual job.

Not only can this process be dragged out over a number of days (or even weeks), it’s also incredibly boring. These interactions get in the way of you doing the things you actually signed up for!


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