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Why you should never buy lead lists

December 8, 2020

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 It can take up a lot of valuable time and resources, and often the email addresses or contact numbers are out of date, and really, just not that useful.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 lead lists help? ℹ️

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 and contact numbers) has been collected, it’s then consolidated into a list, which is used by your sales team to reach out to people.

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

Big risks of buying lead lists  ⚠️

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 providers, a word of warning. Buying a lead list comes with a whole lot of risks attached, 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 risks involved in buying lead lists.

Here are a few reasons to avoid buying lead lists 👇

Data that's not useful 👎

Even the best lists will 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.

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 top lead generation companies can help you get high-quality leads.

Violation compliance regulations ⚖️

The GDPR in the EU, 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.

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.

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. 

Cognism's B2B lead data 🚀

If there’s one thing we’ve impressed upon you so far, it’s the dangers that lurk in stale data.

Now, Cognism knows a thing or two about fresh data. Our globally compliant database isn’t stale or static; it’s a living, breathing, constantly evolving data asset that saves time for your lead generation expert team.

Our B2B data is gathered from over 100 public and private high-quality sources. It’s managed and updated daily by our proprietary AI, guaranteeing freshness and accuracy. It contains over 400M contacts and 10M companies, empowering you to outreach with confidence.

But you don’t have to listen to us - here’s what our clients have to say about our outbound sales software 👇

Absolute SG 🖍️

Absolute Signs and Graphics’s priority was to reach new customers. In the past, they had used Google Ads to spread awareness of their brand and had purchased lead lists to try and identify prospects.

“We purchased lead lists, but the quality of the data on those lists was extremely poor. Everything on them was out of date, from email addresses to phone numbers and job titles. You can’t build a pipeline on the back of such low-quality data.”

- Jonathan Burge, Founder and Director of Absolute Signs and Graphics

Absolute SG used Cognism Prospector to create personas of their ideal buyers and search for others just like them. We supplied Absolute SG with the high-quality data they needed to scale their business.

“In my industry, it’s vital to connect with decision-makers before they go to market - Cognism excels at this. We were able to get all the data we had been missing, including verified business email addresses and phone numbers. Cognism made finding our target customers and reaching out to them a very simple process.”

Jonathan found comfort in our commitment to complying with global data laws.

“Cognism is a fully GDPR-compliant data company and this was another reason for me to start working with them.”

The outcome? Absolute SG discovered over 1500 new prospects in no time. Their email campaigns improved too.

“Our email deliverability and response rates increased. We were able to move into new markets and expand our offering to a larger and more diverse variety of clients.”

Jonathan’s final word:

“The best thing about Cognism is that it provides accurate business data, fast. The product works and the team behind it is very helpful. I’d recommend Cognism to any company that wants to find and engage with new customers.”


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 Sexton, Founder and CEO, MYWW

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. Thanks to the tool, and the diligence of the Interactive Managers, we quickly grew our pipeline.”

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.”

Where to start with finding data? 🔎

Now that you know all about B2B data and lead lists, you’re probably wondering “Well, if I shouldn’t buy data, where should I get it?”.

The answer is simple - from Cognism, of course! We’ll provide you with real-time, accurate data that you can trust.

Try our data, book your demo today 👇

Request your demo now