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What is Sales Data?

Sales data comes in two main types: external and internal.

External sales data includes information about prospects and companies, such as demographics, firmographics, technographics, contact, and behavioural data. Businesses get that type of sales data from third-party vendors.

Internal sales data contains information collected in the sales process, i.e., the products, deal prices, sales reps' performance metrics, etc.

By combining the data from these two buckets, businesses can improve their sales strategy, set goals, and track progress toward important benchmarks. But to sell more predictably and efficiently, they need to ensure the sales data they have is correct.

In today's dynamic business landscape, your internal sales records become stale fast:

  • Prospects change jobs and get promoted.
  • Businesses go to market and hire new staff.
  • When a company is acquired, job roles and responsibilities evolve.

It creates the need for a trusted source of B2B data and sales intelligence to counter sales data decay.

Where to find quality sales data?

You can find B2B sales data sales in various public and private sources. Public sources refer to any data freely available in the public domain. They include social media profiles, company websites, press releases, government websites, etc. Another public source is consented-in data that customers freely supply (e.g., from online form fills or survey results).

Private sales data sources are secured from public view and must be accessed via a subscription or a form of payment or permission. They include DaaS (data as a service) providers, paywalled websites, and financial or sales intelligence platforms.

All these sources come with mixed levels of accuracy, completeness, and compliance.

However, providers like Cognism use proprietary methods to gather, clean, verify, and enrich sales data points to deliver up-to-date, reliable, and compliant B2B sales data and help you manage it in real time.

Cognism is a sales intelligence platform with a global company and B2B contact database. You can use it to create new sales data lists as well as enrich your existing CRM data in just a few clicks. It automates manual data-related processes, which allows your teams to focus on higher-value sales tasks and strategic prospecting.

Next, you can take advantage of behavioural and chronographic sales data embedded into the Cognism platform. It also provides Bombora's intent buying signals and sales events triggers to help you prioritise prospects and speed up sales.

Generate targeted B2B sales data lists with Cognism:

Ready to test our sales data?

How to evaluate B2B sales data providers?

While vendors generally use similar data sources, they differ in terms of methods they use to collect, clean, process, and redistribute the data. The methods they use influence the data quality you get.

When evaluating B2B sales data, balance the following factors:

  • Accuracy.
  • Coverage.
  • Cost.

Some vendors specialise in covering specific data types, niches or regions, while others choose to process a large number of data sets worldwide. For example, you might choose a European-based data provider that understands GDPR privacy laws if you're mainly targeting the EMEA region.

But when you need global sales data, make sure the vendor doesn't sacrifice data quality to provide the required data volume. Test a data sample in multiple regions and verticals to evaluate whether the number of duplicates or incorrect and inactive records is acceptable.

High-performance companies not wanting to compromise on data quality, choose multiple providers to supplement each other.

Another factor to consider is the cost of buying third-party sales data. Not surprisingly, the higher the quality, the higher the cost. Enterprise data providers invest in state-of-the-art technologies to ensure the data is gathered, verified, and managed dynamically, which will come with a higher price tag.

The major sales databases use credit-based pricing (which limits viewing and exporting the data) or require an extra fee for using additional features or integrations. It often leads to unexpected costs or scarcity mindset among sales reps.

Cognism, on the other hand, offers seat-based licences for efficient sales prospecting. It's suitable for individual prospectors as well as 20+ teams with operational workflows.

Looking for a global sales database?

We interviewed Paul Thomas, CEO of Lead Forensics and Luke Baker, Head of Sales, about their experience with Cognism and other providers:

If you are looking for one B2B sales data provider to power the UK, Europe and North America, Cognism’s got you covered.

“In the evaluation process, we compared Cognism against five other competitors. Our results showed that the coverage of US mobile data far outperformed the others.”

"We did a split test between a well-established US competitor and Cognism for data quality in Europe. Side-by-side, we saw a really big difference between the two providers. Cognism had a 60% improvement in conversion rates.”

North America

How to verify sales data?

Sales data verification is a complex process that requires data engineering, research, and analysis using advanced techniques and data intelligence tools.

Vendors collect, clean, transform, and model billions of sales data from various sources with different levels of credibility. To identify useful information and verify it as correct in the ever-changing business landscape, they develop algorithms and machine learning models. Their sales data quality is as good as the data processing engine.

The best B2B data providers ensure continuous data quality in multiple ways:

  • Access the algorithm performance.
  • Identify and fix bad records.
  • Benchmark data quality against key KPIs (phone connect rate, email bounce rate, etc.).

Many sales database providers don't verify their records manually because it takes too much time and resources. 

Cognism is an exception in that respect—

It offers humanly verified prospects' cell phone numbers with unmatched accuracy. Cognism's manually validated dataset is a new standard of sales data quality when it comes to intelligent sales prospecting. 

Reach decision-makers with verified data

Still using direct dials to reach prospects?

We know how hard it is.

That’s why we manually verify mobile numbers to ensure 9 out of 10 prospects pick up the phone.

And if you don’t find your high-value prospect’s mobile, we’ll source and verify it within 48 hours.

Landing page graphics 04-10-2023-02 (1)

What sales data types are useful?

In B2B sales, data is essential to effective decision-making. Sales leaders make decisions in direct response to market changes and customer preferences, and data helps underpin those changes and preferences.

For a successful data-driven sales strategy, you'll want to look at the following five types of data for sales:

1. Contact data

Contact data is essential for sales prospecting. It consists of basic demographic data points, but most importantly, it includes names, email addresses, telephone numbers, locations, employment histories, and job titles.

Sales use it to strategically adapt offers to specific target groups for more closed deals. The most important aspect of collecting and storing B2B contact data is that it can become out-of-date quickly. Therefore, organizations invest in contact data enrichment solutions to maintain their existing CRM records and validate fresh data that enters their systems.

2. Company data

Company information allows businesses to segment accounts into defined groups and route them to the assigned SDRs to target. Firmographic data allows you to group companies by unique identifiers, such as:

  • Company name.
  • Company location.
  • The industry the company operates in.
  • Number of employees.
  • Company performance (i.e. revenue information or ARR).
  • Customer base.
This type of sales data is especially useful for planning GTM strategies and positioning your product.

3. Technographic data

Technographic data refers to the types of tech and software your prospects use daily, whether as individuals or as part of a company, for example, CRMs, pipeline management tools or sales enablement solutions.

Technology-driven sales signals are extremely useful for business development teams. They inform about their best-fit prospects' pain points or identify competitors' customers. Then, BD teams can easily position their product or service as the solution or better alternative.

4. Chronographic data

Also known as sales triggers, chronographic data refers to events and changes that affect organisation over time. These changes can lead to an opening to engage with a new prospect or to revisit a prospect that went cold.

Chronographic sales data includes insights, such as company location moves, a prospect leaving or joining a job, company acquisition, company funding, company IPO, whether the company is hiring, and event appearances.

5. Intent data

Sales intent data is behavioural data on a company level. Bombora is one of the best intent data providers on the market. It identifies which accounts are researching intent topics related to your business, products and services. It collects the signals from  a cooperative of 5,000 B2B sites where B2B buyers search for solutions.

 Cognism embedded Bombora into its platform because combining accurate contact data with intent is becoming a game changer for many companies.

For example, the unique combination of Bombora's intent data with Cognism's contact database allowed one of our clients, Ultima, to find leads with actual intent to buy and reach out straight to decision-makers using the correct phone numbers. It's allowed them to shorten the initial time to engagement by 4-6 months and achieve ROI in 6 weeks.

Here's how you can filter Cognism's platform using different types of sales data. 👇

Filter down sales database with key attributes.

What is data used for in sales?

Combining different types of sales data enables reps to identify prospects' needs and build better relationships with them. Data-driven teams can use the right strategies and techniques to see better sales results. Here are some of the most important aspects of using high-quality sales data:

1. Enable effective prospecting

In order to reach and engage with your ideal customers through cold calling, outbound email and social selling, your reps need correct sales data. A good sales database must include:

  • The names of individuals and their job titles.
  • The names of their companies and industry.
  • Email addresses and phone numbers (cell phones are better than direct dials).
  • Sales event triggers (i.e. job change alert).
  • Intent data signals (when prospects are in-market for your solution).

Your SDRs will need all this information to generate revenue more effectively and efficiently.


2. Identify new opportunities 

Your SDRs need a quality sales dataset to identify good-fit customers for prospecting. The better the fit, the more likely they will remain loyal and recommend your business to others. What's more, sales and marketing data can help sales teams identify which prospects are ready for an upsell or a cross-sell pitch and which are ready to nurture.

To do so, you need to analyse the following sales data:

  • Prospects' purchase history and budget - gives you information on your prospects' current solution and their capacity to make a purchase.
  • Customer behaviour and build a persona - study the patterns that emerge among your top-performing customers, then use those insights to develop a persona for your ideal sales-ready customer.
  • Customer activity data such as automated email campaigns - monitor opens, clicks, and your clickthrough rate.

3. Avoid pursuing bad-fit customers

Selling to bad-fit customers has a significant impact on B2B sales. You'll see higher churn, increased support costs, lowered employee morale, drag on growth and off-target feedback influencing product decisions.

Digital sales data helps you avoid this by allowing you to analyse the following:

  • Customer's technical fit - do they need additional tech to get value from your product?
  • Functional fit - what do they require from you in order to be successful? Can you provide this?
  • Resource fit - do they have the necessary resources to invest in your product?
  • Competence fit - do they have the correct expertise to use your product?
  • Cultural fit - do their company goals align with yours?

4. Optimise the sales process

Every sales leader wants to improve the way their team works. To do this, you need to gain insights. It's vital that your B2B sales team tracks and measures data, preferably on a weekly basis; the goal is to fine-tune your process and win long-term customers.

Consistent data tracking can help you pinpoint the bottlenecks in your pipeline. For instance, if a rep's meeting booked rate falls from one week to the next, you can immediately implement a sales training program to get them back up to speed.

Sales data is invaluable for optimising lead generation strategies and processes, such as shortening the sales cycle, aligning sales and marketing goals and monitoring team KPIs.

5. Provide sales forecasts

Sales forecasting empowers you to identify potential issues or risks and implement appropriate corrective actions to mitigate them.

High-quality sales data lists will make your forecasting stronger. The sales data you'll want to use here is: 

  • Income-age.
  • Geographical distribution.
  • Industry news and press releases.
  • Macro-economic factors and sector indexes.

6. Track performance against key objectives

Sales metrics are data points that represent the performance of your team, your organisation, or individual employees. And, when measured against your broader company goals, you can introduce new processes to boost performance.

Some sales metrics you should be tracking include lead velocity, lead cost per conversion, call outcome, SQO pipeline, and sales velocity.

7. Support decision-making

Sales datasets must be consistent and continually updated to support decision-making. Up-to-date data predicts future trends, drives the creation of new business opportunities, optimises operational efforts and ultimately leads to the generation of new business revenue.

Most importantly, implementing a data-driven sales approach should develop, influence, and empower your sales team.

Bonus resources for sales leaders

What playbooks do the sales leaders at Microsoft, Calm and Databricks implement to grow revenue?

Go Beyond The Sales Floor and find out! 👇