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The importance of your customer and prospect database cannot be understated. It’s by far the most important element of any B2B lead generation program. Without a solid B2B lead generation database, even the most creative and enticing marketing campaign will be less effective. On the flip side, if you have a good list, the rest should come easy.

How you build, acquire and manage lists for B2B lead generation purposes is important. Unlike the consumer market, the universe of potential B2B customers is limited; as are the marketing budgets needed to target them. For that reason, you need to develop a formal marketing process for managing customer and prospect data that will maximize the potential of every lead. This process needs to include clear and concise lead qualification criteria as well as the structure for how you will maintain accurate records of each contact.

Once you have the process, you can then focus on collecting data on customers and prospects to populate your database. There are numerous strategies for how to obtain contact lists, and every marketing program should be evaluated in terms of its database development potential. For example, trade shows and sponsored newsletters can offer a tremendous opportunity to grow your databases if you establish a clear method of identifying the individual and categorizing their potential to buy. Magazines and professional organizations can also be excellent sources for data, but come with certain limitations as to how purchased lists can be used.

But names and phone numbers are only a fraction of the information you need. Profiling those individuals is critical and can be an even bigger challenge. Profiling takes time and money, but it can also be a tremendous source of active sales leads when done right. E-mail campaigns, telemarketing, and, every other touch point you have with your prospects and customers, should be designed to build out these profiles and add to your knowledge of your target audience.

Ultimately, the value of your database centers around your ability to understand the potential of each contact to make a purchase, and the triggers that will make them take action. This once again hinges on your data management processes, the quality of the data, and, your ability to interpret this data. With these three elements in place, your B2B lead generation programs will cost less and have a higher success rate.