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6 ways to build a sales prospect database for your CRM

written by sales-i Marketing Team

sales-i 29081 2017-03-20 1440960
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It’s 11am on a Tuesday, you’ve just put the phone down after talking to a prospect and you’re ready to dial again to speak to the next person. This is a typical process for a salesperson but to do this you need to have acquired a database of contacts that may have a need for your product.

The consensus is that the more you pour into the top of the sales funnel the more that will come out the other end as a customer. On paper, the process is straightforward:

  • Build a list of prospects
  • Contact them
  • Work on building a relationship with them
  • Encourage them to engage with you and your content
  • Nurture them over time
  • Spot when is the right time to discuss your product
  • Negotiate terms
  • Close as a customer

However, the challenge is… How do you get enough contacts to pour into the top of the funnel?

1. Purchased data

Purchasing a targeted B2B list is probably the most common way a business grows its database. Generally, you will pay per contact and that cost rises depending on how segmented the data is.


  • Large amount of contacts to call instantly
  • If email addresses are included you can target them through your marketing team
  • Helps identify key decision makers
  • Quickly grows a database


  • Can be expensive
  • Data isn’t always accurate
  • List will decay over time (roughly 2-4% per month)
  • Poor quality list will congest your CRM

2. Marketing content

Creating unique, thought-provoking and relevant content in the form of blogs, eBooks, infographics etc that have some sort of data capture is a sure-fire way to build your database organically. These contacts are generally more engaged with you as they’re giving you their details via your website in return for your content.


  • Data will be up-to-date
  • They’ll be more reactive to any phone call or email you send them
  • Greater possibility of referral traffic to your website
  • You gain contacts in the correct audience


  • Slow to build a database
  • Expensive as you need a good copywriter and/or marketing agency
  • Poor content won’t attract new prospects
  • Knowledge of online marketing is required

3. Directories

This method is going old school. It requires picking up an advertising directory such as the Yellow Pages or those published by your local Chamber of Commerce and calling the companies to hopefully get hold of the decision maker. Online directories have made this slightly easier but the same principles still apply.


  • Build a database of local companies and contacts
  • Doesn’t require skilled employees


  • Time consuming
  • Difficult to reach the decision maker
  • Not all companies are listed

4. Third-party mailing lists

Using a third-party company to send emails on your behalf to their database can be a quick and effective way of generating new contacts for your CRM. Generally, you’ll pay for each contact that is generated and the contacts in the database will be opt-in so you’ll be abiding by email laws.


  • You’ll be contacting new prospects
  • Wide reaching communications
  • Email legwork is taken care of


  • Data may not be high quality or targeted
  • Contacts aren’t expecting to hear from you, so conversion rate is low
  • Finding a reputable partner can be time-consuming

5. Social media

LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram and so on are great ways to find new contacts for your database. 82% of the world’s population have a social media account (4 in 10 log in at least once a day), so the chances are your target audience is on there somewhere.


  • Increased exposure of your brand
  • Drives traffic to your website where you can capture data
  • Some use contact list builders
  • Third-party integrations can enhance contact profile data


  • Employees can become distracted by personal posts
  • Wastes time if used incorrectly
  • Difficult to stand out through the noise

6. Events

Exhibiting at events is probably one of the oldest methods of generating new contacts to grow your database. Usually an exhibitor can request a list of all of the delegates and hiring scanners are a great way to capture details of the people you talk to on your stand.


  • Build relationships through face-to-face communication
  • Higher conversion rates from engaged, targeted contacts
  • Delegate lists are shared with exhibitors
  • Contact details are up-to-date


  • Expensive
  • A chance that the event may not render results
  • Several salespeople are out of the office at the same time


Now you know how to build a prospect database, check out our free ebook – 19 Sales Tips You’d Be Stupid To Ignore

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Our marketing team have been working hard to bring insightful content to wholesale, manufacturing and distribution professionals.

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