Quora: What features do you look for in lead generation software?

I woke up this morning to the following Quora query in my inbox:

What features do you look for in lead genration software?

so I attacked it immediately…

First off, I would call these companies sales intelligence solutions, not lead generation.  While they are used for lead gen, their primary value is for sales reps in prospecting, lead qualification, account planning, and selling deeper into the organization.

As you provided no details on your organization beyond B2B, I will put aside sales methodologies, sales structures, industry, and whether you are looking to align your sales and marketing departments.  Instead I assembled a checklist of features and coverage questions to ask.

Here are the key features I would consider.  Not all questions may be applicable to your situation.

  1. Content
    1. Is your coverage US, North American, or Global?
    2. Do you cover the smallest companies and branch locations?
    3. Do you offer consumer data (important for sales reps that sell to both B2B and B2C)?
    4. Are you company centric or contact centric in your data collection? Company centric will have better location data and works well for ABM, contact centric works for less strategically oriented firms looking to make many calls)
    5. How do you collect your data (e.g. Direct research, aggregation from other vendors, semantic mining) and how do you ensure the quality of your data)?  Direct research delivers the highest quality but limits coverage to a top companies universe at a higher price point.  Aggregation can deliver a full company universe but has a higher incidence of defunct companies and duplicates.  Semantic mining is the lowest cost way to build a dataset but is weak on data not easily mined (e.g. revenue, industry codes, linkage) and misses smaller companies without a web presence.
    6. How do you validate contacts?  How do you know when somebody has left an organization? How do you validate emails (and how often)?
    7. How many job functions and job levels do you support?
    8. How many sales triggers do you support?
  2. Current Awareness
    1. News alerts for companies
    2. Do you support one-click following of companies?
    3. Sales triggers.  How many triggers do you offer?
    4. Custom triggers
    5. Searchable news archive
    6. Do you include an integrated social media feed?  Can it be filtered and searched? Which social media sites are included?  How about blogs?
    7. Do you filter out duplicate stories and non-business news stories?
  3. Account Planning
    1. Family Trees.  US or global?  Do they include branches or only subsidiaries?  Are they downloadable to assist with analysis?  What details are shown in the trees?
    2. Long Business Descriptions?  How many companies have long business descriptions?  How are these gathered?
    3. SWOT Reports
    4. Biographies
    5. Social Media Links for companies and contacts
    6. Competitors Reports
    7. Industry specific datasets (e.g. technology platform data)
    8. Industry Snapshots (Plain English primers which provide a high-level industry overview for sales reps selling broadly across many industries)
    9. Market Research (Formal reports on an industry including key trends, issues
    10. Can I quickly create a PDF download of company information?  Does it include all of the reports or a subset?  Does it include an option to include recent news stories?
  4. Public Company Account Planning
    1. Full public company financials and ratios.  How many quarters and years?  US or Global?
    2. Are key financials graphed?
    3. Significant Developments (multi-year synopses of key events at the company)
    4. Business & Geographic Segment reports
    5. SEC Filings
    6. Earnings Transcripts
    7. Brokerage House Analyst Reports
    8. Stock Charts
  5. Prospecting
    1. Radius search (e.g. 20 miles from a ZIP code)
    2. Metro Areas and Counties
    3. Industry Codes (at both a sector level and more granular SIC and NAICS level)
    4. Sales Triggers
    5. Industry Specific Variables (e.g. Technology Platform, Bank Affiliations)
    6. High-Level Credit Score (for filtering out low yield prospects unlikely to obtain credit department approval)
    7. Ultimate Parent (for expanding a contract)
    8. Job Function and Job Level
    9. Support for both company and contact prospecting
    10. Can we build Peer Lists (similar companies)?  Can we modify the peer variables?
    11. Neighbor Lists.  Useful for understanding the neighborhood in which the business is located as well as identifying additional companies worthy of a visit if planning on on-site.
    12. Can we build prospecting lists from competitor reports, family trees, or other list sources from within the service?
    13. How many companies or contacts may be downloaded in a list?
    14. Can I create custom report views and download formats?
    15. Are there any contractual limits on the total number of records which can be downloaded by a single person or over the full contract?
    16. Can prospect lists be uploaded to my CRM directly or do you only support CSV downloads?
    17. Can I save search criteria?  Lists?
  6. Collaboration
    1. Can we share news and triggers to email? Social Media? Chatter/Yammer?
    2. Can we create shared Watchlists and company lists?
    3. Is there a Who Knows Who Tool for discovering relationships across the organization?  How are these relationships gathered?  How much control do participants have in maintaining control over their contacts?
  7. CRM Integration (specify your CRM)
    1. Do you support Send to CRM from your browser service?
    2. Do you display integrated I-frames within my CRM?  Which record types?
    3. Do you support “stare and compare” updates for updating CRM records on a just-in-time basis?
    4. Do you provide a warning flag if a record is out of date so the rep knows to run a “stare and compare” update?
    5. Do you offer batch updates to Account records managed by our Sales Ops team?  How about Contacts and Leads?
    6. Is most of your functionality and content available from within the CRM or does the system window out to the browser application?
    7. Does the system check for duplicates before creating a record?
    8. Can I send a list of companies/contacts or am I restricted to a single record at a time?
    9. Do you support Send to CRM with a choice between creating a Lead record or an Account and Contact record?
    10. Do you support Custom variables?  If so, which ones?
    11. Does account record creation maintain family tree linkages?
    12. Do you offer an Opportunity View which rolls up all current and closed opportunities at an account into a single view?
  8. Lead Scoring
    1. Do you offer any lead scoring tools?
    2. Are lead scores based upon predictive models using a broad set of business signals or tied to a few firmographic variables?  How about sales triggers?  Availability of key contacts?
    3. Are lead scores easily visible on company records across all platforms?
    4. Can I view the key variables involved in determining lead scores?
  9. Mobile
    1. Is your browser application tested on mobile devices?  Does it have a responsive design?
    2. Do you offer mobile apps?  If so, which features above are included?  Does it support mobile specific features such as current location for prospecting and mapping, click to connect, etc.?
  10. API
    1. Is an API available?  What protocols does it support?
    2. Which report types does it support?
    3. Can I perform company and contact prospecting via the CRM?
    4. Can I pass company or contact parameters for match and enrich?
  11. Customer Support
    1. What are your hours?
    2. Do you support online chat or a phone helpline?
    3. Do you include training with your service?  Onsite? Custom? Webinars? Recorded?
    4. What SLAs do you provide for customer support? data quality?
  12. Pricing
    1. What do you charge for # seats of your service?
    2. Are there charges for additional company and contact downloads?
    3. Are there charges for additional datasets or features?
    4. Are there charges for downloads beyond a fixed number of records?
    5. Do you include CRM and mobile apps as part of your pricing?
    6. Are there additional charges for batch updating of records in my CRM or Marketing Automation Platform?


Leave a Reply