When it comes to b2b lead generation companies for your startup, you’ve got a ton of options. Sounds like a good thing on the surface, but really it just makes it near impossible to figure out which lead gen tool is going to get you the best results.
Different platforms are designed with different customers in mind. They have varying levels of data accuracy, as well as different target verticals, platform functionality, and pricing… all of which play a part in whether you end up loving the platform or hating it.
We built a lead intelligence platform ourselves. It’s called Personas. But we’re not here to bash our competitors and sing our praises.
Truth is, we know who Personas is for and who it’s not for, and we’ll happily tell you. This buyers guide is our honest attempt at researching the top b2b lead generation platforms in the industry, to save you the trouble of doing the research yourself.
We know you probably don’t trust us yet. There are a lot of shady characters in this industry — and you may have been burned by a vendor that wasn’t the best fit before — so we’d like to be the first voice to address the lack of transparency about what goes on behind each platform.
In doing so, this guide may very well tell you that Personas is not right for your business and that you should go with another vendor instead. Because each vendor has its unique positioning, strengths, and weaknesses.
Our data is mostly sourced from verified user reviews and online discussions from 2019, so we hope this guide saves you some time in figuring out which lead data provider will drive the strongest growth for your business.
Let’s get straight into it.
Who is it for? Companies with 10+ sales reps and $10m+ in revenue.
Who can you target? Mid-market and above.
Zoominfo boasts one of the largest databases, with 67M email contacts and 42M direct dials.
Most user reviews put their data accuracy and up-to-dateness at around the 80% mark — particularly praising the quality of the direct dial info — although a few users on G2 complain that only one out of three contacts are accurate.
Many users claim to use additional email finder tools (like Hunter.io) in combination with ZoomInfo to combat the occasional inaccuracy.
That said, if you’ve already identified specific, high-level target contacts at mid-market or Enterprise companies (primarily in North America) and you want their contact details, then ZoomInfo might be the best choice for you. Typically, companies over 1,000 employees have really solid contact information.
If you’re targeting smaller companies, or companies outside of North America, many reviews claim that the data isn’t as useful.
ZoomInfo pricing reports vary a lot, so you’ll probably have some room for negotiation. The consensus seems to be around $5-7k per year for 5,000 contacts as the smallest package in 2019, though some users have been quoted $16-20k per year for the same package.
Who is it for? Companies with 10+ sales reps and $10m+ in revenue.
Who can you target? Enterprise.
DiscoverOrg recently purchased ZoomInfo above, and their platform falls into a similar basket, with a few key differences.
DiscoverOrg is great if you’re targeting enterprise but lacks data for smaller businesses, obscure industries, and companies outside North America.
It has a higher price tag than other platforms (typically around $30k/year) because they conduct manual research to provide detailed org charts that identify key decision-makers and who reports to who. They also provide opportunity alerts and insights when companies have upcoming projects or are in the process of making buying decisions that are relevant to you.
User reports claim that emails and direct dial numbers are accurate around 80% of the time — similar to ZoomInfo — and data is especially strong if you’re targeting IT contacts. Less so if you’re targeting marketing contacts or similar.
Another big difference is that you don’t actually own the data you buy from DiscoverOrg. You’re obligated to return the data after your contract ends, unlike other platforms.
And one final weakness is that you can only access data from the verticals you’ve signed up for, so if you’re ever looking for data that falls outside those verticals, you’ll have to sign a new contract.
But if you’re looking for a business intelligence tool to gather detailed internal info on enterprise companies and contacts within a certain vertical or companies that use a particular piece of technology, DiscoverOrg might be your best bet.
Linkedin Sales Navigator
Who is it for? Everyone (but you’ll probably need other tools to go with it.)
Who can you target? Anyone.
The biggest advantage of Sales Navigator is that nearly everyone is on it, and the data is contributed by its users, so it’s about as accurate and up to date as you’re going to get.
It’s probably your best bet for finding leads outside of North America, and is also useful for getting alerts whenever someone changes jobs into your target role or when a company hires a new person in that role.
You also get a decent view of all the employees that a company has, but with no org chart.
But the biggest weakness is that it doesn’t provide you with contact details. You get a very limited number of “InMails” to send each month (20-50), which isn’t going to cut it for most companies.
For this reason, Sales Navigator isn’t much of a standalone prospecting tool. It’s more of a supplementary tool that can be a useful starting point for building your pipeline based on geography, company size, industry, and keywords.
At a much lower price tag, starting at $65/month, you might consider adding Sales Navigator to your arsenal, but you’ll probably need additional tools to go with it.
Many users combine Sales Navigator with tools like Skrapp, Hunter.io, or Seamless.ai to find email addresses for the leads they’ve found on LinkedIn.
Who is it for? Small-medium B2B SaaS companies with solid inbound marketing
Who can you target? SMBs to mid-market.
Clearbit’s Prospector tool allows you to search for email contacts by company, department, seniority, and job title. They boast a database of 200M+ contacts across 165 countries.
According to Clearbit’s CMO, Matt Sornson, “Clearbit is best suited for B2B SaaS companies who have a velocity sales motion or have both freemium and sales-assisted customer flows. Clearbit is less optimized for outbound-only sales teams whose primarily motion is driven by buying lists and calling them.”
So Clearbit’s main focus seems to be data enrichment and updating rather than straight-up list building. If you’re targeting a specific prospect, you can use ClearBit’s Enrichment tool to pull in 80+ data points about that company/contact directly to your CRM.
One of the biggest benefits of the tool is that it allows you to see which companies are visiting your website — determined by IP address — which makes it a very useful tool if you have a lot of inbound traffic.
Clearbit pulls data from 250+ different sources like social media, company websites, legal filings, and crowdsourcing, claiming that their data is refreshed every 30 days to maintain an email deliverability rate of 94%.
Pricing for Clearbit’s Prospector tool starts at $999/month.
Who is it for? Startups with less than 10 sales reps and less than $10m in revenue.
Who can you target? SMBs, mid-market, enterprise.
Most of the other players in the industry are solid lead generation options for mid-market and enterprise companies. But Personas might be your best bet if you’re a startup that’s just beginning to build or scale your outbound sales process.
If you don’t know how to model out which companies or contacts you should be reaching out to, or if you’re using an email-only approach because you don’t have enough SDRs to cold call everyone... those are things Personas can help you with.
While most other vendors are entirely self-serve, Personas will set up your lead targeting for you based on your "Ideal Customer Persona", after forming a deep understanding of which customers you’re having success with and excluding those that aren’t working well.
We give you advice on cold email copy from 6 years of experience sending 1m+ cold emails for 250+ startups, and we connect our lead gen tool directly to your existing sales systems.
Personas is an end-to-end lead gen & outbound solution designed to rapidly test different messaging with different personas. Startups use it to find their perfect fit before they hit the scale button — without having to hire SDRs to do the work.
If you don’t know your ideal customer yet or don’t have much experience with cold email, Personas provides a layer of guidance on top of our platform to make sure you’re going after the right leads with the right message.
The end result is a revenue engine that runs on its own and sends meetings to your inbox.
Personas includes all of the above from $250/month (275 leads) to $950/month (1,300 leads), with additional options for purchasing bulk lead credits.
We hope this guide saved you a few hours of research in your hunt for the ideal lead data provider for your business.
There are a few other vendors out there, so definitely do your own research as well, but the platforms covered here are some of the most well known in the industry and most highly ranked on independent review platforms.
Hopefully you now know enough about them to help you in your buying decision.
As always, we’re here to help if you have any questions, so feel free to reach out to the Personas crew.