Researchers are key elements of a successful sales lead generation process. The quality of a researcher’s work will influence the effectiveness of your outbound prospecting. They can fill your sales pipeline with potential clients and facilitate the work of your sales team, but they can also kill it in the very beginning.
At CIENCE, we use only researchers for our outbound prospecting, because we understand the efficiency of their work and the benefits for our lead generation. Namely, your company might have the most appealing message and 100% dedicated SDRs. However, if the quality of prospects in your contact list is poor, the efforts of your lead generation team will be wasted.
Surprisingly, there are still companies that disregard the importance of research and don’t understand its influence on the sales pipeline. Rather than hiring a full-time researcher or entrust this task to an outsourced firm, some sales teams think it’s enough to simply buy a general list of contacts.
However, in our opinion, they’re making a huge mistake. Above all, this practice is outdated. And, more importantly, it shows a lack of understanding of how sales pipeline works.
Research is the process of generating a customized list of contacts that fit your buyer persona
In other words, you will have the names of people and companies that are likely to become your customers. There are two types of research:
- Enrichment – Search of leads based on a list or in a CRM already. The research exercise is to fill in missing data about companies or contacts, or bring that information up-to-date
- Generation – Research from scratch. It’s much harder compared to enrichment. The net new aspects to generation place a premium on finding particular types of data
Distinct advantages of targeted research vs. data subscriptions or list buying
1. Higher quality of contacts
We’ve discussed this problem on our blog — probably the biggest challenge of the lead generation is the accuracy of data. If you haven’t read it, here’s the main point: Generating quality leads has remained a key pain point for many prospecting businesses for years now. There are several ways to solve this problem.
One of them is finding as many quality contacts that fit your buyer persona as possible. And that is what a good research team excels at. Furthermore, that is something a purchased list cannot provide.
A researcher will look for the leads based on the criteria which the client specified in the ideal customer profile. The results of such search will be custom-made, very specific, and micro-targeted. They’ll match your requirements because you’re the one ordering (and are not beholden to pre-configured data settings).
2. Up-to-date data
In general, any list broker will be selling outdated data. Decay rates vary, but can be as high as 8% per month. So even a completely clean list developed a year ago can be utterly worthless by purchase date. Furthermore, the older they are the more irrelevant information they contain. It’s worth noting that bad data can actually be dangerous (not just a waste of time), potentially inviting blacklisting, do not call bans, or corrupting email deliverability.
On the other hand, well-trained human researchers will, at all times, provide the latest and most relevant data. They’ll either generate it from the scratch or update the existing list of your contacts.
You need to conduct enrichment and research on a regular basis if
you want to succeed in lead generation
3. Human intelligence combined with automatization tools
One of the best parts of using human curators of data is the ability to combine datasets. The request to find Chief Marketing Officers in New York-based companies between $25-$100 million who blog at least once a month on WordPress and share that content via LinkedIn is impossible with a list broker or data subscription (it may require a few, good luck…), but is a piece of cake for a good researcher.
Nowadays, there are many tools that enable researchers to almost fully automate potential client research. However, they still need human supervision, since there are things a machine can’t understand, such as context, overlap, or suppression.
4. Consulting and feedback in real-time
Researchers and team managers have experience in working on various projects. They can provide useful advice to a client on search criteria, industry, and many other factors of research. Furthermore, with the weekly list approval, a client can introduce timely changes to requested data or buyer persona. Extensive use of machine learning tools actually enhance this process further.
5. Zero mistakes = saved time, effort, and money.
What does error-free data look like? It means your contact list will have very few people who’ve quit their jobs, few companies that have changed domain, or ceased operations. This means that you’ll see few email bounce notifications in your mailbox. Any SDRs or salespeople who work with data — especially CRMs that require manual operations with each email— will save time, effort and keep them in good mood!
At CIENCE, we have a variety of teams of researchers: Internal, who we use for our own lead generation; External, who serve as dedicated resources for our clients; and CIENCE Now, researchers who perform broadly ranging, on-demand research projects that are typically CPL-based (Cost Per Lead).
Our research experience is valuable for companies who want to fill the sales pipeline with quality leads and close more deals on a regular basis.
Research statistics at CIENCE:
1. A typical leads quota for a researcher is 40-50 per day and 200 per week.
2. The average accuracy rate is >95%. If this level drops, Quality Assurance (QA) hands a list back to a researcher for rework.
3. A researcher must fill in at least 15 different fields for each lead (e.g. company name, contact name, position, website).
4. It takes 3-5 minutes for an experienced researcher to find and fill in all the information about one prospect.
5. A researcher finds 3 people per company on most projects.
6. Research typically begins one week prior to sales development campaigns.
7. One researcher – one project. This enables the person to be 100% dedicated to the particular client.
The weekly quota, the number of people, and fields are based on the complexity of the project, which depends on two key factors. First, it’s the rarity of companies (e.g. in particular geographical area). Second, it’s the number of criteria in the buyer persona. Third, it’s the number of fields required to be filled in.
The schedule of a Researcher differs much from that of an SDR, however, the workflow is intense and requires strong concentration, brainstorming, and analytical skills. Our people who occupy this position are scrupulous, attentive to details, patient, consistent, and methodical. They have a high tolerance for monotonous work.
Though researchers spent 90% of their time in front of computers browsing the web and our various tools in a constant quest for quality contacts, there’s weekly and daily cadence.
Weekly and monthly activities of a researcher at CIENCE
1. Send files with the most current leads to clients for approval at 11:45 EST (8:45 PST) every Friday.
2. Every Thursday our research team has a meeting to analyze the results and clients’ feedback.
3. In the very beginning of a campaign, researchers send 2 samples of the contact list to their clients. The latter checks the work and tells what changes should be introduced if any.
Schedule of a researcher at CIENCE
We talked to our Senior researcher, Helen Liubina. Helen has been working for 18 months at CIENCE. She’s currently doing enrichment in the marketing industry.
3:00 a.m. EST – Clock-in. Helen comes to work after a gym workout. She turns on the computer, makes a cup of tea, and begins the first search, looking for new prospects for her client.
4:30 a.m. – 15-minutes break.
Researchers take several long and short breaks during an active search. It’s crucially important since their work requires a great focus on the details and as a result is quite monotonous and exhausting. The aforementioned impacts and shortens attention spans. If you want happy researchers, you have to include frequent breaks and mental distractions, separate from their responsibilities.
4:45 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. EST – Power sessions. Unbroken concentration on lead list building.
8:00 – 9:00 a.m. EST (5:00 – 6:00 a.m. PST) – 1 hour break.
We have a gaming area, where our employees can relax and have fun. Unlike SDRs, whose work is stressful due to multiple rejections they need to cope with, researchers’ work is somewhat deprived of emotions and diversity, which can be also hard even for the most persistent and stable personalities.
9:00 – 9:45 a.m. EST (6:00 – 6:45 a.m. PST) – Study time! CIENCE Training sessions.
Our research team has two types of training:
- How to analyze data.
- How to automate research using special tools.
Both types are equally important in their work.
Analysis increases the quality of contacts, while automation
increases the speed of the research.
10:00 a.m. EST (8:00 a.m. PST) – Continue the research for the weekly quota.
Helen Liubina: “Previously I was thinking a lot about monotony. However, now I have an interesting project that requires analyzing companies’ activities and filtering them according to very specific and rare criteria. Furthermore, my client is constantly changing the ideal customer profile and it brings diversity in my work. I like it!”
12:00 p.m. EST (9:00 a.m. PST) – Clock-out. Time to go home and rest!
Certain clients have been with CIENCE for a long time and thus trust our research. In this case, they don’t require the weekly list of leads for the approval at the end of the week. In this case, our researchers provide the list of new contacts to SDRs on a daily basis at 7:45 a.m. EST (4:45 a.m. PST), because at 8:30 our sales development teams begin the send out.
Summing up, the operational side of researcher’s work is simple. It’s the results of their work that matter most. Teach your people how to do it right, explain the importance of the buyer persona, and you’ll get the quality leads in your sales pipeline.