How to Build a Sales and Marketing Database from Scratch

If you’ve been given the task of setting up your company’s sales and marketing database, you’re probably not overly excited … especially if it’s something you’ve got to build from scratch.

How do you find prospects quickly? How do you verify the accuracy of the data? Is it really cheaper to build a database?

All of these questions are probably making your head spin! But setting up a sales and marketing database from scratch is not as difficult as you may think.

I’m Blake Johnston, CEO of OutboundView – and I’m here to show you how to build a B2B sales and marketing database – from scratch!

But – before we dive into how to build your database, here’s what to consider before you start.

What’s the Goal of the Sales & Marketing Database?

When you’re starting from scratch, it’s important to know what your goal is. Your objective may affect the type of data you collect!


  • Who will be using the initial data?
  • Will you be building an inside sales team?
  • Will your outside sales team use the data?
  • Are you building a list for a specific campaign or event?

How will you use the data?

Who from the team will be using this data, and for what purpose? Is this for outbound marketing, direct email, or event promotion? Or are you just building a list?

How you plan to use the data immediately and ongoing will impact how you build your data strategy.

How big is your overall market?

Do you have a small number of contacts in your target market, or are you looking to build a list with an extensive number of contacts?

Is this a test or experiment?

Are you testing out a new target market to see how your messaging resonates with them? Or are you trying to reach your core established market?

The answers to the above questions will help guide you through the process of building your database.

Now, let’s walk you through some options to help start filling up your sales pipeline!

Option 1: Purchase Contact Database Access

This is the most common, and arguably the easiest and most efficient way to build your marketing or sales contact database.

You can purchase B2B data from companies that will include direct-dial phone numbers and verified email addresses, all from buyers in your target market. Pricing can vary significantly depending on whether you’re purchasing a technology-generated list of names and numbers – or a full contact database with human-verified accuracy and contextual information like org charts and intent data. The price will also be affected by how much data you need.

If you want access to a lot of prospects, and you want it fast, this is your best option. Not only do providers like ZoomInfo offer the highest quantity of contact information, but also a wide variety of attributes that will help you on your search: including job title, function, company hierarchy, and much more.

Option 2: Manually Build Your Sales and Marketing Database

If you’re looking to save money initially, or you work in an industry where the contact data is public (city or state governments), you might decide to manually build your sales or marketing database.

This is a good option if you have lots of data available to you, and it is the most cost-effective (especially if you’re a small business and have more time than money).

So why not use this option all the time? The answer is twofold: time and resources. Endlessly searching the internet for phone numbers and emails is extremely time-consuming, not to mention a quick way to fill your contact database with bad data from the start. Building a large enough list to fill your sales funnel could take months, even years.

Also, you’ll need to factor in the cost of cleansing and verifying the data prior to leveraging it for outreach. Email validation tools like NeverBounce allow you to verify emails and determine which ones are safe to send to and which ones are not.

It’s important to evaluate your timeline and potential future earnings when choosing this option. It might seem like building a database from scratch is the most cost-effective, but don’t forget to factor in the time and resources it takes to do this manually, as well as the time and resources that it takes to maintain this data over time.

At least 30% of all contact data decays every year. Maintaining accurate data is critical to the success of your prospecting efforts.

Option 3: Pay per contact or buy a one-off list.

A lot of companies offer options for you to pay per contact. This can be a great place to start if you’re on a tight budget and need a few strong contacts to get things rolling, or if you’re only looking to target a few specialized market groups. On average, you can expect to pay around $1.00 per contact for good B2B data.

Buying random lists and one-off contacts has its disadvantages: the data tends to be less accurate, and the depth and volume are generally not sufficient for a pipeline-building lead-generation strategy.

Before you buy lists be sure to confirm the legitimacy of the company by checking LinkedIn and review sites like G2 Crowd. Ask the provider how they collect their data, and test a sample of the data for depth and accuracy before making the investment.

Option 4: Inbound marketing

A great way to gather contacts in your target market is to create relevant, thought-provoking content – such as blogs, e-books, podcasts, or webinars – as part of your inbound marketing strategy. By gating this content, you can trade a user’s contact information for access to high-quality content.

While this is another great cost-effective way to build your list, it requires an upfront investment in time as well. Additionally, opt-in lists are built at a much, much slower rate, and may contain user-generated errors (deliberate or otherwise).

Inbound marketing is a great add-on to any list-building option, and should always be utilized. These efforts tend to snowball overtime, yielding great returns on your investment in the form of names and qualified leads for your sales team.

Read More: 90+ Important B2B Content Marketing Statistics

Don’t forget to keep your data up-to-date!

If you decided to purchase access to a contact database that includes full-cycle sales intelligence, such as ZoomInfo, look for data that has been validated and is updated on a regular basis. These companies scrub old outdated data to keep your database clean and relevant; some have connectors and integrations that even clean existing data in your CRM or Marketing Automation System.

Services such as Neverbounce are good tools to help you with this process. These platforms ping the email server and tell you which emails are good, and which are no longer viable.

If you decided to manually build your database, it’s important to double-check and update your data periodically (we recommend every 90 days at least) to make sure it’s valid. Don’t let your sales team waste precious time calling and emailing bad data. Remove customers who are no longer active or relevant on a weekly or monthly basis.