Driven by Data

By Cindy Waxer

Finding new customers continues to be one of the greatest challenges facing today’s small businesses. With that in mind, Microsoft bCentral and infoUSA have joined forces to provide small businesses with lists of qualified customer leads.

Customers now can purchase infoUSA’s qualified business and consumer contact information through Microsoft bCentral, a Web-based service powered by Microsoft technology. Users can sift through infoUSA’s database of 14 million U.S. and Canadian businesses and 250 million consumers.

Microsoft bCentral’s subscribers don’t need to worry about accessing outdated information. “infoUSA is constantly collecting customer information and verifying it over and over again,” says Rakesh Gupta, infoUSA’s president. In fact, infoUSA’s database of customer leads is verified and updated by 550 dedicated employees situated in the company’s Omaha, Neb.-based data center. The team makes more than 20 million telephone calls annually. The data are compiled from a variety of sources ranging from business directories and Websites to public company filings and surveys.

There is no limit to the type of information Microsoft bCentral users are able to access thanks to infoUSA’s extensive database. More than simply an online telephone directory, the database houses in-depth information such as a prospect’s sales volume, number of employees, contact names, phone numbers, credit ratings and office square footage.

Placing such information at the fingertips of salespeople promises not only to generate new business, but also to spare today’s road warriors the time and trouble of selling door-to-door. Unlike traditional lead generation methodologies, infoUSA and Microsoft bCentral’s partnership provides sales reps with the contact information necessary to reach a company’s decision-makers. Sales professionals then are able to assess a prospect’s interest and suitability over the phone.

Gupta warns: “The most expensive thing that salespeople own is time. Without getting on the road, users can call a prospect on the phone and pre-qualify them. If a customer warrants a face-to-face meeting, that’s when it’s time to start pounding the pavement.”

Nevertheless, Gupta admits that infoUSA isn’t meant to serve as a magic bullet. While its partnership with Microsoft bCentral enables users to target new, qualified prospects in a cost- and time-efficient way, he advises: “Lead qualification really comes from the small business owner’s ability to know who buys the company’s products.”

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