3 Steps to Build a Prospect List With Zero Budget

Oleg Campbell
3 min readFeb 19, 2016

Step 1: Pick Your Data Source

Regardless of the strategy you choose, the first thing you need to identify is the source where you are going to find basic information about your potential customers. In most cases B2B sales professionals prefer LinkedIn and other social media to search for a certain type of leads. Using this source of data will give you an advantage of identifying decision makers in your target companies. It can also help you to enrich your leads with valuable information that can be used later to personalize your outreach.

However, many of us tend to forget there’s plenty fish in the sea apart from usual LinkedIn or Twitter. Try using B2B databases for primary list building, blog comments can also be a resource to find targeted leads. In the end, pay more attention to Pinterest, an admitted emerging B2B leads source that is still to be discovered by marketers. Corporate websites can be a decent information provider in regards to contact’s name and title. Dedicate several hours to creating a list with companies you want to consider and identify employees you are going to reach out to.

Step 2: finding contact information

Since you have a prospect list built according to your target potential customer audience, now it’s time to search for their contact information across the web. While most of the lists you can buy online only contain general email addresses (such as info@domain.com,sales@company.com) that don’t make any sense when it comes to cold outreach. The more impersonal email you have, the less chances are you will get any response. However, if, for certain reasons, you have only this kind of contact, make sure your first email will include asking to point you to the right person.

Nevertheless, here are several tools to use if you want to find anyone’s email address in seconds with free of charge/freemium model:

Based on contact name + company domain:

name2email.com — a Chrome extension that helps find out the business address
voilanorbert.com — an online service for locating b2b contact data
sellhack.com — a super efficient plugin for social media account data

Email grabbers and extractors:

emailhunter.co — a plugin for corporate websites and LinkedIn, also shows a confidence percentage
datanyze insider — a tool from a famous lead generator
findthatlead.com — another good plugin to search for emails

You can use each for once or use them in combination. Often does it happen that you need to use several tools to find one email address. But whether you have to use only one tool or all of them, you should also rely on your experience and intuition in terms of business email patterns and their look.

As a matter of fact, there’s always one more tool you can use anytime and free of change — the Google search engine. Make sure you try all means before you give up, including this one. Try most common patterns such as FirstLastname@domain.com, First, Last name + @ + domain.com, site: domain.com + First, Last name, etc.

Step 3: validate everything

Having your email data found and collected to complement your prospect list is only half of your success. The other half of it depends on how correct your data is. To make sure your email campaign works for you, not against, you need to verify email addresses. This is one of the key factors to your cold sales.

Before you have anything to do with open and reply rates, it goes about your deliverability. Incorrect emails carry danger as they result in bounces. The more bounced emails you have, the worse your server reputation is. Not to mention the more emails bounce, the less replies you have.

mailtester.com — one of the best services out there to verify if your email address is correct
freebulkemailverifier.com — a service that can validate a bunch of email addresses at once
freeemailverifier.com — another service for email verifying



Oleg Campbell

Founder of reply.io. Changing the game for B2B sales. Send automated cold emails that feel warm.