Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Sales Leads Work


Using Business Specialty Lists
Business specialty lists help salespeople target leads in specific industries.
Business specialty lists help salespeople target leads in specific industries.
© Photographer: Pavel Losevsky | Agency: Dreamstime

Business specialty lists are useful for business-to-business (B2B) sales. Salesmen can purchase lists of businesses and professional contacts in the specific industries to which they sell. Here are some examples of business specialty list categories:

  • Attorneys
  • Doctors
  • CEOs
  • Hospitals
  • Insurance agents
  • Real estate agents
  • Small business owners
  • Female executives
  • Fortune 500 companies
  • Home businesses

The companies that sell business specialty lists gather public information into a database, analyze it and break it down by several searchable criteria, including job title, geographic location, annual revenue, number of employees and something called a SIC or NAISC code [source: Great Database].

Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes and the newer North American Industry Classification System (NAISC) codes are used by the government to classify businesses for census and tax purposes. Greeting cards, for example, are 2771 and dental equipment is 3843. With this information, salesmen can request business specialty lists for companies in their geographical area that file taxes with certain SIC or NAISC codes.

SIC codes are standard industrial codes set by the Internal Revenue Service.
SIC codes are standard industrial codes set by the Internal Revenue Service.
Image courtesy Internal Revenue Service

Business specialty lists vary in cost depending on how much additional information a salesman wants about the lead (mailing address, credit rating, lawsuits, etc). For a basic business specialty list that includes 25,000 leads with phone numbers and a primary contact name you can expect to pay around $2,500 [source: USAData].

The advantage of a business specialty list is that a salesman can quickly gain access to thousands of targeted sales leads. A possible disadvantage, depending on the list compiling company's quality, is that a certain percentage of the leads may be outdated [source: startupnation]. Unlike real-time and opt-in sales leads, business specialty lists may have been sitting in the database for years. Even with this long list of leads in hand, a salesman will need to verify and analyze each lead to see if it fits well with the product or services he's trying to sell.

Now let's look at consumer specialty lists.