How Sales Leads Work

By: Dave Roos

Using Consumer Specialty Lists

Consumer specialty lists let marketers target specific groups, like new homeowners.
Consumer specialty lists let marketers target specific groups, like new homeowners.
© Photographer: Diana Linden | Agency: Dreamstime

Consumer specialty lists are exactly like business specialty lists, except they contain leads for individual consumers, not companies. Salesmen can buy consumer specialty lists to reach highly desired and targeted demographics. Some examples of consumer specialty list categories are:

  • Recent homeowners
  • People who have recently been approved for a car loan
  • Frequent travelers
  • College students
  • Computer owners
  • Pool owners
  • Weight loss enthusiasts
  • Investors
  • Veterans
  • Bankruptcies
  • Households with children

Consumer specialty lists are compiled by collecting information available from various public resources and private partnerships. Companies selling consumer specialty lists can gather data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Postal Service, credit bureaus, mortgage data, warranty cards, online surveys and good old-fashioned telephone books [source: AccuData].


Consumer specialty lists are slightly cheaper than business specialty lists, costing around $1,000 for the names and phone numbers of 25,000 people who meet your demographic criteria [source: USAData].

The advantages and disadvantages of consumer specialty lists are the same as with business specialty lists. A salesman is handed a huge list of names, but none of these people have expressed direct interest in the particular product or service being sold. The salesman will still have to analyze the leads to figure out which ones promise to be the most fruitful.

Future of Sales Leads

Since sales leads will always be a top priority for small and large companies, expect to see even more technological innovations for generating and purchasing targeted leads. A recent example is a company called Geosemble that's using satellite data to create highly specialized lists of sales leads.

Here's how Geosemble's GeoPrism service works:

  1. Using artificial intelligence software, the company scours satellite images and aerial photos to find homes and businesses with certain attributes like cracked or damaged roofs and driveways, swimming pools, large empty backyards, et cetera.
  2. By cross-referencing that geospatial information with online maps and city records, the software figures out the contact information for each of those homes and businesses.
  3. Geosemble then sells that information to pool maintenance companies, roof repairmen, concrete specialists, et cetera.

[source: gizmag]

As more and more personal consumer information is added to digital databases, more of our purchases are tracked and tagged (think next-generation RFID tags), and more and more of our private lives are lived online, there's a greater capacity for marketers and salespeople to mine this data for prospective sales leads [source: Pew Internet & American Life Project].

Data mining is the practice of using analysis software to discover hidden patterns and relationships within large data sets, such as figuring out which consumers are most likely to buy a car in the next year. In the future, consumers, retailers and government regulators will have to decide how much personal privacy we're willing to sacrifice for the convenience of targeted sales promotions and free access to online resources [source: Pew Internet & American Life Project].

For more information about sales leads and related topics, check out the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

More Great Links