Many salespeople give thumbs down to ever buying a list of sales leads. Doug Cobb, founder of a subscriber-based newsletter publisher in Louisville, saved his company approximately $10 million in 10 years by sticking to that principle.

During the mid-1980s, software publishers gathered thousands of user names from registration cards. To sell subscriptions to his newsletters, Cobb negotiated deals that allowed his company to use these lists for free. He explained to software marketing departments that subscribing to his newsletter would turn people on the lists into more satisfied customers. Not only did Cobb obtain exclusive access to highly qualified customers, his company operated for years in a market free from competition, as it made exclusive newsletter arrangements with software publishers.

As the software industry has matured, so has its savvy concerning customer lists. Today, getting a look at a list of software buyers generally requires entering a partnership agreement with the publisher. Still, the best lists in business are free--company and club directories, customer lists of suppliers related to your industry, and yes, some start-up software-publishing companies are just a few of the places to find great sales leads without great expense.

Copyright 1998 G+J USA Publishing