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Choosing the Right Institutional Investor Database: 4 Key Considerations

By: Rob Robertson, Director of Sales

If you’re constantly scrambling to find people — the right people — to call on and set meetings with, you’re not alone. We’ve all felt the pressure to ramp up outreach and calls and close more business. 

The only question, of course, is how you get there. 

In the investment industry, the answer is often an institutional investor database. If you’re looking for a regular source of qualified leads, a database is the way to go. 

At Dakota, we know that first hand. Since 2006 we’ve raised over $35 billion in capital for our partners. While that is a big number, the path to it wasn’t always easy. We didn’t always know who to call on, and spent countless hours researching for new contacts, or tracking down old ones. 

It was tedious, to put it mildly. 

Which is why, in 2019, we put all that information into a database of our own: Dakota Marketplace. 

We’re not here to say that Dakota Marketplace has the answers to all of your fundraising problems, but we do think we can help. 

Exploring your institutional investor database options is a great first step to increasing your lead source and meeting those fundraising goals. In this post, we’ll break down the four things to consider when you’re subscribing to a database. By the end, you’ll know exactly what to look for as you make a decision.

1. Focus on quality over quantity

When it comes to data, quality is almost always more important than quantity. If a database is offering hundreds of thousands of contacts, but you can only put a handful of them to use, it’s really not giving you that much to work with. 

When you’re considering an institutional investor database, data integrity is critical. You want that database to be a source of leads, not another headache, or worse, a waste of your time. It’s important that the data within a database is accurate and helpful to your firm’s specific needs. 

We recommend thinking about about quality in three different ways:

  • The completeness of the dataset. Is it complete and thorough across all channels? For example, is it covering the channels you work in? A more generic database will include a variety of channels, including public pensions, foundations, endowments, RIAs, and others. If you are looking for information on a specific channel, it’s important to know early on if it’s included in a potential database subscription.
  • The frequency of the updates to the data. How regularly is the contact and account information updated? This will help determine how much involvement your team will need to have with data upkeep. If titles, roles, and jobs aren’t being regularly updated, they will have to step in and manually update it, meaning more internal work. 
  • New additions to the dataset. Is the database added to regularly? Sales people need a constant source of leads, so the database should be able to grow with you and your team, meaning that new data is added on a regular basis.

At the end of the day, inaccurate and incomplete data not only slows you down, but costs you money

2. Keep in mind that the interface should be user-friendly 

If the sales team is the primary user of the database, it should be easy for them to use. This means the database interface should make it easy for your team to find what they’re looking for without wasting time.

Even if you have the right data, if you can’t easily access, review, and report on it, you are still only halfway there. Not only do you need really accurate data, you need the interface to be well built and easy to use so that you can find what you’re looking for very quickly. At the end of the day, an interface that’s easy to use will save your team time, letting them focus on setting and holding more meetings with the right people. 

If a database needs a lot of intervention from your IT team, it might not be the ideal solution for you. 

Knowing that a system is user-friendly and meets the needs and capabilities of your team is critical in moving forward with any new product, but especially one that directly relates to sales.

3. Realize that the author of the data matters

Do you know who is uploading the data into the platforms you’re looking into? This could mean the difference between accurate and updated data and incorrect data, which makes a big difference for the sales team. Who is supplying the data, and is it curated? 

The supplier of industry data should have domain expertise within the investment world. Without this knowledge, you don’t know how reliable it is, or how old or new it is. 

So how can you identify that you have a reliable author for a database?

One question to ask is whether the data is being pulled in by web scrapers, or found by other industry professionals. If the answer is web scrapers, there is the potential for inaccuracy. If it’s being updated by an in-house team, it is likely being done more carefully, and therefore leaving less room for error.

4. Ancillary account information is just as important as contact information

When it comes to institutional investor databases, it’s not just the accounts and contacts that matter, but the detail surrounding them. Investment preferences and account descriptions makes any salesperson’s job easier. Account information helps to provide insight on how an account invests their capital, and helps determine if a firm is the right fit.

Is there a detailed and proprietary account and platform description?

Is there an investment platform description, as well as detailed investment preferences?

This knowledge is intentionally designed to shorten the time it takes your sales team to learn about a particular account. 

Choosing the right institutional investor database

Now that you know the four key areas of a database to focus on, you should be able to move forward in your decision making process, but as it’s a broad field with a lot of options, we realize you might still have some more specific questions. We might just be able to answer them in this prior article that details questions to ask before you buy or subscribe to a database. 

At the end of the day, a database should provide your team with leads, and save you the administrative time and effort of researching who to call on. 

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