Researching sales prospects has definitely become easier over the last 15 or 20 years. When I started selling in 1996 – going on the Internet to do research was a big deal and the amount of information you found was good but limited.
Today, the amount of information available about companies and people on the web is amazing. It can also be a bit scary and can seem time-consuming, but I assure you it does not have to be either. I have broken this blog into two sections – researching companies based on sector or vertical to identify key contacts and then researching people based on their job title. These are just suggestions to help you improve your research capabilities and prospecting results.
One of my favourite places to go on a company website is their blog and news/events section. From a sales point of view, if you can tailor your message to relevant developments in the company, for example, a capital spending initiative or geographic expansion, this information can help you create your message (call, email or Inmail) to stand out from the rest.
A simple action, but always one of the most effective is to Google the company/individual you want to reach out to. Whether it be the company name or even the company name with a descriptor like “in the news”, you have a good probability of finding at least one piece of useful information to get your research underway.
These may seem old school, but there can be some good information within online databases. I remember for one industrial client we were doing a very large competitive intelligence project and our go-to place for employee information was Manta and Yellow Pages.
Association Member List
Finding an association membership list and even reading the blogs, news and information pieces being published can give you insight into the industry as a whole including, trends, challenges and risks. There often is a member descriptor section that may yield some useful information too like the name of a contact.
Industry Related Magazines
Taking some time to read up on what is happening in the industry you are selling to can pay dividends down the road. It makes targeting your value proposition easier and it also allows you to sound educated when speaking with prospects. In addition to news, these industry related magazines often have published profiles of companies and advertisement pieces – all of which can lead to new leads.
Social Media Presence
Check out their social media channels like, Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter. Companies are also using platforms like Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and Pinterest to drive their brand and share information.
Don’t forget to leverage federal or provincial government sites as well such as Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. These sites often have company profiles, contact names and so forth.
ComLinked is similar to Linkedin, but for businesses. This growing B2B social network has search capability and the profiles have a decent amount of information on them including contact details.
This tends to be my first or second stop when researching an individual. First, see what you can find online, news articles, blogs, press releases, events they have spoken at, the company or companies they have worked for.
Similar to Google, I use LinkedIn as one of the first places I go when researching an individual or even researching titles of individuals I am targeting. For example, if I was looking for health & safety contacts in the oil & gas sector, you could use the advanced search functionality in LinkedIn adding in your keywords and titles and see what you come up with.
Other Social Media Properties
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all great sources of information too on an individual and to search for individuals based on keywords.
Remember, researching takes time but it can save time in the end by helping you narrow your target contact list. Researching effectively also helps you to generate a better understanding of your prospects – what may motivate or interest them and what their business pain points may be. Use this knowledge to tailor your value proposition to increase the likelihood of a response.
If you are in need of assistance from a sales and marketing perspective, feel free to contact me. I would be happy to see if we can help. Alternatively, if you are simply looking for a source of excellent sales and marketing information, please feel free to sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Twitter.