Top Prospecting Research Tools

Top Prospecting Research ToolsI LOVE doing prospect research. Yes I know I’m weird. But it is true.

I am very adept at finding information about my prospect companies and contacts. Not in a creepy stalker kind of way. I simply know what tools are available to me and how to use them well.

I pride myself on being able to locate hard to find information on prospects. It’s a skill I developed when working for a copier sales company and cold calling 50-70 times a day.

I had to find and sort through a lot of information very quickly in order to hit my numbers for the day. It was important for me to have not only a strong prospecting method, but to use as many tools as possible.

So how did I research companies and prospects so quickly and effectively? Through a variety of sources all of which are available to you for free.

Company Websites

This is as good a place as any to start your research. Company websites often have information about the company and it’s key players.

Many companies have a page dedicated to their corporate executives or key players. Often with their email address and direct phone number listed.

I’ve been seeing this more and more. Companies freely giving away information. Marcus Sheridan of The Sales Lion blog calls this The Honest Economy. As he mentions, companies are embracing transparency like never before. There couldn’t be better news fora  sales pro.

Now keep in mind, I am not telling your, nor implying you take advantage of this honesty. You should do quite the opposite and protect it.

Be honest in your dealings with these companies and executives. They deserve nothing less.

Using LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a very powerful research tool for sales professionals and they know it. By offering a choice  of premium subscription plans for sales professionals, recruiters, and everyday users; LinkedIn has become a powerhouse in the social media realm.

I have only used a premium account a couple of times, but in no way believe they are needed to be successful. If you want to sign up for one, then by all means do so. None of the below uses for LinkedIn require a subscription though.

By the way, if after reading this post you still want a little help with your LinkedIn profile be sure to check out my eBook Top 9 Tips For Using LinkedIn Like A Sales Pro? You can get it free by signing up for my weekly newsletter which delivers easy, ready to use sales tips direct to your inbox.

LinkedIn is a brilliant idea and one that should be fully utilized by every sales pro. What it’s done is create an incentive for top level executives to share their professional information. Not only their history but often times their contact information as well.

When you find a prospect’s LinkedIn profile page study it like the final is tomorrow. ~Tweet This! 

What types of people are they connected too. Anyone you know who can introduce you? Where they went to school.

Pay special attention to what groups they are a part of? Do you belong to any of them? If so you should start being VERY active on them so that your posts, discussions, and questions show up on their daily feed.

Where did they go to school? What hobbies do they have? What is their birthday? Why not put it on your calendar to send them a bday card?

LinkedIn has a wealth of information available at your disposal. Don’t miss it.

Using Google

On June 15,2006 “To Google” became a verb in the Oxford English Dictionary.

There’s a reason for that, it’s popular because it’s good at what it does. Finding information you are looking for.

When you find a new prospect or contact the first thing you should do is Google them. See what they’re up to. Maybe they are part of a local organization. Maybe they volunteer nearby their office.

Are they an active member of their church. Did they just give a large cash donation to a charity of their choice?

Use Google to find out what is going on in their professional lives. If it’s worth knowing then you’ll likely be able to find it on online. Just don’t be crazy and show up on their doorstep.

Have you seen the Will Smith movie The Pursuit Of Happiness? Where he shows up to a prospects doorstep and gets invited to box seats at a game? Yeah…that won’t happen. So be a good steward of the information you find out while Googling someone.

Trade Publications

If your prospect company is a major industry player then it’s likely that one or all of the C-Level executives have been interviewed for or even written about in an industry trade publications during their career.

Go to the publications main site and search for their names. See if anything pops up and if it does use that to your advantage when reaching out and trying to build rapport.

Reference an article that features them, or even better one that they wrote. Give them praise for being a part of the industry publication and go from there.

Your Network

As a sales pro you probably work hard to develop your professional network.  You know a lot of people in your industry that know a lot of other people in your industry.

Why not use this to your advantage when researching prospects? If you’ve recently completely a project for a client, or were given praise by one of them why not ask if they know someone you’re interested in meeting.

Best case is you get an introduction or valuable information. Worse case, they don’t know them.

What other means do you use to research prospects?  Let me know in the comments below.

~Johnny Bravo

Image courtesy of jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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