Prospecting – 10 Ways To Find Contacts

On April 12, 2009, in Prospecting, by Mike D. Merrill (@mikedmerrill)

Find Target Contacts at your Key Accounts

10 Ways to Find Contacts

Whether you are an enterprise sales rep or territory sales rep, we are always looking to develop our target contact list for our named and territory accounts. Once developed, we can leverage into our broader sales campaigns. Now if you have a dedicated inside sales rep who is tasked with prospecting, appointment setting, I encourage you to share this with them. Enterprise sales reps tend to target a fixed set of named accounts in a given territory such as Fortune 1000. Their goal is to penetrate prospects within a fixed set of accounts. As a territory rep, I was not only targeting the largest accounts but also constantly trying to reach a wider net of accounts via email, events, and inside sales rep out bounding. The purpose of today’s post is to provide insight into a few techniques I have used to develop the contacts at specific accounts. Of course, you also need to determine the key titles you are seeking before you start this exercise. In my experience at NetApp, I was typically targeting titles such as CIO, IT Director, Storage Admin and System Admin.

Ever get those emails from corporate or field marketing asking for a list of accounts to target for specific campaigns? If you take the time, outside of selling time of course, to develop your target contact list within your key accounts, you have a better chance of getting results. Often times, marketing leverages and purchases off third party lists which can be helpful, but I often find these lists are outdated.

10 Ways to Find Contacts

  1. Network within your ecosystem: First, if you sell your products through a channel, such as value added resellers, you definitely want to share your key account list with them. More often than not, the local reseller will have sold another product to companies on your target list. I find this especially true within the top 100 accounts in your territory. Any existing relationships can help ease the way into one of their current accounts. If the given reseller has a solid relationship and has sold them something in the past, they can at least arrange a first face to face visit. Second, ask around your company. Many of the senior sales reps at your company once started at the exact same place you did as a territory rep selling through a channel. Lastly, see if marketing can provide any existing contact information from previous events, marketing campaigns, etc. In large companies this will be a challenge due to privacy laws, but still worth investigating with your marketing team.
  2. LinkedIn:  This is by far the easiest tool to not only find contacts at a given company, but to also see if anyone in your network is connected to them. With over 35 Million users, you are bound to find at least one contact at your target company. As we all know, it is always easier to get into an account with a referral or introduction so network your way via LinkedIn to these companies. While most folks are familiar with the Advanced Search function, don’t overlook Groups within your target industry. Often times, you will find folks who have commented on discussions within specific groups that will allow you to also add value as well. This also improves your personal brand, but make sure you don’t come across trying to sell something. Also, LinkedIn has a picture, which will be helpful the first time you meet the person or if you know they are a member of your country club, church, etc.
  3. Jigsaw:  This is by far one of the best tools for gaining a contact database that I have seen. I first started using Jigsaw last year and was amazed with the value and ease of use of this site. Not sure how OneSource and other companies can compete when Jigsaw is getting content from the community. Jigsaw is a free service that allows you to download complete contact information for desired contacts. Now, this system is only as good as the information uploaded. Occasionally, you will download an outdated contact. Just report a complaint and you will get your points back. That’s how the content continually improves as folks move from one job to the other.To earn points, I need to upload contacts. Of course, uploading from Outlook is by far the easiest. Jigsaw requires complete addresses, phone numbers, titles, etc., and will suggest the corporate address if an address was not provided. If you upload a completely new contact to Jigsaw, you receive royalty points for anyone who downloads from the system. This is the most rewarding functionality apart from the sheer volume of contacts. Now many of you are saying, “Why would I want to upload my contacts and help other sales reps out there that I compete with?” This is a valid concern, but if you think your value is a contact and not you and your ability to sell and market a product then you may not last long in sales. Your value comes in the ability to generate a Unique Selling Proposition that compels a potential buyer to want to hear more. See future blog posts for this type of discussion.
  4. Google:  While many hunters do use Google, there are some techniques to help uncover email addresses. This has been very helpful when trying to spread a wide net in your territory for demand generation such as events. Here’s how it works. Most companies tend to adopt a common format for their email addresses.Examples include: firstname_lastname@companyname.com,   firstinitiallastname@companyname.com,  firstname.lastname@companyname.com 

    Of course, if you know the email format in advance, then you can just send an email to the target contact you have already identified. However, if you don’t know the format or are still looking for some key contact email addresses, get Google to ‘fill in the blank’ by adding an asterisk (*) to your searches. For Example, using Google advanced search with 100 results per page, I can search the company name Oracle to determine their email format:

    I quickly discover within the top ten results that the email format is firstname.lastname@oracle.com. Often times, you see a result for a small company within the first 10 results. If they are a Fortune 1000, you may have to scroll down a few pages. Many times the first contact you see is a PR person and bingo, you know the email format.
    Note: Many times I will find the exact target I am looking for in company user forums when I do the *@companyname.com search. Fifty percent of the time they will list their full contact information in these forums as they want someone from tech support to contact them. Additionally, you can find this often times by doing a search within the target companies webpage itself with a search like this.

    *@tatango.com site:www.tatango.com

    Also, here’s a great resource for Google searches that folks often forget.

  5. Facebook: For more obscure companies I this is a way to at least find names that I can then search on other platforms such as LinkedIn, Jigsaw and Google. There is an advanced search as well within Facebook. More importantly, you get a picture. This can come in handy if you were going to an event and you wanted to look for a key contact that you wanted to introduce yourself too. Of course, LinkedIn should have a picture too, but not always.
  6. Hoovers.com: If you have a paid subscription, Hoovers often times provide contact names but not full email or phone numbers. However, the content is rarely up to date or only lists the most senior members of the company.
     
  7. Twitter.com: This one can be especially beneficial since folks will often have a link to their personal website or their LinkedIn profile. Occasionally, you will find some folks who make their profile private on LinkedIn which, in my opinion, takes away the whole purpose of being on there in the first place. More importantly, you can see what they are tweeting about.
  8. 123People.com: This site is valuable as well as it will pull information from any source on the internet. Read their disclaimer:All person search results of Mike Merrill are automatically, real time created. All person related information consisting i.e.: of email addresses, addresses, phone numbers are pulled from an extensive list of free available international and regional (United States) relevant sources.
  9. Other Social Networking Sites: Plaxo, Naymz, Ning, Digg, ad infinitum. All of these are additionally resources to find contacts
     
  10. College Alumni Websites: Another often over looked resource is alumni websites. If my target market was Austin, TX, I bet a large proportion of those folks locally graduation from University of Texas. I could search for contacts by title and probably have a good chance to get in front of them leveraging a school connection. Especially if you were in the same school/college or sorority or fraternity

Hopefully you found this list to be helpful. I also invite you to comment on other ideas. This is a starting list and not meant to be exhaustive.

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  • http://boinc.vanderbilt.edu/CSB/view_profile.php?userid=1660 mark

    If you have to do it, you might as well do it right

  • http://boinc.vanderbilt.edu/CSB/view_profile.php?userid=1660 mark

    If you have to do it, you might as well do it right

  • http://jefflipschultz.wordpress.com/ Jeff Lipschultz

    What a treasure trove of info! So glad we connected and I visited your site. Thanks for sharing, Mike!

  • http://jefflipschultz.wordpress.com Jeff Lipschultz

    What a treasure trove of info! So glad we connected and I visited your site. Thanks for sharing, Mike!

  • http://www.gentlerainmarketing.com/ Gentlerain Marketing

    Nice Post!!!!
    Your information is useful to find contacts…
    Thanks for your information!!!!!
    Finding contact is useful to all who like to find contact of other people..

  • http://www.gentlerainmarketing.com Gentlerain Marketing

    Nice Post!!!!
    Your information is useful to find contacts…
    Thanks for your information!!!!!
    Finding contact is useful to all who like to find contact of other people..

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