Every professional salesperson should recognize the importance of company research. This can be a very effective strategy for finding potential customers and gaining that competitive intelligence others haven't. Whether you are making cold calls or preparing a big presentation, having every detail about the company is key.The internet offers many avenues leading to revelations about any company. Separation by industry code and geography can be achieved in seconds. Information regarding the corporate structure and other companies under the umbrella can eliminate many potential prospects immediately. The past affiliations of management and purchasing personnel can be clues to which direction a sales presentation should proceed and which areas to avoid. Mergers and acquisitions can determine possible future needs before they become requested. Making your product and its availability known to a customer before they begin to shop will lead them first to your door.
There are many ways to research and gain market knowledge all of which are internet based. Below is a list of some of the best tools available:
Search EnginesEven though this is a basic, it is even more effective today. Google maintains complete profiles of companies through their corporate social network called + (plus) and also in Places. Keyword searches by product and location will reveal targeted customers.
Social MediaFacebook and LinkedIn have profiles of almost all important companies today. They will post information about new product releases and acquisitions. LinkedIn has groups that discuss virtually every industry that exists. Personal business relationships may be developed through intelligent posts and replies and networks can be created.
ForumsThere are countless forums for sales support to aid in prospecting and also forums around any targeted industry. It takes a lot of reading but some gems of knowledge will be revealed.
Business BlogsThere are leaders in every industry who have blogs about current trends and news. These are valuable sources of information. NASP.com is a great example!
Press ReleasePR Web and several others can be searched for news on any industry front.
Corporate AffiliationsA division of LexisNexis, Corporate Affiliations maintains profiles on 1 million global public and private companies with a focus on the companies that drive the global economy and the members of their corporate families. These profiles contain the names and history of all current and former key personnel, the products produced under the entire umbrella, mergers and acquisitions, along with stock exchange information, holdings and annual sales.