Your local city or county library isn't just for checking out the latest novels. Libraries subscribe to a variety of business directories, which makes them a perfect place to get leads for free – especially for B2B salespeople. Directories aren't limited to resources like Internet reverse lookups and the Yellow Pages, although those tools can certainly be helpful as well. Many companies make it their business to organize information on both companies and consumers, using it to create huge databases. This information is pure gold for any salesperson looking to create a new lead list.
Most hard-copy business directories will be located in the Reference section, so ask your Reference librarian which ones they carry and where to find them. If your local library doesn't have the directories you need, then placing a request with the librarian might be enough to get them to subscribe. Many libraries will also have computers set up so that patrons can go online, and the librarian will be able to give you sign-in details for the relevant directory services.
InfoUSA.comThis online lead service allows you to search for both businesses and consumers. The business search options include type of business, size of business, SIC code, business location, and more. The consumer search options are income, age range, location and so on. Lead list generation requires you (or the library) to have a paid account, but the basic lookup service is free.
SalesGenieLike InfoUSA, SalesGenie is an Infogroup product. SalesGenie offers much the same search options as InfoUSA and the data comes from the same sources. The difference between the two services is that SalesGenie is designed specifically for salespeople, while InfoUSA is designed more for marketing campaigns. SalesGenie also comes with a short free trial, so you can experiment with it even if your library doesn't subscribe.
Hoover's provides targeted lead lists and other resources for both sales and marketing professionals. They also provide other sales tools, such as “Call Prep Sheets” that teach you useful industry facts so that you can position yourself as an expert. And Hoover's will integrate with many CRMs
, which can save you lots of time. If your library doesn't subscribe, you can sign up for a free trial of Hoover's service instead.
Standard and Poor'sOne of the most prestigious companies in the business, Standard and Poor's is known to anyone familiar with the U.S. stock market as the publisher of the S&P 500, an index of the 500 most promising large publicly-traded companies in various industries. Standard and Poor's also rates and provides indices for smaller companies. The company's reports focus on financial information and credit ratings, and can be very useful in tracking down leads if you have certain financial requirements.
Plunkett ResearchPlunkett offers both print and online almanacs and other business data for a number of industries, including a special package for libraries. In addition to public companies, Plunkett Research has data on government agencies, educational institutions, and individual consumers. You can also use the online service to track industry trends and statistics.
GaleGale is an e-research tool offered by Cengage Learning. It's designed mainly for schools and educational research, but can be quite helpful in generating sales lead lists as well. Gale publishes 600+ databases both in hard copy and online. These databases include both business information and collections of articles on various subjects. The article lists are particularly useful when you're collecting lists of publications related to your industry.