Ryan's Blog

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Improve Your Prospects

When making sales calls, like the Boy Scouts, it pays to be prepared. It demonstrates your professionalism, saves time and enables you to anticipate questions and overcome resistance. Today, with so many research sources available you should be able to find information on every prospect. Good places to look for information about your prospects include the Internet, newspapers, magazines, trade journals, friends, family and your colleagues. However, even experienced researchers and consultants sometimes find it difficult and time consuming locating the right information needed to build a solid prospect list.

As most dedicated researchers know, rather than trawl through pages and pages of search results on the Internet it’s easier and faster to use industry specific directories, portals and jumpstations.

Compound searches

Search engines build databases of keywords and phrases to help you locate websites. However, the way each search engine performs this task and the criteria it uses to rank and list results is different. It’s worth reading the tips offered by each search engine on how to conduct searches. To perform a compound search for “recruitment software” on Google.com, for example, requires you type it within quotation marks. Otherwise the search engine will return all web pages about recruitment and software, which will run into hundreds of thousands.

Concept search

Some search engines will locate related web pages using concept searches, even if the exact keyword or phrase you enter doesn’t appear on a web page. Some offer related topic options or allow for weighted terms that allow you to define which keywords are most important to your search. Alter Vista offers Related Topics, for example and Google allows you to search for synonyms.

Metasearch

Because no one search engine lists all the websites on the Internet, you’ve probably spent some time repeating searches on different engines. A Metasearch looks through several search engine databases at once, returning a merged list of results. Having performed a metasearch you might discover web sites listed in databases you don't regularly use or didn’t even know existed. SearchAllInOne, Search.com and Mamma.com are just three metasearch engines you might find useful.

What’s New on the Web?

New websites are being added to the Internet by the thousands everyday, but it usually takes a number of weeks for a new site to appear on the big name search engines like Google, yahoo and MSN. The reason for this is the big search engines review and filter new website submissions before adding them to their databases. A way to round this is to use a search engine like Starting Point, which lists new submissions instantly. You can find a whole series of search engines and portals that offer a “What’s New” feature.

Search Engine Directories

Most search engines have directories that allow you to narrow down your search criteria to specific categories, such as travel, business, sport, companies, education, health, entertainment, and jobs. One of the largest and most popular directories, Yahoo, allows you to see how relevant a website is to your keyword search by ranking the quality of the match. The most likely match is listed first, and so on. Check out the directories on Excite, Lycos, Infoseek and Yahoo.

Newsgroups

Internet newsgroups are another valuable source of research information. The term newsgroup encompasses the whole spectrum of online forums, bulletin boards and discussion groups. You will find a newsgroup somewhere on the Web for just about any topic you can possibly imagine. Take a look at Deja.com (Google groups) and Usenet.org.uk for more in-depth information of newsgroups.

What’s in a name?

The suffix that appears at the end of a domain name or URL, such as www.swiftpro.com provides you with top-line information about that website:

.gov for government
.edu for education
.org for non-profit
.com for commercial
.net for commercial/technology related

Online & Local Libraries

There is a whole raft of digital and print information available to help you research prospects and possible new market sectors. Many of company reports, guides and trade periodicals are available to buy and download over the Internet. You will also find many business publications are available free of charged in the reference section of your local library.

Useful sources of business intelligence include

* Company annual reports
* Business guides and directories (checkout Key British Enterprises)
* Trade & business journals
* Trade association directories
* Government publications
* Local & national newspapers
* Specialty magazines
* Market research reports (usually charge a fee)

Confirming client prospects information

After searching the Web you might have a list of potential prospects but don’t have all the contact information you need to add them to your company database, make a sales call, send an email or post some direct mail. Before you start using fee charging business directories try using some tried and trusted information services that have successfully migrated from print and telephony to the Internet.

A paid service by telephone, BT Directory Enquiries online offers you 50 free searches a day. You can search for an individual or company by name, town, street and post code. The service provides basic information such as address, telephone and fax numbers. You can find BT Directory Enquiries at www.BT.com.

The Thomson Local Directory also offers a free search facility. The major difference between this and BT’s directory service is that you can send emails directly from the page listing, and connect to the company’s website. Yell.com, Kellysearch, Askalix also offer comprehensive online business listings free of charge. If you want European or global company information then Europages European Business Directory and Kompass, which list 1.9million companies in 75 countries, are good places to start. They offer basic contact information free of charge.

Prospecting for candidates

Just as important as building your client base is attracting high quality candidates, especially in areas such as medical, legal, finance, education, public service and government recruitment. As many of you will already know, numerous company and organisational website freely list the names, titles, direct contact details and even biographies of their people. Many universities, libraries, government departments, charities, law firms, NHS hospitals, healthcare trusts and multi-nationals have dedicated People Finder sections as part of their website architectures. It might take you a little time to locate these sites but the reward for placing a top public or private sector professional will make your efforts worthwhile.

Charlie Trumpess
Marketing Manager
Swiftpro recruitment software

1 Comments:

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