With the advent of the World Wide Web and increased access to the Internet, there is a world of information at your fingertips! However, there is so much available information that it can be
To be an effective researcher, it’s important to differentiate credible resources from other
resources that may lack credibility.
Whether large or small, most company information is now available on the Internet. While there
are many research tools available, in this section we’ll focus on several credible tools such as
Google news alerts, U.S. Security and Exchange Commission’s financial reports, and LinkedIn
social media platform.
You can use most any news feed tool to alert you when a prospect (or company) has been
mentioned online. By setting up news alerts, you improve your efficiency to actively search for
For example, you might receive a news alert that your prospect was recently quoted regarding the
negative impact of employee productivity when employees are seated at a desk all day. You may
have a solution such as a standing desk product, and this would be a great opportunity to swoop
in and introduce yourself.
Google provides a great way to start your news alert research! Check out Google Alerts and
You should also consider using internal tools, such as DiscoverOrg and Crush
Visit Google Finance (http://www.google.com/finance).
Enter a company name in the search field.
Set up a Google Alert.
- Visit Google Alerts (https://www.google.com/alerts).
- In the “Create an alert about” box, enter in the words you want to get email notifications
- Click Show options to customize things like how often you get alerts, types of websites
you want to search, and the email address for your alerts.
- Click Create Alert.
Locating and reviewing a company’s financial report is another key research tool. Financial
reports are available through U.S. Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), company
websites, or both.
A company’s annual financial report – Form 10-K- frequently identifies a company’s top risk
factors. Risks are found in Item 7a of the annual report on Form 10-K. For example, you might
read, “If our company’s IT Infrastructure fails, we can expect x, y, z, repercussions.”
Additional insight can be found in the Management Discussion & Analysis section (MD&A).
Take time to review a target prospect’s financial report. When you familiarize yourself with the
report, you can connect-the-dots to determine where your solution can help. In addition, best of
all, they already told you how important your solution could be!
Visit the SEC (http://www.sec.gov/answers/form10k.htm).
Visit EDGAR (http://www.sec.gov/edgar/searchedgar/companysearch.html).
Enter a company name in the search field.
LinkedIn Originally, the focus of LinkedIn was to facilitate your professional presence through social media.
LinkedIn has since turned into a powerhouse research tool. Not only can companies research
you, you can research companies, people, and the marketplace!
You can use LinkedIn to research a company, as well as the people within the company.
Searching positions, titles, and departments is an important aspect of your research.
Look for the right level-that is, a director level or above. Also, place particular focus on VP level
You’ll also need to consider company departments. Look for the right departments, such as
Infrastructure services, IT Services, Finance and/or IT Finance, IT Brand Management or Brand
Managers, and Marketing Strategists.
Visit LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/directory/companies).
Research a company
If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, it’s a great time to set one up!
Cracking the LinkedIn Sales Code
Cracking the LinkedIn Sales Code, by Jill Konrath and Ardath Albee, addresses the question of
whether LinkedIn can really increase sales. The authors surveyed more than 3000 sellers to
learn how they used LinkedIn to create new business opportunities (read the article for specifics
on the survey audience). The study explored how top sellers leveraged LinkedIn to generate
The study produced these key findings:
– LinkedIn contributes to opportunity creation. Overall, 4.9% of survey respondents
attributed “lots” of opportunities to their LinkedIn usage, while another 39.4% attributed
– Prospect research is the most frequent LinkedIn activity. Moreover, it’s paying off with
61.4% of those who do so saying they’re successful at initiating offline conversations with
– Top sellers use more of LinkedIn’s capabilities. In addition, they use them more often.
The difference is often striking.
– Top sellers pay attention to their professional presence. Two of the most valuable
activities on LinkedIn are sharing relevant content and show casing personal expertise.
The one-third of sellers taking advantage of this opportunity say it pays off handsomely.
Knowledge of LinkedIn’s capabilities is limited. The biggest challenge (stated by 58.0%
of the respondents) is that they don’t know how to use what’s available from LinkedIn. In
addition, 41.2% of respondents say they lack the time to learn and/or use LinkedIn.
The Right Amount of Research
You are probably wondering how much time you should spend researching. Excessive
researching in an attempt to locate every piece of information about the prospect or their
company can be detrimental. Conversely, not enough research can leave ill prepared.
It’s important to differentiate between need to know and nice to know information. The key is to
conduct research that is applicable and relevant-in other words, the need to know information.
Here are several strategies for beginning effective research:
– Talk to people familiar with the organization
– Make a preliminary calls to the company and talk to lower level employees
– Review the annual report and read press releases and news articles