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How to find local business to business prospects / customers.

How to find local business to business prospects / customers.

If you’re trying to sell your product or service business to business, one of your biggest challenges is continually finding new customers. Even before starting to sell, you face the dilemma of identifying local prospects. So it’s no surprise, one of our most frequent questions we receive is, how do I find local businesses and customers?

Fortunately, it’s not as hard as it once was - in fact, today it can be done quickly and affordably. Of course the quality of your prospective lead increases when your budget does - but you can actually get started with no budget. You’ll simply need an investment in time and you need to know where and how to look for local businesses.

Find local business prospects with no budget

Search Google Maps: Yup, simply open a browser, navigate to google maps (or similar service), and search for types of industries in your local zip code. Generally, you can click on the listed results and find more information or at least a link to a company’s website. This options lacks a defined contact person - but it also didn’t cost you anything. You can quickly compile a list of prospect companies this way. Then search online using google, Linkedin, or similar services to find contacts within each company. If searching for contacts online fails, then you can fall back to simply calling and asking for the correct contact person and their information.

Visit your local Library: Even though most folks laugh at visiting a library, with the vast resource of the internet at their finger tips, local libraries still offer significant benefits. You can do research at the library but more importantly, once you have your library card, you can then tap into a vast resource of online databases. Reference USA, Morningstar, LexisNexis, and many more may be available to you freely. You can now search locally for businesses and find information on each.

Manta.com: Manta is a large, free resource of small company information. You can search for local or regional companies. Manta can be searched for free, however, not every business is verified.

If you have a budget, your choices improve

If you’re able to allocate funds your options increase and the quality of information improves. You can now evaluate various online database sources that require paid subscriptions.

Linkedin.com: Linkedin is an excellent resource. It can used without subscribing, but if you choose to upgrade to their premium version, you can gather more detailed information on prospects. Though admittedly, you’ll need to have a list of businesses you’d like to approach already compiled.
InfoUSA: This online data broker can provide you local, regional, or more specific listings for companies you want to sell to. You can acquire mailing lists, email lists, and even subscribe to their sales genie service to have leads forwarded to you.

Hoovers.com: A Dun & Bradstreet online service provides detailed business, financial, and contact information for various companies. It’s more appropriate for larger firms, since data is more accurate for companies that report to D&B. But it can be a valuable tool if you’re looking for mid to large-sized firms.

Or you can outsource the prospecting

Since you have a budget, you can also rely on outside sources to gather the information on prospects. Options abound once you’re willing to spend some budget money.

List brokers: You can work with local providers such as, mailing houses or ad agencies, and provide them with your prospect criteria and allow them to do the leg work. They’ll identify the SIC codes and generate lists based around your location for businesses that match your ideal client. Then they’ll sell you lists with contact information.

USPS: The USPS can also be a resource. They have several programs and services focused on small business. One is their Every Door Direct Mail tool. It allows you to target various zip codes with direct mail. It’s not the right solution for most B2B, but it can be useful for some.

Large budget, small budget, no budget - you have no excuse.

The resources I’ve outlined should get you started and moving in the right direction. Some only require an investment in time while others will need money too. But half your small business challenge should be solved. By using the above sources, you should be able to compile a list of local prospects. Now you only have to deal with the second part of the problem - the strategy and execution of marketing to the prospect you’ve identified. But that’s another blog post. Good luck and happy marketing.

Jun 22, 2013
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