When I started LanSwitch ( which became Voyager ) in the early 90′s I set aside a bedroom for an office and on my desk I had a telephone, a fax machine and a laptop ( initially not connected to the Internet , later connected with a dial-up connection ) with Office and a Contact Manager application and a printer. Luxury, I thought because it was the same as I had at Fibernet and much better than I had at Memorex.
My target market was basically: Companies that had busy Local Area Networks; that were in either The Midlands ( where I lived ) or London ( where I could easily commute to and knew people ). So, I basically targeted a combination of London based Financials and other general companies in London and the Midlands. I think I bought the Computer Users Yearbook as my basic database. ( Actually a very comprehensive and detailed source of information ).
I went through the process of identifying a target market and building a database of prospects and suspects many times over during my sales and business start-up career.
Typically now I will segment by horizontal ( size of company ), vertical ( type of company ) and geographical ( location ) and then various other factors eg structure of company, people within that company eg IT Managers etc etc.
Then a database can be purchased which is targeted and therefore typically lower cost than purchasing 1000′s of contacts many of which are not within your target market.
There are many database suppliers these days so it is possible to get some great offers on targeted data.
The equipment side has obviously come on in 17 years but not incredibly so – broadband and wi-fi; scanning software and fax software; CRM versus Contact Management; softphones ( eg Skype ) and video conferencing ( Skype, Webex etc ); standalone traditional and IP phones;printers.
Where there has been enormous progress has been in Internet search and Social Network Marketing.
If you know what vertical you want to concentrate on eg Lawyers in Staffordshire you will find much of the information that you need online via Google or some other search engine.
With great timing ( !! ) I have just been reading this article about Linkedin
that I picked up on Twitter ( posted by Jon Besag who is in sales at Linkedin
This is well worth a read for many reasons.
This article includes comments about in house and external recruiters using Linkedin to find the people that they/thier clients are looking for . There certainly are a lot of recruiters on Linkedin – in fact when I was talking to a friend of mine the other day who is a Linkedin trainer he told me that there were about 68,000 people on Linkedin who called themselves recruiters ( I just did a Linkedin search for ” Recruiters ” and got about 48,000 ) and that there were probably about 100,000 because a lot of recruiters did not call themselves recruiters.
I used this fact recently to help a company that I am working with, who are selling multi job board posting software, to target recruiters. From a small, personalised ” mailshot ” to selected Linkedin recruiters we got a few very positive responses and made a proposal to one within a week and got an order from it.
Recruitment is an obvious thing to do on Linkedin but as said in the article ” The obvious one is jobs, but it’s not just jobs. It’s also clients and services.”
For me the goal is to make a ” personalised ” approach to potential clients and ” personalisation ” requires research. The difference between what you can do now and what you could do 17 years ago is that you can gather far more information on people and companies before you make any approach whatsoever.
If you combine a targeted database with internet and social media search then you have a fantastic tool to help you personalise your ” intelligent ” marketing and sales approach.
If you are a member of eg Ecademy, Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Friendfeed,Skype or MSN then each of these have thier own search facilities – some more sophisticated than others.
Just today I was asking someone how they prospected on the Internet and they said Linkedin, Skype and MSN.
Using a combination of Internet search and Social/Business networks you can find out an awful lot about people and companies.