Sales executives are often characterized as either hunters or harvesters. “Hunters” are those that develop new relationships and open new doors for a company. “Harvesters”, on the other hand are those that nurture an existing relationship and milk it as much as possible to maximize the sales of the company’s products and services. Both are equally important to the growth of a company’s business. Arguably, however, it is the hunters that are in greater demand and hard to find.
What makes a hunter sales person successful? Well for a start they have a different personality than the harvester. They have greater confidence in their ability. They can quickly strike a rapport with someone. They are not afraid to make cold calls. They work well under pressure. They get bored doing the same old stuff again and again, and look for challenges. While personality traits are important, a hunter sales person also needs tools to replenish the source of leads that can work on. Large companies such as IBM and Microsoft have lead generation programs such direct marketing, telemarketing and spend billions of dollars unaware new prospect customers that a hunter can go after. However, in most small companies, the hunter sales person is expected to generate and replenish his or her own lead pool.
There are a number of such tools available in the industry – some from large information services companies such as Dun and Bradstreet, InfoUSA and others from startups such as Walker’s Research, JigSaw, and Spoke.
The two big gorillas in the industry are InfoUSA and Dun and Bradstreet. These two have created the category of business information products for b-to-b marketing and b-to-c marketing. Both claim to have millions of companies in their database and millions of executives that a sales person can prospect. While this is true, there is no assurance of the quality of the data that these companies supply. The reason is simple. The cost of verifying and updating millions of records of information is prohibited. So typically these companies can in a given year update only a finite number of records and as a consequence the quality of information is somewhat questionable.
Then there are the scrapers that use Google like search tools to exhaustively through an automated process compile names and titles from company websites, old news articles, conference attendance roster, investor conferences, and other commonly available sources of information. Like the incumbents these players have a huge database (even larger than InfoUSA, and D & B), but do not be surprised if you get three CEO names for the same company or an executive that is no longer there with the company.
These companies start with a different thesis. The thesis is that most sales executives do not need information on millions of companies and zillions of executives. And in any event, the millions of small companies really are not big spenders on third-party products and services. So companies like Walker’s Research instead focus on the top 200,000 companies that account for 70-80 percent of the GDP. The data is then compiled and updated on a regular basis, the old fashioned way – by human beings working the telephone. The result is a targeted list of business information and business leads that is fresh, highly accurate and available at an affordable price of less than $ 20 a month.