How to Get Free Business Leads at the Public Library
Pure gold for a salesperson looking to create a new lead list
Your local library isn't just a place you go to find a new novel without paying for it. Libraries subscribe to a number of different business directories, which makes them a perfect place to get leads for free —especially for B2B salespeople. These directories aren't limited to resources like Internet reverse lookups, although such a tool can be very useful if you're looking for business leads. Many companies make it their business to organize information about both the company and their consumers. This information is compiled into a huge database, and this database is pure gold for any salesperson looking to create a new lead list.
A Word About Databases
While most hard-copy business directories are located in the Reference section of the public library, you should still ask your Reference librarian which databases they carry and where to find them. If your local library doesn't have the directory you need, then place a request with the librarian because very often the librarian will be able to subscribe to the source you're looking for. Many libraries have computers set up so that patrons like you can go online if you prefer the electronic version. That said, not all of these databases have been converted to e-versions.
The following are six different databases available in hard-copy or online at your local library.
This online lead service allows you to search for both businesses and consumers. The business search options include the type of the business, the size of the business, the SIC code, the business location, and more. The consumer search options include income, age range, location, and so on. Lead list generation requires you (or the library) to have a paid account, but the basic lookup service is free.
Just like InfoUSA, SalesGenie is an Infogroup product. SalesGenie offers many of the same search options as InfoUSA and the data comes from the same sources. The difference between the two services is that SalesGenie is designed specifically for salespeople, while InfoUSA is designed more for marketing campaigns. SalesGenie also comes with a short free trial, so you can experiment with it even if your library doesn't subscribe.
Hoover's provides targeted lead lists and other resources for both sales and marketing professionals. They also provide sales tools, such as “Call Prep Sheets” with useful industry facts that will help position you as an expert. Additionally, Hoover's will integrate with many CRMs, which will end up saving you a lot of time.
Standard and Poor's is one of the most prestigious companies in the world. If you are familiar with the U.S. stock market, then you know that the company publishes the S&P 500, an index of the 500 most promising large publicly-traded companies in various industries. Standard and Poor's also rates and provides indices for smaller companies. The company's reports focus on financial information and credit ratings and can be very useful in tracking down leads in the financial sector.
Plunkett offers both print and online almanacs and other business data for a number of industries, including a special package for libraries. In addition to public companies, Plunkett Research has data on government agencies, educational institutions, and individual consumers. You can also use the online service to track industry trends and statistics.
Gale is an e-research tool offered by Cengage Learning. It's designed mainly for schools and educational research, but can be quite helpful in generating sales lead lists as well. Gale publishes over 600 databases, both in hard copy and online. These databases include both business information and collections of articles on various subjects. The article lists are particularly useful when you're collecting lists of publications related to your industry.