This is the most important part of the job of securing your clients. The work you do now could last you a whole two years without further activity so do take your time and enjoy this quiet accumulation of client information – your potential client database.
My most successful source was the local library. You need a register of businesses -preferably by size to ensure an SME client – that will give you the following information:
- Type of business Location
- Name of MD/CEO
- Number of Employees
- Full Address and Telephone number
- Turnover (if possible but not essential)
Each source is different but my principal source was the Dun and Bradstreet directory for my area and within two hours I had photocopied details of businesses that would last me up to two years. Other directories exist both by county, State and city. All will help in your search. Don’t write down the companies but photocopy the pages for attention by you later.
Remember, when you are in the library you only need to select the AREA i.e. where the business is located. This usually comes in the form of a list of businesses in such and such a city, county or State etc. (The object of this is to keep travelling time down to a minimum)
Photocopy as many pages as you can and then bring them home for analysis.
The next stage is company selection. Work out on a map how far you are willing to travel and identify those towns/areas that meet your requirements and then list them. Select the companies in those areas and place a RED mark against them. Pay particular attention to Business Parks and Industrial Zones.
Now decide the size of business you are seeking. Be careful here because turnover or employee numbers are not always good guides. The nature of the business may mean high value turnover per employee e.g. quality manufacturing or low turnover per employee as in the some of the service sector. Place a BLUE mark against them.
Finally decide the type of business. This is sometimes easier than anything else but above all choose those types of business with whom you enjoy working OR most importantly where you may have practical experience. Place a GREEN mark against these.
When you have finished you will find some companies with just one mark, some with two and some with three. Obviously the latter are your most favored prospects. The number you will uncover will be determined by your selection criteria but it should not be less than say 100 – 200 in the normal course of events. I should add here that one of my best client companies had only one mark against them for area and I met him through a referral from another.