When conducting account based (ABM) research, it is necessary to develop a broad view of your customers and prospects which includes company, contact, and industry research. Unfortunately, open web research is quite time-consuming and your sales reps are unlikely to consistently engage in general research, so consider Sales Intelligence vendors with editorial research teams.
Executive research should go beyond the Leadership page and LinkedIn profiles. One option is Boardroom Insiders which gathers rich executive profiles on CxOs written by business journalists.
For industry research, look at Vertical IQ, IBISWorld, or First Research. Vertical IQ and First Research are strong offerings for sales teams that sell broadly across many segments but are not verticalized. They are written in plain English and include Q&A sections. The content in IBISWorld is more formal but better suited for verticalized teams.
At the company level, consider Dun & Bradstreet Hoovers, InsideView, or DiscoverOrg. All three provide company and contact profiles, list building, and sales triggers. D&B Hoovers goes deeper on global coverage, family trees, and industry profiles, DiscoverOrg offers the deepest set of technographics and rich bios, and InsideView provides excellent sales triggers and social media intelligence.
If a US public company, look at its 10-K (annual report). Firms generally discuss their competitors. You can locate the 10-K on a company’s investor site, through sales intelligence vendors, or free Edgar sites.
If a private company, look at Owler, a free site (See below). This is crowdsourced so may include firms that aren’t true competitors.
Look at sales intelligence services such as D&B Hoovers or InsideView. Hoover’s competitors are editorially generated and include top three flags (see below)
Within IT, look at Forrester Wave reports. Another option is technology category searches in PE/VC databases such as DataFox, Crunchbase, Pitchbook, or CB Insights. Keep in mind that companies within the same segment may not be competitors, but partners, customers, etc.
Many industries have industry specific market research that includes competitors. A few general market research firms also provide competitors (e.g. MarketLine, Euromonitor, Global Data, and Freedonia). Top Competitors are also available in IBISWorld, Vertical IQ, and First Research.
Zoominfo and a few other vendors identify similar companies based upon proximity in articles. This finds competitors, but also customers and partners so should be carefully reviewed.
For new technologies or industries, D&B Hoovers offers Conceptual Search which identify companies associated with key phrases (e.g. Marcellus Shale, Obamacare). This is more of an associated companies list and will identify firms in a topical ecosystem. For example, “Harry Potter” identifies studios, publishers, toy makers, theme parks, and thematic tours. (See example below of conceptual search on Marcellus Shale). Conceptual Search lists may be refined by standard prospecting filters such as industry, geography, and size.
If none of these work, use peer list searches (industry code lists) or keyword searches in sales intelligence vendors. If cost is a concern, go to your public library and see if they have ReferenceUSA, AtoZDatabases, or Mergent Online. Each of these allows you to build peer lists based on industry codes, company size, and geography. If you need help, ask for the business or reference librarian to assist.
Industry research firm Vertical IQ launched a mobile app which delivers condensed profiles of 300 industries which can be quickly viewed before meetings or while commuting. The app is available on iPhone and Android devices at no additional charge for current customers.
“Vertical IQ users are busy professionals, and the reality is that they often don’t have the time to research and read an entire industry-related paper to prepare for a client or prospect meeting,” blogged the firm. “In order to best help our busy customers, we have to design the most efficient, practical way possible to prepare for meetings—writing and organizing industry-specific information that is digestible, quick, and to-the-point.”
Industries are listed alphabetically and searchable by Vertical IQ industry, NAICS / SIC, and Favorites. Searching is by keyword, so “Pest” returns Pest Control, Agricultural Chemical Manufacturers, Landscape Services, and Pest Control Services. The results list may be viewed alphabetically or by sector. The app has a short “Time to Pie,” a term coined by Intuit which means how quickly do users get to useful information.
Content is broken into eleven chapters which are navigated by a three-bar icon across fromthe chapter title:
Big Picture Video – an industry overview which helps reps “quickly visualize the business, gain insight, and be ready to talk about points of [my client’s] industry.”
Fast Facts – Average company size, geographic distribution, top firms, business structure, etc.
Call Prep Questions – Capital Financing, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Risks to Watch Out for, Working Capital
Working Capital – Sell and Invoice, Collect, Manage Cash, Pay, Report, Cash Management Challenges
Risks – Industry Risks, Company Risks
Numbers – BizMiner industry ratios
Bank Product Usage – Industry adoption of standard bank products from Barlow Research
Vertical IQ was co-founded by Bobby Martin, who also started First Research. Both services provide an extensive set of industry snapshots for relationship managers looking to quickly learn about key industries.
“Vertical IQ helps you save time, increase the likelihood and effectiveness of pre-call planning, deepen relationships with clients, improve banker confidence during calls, and bridge the gap between a banker’s financial knowledge and business knowledge.”
Vertical IQ supports nearly 35,000 bankers, accountants and advisors who serve small to medium-sized businesses and professionals. Along with subscription services, users may purchase individual reports for $99.