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New Services May Bring The End of Cold Calling

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                   SoHo NEWS & TIPS
Helping You Make the Most of Your Small Office/Home Office


Finding new clients in the competitive business world can 
be very difficult. Not only do you have to deal with 
competition, but you also have to find the time in your 
busy workday to commit to the hunt. It can get very 
frustrating! But today's article may shed some light on 
new services that will help you find clients in less time 
and with less stress.


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- The New York Stock Exchange makes a $10.2B bid 
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- Rumor has it THQ Wireless is shutting down all 
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- IDT, the Newark telecommunications and entertain-
  ment company, will close its call center...

- Deutsche Boerse vowed to push ahead with its 
  merger offer for Euronext in the face the New 
  York Stock Exchange's rival bid...

- Rumor has it all tommy.com employees lost their 
  jobs in a round of massive company-wide layoffs 
  instigated by new owners Apax Capital Partners...

- Fannie Mae agreed to pay a $400 million fine for 
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- Dell plans to open up two brick-and-mortar 
  locations in a pilot program to test the retail 
  waters later this year...

- General Motors Corp. said it asked a US bankrupt-
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New Services May Bring The End of Cold Calling 

Ever since Anu Shukla launched RubiconSoft Inc. 
three years ago, she and her team have been so 
busy building the business that there's been 
precious little time to hunt for new clients. The 
online marketing service didn't even have a full-
time sales executive until early this year.

Yet the company has managed to land a dozen or so 
big-name clients, including Tower Records and Ritz 
Interactive Inc., which manages a host of retail 
Web sites.

Ms. Shukla's secret? Software tools and online 
services that help her generate sales leads with-
out the usual legwork and the often-inefficient 
cold calling. For instance, she used an online 
social-networking service to get a foot in the 
door at Tower and Ritz. The service, from LinkedIn 
Corp. of Palo Alto, Calif., allowed her to search 
through lists of her contacts' contacts for 
potential leads. When she found names at Tower and 
Ritz, mutual acquaintances gave her an introduct-

For Ms. Shukla, services like LinkedIn, as well as 
Jigsaw, Spoke and iProfile, are much more effective 
than simply cold calling. "You know who you're 
calling and who they report to, to make the call 
more fruitful," she says.

These days, entrepreneurs can choose from a host 
of tools that help them address an old problem: 
how to sign up new customers when you have small 
or nonexistent sales resources -- and must compete 
with corporations with deep pockets and big 

Some tools, like LinkedIn, let you find sales 
leads through mutual acquaintances. Others are 
more like beefed-up phone directories, offering 
exhaustive lists of corporate personnel and their 
contact information. Still others offer comprehen-
sive background information on prospective clients, 
culled from press releases, news reports and other 
sources. Some offer a combination of these features.

"Sales is a challenge for any company, but 
especially for small businesses -- small firms 
don't have the resources or the channels that big-
ger companies have," says Sanjeev Aggarwal, a 
senior analyst at Yankee Group, a consulting firm 
based in Boston. "These new tools have made it 
more manageable."

Most of these services charge a fee for full 
access to their information -- in some cases, 
hundreds or thousands of dollars. But many offer 
stripped-down free versions as well. For instance, 
a directory site might let you see the names of a 
company's personnel, but you wouldn't get their 
contact information.

Even these limited resources can be valuable, Ms. 
Shukla notes. "We didn't pay a penny" for any of 
the tools that landed clients, she says.

Finding Contacts

One of the most popular categories of tools allows 
users to browse through extensive lists of potent-
ial sales leads.

Jigsaw.com, created by Jigsaw Data Corp. of San 
Mateo, Calif., offers a database of contacts 
submitted by members. To get access to those names, 
you must either pay a fee or contribute new 
contacts of your own. Twenty-five dollars a month, 
or 25 contributed contacts, gets you access to 25 
new names. You can also earn points toward buying 
more contacts by correcting mistakes in the data-
base. Users can search the list by a number of 
criteria, including company size and industry.

At Great Outdoor Network Inc., a West Palm, Fla., 
company that offers online services for media 
planners and buyers, Chief Executive Robert Shockey 
uses Jigsaw to track down leads. His target: 
advertising executives in the "out-of-home" market, 
such as billboards and bus stops. "It's imperative 
for us to reach vice presidents of marketing," 
says Mr. Shockey, whose company has 15 employees. 
"We use Jigsaw to locate the right people."

The fact that users police the information appeals 
to many small businesses. "They really monitor the 
accuracy," says Mimi Evans, co-founder of Seligence 
LLC, a 23-person firm in Lawrence, Mass., that 
provides companies with information they can use 
to boost sales. 

Spoke.com, from Spoke Software Inc. in San Mateo, 
Calif., also offers a searchable database of 
contacts, but combines it with a social network. 
The company -- using online sources, users and 
data providers -- has created a list of more than 
30 million people across more than 600,000 
companies, which users can search by name, title, 
geography and other criteria. Once users have 
zeroed in on a potential contact, they can use 
Spoke's social network to see if they have a 
common acquaintance who could provide an intro-

Talk to Chuck

Ms. Shukla is a fan of Spoke's Group Connector 
feature. The 25 employees at her Redwood City, 
Calif., company plug their contact information 
into Spoke, which lets them quickly check if any-
one in-house has a contact at a targeted company. 
Through Spoke, RubiconSoft discovered that one of 
its employees knew someone at Charles Schwab Corp. 
-- which led to a product demo at the brokerage 
firm. Without a friend on the inside, "can you 
imagine a small company trying to get into 
Schwab?" Ms. Shukla says.

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Other tools don't bring you new contacts but help 
you manage the ones you have more effectively. 
Plaxo Inc., of Mountain View, Calif., lets its 
members store their contacts in an online database. 
Then, whenever members update a contact's inform-
ation, the update is sent to all the other Plaxo 
members who share that contact. So, for instance, 
if one member notes that a contact has changed 
jobs, the other members who have that contact on 
their list receive word of the change.

Ms. Shukla recently found out from Plaxo that an 
executive she knows at a book and record retailer 
had moved to a much larger company. This meant 
that she not only gained a sales lead at the 
larger company, but also could cultivate a new 
sales lead at the smaller company, once a new 
executive replaced her departing acquaintance.

"When a person has just changed jobs, they don't 
have a lot of baggage," she says. "Catching people 
at the right time is as important as knowing where 
they are."

Some sales tools provide entrepreneurs with detail-
ed briefings on the companies they want to target. 
Some small technology firms trying to sell to 
Fortune 500 companies, for example, turn to 
iProfile LLC in Henderson, Nev. IProfile creates 
profiles of the big companies, laying out such 
information as who reports to whom and who makes 
buying decisions.

The service "gives us context about who is who and 
how they interrelate," says Dimitri Sirota, market-
ing vice president at software-and-services company 
Layer 7 Technologies Inc. in Vancouver. "It's above 
just getting a raw list. IProfile helps us better 
understand the organizations we target."

Hoover's Inc., a subsidiary of Dun & Bradstreet 
Corp. based in Austin, Texas, offers lists of the 
top officers at a host of companies. "Dollar for 
dollar, Hoover's does a very good job of identify-
ing the companies, what they do, and some senior 
contact information," says Larry Casey, president 
of Marketing Connections Corp., Bedford, N.H., 
which handles business-to-business sales for other 
companies. He adds that his Hoover's subscription 
is a bargain compared with the salary he used to 
pay for a sales-prospecting employee.

Other entrepreneurs use broader information tools. 
Seligence's Ms. Evans, for example, often uses 
ZoomInfo from Zoom Information Inc. in Waltham, 
Mass. The online service culls information from 
Web sites, press releases, electronic news services 
and SEC filings and then summarizes that inform-
ation into profiles of millions of companies and 
tens of millions of businesspeople. The information 
can be as personal as someone's work history, 
schooling or even hobbies.

Ryan Murray, co-founder of Seligence, says one of 
the company's analysts had tried repeatedly to get 
through to a senior IT executive in Oklahoma City. 
Then, through ZoomInfo, the analyst found out that 
he and the executive had a mutual interest: 

So the analyst left the executive a voice mail 
saying, "I saw you were in a triathlon and saw 
your time -- I was in the race as well. I wondered 
if you'd have a minute to discuss some business," 
Mr. Murray recalls. The analyst finally got a call 

The sales-lead service from CI Radar, of Norcross, 
Ga., combines detailed company monitoring with a 
database of contacts. Frank Sanders, president of 
Customer Service Marketing Inc., an Atlanta market-
intelligence firm, says the service lets him 
search a database of potential contacts to pinpoint 
the type of executive he wants -- marketing vice 
presidents at companies with annual revenue between 
$100 million and $1 billion in a half-dozen sectors.

Then the service gives him background data and 
news articles about the companies he identifies. 
The articles may show, for example, who just got 
hired to run marketing and what goals the new 
executive has in mind, explains Donna Wise, 
Customer Service Marketing's market-strategy vice 

No Easy Answers

Of course, such tools don't answer everyone's 
lead-generation problems. These tools work best 
for businesses that court other businesses as 
clients, and so aren't much use to retailers, 
notes Yankee's Mr. Aggarwal. Keeping data current 
is also a constant challenge for each of the tools. 
If contact information is out of date, it can lead 
to lots of frustration for users. And users ulti-
mately have to make the sale -- the tools just 
smooth the path to potential customers but can't 
actually close any deals.

Still, for all of these potential drawbacks, some 
businesspeople's biggest fear is that their 
favorite lead-generation tool may become too 
popular. The more popular these tools become, the 
less of a competitive advantage they offer.

"I worry every day that our competitors will find 
out about it," says Customer Service Marketing's 
Ms. Wise.


One of the best ways to keep yourself out of credit trouble 
is to be your own most rabid critic by monitoring your own 
credit report for damaging information. Get a professional 
credit report done every year and before any major purchase. 
This gives you the opportunity to see yourself the way lend-
ers, insurance companies and other businesses do. And it 
gives you a chance to correct any false or damaging inform-
ation before it hampers your ability to get financing. 
Finally, it can spur you to take the hard steps required to 
clean up your credit. 

So what did you think about this issue? Drop me a line and let 
me know at mailto:mandi@gophercentral.com 

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