QUESTION: I am relatively new to the sales business. Can you offer any insights how to locate potential customers?

ANSWER: Prospecting for customers is a daunting process for those new to the sales game. Most novice sales persons haven’t a clue how best to locate potential customers. Some create expensive websites or advertise in trade publications. Others attend sales seminars and read books on the subject. All of these are helpful but there is a much easier way and it costs nothing but an investment of your time.

Serving the library community since 1992, ReferenceUSA is a premier source of business and residential information and research, offering up-to-date data. In fact, their business and consumer databases are continuously updated from more than 5,000 public sources, according to their website www.ReferenceUSA.com

In order to access their site, you must belong to a local library that subscribes to the service. Then access your library’s website and go to the section labeled either Databases or Electronic Resources. You will find ReferenceUSA listed in the Business or Reference section.

Once you have accessed the site you will be amazed at the amount of information available for the asking. There are several videos that will answer your question and guide you through the process (click on  http://resource.referenceusa.com/videos/).

As an example, say you are selling dental supplies and want to develop a prospect list. The site will enable you to locate dental practices in a designated geographic area, including a contact person, address, and telephone number. Also, you can determine the number of employees, sales volume, and years in business.

As indicated earlier, this is a free service of the public library system. In addition to the free information you can purchase email addresses from Reference USA. They also offer other services such as direct mail marketing, email marketing, search engine marketing, and online display advertising.

Not all libraries subscribe to the service, so you should call first to determine if your library is a participant. The Collier County Public Library uses a similar service called Mergent Intellect (http://mergentintellect.com/) and the Lee County Library subscribes to a service called A to Z Database. Another independent resource, not affiliated with the library system is InfoUSA (https://www.infousa.com/).      

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Gray Poehler is a volunteer with SCORE Naples and can be reached at Gray.Poehler@scorevolunteer.org. Business counseling is available, without charge, from the Naples Chapter of SCORE. Call (239) 430-0081 or visit https://naples.score.org/mentors .The SCORE business office is located at 900 Goodlette Road North, in the Fifth Third branch bank building. Office hours are 9 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday.