Spy new business by taking tips from the secret service

Secret agent plan: spy new business by taking tips from the secret service

Kirsten Osolind

The U.S. Secret Service was first organized in July 1865. What the Secret Service does best: intelligence analysis. It leaves no stone unturned.

The parallel here for entrepreneurs? To generate topnotch business contracts, you need to prospect C-level decision-makers. No need for dark suits and glasses–according to the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals, 95 percent of competitive intelligence information is publicly available. Some techniques to try:

1. TACTICS PLANNING AND PROSPECTING: Build company lists and characterize key C-level decision-makers with Hoover’s Lite (www.hoovers. com). Also, stake out the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Watch basic patent and trademark applications for the inside scoop on a company’s next potential move.

2. PROFILING: They Rule (www. theyrule.net) provides a roster of corporate executives and their corporate board leadership connections. Or try Patricia Gardner’s new book, The Million Dollar Sale, which explains how to find “company code-breakers”–external, internal and customer resources.

3. PENETRATION: Selling to Big Companies (www.selling tobigcompanies.com) can help you penetrate big accounts with incisive business development techniques. Entrepreneur readers get a 20 percent discount on e-books, sales tools and audio programs in June (use code 047015643).

KIRSTEN OSOLIND is CEO and founder of re:invention inc. (www.reinvention inc.com), a Chicago-based marketing consulting company.

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