Information has become our most valuable commodity. Skimming the top five results of a Google search makes us feel like an expert in any field, with enough knowledge to make an informed decision about our purchases, our health, the books we need to read, our whole life, or simply, our next dinner menu. Similarly, informed decisions drive the already long and sophisticated B2B sales process.
In today’s B2B sales, buyers are more informed than ever before. They’ve read about your company, your products, your services, and your competitors. That’s why you, as a salesperson, must know your prospects and customers better than they know themselves. You need to show that you can help them, that you care about their problems, and you know their situation and needs.
To level with your prospects, you can’t avoid research before you walk into a call. And, this research must go beyond skimming the top five results of a Google search. If not Google, the question is, where do you find valuable company information?
In this post, we’ll run through what company information means for B2B, and more interestingly, we’ll list a few resources, paid and free of charge, where to access company information.
What is company information?
Company information is external data about a company’s characteristics, interests, and tendencies. Subcategories of company information are firmographics, technographics, buying signals, and intent data.
Now that we’ve decided on what company information constitutes, it’s time to think about where to find it.
How to find company information on the Internet
Before you go about pitching your product or services, you need to find company information to gain valuable and actionable insights on your prospects and customers. It will give clues on a company’s situations and needs.
Finding company information on the Internet is not as arduous as it seems. We have plenty of information at our fingerprints. Search "Vainu" on Google, and you’ll quickly find our website, social media channels, and other news. Spend some time reading those sources, and you’ll get a picture of what Vainu does, our products, where our offices are located, and how’s the team—it’s fantastic, I can tell you that.
Before you go about pitching your product or services, you need to find company information to gain valuable and actionable insights on your prospects and customers.
There are plenty of online resources to conduct more pointed searches. Here’s a list of places where you can find company information on the Internet:
Company websites. This is your obvious starting point. A company website will describe the company and its products, as well, as its latest developments. The “About us” and “Media” are of particular interest.
News sites. The latest news articles will give you an idea of the company situation. Is it expanding to new markets? Launching new products?
Social media sites. First-hand information on the latest company news. It can give you clues on the company’s tone of voice, how it expresses, and its relationship with its customers.
Official registers. Regardless of the reporting and filing requirements of each country, official registers provide basic company information such as name and address, the legal entity, or the latest financial statements. Many of the official registers have online databases and offer public access to them.
Information on private company
Searching for information on a private company is often more time consuming and difficult since privately held companies generally have fewer or less comprehensive reporting requirements and obligations for transparency. Whereas public companies must adhere to the rules of stock trading and release their financial statements, private companies can keep their records under wraps.
The information on private companies available at national registers greatly depends on the country or region where the company is located. For example, in the EU, a limited liability company, regardless of whether it is public or private, must publish its annual financial statements and an annual report. But even within the limits of the EU exceptions and opt-outs allow variances in some countries.
By contrast, the reporting requirements for US companies that are not public companies are significantly less than those for private companies in Europe. US companies are required to file their formation documents with the equivalent of a company registers of the state in which they choose to be incorporated. After their formation, companies are not required to provide additional information other than to reflect amendments to the documents that have been filed or to indicate mergers, dissolutions, and other conversations to a different form of entity.
Confused yet? Don’t fret. Below, we’ve listed a series of resources you can consult to find financial information on private companies.
How to find financial information on a private company
Financial statements are tremendously valuable for a successful B2B sales strategy, in particular for sales prospecting—a step of the sales process that requires crazy good research skills. They report vital information about a company’s financial health, providing clues about their needs and situation. For example, it’s not likely a company with loss will expand to a new country, and therefore, if you’re offering relocation services, such a company won’t be a prime prospect.
Because private companies have fewer rules to follow, finding financial information on a private company can be hard. Fortunately, there are few resources you can use to find out about a company’s revenue and accounts.
Company websites: Never underestimate the information that companies publish on their website. You may be able to find annual reports and financials in press releases or a press kit in the media section.
National or international trade associations: Researching the relevant trade association and reading trade journals can reveal valuable information about companies, like statistics, trends, competitors.
Registers: Private companies must file their formation documents, so official registers are good providers of basic firmographics.
Local business journals and magazines: Scour local economic and business newspapers to read the news and company profile. Many of these journals give access to their archives so you can deep dive into historical information and develop a sense of the company’s strategy over time and forecast possible plans.
Free company information databases
Rather than reading the whole Internet and then some for as much company information as you can find, using a free company information database can be a shortcut on your way to building a customer profile. Here’s a list of company databases that will cost you nothing to use:
Search for millions of companies located in the Nordics and the Netherlands. You can also see revenue information.
One of the largest free company information databases with over 160 million companies from 130 jurisdictions. It gathers official, legal entity data from primary public sources.
Originally built to track startups, Crunchbase contains information on investments and funding, founding members and individuals in a leadership position, mergers and acquisitions, news, and industry trends. Today CrunchBase has a fee version and a free version.
This database compiles registration and basic profile data, sourced from national registers, ministries, and departments websites.
DatoCapital is a database of 13 million companies in the UK, Gibraltar, Panama, Spain, Luxembourg, Netherlands, BVI and Cayman Islands.
More known for their subscriptions, they also have a free database with basic registers and company profile info.
PrivCo is the source for financial and market intelligence on privately held companies in the US, with revenue greater than $1 million. PrivCo’s coverage also includes data on investors and deals in the private equity, venture capital, and M&A markets. PrivCo’s growing database covers more than 300,000 private companies and over 100,000 M&A deals and venture fundings.
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Local free company information databases
Earlier in this post, we wrote that the disclosure requirements and the availability of data greatly varies from one country to another. As a result, when you search for company information, using a local database can be a very effective tactic.
In many countries, there are local free company information databases that compile basic registration from official registers, including company names, contact information, and main lines of business. Some of these databases also offer the possibility of downloading financial statements for a small fee.
To help your research, we've listed a good amount of websites with free local company information databases in the Nordics and the Netherlands. Take your pick.