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Secret Agent Plan

Spy new business by taking tips from the secret service.

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 top-notch 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. 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 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 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., a Chicago-based marketing consulting company.

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This article was originally published in the June 2005 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Secret Agent Plan.

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