Finding potential corporate customers (B2B) is generally fairly easy and straight-forward. (Finding existing customers can be another matter!)
Using directory databases:
Just as when you search your local yellow pages phone book for types of services or products (e.g. dentists or plumbers?!), in business directory databases you look for categories or types of businesses. What products / services does your company offer? What kinds of companies will use or stock them?
For example, a household appliance manufacturer mostly sells to retailers, not directly to consumers (though they do advertise directly to consumers). So the immediate customers for a company like Maytag or Whirlpool will be retail companies like Home Depot, Sears, Wal-Mart and other general retailers -- not the ultimate consumer.
Industry classification codes:
By the way, when using directory databases you will often need to know the SIC or NAICS classification codes for your company's likely customers (click here for more information about SIC and NAICS). Most business directories use these instead of yellow pages categories.
Which directory should you use?
Suggestions below. More description of the databases to the right ...
For quick lookups:
For international coverage:
For comprehensive US coverage of both public and private companies:
For creating downloadable lists of companies: