Startups, small and mid-size businesses have a common Achilles’ heel: lead lists and data enrichment services can get expensive quickly, but you need a constant feed of suspects to keep filling the top of your outbound funnel.

So, how can you start prospecting once you’ve inevitably gone through your warm contact network? Here are a few tips on how to do your prospecting research without paying a dime.

LinkedIn Native Search

LinkedIn has an amazing product called Sales Navigator, but until you’re ready to make that cost commitment, you can use native search in LinkedIn. There is a commercial use limit which resets on the first of every month, but until you reach it, this is a great way to find who you’re looking to meet.

If, for example, your prospect avatar is “VP of Sales,” and your territory is Cleveland, you can simply search for that in the top left corner of the LinkedIn home page.

Once you hit return to see the results, filter your search to “People.”

Then, limit your search to first or second level contacts on LinkedIn. This will allow you to find the people that you know or those who you can find a warm intro to.

If you decide to send an invite to someone that you’ve found, do not just hit “Connect” without personalizing your invitation. You should include something valuable — for example, a VP of Sales may be interested in a recent article you read about territory balancing in the new year, or best new entries in the sales technology category. Whatever you do, resist the temptation to start to sell before you’ve established a valuable relationship as a trusted advisor. — and other products just like it — offer the contact information that you need to get in touch with your targeted prospects. Like LinkedIn, there are limits to the free search, but you get enough of them to see if this is a tool that will really help you with your data enrichment needs for prospecting.

First, go to the main page and type in the name of a company that fits your prospect persona or target market. You’ll immediately see matches with the number of results if the company is in the Hunter database.

Hunter will show you the most common email naming conventions for that organization. In this example, the most common pattern is {{firstname}} followed by the company name and TLD (top-level domain, like .com or .io).

Hunter will also show you the verified names and email addresses that they have in their database; in this example, they have contact information for 7 support employees, 2 marketing employees, and 2 in the communications department.


xIQ is a favorite tool in its unique offering: it showcases the potential DiSC profile of the person you are prospecting, and gives advice on how to best approach them. It also offers account insights and news.

There are also monthly search limits on xIQ, but the free searches will show you enough of how it works to determine if you need to move up to the premium subscription.

To get started with xIQ, type the name of a company or a person that you’d like to have more information on.

The service will show people who are employed there as well as recent news about the organization. If you click on someone’s profile, it will take you to their most likely DiSC profile, based on the AI which scrapes social media to determine the personality profile. It also offers tips on how to approach a person with this particular profile.

Your Local Library

Libraries aren’t just for books! Your local library and librarian are a wealth of information — and they probably provide you with subscriptions to multiple research resources, including business databases that are quite expensive and beyond the budget of many startups and SMBs.

To get started, you may need to go to the main branch of your local library, or they may be able to provide support online. In this case, clicking on “Research” allows you to see the resources available with your library card.

Once you enter the “Research” section, you will be given a list of databases available to you. There are quite a few databases that will help you to enrich your prospecting data! One of the best ones for sales prospecting include the A to Z Databases:

Once you enter the database, which may be in a new tab from your library, you will find a variety of categories that can be searched:

If you search a particular account, you can see specific information to that company:

These tips should help you to move your data enrichment, lead research, and data hygiene to the next level on a shoestring budget. If any of these approaches work well for you, the subscription will have already proven its value!

And, oh — of course — every one of these can be integrated with or other CRM systems. As your business grows from all of your tremendous prospecting, you’re going to need to use automation and technology to its fullest potential so that you can spend your time delighting your prospects and clients!

This post originally appeared on Medium. It was created from my personal experience as a seller — I am receiving no compensation for these recommendations.

Shannon J. Gregg is the President of Cloud Adoption Solutions, a woman-owned Salesforce partner. Learn your own score on Ability to Confidence and Influence through her free and fun mobile course: