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Anatomy of an Executive Profile: How We Do It

Sharon Gillenwater
by Sharon Gillenwater on Jul 25, 2016 2:15:58 PM

gaines-bi2x.pngWe preach a lot about the value of knowing as much as possible about your customer. Having deep insight into their goals and concerns is powerful. It helps you determine how your solutions can fit their business needs and how you can become their trusted partner. And, it doesn’t hurt if you can connect with the people themselves on a personal level.

That’s why we research and prepare executive profiles in such depth. It’s our goal to provide sales and marketing teams with as much solid, relevant information about each individual as is publicly available. Since we often get questions from our customers about how we do it, we thought it was time to show you how the sausage is made.

Work on each profile begins with a team of researchers who do some basic fact gathering. They collect the executive’s biographical information, such as their job and education history, any tidbits about where they grew up, if they’re married and have children, if they sit on boards, and what their hobbies may be. They collect an executive’s social media links for LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, as well as links to any blogs or publications to which they contribute.

All of this information is entered into our database and compiled into a biographical highlights section.

But this is just a starting point. The profiles are then assigned to a second team of research analysts with more advanced skills, who are charged with digging deeper into an executive’s business focus, by finding and highlighting what they believe to be top-of-mind in terms of business initiatives and challenges. There is considerable heavy lifting involved at this stage.

Let’s talk about the talent we employ to do this heavy lifting. Every one of our research analysts has at least two decades of experience in fields such as research, business strategy, marketing, journalism, and management consulting. Several have advanced degrees. All are based in the US. This was a conscious decision on our part, as we know the downside of having interns or offshore researchers own this important work. Some of our analysts have been with us since the founding of the company; the rest have been with us for several years.

The point is, the people producing our profiles are master researchers with strong business acumen who know how to sift through an enormous amount of information quickly. They know which sources are the best, and which ones should be avoided. They can scan a 10-page earnings call transcript, and within just a few minutes, pull out the most critical points that you need to know going into a meeting with that company. As a Boardroom Insiders customer, these are the people you have on your team.

We are also often asked if we have any secret tools or websites that we use to easily find this type of content. The truth is, there is no silver bullet (expect that is, for Boardroom Insiders). Our researchers’ starting point is always the open web. Using keyword searches, they uncover the most recent and relevant content about an executive—in their own words whenever possible. Some of our most valuable sources are:

  • Press interviews
  • Summaries of presentations they have given at industry or company events
  • Articles or blog posts they have written for business or industry publications
  • Quarterly earnings call transcripts
  • Social media posts
  • Analyst articles and reports on the company

Even when it comes to executives who don’t have much of a digital footprint, we can generally assemble a solid profile by researching what the company is doing in their area of functional responsibility. For example, we may not be able to find much information on a company's CIO, but with a little digging, we can generally find out what the company is doing in the areas of operational transformation, digitization, innovation, and technology initiatives. We compile all of this information and include it in the elusive CIO’s profile, knowing that if he is the CIO, he is most certainly playing a role in driving all of these tech-centric priorities.

The result? Instead of just a name and a title pulled off a LinkedIn profile, you now have a rich rundown of everything the company is doing from a technology perspective, which is a powerful backgrounder to help you prepare for a meeting with the CIO or members of his team.

As the founder of Boardroom Insiders, I thought about whether letting you in on some of the secrets of how we do our work was giving away the store. But now that you understand the amount of work involved in gathering real executive insight, wouldn’t you rather have our experts do it for you? It’s like experiencing a great dish at a restaurant and then getting the recipe.  You think you can make it yourself at home but then when you sit down and actually read the recipe—and see all the ingredients, techniques and time involved--you decide you’d rather return to the restaurant and pay the experts to make it for you.

We have profiles on all of the top Fortune 500 executives with in-depth details on what is most important to them. See what our profiles look like by viewing our free sample profiles.

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Sharon Gillenwater
Written by Sharon Gillenwater
Sharon Gillenwater is the founder and editor-in-chief of Boardroom Insiders, which maintains an extensive database of the most in-depth executive profiles on the market, from Fortune 500 companies to independent non-profits, to help sales and marketing professionals build deeper relationships and close more deals with clients. Gillenwater is a long-time marketing consultant with expertise in marketing strategy, account-based marketing, and CXO engagement programs.

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