Preparation has always been one of the big keys to success in sales.
Sound planning inspires confidence, and careful research is a great way to show your prospect that you've taken the time to understand their needs on a fundamental level.
Thanks to social media and a host of innovative online services, every sales rep has the tools they need to conduct meaningful research before a big call or meeting.
Sleuth on Social Media
It's difficult to overstate the importance of social media for conducting research on clients. There are plenty of places online where you can learn bits and pieces about your prospect, but social allows you to find a far wider range of useful data, all in one place.
When digging for data on social, there are a few key points to remember.
- Group memberships can tell quite a bit about your prospect's interests and values. When conducting research on LinkedIn, be sure to make note of which groups your prospect is a part of, and which influencers they follow.
- While Twitter profiles tend to be a bit more sparse than other social sites, you can learn much from your prospects interactions, mentions, and shares. Use Snapbird to search tweets for mentions of your company, competitors, or similar products.
- Every social site has a function for finding mutual connections. Use it. Identifying common connections is a great way to build trust and spark conversation.
Check Past Interactions and Research Internally
Conduct some internal research to see if you can find any old emails or phone calls with the prospect, and review any correspondence you find.
Speak with other team members to find out if they've had any interactions with your prospect, or impressions of your prospect's business.
Search for Trigger Events When Researching Their Company
Dig for information using any resources you can find – Google News, Twitter, job listings, company blogs, social pages, and the list goes on.
What you're really looking for are “trigger events” which indicate that the prospect has a need for your solution. Hiring sprees, investment announcements, and new office openings are common examples.
Visiting the company's social pages should give you an idea of how tech-savvy they are. If a company is very active on social and most of its roster of employees is on LinkedIn, there's a good chance that company places a high priority on technology.
Search smart. Google News is great for looking up big events, while AngelList and Crunchbase will help you keep tabs on startups. For larger businesses, Bloomberg's company look-up is a valuable research tool.
Use Datanyze’s free Chrome Extension to see the tools that the company uses on their website.
Find Current Customers Similar to the Prospect
When a prospect asks whether you've ever worked with a company similar to their before, it pays to have a quick, confident answer.
There's a good chance that you have current customers who are similar to your prospect in company size, industry, and location. Look for case studies and testimonials to get a feel for what has worked with similar prospects in the past.
If a particular item resonated with a similar prospect who has since been converted into a regular customer, there's a good chance it will resonate with your current prospect, too.
Make Time for Industry Research
It's important to be able to speak your prospect's language, so it's always wise to include some industry research in your intelligence-gathering.
Gathering this information will give you the context needed to customize your pitch for the prospect's unique, current needs. Show the prospect that you understand their industry, and they're far more likely to be interested in your solution.
Conducting prospect research doesn't have to be difficult. All you really need is to know where to look. Your prospects share valuable data on social media regularly, and you have plenty of tools to dig for industry intelligence all over the Web.
The time investment is minimal, especially when the return is more closed deals for you and your team.