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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

The Best Places to Research a Prospect Before a Sales Call

The Best Places to Research a Prospect Before a Sales Call

Being a decision-maker in today’s business world makes them a target for every over-enthusiastic salesperson with their landline number.

Can you imagine how exhausting that must be?

To avoid this trap and maximize every opportunity in today's challenging sales environment, you'll need a workable sales strategy and viable methods of researching prospects.

You know that you can make a real difference to this prospect if you can just get in front of them and show them your magical product.

Here's how to achieve exactly this without getting shot down by your prospect.

Researching Prospects Before Calling

New call-to-actionThe days of spray and pray sales calls or knocking on cold doors is well and truly over. From a security perspective, you may have trouble getting in to see a senior decision-maker face-to-face. COVID says we can’t realistically wander the streets and make unsolicited visits. And the people that matter simply don’t have the time to make small talk with a persistent stranger.

Those are the negatives.

On the flip side, researching a prospect before you pick up the phone means that you are talking to the right person and offering a solution to a problem that you know they have. (This is especially true in B2B calls.)

It also means that you understand their business well enough to have a meaningful conversation about their needs and your offering instead of launching into a 10-minute interrogation of a busy decision-maker. Surely this knowledge will allay some of the pre-call anxiety that some struggle with.

Preparing for a Sales Call

The art of sales is now a psychological science and there is simply no room for dilettantes who think they can wing it. Before you pick up the phone, can you answer these questions?

  1. What is the objective of this call?
  2. Am I talking to the right person?
  3. Do they need what I am selling?
  4. Can I offer real value to their business?
  5. How does my offering differ from what they currently use/have?

It’s clear that the only way you’re going to get the answers to these critical questions is by doing your homework.

So, where do you start?

Top Places to Research Prospects

Your prospecting list may look a little different from this. After all, each industry has its own online space that you can tap into. However, these methods and platforms should offer up most of the information that you need before making that call.

LinkedIn

With an estimated 740 million members at the last count, LinkedIn is a well-stocked trove of information on global professionals. Universally recognized as the leading online professional networking site, this really is the best place to start.

Your prospect’s LinkedIn feed, groups, and comments will divulge insight into their opinions, personality, and preferences. You may also be able to pick up on competitors who are targeting them.

Shared connections may be able to assist you with an introduction to the right person creating a warm lead and an easier initial conversation. 

Twitter

Twitter is an excellent vehicle for disseminating company information in bite-sized chunks. Some companies use it to engage customers, while others use it to chat about industry news. Some like to dip in and out of current news and opinion.

If the prospect or their company uses Twitter, it is easy to scan and follow people of interest. It’s also a great ice-breaker if you want to weigh in on a comment or topic that they are interested in.

Facebook

Facebook is a far more personal channel than LinkedIn and Twitter and should be used with caution. Yes, your prospect’s details are voluntarily posted in cyberspace. However, starting a conversation by asking about their youngest daughter’s recent dance recital is just plain creepy.

Facebook may be able to tell you if they enjoy golf, which can lead to an invitation to your next company golf day and some valuable one-on-one time. It may also indicate mutual connections, groups, or pages that interest them, or business events that they may be attending. 

CRM

What better way to delve into your prospect than within the bowels of your own CRM? Has someone in your company been in contact with them already, or in the past? What do you know about their history with your business?

Calling a prospect with a grudge is never going to work, especially if you haven't done your research and you don’t know the details. On the other hand, if they have made inquiries before or have had some top-of-funnel contact, then you have a great jump-off point.

When you consider that a CRM pays back around $8.71 for every dollar spent, we can see it’s definitely worth the effort. 

Networking

Networking is easily one of the most effective ways to meet and engage with prospects. And especially so if you do so to offer real value and get to know them. 

Some networking events are akin to a speed-dating site with hungry salespeople circling around potential customers like sharks. That’s not fun for anyone. Networking gives you the opportunity to let the prospect know who you are and how you can help them. It’s not about you, it’s about them.

Company Website

Your prospect’s company website should give you an excellent overview of their culture, mission, and vision. It may also offer information about which companies they do business with, and why. 

The company hierarchy is generally given too, which shows where your prospect fits into the grand scheme of things and who else you may be dealing with.

Become a Prospecting Pro

Sales resistance is a very real thing; we’ve all had our fair share of pushy double-glazing sales calls, right? This alone makes it imperative that you develop a sales strategy that is based on adding value to your prospects. 

The psychology of effective selling dictates that we treat people as individuals, we care about what they need, and we offer viable solutions to their unique problems. 

Do you feel that your team would benefit from enhanced methods of researching prospects to develop a more consistent sales strategy? Surely we all do, and we invite you to take a brief look at some of the common problems that we solve.  

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Topics: sales strategy researching prospects