Truly professional salespeople have long known that it is foolish to squander valuable needs analysis time asking questions that could have been answered by scouring the target account’s website and other conveniently available sources. Years in business, origin of the company, number of locations—and other very fundamental information—can be easily found on most client websites. Spending any meeting time on these issues—aside from kindly acknowledging the organization’s heritage—is not only a waste of time, it can be taken as an insult by the prospect. It signals that you did not find this meeting worth diligent preparation.
Before you ask for an hour of a target account’s time, be prepared to give them an hour or two of yours. Once the needs analysis meeting is secured…
- Scour the prospect’s website for every detail that might matter. Read the About Us page, of course. But also:
- Note the order of items on their home page; it may signal their current priorities.
- Look at their website both via traditional browser and mobile device (tablet and smartphone) to see if they have a different message for the mobile visitor.
- Hunt for a News page where recent press releases might be stored, again providing clues as to their recent and future priorities.
- Sometimes, you might even find access to an annual report. Don’t overlook this treasure chest of information. It contains items that the executive level staff is discussing with the board, stockholders and employees; in other words, things that matter.
- Set up one Google Alert for their company, and another for their industry category, so you’re notified of any stories from the web that might feature this prospect or things that are happening in their category.
- Review the LinkedIn page of any decision-maker or decision-influencer you can find. If there’s time, snoop around at their Facebook pages, too. Maybe you’ll stumble across a common denominator, such as a school you’ve attended, a company you’ve both worked for, or better yet… a mutual acquaintance that you have served successfully in the past.
- If they have one, explore the LinkedIn page for their company.
- Explore LinkedIn for Groups that might be discussing issues important to this prospect, based on their industry category. If they work in a regulated industry, review the government agency or peer group that oversees this industry, to see if there are any big shifts ahead.
- Get creative with Google. Type in the prospect’s industry category, along with the word, “Trends,” or even, “Projected Growth,” or even, “Business Model.” You might be surprised at what you can uncover.
This is more than simple needs-analysis prep. It’s an investigation. And this level of Pre-Needs Analysis work can be time consuming, to be sure. But with today’s digital tools, you can uncover a lot of advance information—potential needs—in a relatively short period of time. And by providing you with more relevant insights ahead of the meeting, it can fast-forward the progress you’ll make once you get face-to-face with this target account.