Picture this situation.
A sales rep has a face-to-face meeting with a prospect. During the first leg of the conversation, the sales rep questions the customer about the company size, product range, number of employees, annual turnover, etc. In most probability, the customer is likely to lose his interest, attention and confidence in the sales rep. This is because the customer expects the sales rep to do his homework on the company background before the meeting. He does not want to waste his time in answering the basic stuff which sales rep could have easily discovered on his own.
According to statistics, the biggest challenge for 61% of B2B organization is generating high quality leads and 17% of marketers spend more than 15 hours every week on lead generation. After putting in so much effort in lead management, it is definitely a huge appointment if the prospect doesn’t convert for the sole reason that the sales rep did not do the prospects research thoroughly. In fact, it has been found that 82% of B2B decision-makers think sales reps are unprepared.
Remember that the first impression is always the last impression. The sales reps have only a few minutes window to engage the prospects. So, to make the most of these precious minutes, a deep prospects research is definitely a good sense. Doing a prospects research before the first sales call can not only be a time-saver for both parties, but also give you insight into the customer’s needs and deliver his expectation through a highly targeted sales pitch.
Now, let’s take a look at useful sources to conduct a pre-meeting prospects research:
Table of Contents
Company Website, Press Releases and News
This should be ideally your first source to get the accurate and a majority of information on the prospect. You should browse through every page of the website to know about:
- Company – mission, vision, nature, annual turnover, financial position, workforce strength, product/service offerings, target customers, investors
- People – management, who are the decision-makers, how many are involved in the buying process, what roles and responsibilities they have
- Latest news, events and blogs – these could be relevant to company’s future plans, new product/service launches, the environment it is in operating in, what are the company’s pain points, how it is reaching out to its customers
57% of companies have a page on LinkedIn and 50% of B2B buyers use this business networking platform while making purchasing decisions. Undoubtedly, LinkedIn is unarguably one of the most powerful goldmines to make inquiries about the prospects.
The LinkedIn profile of the company can help you uncover the following information:
- Company biography
- Content shared with the followers
- Promotions and discounts on products/services
- Career opportunities
- Shared connections
- Updates and announcements
The personal profiles of the company’s employees, decision-makers and other contact persons can also reveal a treasure trove of facts. This information can be used to understand contact’s personal and professional interests, give him compliments on his accomplishments or simply draw a common similarity to engage during the sales conversation.
- Current and previous jobs
- Work experiences
- Academic and professional qualifications
- Likes (personal interests)
- Group discussions
- Awards and recognitions
LinkedIn has a wonderful tool called ‘Advanced People Search’ which can help sales reps to filter the results on the basis of people first and last names, keywords, company, title, location, school, connections (1st, 2nd or 3rd level), groups and many more such fields.
Buyer’s Facebook Profile
Nothing works better than putting a bit of personal touch during the sales call with the prospects. While LinkedIn gives you the insight into the professional life of the prospects, Facebook divulges interesting trivia about their personal life. These particulars can be slipped into the discussions to add a dash of informality and build a more personal relationship with the buyers. Who knows, you may find something (friends, hobbies, movies, etc.) in common and hit it off with the prospect instantly.
Wouldn’t it be embarrassing to contact a prospect without knowing that he has been already contacted earlier by another sales rep? Or maybe, you are aware that the prospect has been already contacted, but you want to know what the last update was. You should turn to CRM to find out. Your CRM software has records of every little detail and interaction with the prospects. CRM software can help you understand the status of the prospect within your company and how to take forward the thread of the conversation before speaking to him.
From Fortune 500 organizations to startups, Crunchbase is your go-to-destination when it comes finding a bird’s eye overview on the company details such as incorporation date, founders, board members, contact email, number of employees, headquarters, website link and social media handles; the industry category it falls into (for example, Information Technology, Real Estate, Healthcare, E-commerce, etc.); investors, funding rounds and acquisitions; and the most recent timeline activities.
The job portals also give a valuable peek into the companies which have listed their career opportunities there. The company openings tell about the company culture, core values, employee benefits, employment policies and much more. Job sites also show what employees think about the company. For instance, Glassdoor.com contains a company’s founding date, website link, revenue, workforce size, headquarters, latest updates, awards & accolades, culture, and reviews posted by the former and current employees anonymously. Basically, job portals can give insider information on the prospects.
General Google Search
With more than 3.5 billion searches every day, Google is by far the biggest and most popular search engine. What you can’t dig on other sources can be found through Google. While, doing a Google search, try to focus on the third party links and publication on the prospects you want information on. This will give you a fair idea of the prospective buyer’s reputation in the market and also uncover facts that are not listed on the official websites or social media accounts. In order to ensure the right and relevant search results, you must be aware of how to ‘Google’ effectively (refer the image).
Prospects research gives sales rep power of information at their fingertips and also, a strong confidence to start the conversation with the prospect on the right note.