Sales Research

One of the key elements of driving business success is ongoing education. The best organizations know their customers interests and frustrations. Further, they also understand their competition and recognize a combination of both threats and opportunities. More than anything though, a great organization is built on a sales team that understands their target audience and prospects.

When you’re looking to close new business, the first thing you need to do is understand your prospect. You need to gather data and determine the best approach for closing a particular deal. It’s not the most glamorous part of a sales job, but it’s one that can make or break you.

Over the last few months, we’ve worked closely with a handful of businesses to better understand how they conduct prospecting in their organizations. Beyond that, we’ve also taken our own experience to put together a list of three things that every sales professional should do before pitching a prospect:

Research, Research, Research!

You research papers in school. You even research holiday destinations. Are you researching prospective clients before pitching your product or service? Do you know who your clients should be? Who they are now? You should. It’s a key part of the sales puzzle that is too often overlooked.

To kick things off, it’s best practice to create a customer persona or profile that can be used to better understand your target audience. This is a practice that we’ve used in the past and one that the folks at National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) strongly recommend. It’s a practice that can drive real results for your business and help your marketing team craft more effective messages.

Once your marketing team understands the persona, it’s time to get down to making the sale. It’s time to start bringing in leads and diving deep into understanding them as individuals. This is where the best sales professionals thrive, as they spend a lot of time understanding their prospects and using a combination of research and data to help them.

A few simple tips and tricks that can help you with your prospecting include:

  • Look for them on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and any/all other social media they use
  • Search their websites to find their profile and read their biography for insights
  • Use apps like Rapporative to uncover details surrounding their social profiles
  • Use searches to find any conferences, events, or publications they’ve been involved in over the last few years
  • Use technology like ours to uncover existing relationships within your organization and theirs to make introductions or gather more intelligence

Give Yourself A History Lesson

There’s a reason your customers need you. To best know that reason, talk to your existing clients and better understand this need, and how your product has helped them over time. As a wise scholar once said, you cannot predict the future without taking time to better understand the past. Take time to understand what gaps are in the market, what triggers their purchases and what role in a specific industry tends to make the buying decisions. When you know this, you’re better equipped to make the sale and communicate a compelling value proposition to your prospects.

You’re probably wondering where to start this history lesson. Well, thanks to technology, researching and uncovering trends has never been easier. With social media analytics, CRM technologies like ours, combined with several free online tools available, you can better understand your audience.

Also, ask! There’s nothing wrong with finding out what your customers have purchased in the past, and why. Make it worth their while to give this information.

Watch Don’t Stalk The Competition

Who’s next to you, waiting to grab your potential customers? It should go without saying, but you need to know your competition and monitor what they’re up to once in a while. It’s completely fine to monitor what your competition is up to on LinkedIn and see whom your clients are adding.

That said; don’t get too creepy or too obsessed. I’ve worked with some paranoid people over the last few years and clients hate it. Instead of being obsessive, take the time to simply understand their business and who their clients are. Understand their sales strategy and take a glance at what they’re doing to generate new leads and prospects.

Some great suggestions, from, include keeping an eye out for competitor names in trade publications and monitoring your competitors’ updates. Thanks to the internet, you can track names of your competition on search engines and see what’s said about them online. On social media, look at who is following your competitor’s updates.

Because social media is fairly open and public, you can look at what other products/services/companies have their attention, and start to figure out why you may be exactly what these potential customers need.

With this newfound education on your competition, prospects, and existing clients, you should now feel more confident about pitching prospects. With these insights and research, you can take your entire sales team to the next level and drive meaningful results.

A lot of businesses talk about social selling, but not many of them know how to make it real. Through a combination of technology, social media, and data, you can establish a competitive advantage that is difficult to match.

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