Time spent internet researching can kill your outbound prospecting team’s productivity.

That being said, I get it, quality vs. quantity — there’s got to be a balance. And a call will not be quality if your rep knows NOTHING about the person or company they are calling into. There is no denying that.

Here is some food for thought on the topic of minimizing excessive research:

First of all, HOPEFULLY, you are coaching your reps to call into leads that have TRUE commonalities — i.e. the prospects fall within your target market segment(s) (ex: North American retail companies that have more than X employees, and more than y in annual revenue) — and have a like function/role (ex: Director/VP of Online Marketing) within the companies. This in itself will eliminate your team having to do lots and lots of pre-call researching. If they have knowledge of those buyer profile pains and an asset package for that targeted campaign you are in good shape. In this case, regardless of the amount of research executed on the company prior to a call, the rep will be able to speak the prospect’s language and ask the best questions that will steer the conversation in the right direction.

Another nugget for ya: Encourage your reps to build research into their model day in a single chunk of time at the END of the day. Rather than jumping back and forth between calls and research, calls and research, have each rep select the top 5-10 companies they want to penetrate (from numerous angles) the following day, and do the research for relevant facts, connections, company/employee info, and additional leads/contacts. I wrote about this strategy in a previous post.

OR — and I just heard about this strategy from uSamp’s VP of Inside Sales, Kevin Gaither – have your team execute 3X3 research. This concept was created by Steve Richards of Vorsight.

Steve wrote in a recent blog post, “Try to find 3 key points of research that you will actually use on the phone. We call this 3×3 research – 3 points in 3 minutes. Let me repeat that: Only research things that you will actually say if you get your prospect on the phone. I know a lot of sales reps who make 10 calls a day. I ask why and they say that they are ‘researching’ with the other time. Baloney! You can get everything that you need in 3-10 minutes.”

If your reps are spending hours researching a day there are some big issues here. Spend some time call shadowing and working with them to understand how they are focusing their energies. You will likely be able to identify where they are going astray pretty quickly. How could you, as the manager, help? Coaching on the model day, leading a training session (even a refresher) on buyer profiles/the target segment, etc.

And remember, a typical daily call to conversation ratio is 60:10. That’s only 16% of your dials actually getting someone live! If you are doing 20 minutes of research on a company/person pre-call, only to leave a voicemail. Hmmm… I wonder how that time could have been better spent?!

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