I was just looking over an earlier post that included a link to 12 Prospecting Rules and one idea stood out – confusing prospecting research with actual prospecting.
It resonated with me because in my experience, the “need” for precall research, is one of the most frequently cited reasons for not picking up the phone and often nothing more than a thin excuse to rationalize call reluctance.
Just to define the space, I’m talking about telephone calls made to a list where you have a contact name and title in a company that should generally be a good fit for whatever you are selling. They have not asked for a call so I’m calling this “cold” although that research need often extends to companies who have not necessary asked to be called, but have expressed some interest in a problem you can solve as evidenced by a white paper download. ( I call that a warm lead.)
So what you need to do is pick up the phone and establish contact. That is called prospecting. But what most people do – is first go to Linkedin and look up the person ( which is just fine- take a minute and do that) and then go to the company website to gain an understanding of the company. If you ask most reps – certainly the junior ones why they’re doing it, the answer you’ll usually get is that “I don’t want to sound like an idiot”.
You have to ask the juniors because they don’t know better than to tell you that perfect unvarnished truth. They’ll explain that in looking like an idiot they are convinced that it will reflect badly on the company they represent. So sorry. That’s a crock. Its an ego protector and does not serve the interests of the company. What serves the interests of the company is to pick up the phone.
So, how do you manage precall research? First, by understanding it’s purpose, which is NOT to ensure that you can intelligently discuss the company’s recently issued financial statements or their competitive positioning The purpose of precall research is to quickly find a hook to hang your introduction on.
For example, Boxpilot provides a service that has been successfully employed by hundreds of companies to boost their event registrations and attendance conversions, so my precall research goes immediately to look for upcoming conferences, road shows or other events. We can also help stretch the reach of a sales group- so I’ll quickly check to see if they’re hiring sales people.
I’ll note their main line of business, in case I have some specific client experience in that area. It’s prospecting research with a purpose and you get no more than 3 minutes, otherwise you’ll find you lose the discipline of a quick specific search and instead fall into the rabbit hole of web research.