We’re operating in a world where technology means we have a wealth of information to hand, but sometimes more isn’t always better. The power of online data sources gives sales teams almost unlimited detail about a potential customer’s objectives, challenges and strategies. However, with an already heavy workload, using all available channels to carry out the necessary research is a tough ask, and is a task that can fall off a sales team’s priority list as other more pressing needs pull attention elsewhere.
Encouraging sales teams to include research in their daily activity, perhaps through specific targets, will almost certainly drive greater sales success – here are just some of the key sources that can pay big dividends:
- LinkedIn: This under-utilised sales tool can prove hugely valuable in the identification of the right person to approach, provided you use the key word search functions correctly. For example, while a large organisation could have 2,000 people listed under the I.T. function, it’s possible to narrow this down to identify the right person to approach using a few key search words. Using the channel’s Sales Navigator function can also help streamline the time spent researching a potential sales contact.
- Company websites: A little digging on a company site can bring up rafts of useful information – if you know where to look. The news section, for example, might provide details on the latest C level executive appointments – information that any sales professional can profit from.
- Company presentations: An advanced search on Google can help you identify PowerPoint presentations for a target customer that will often provide valuable sales information.
- Annual & quarterly reports: A quick look at publicly available reports can help you identify any new objectives or existing projects that your software is relevant for.
- Your peers: There may be others in the company with access to information that can help you – so tap into the knowledge and connections of the whole business.
- Trade associations: If a customer belongs to a sector-specific trade association they may have presented their corporate strategy at a public meeting, event, seminar or trade show. Being aware of up-coming trade association events can help you keep on top of the latest developments across a number of target clients.
- Business partner: Any business partner who has dealings with the end user will be able to pass on useful tips such as how they buy, what existing I.T. technologies are in place and what their current priorities are.
- Online data providers: Finally, online data providers have a wealth of information to hand on specific sectors. A quick search through the likes of the Financial Times can provide key data that can be leveraged in the sales process.
However, as I’ve learnt in my 30 years in the industry, a sales professional’s time is precious. In order to maximise the value of your research, it may be beneficial to focus on the below:
- People – are there any new joiners in leadership roles?
- Stated objectives by the organisation’s leaders – in annual reports or investor calls where commitments are made to specific initiatives or dates by which compliance to new regulations is needed
- News – such as press releases and analyst commentary
- Changes – to operating structure or any M&A activity
- The wider market – are their competitors doing anything new that presents greater threats or opportunities?
Regardless of how busy a sales professional is, making the time to dig a little deeper and identify new customers or further pain points for existing clients will pay dividends Remember, your competition will be doing the same, so stay ahead of the game.
More information on harnessing research for sales success can be found in our free ebook, ‘Winning the Large Value Customer in 2018 – A Sales Leader’s Guide’. To request your free copy, click the button below.