How to do Pre-Call Research before you Start to Prospect

Anyone can pick up the phone, dial a number and hope for the best. You have to have a little bit of guts and maybe a script but people do it everyday, all day. The thing that will differentiate you from all the other sales reps calling your prospect is how much research you have done. A sales person who does research before they pick up the phone is the type of sales person that your prospects would like to talk with. Research in the sales process is essential as more and more buyers are tuning out your messages. If you don’t do research before you start prospecting a company, you will be less likely to get through to them.  If you can’t even get through to your lead for a first conversation, you will most likely convert less leads into opportunities. That means that your opportunity to even try to sell to someone is cut from the start. You are not setting yourself up for a smart sales process if you don’t do research.

To increase your chance of converting more leads into opportunities you should develop a framework for how your company does research in the sales process. Your sales organization should have consistency in how they reach out to leads that marketing is providing them. At HubSpot I reach out to cold leads that I have sourced as well as inbound leads that have come through our marketing efforts. I look at every lead from the same angle. The overarching theme for me when I research is a lead is – how can I potentially help.

Something I have noticed over time is that typically inbound leads are more educated than a cold lead. That makes perfect sense. If you are reaching out to someone cold and they are not yet in your database you probably have no insight into whether or not they know your company. You should probably assume that they don’t in this case. There are many kinds of inbound leads that you will run into. There are inbound leads that are SO educated from your marketing team’s efforts and then there are new inbound leads that still need to be educated. Magic can happen when you combine inbound efforts with outbound prospecting skills. If you can master the art of research in the sales process you will have a better time reaching out to any kind of lead – whether that lead is inbound or sourced cold.

To build out a framework for how your organization should work their leads you need to think through a couple of things:

1. What makes a company a good fit to talk with you?

If you understand what you are solving for your potential customers you can start to form an opinion before you call as to why your services or products might be helpful to the organization you are reaching out to. Don’t assume it is the same for every lead you work. With smart prospecting and smart research you will use things that you have learned about your lead or company you are working to bring up reasons why you think you could help.

2. Does what you offer or sell seem like it would be timely or relevant to the company now? Why? 

Sales reps who get a lead or source a lead because it looks like a “good fit” are missing the mark on thinking through how likely this lead would be to engage with your company. Just because you think that you can help them is not good enough. What tells you that this might be timely for their internal initiatives or goals? Do necessary research to learn about what initiatives are important to the company before you reach out.

The next thing would be to determine how your sales reps define what makes a lead high, medium or low. This process is important in figuring out how a sales rep should be spending their time day to day. Time is of the essence in your job and if you have no clue why you are working a certain lead and to what extent you should be working it- you are wasting time. Your leads queue should be one that you are excited to work because you know there is gold in there. Focus on figuring out what makes a lead high, medium and low across the whole organization and expose these things to all sales reps.

The preliminary process for creating your organization’s pre-call research structure should be to:

1. Think about why you are calling this company or lead?

2. What do you have to say to them and why do you think you can help them?

These are simple questions to ask but you will see if you ask yourself those 2 things as you start to do smart pre-call research before you prospect you will find yourself gathering lots of information you can put under these 2 broad topics.

In my next post I will explain the ways that you can do research before you start to call someone in your lead queue. This will include using lead intelligence from your marketing team if you have it, using social media, using the company’s website, and other sources online to find out as much as you can about the lead you are working.

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