There has never been a time like today to uncover information about random people on the Internet. In fact, things might flow in the opposite direction in the not too distant future as more and more social networks both personal ones and professional ones lock up the doors to people who are directly connected to the individuals are research them. This is the golden age of B2B sales to make the most of it.
Additionally, don’t be suckered into the philosophy of cold calling, and hitting 200,000 a having done zero research. Cold calling advocates will say that there is no point in doing research before you call because you don’t know if they are going to answer the phone at all. I say, that once you’ve done your research, you know if a prospect is going to be somewhat qualified or not, you can dump that information into your CRM system and give them a hot call in the future. If you really think about how many customers you need to bring on board to smash sales targets in B2B sales, you’d think we’d be talking about thousands of people here. It’s more likely hundreds, but you’re doing bigger deal sizes with even less individuals than that. Therefore, once you have all the information on them, you can track them internally from position to position, and externally on if they’ve moved jobs or industries. All of this information is then even more relevant if they’ve just had a trigger event.
I find the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have
Like the old proverb goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and like Thomas Jefferson said “I find the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have”. That guy went on to become President of the USA, so follow his footsteps and do the extra work where you can to get that extra luck with your prospects.
The first place you should look having said all this, is in your CRM system. Hopefully there’s other people within your organisation who are hot calling, even better if they’ve done your role before you did and have then put information on your prospect in the CRM as well. The last thing you want to hear when you call a prospect is “are you actually kidding me, you’ve already called me before, we’ve them buying from you for years.” How embarrassing would that be? And believe me, much like a first date, a single social faux pas can sometimes have an irreparable effect on your relationship with a prospect.
Always check the note within the CRM previous contacts, and if you’re going after a larger customer, perhaps talk to individuals in your organisation used to be sales reps have now gone up the food chain corporately, they may have some insights for you on the account, or the individuals within it.
Next up it’s time to jump on your prospect website, this should be your first online destination. There are a couple of specific places you need to go –
- The About Us section is important as you will find the key decision-makers of in the accounts at the C suite level, and also details on how the company began, who they serve and perhaps who their major clients are. This information is useful for cross pollination between accounts. If one of your customers is already a client of yours, the maybe they can put in a good word and a referral for you. And here’s a very useful statistic from Dale Carnegie you should keep in mind, 92% of customers are happy to provide referrals but only 11% of salespeople bother to ask for them. These referrals can be golden tickets to the Chocolate Factory that you can’t afford to dismiss.
- Press releases are powerful insights when looking for trigger events. They’re typically only published when a brand feels they have done something newsworthy. They are also great for uncovering individuals within an account who will accept a hot call. If they have their name and phone number on a press release, it’s only there for one thing, to accept inbound calls. At the very worst, they might be able to give you a warm introduction to actual decision-maker within the account itself. This is a powerful way to turn your hot calls into guaranteed scorchers.
Whilst company mission statements are usually cheesy, they give us insights on where the organisation is heading.
Whilst company mission statements are usually cheesy, they give us insights on where the organisation is heading. If your product or service are lined with bits on a high level, the C suite and CEO of the organisation are more likely to want to speak with you. This can make up part of your powerful value proposition if there is an alignment. If they use any specific wording or phrasing within this mission statement on their website in general, for example the Sale School talked about “helping salespeople not just hit their targets for really thriving sales”. You should repeat and parrot these phrases back in your communications. If a salesperson contacted me with some ideas on how I could help my audience with their “thriving sales”, I’d be more likely to listen to them than if they reached out say they can help my business grow. As we keep saying through this course, individuality and personality can help in a massive way, but this applies to prospects as well as you. If you see a phrase or something that makes that prospect’s company stand out then jump on it and sprinkle it into the conversation. It’s like when you want to get to know someone and you specifically remember things they’ve said before, the fact you made the effort to remember is a sign of dedication and commitment.
Job postings are a difficult thing to track through a company’s website, LinkedIn actually makes this quite easy if you have purchased the sales Navigator software. Job postings are useful to track because it shows where people have been promoted, or if there is a big project on the cards and the company is hiring to fill positions for it. If a company is hiring new staff, they clearly have a budget. This is a powerful trigger event you should jump on as quickly as possible.
Away from the organisation’s website and before we get into social media, there’s one more underutilised resource for you, and that is Google News alerts. www.google.com/alerts is a free service that should become part of your hot calling toolbox. You enter a keyword, Google will email you either weekly or even daily when new webpages pop up with that keyword within it. You should input your competitors’ names, your brand names that you’re trying to prospect, and even individuals’ names if they are publishing content regularly or are high profile within an account e.g. a CEO who also writes books. Additionally, here’s an example with me selling medical devices, I would search for the term “new hospital service NHS” and every time a new urology suite opened, or colonoscopies clinic was funded I’d be in the door talking to the decision-makers before they had even had a chance to reach out to the competition to discuss products.
Use Google alerts to keep track of when your prospects or your competitions get acquired or there are substantial changes within their business.
Finally, with the Google alerts, keep track of when your prospects or your competitions get acquired or there are substantial changes within their business. This news will always be publicised by press releases, and 99% of the time Google will pick up on them and forward you an alert. If a competitor has been acquired now is a good time to ring up the accounts that they have and plant a seed of uncertainty in their mind. Ask them questions about how much value they put in security and long-term business outcomes and this might be your pathway in to that account.
Next up we have social media, and for the first-place winner look at LinkedIn. Congrats LinkedIn, a gold medal will be posted shortly. LinkedIn is absolutely the best place to uncover information about a prospect. I won’t go too far into this as there is a hole course on LinkedIn in the Sales School but here are a few pointers –
Join LinkedIn groups to line both with your profession, and the industry that you sell into. There are literally millions of LinkedIn groups, some of which have hundreds of thousands of individuals within the and they are very easily searchable by industry, interests, job function, and location. Monitor the groups in your industry, engage with prospects organically and you can start to build trust with them.
Where appropriate, outreach to your prospects with a thoughtful message or connect with them on LinkedIn. You can then see in your LinkedIn feed what they’re talking about, focusing on, and any job changes they might be looking to make. I think social selling is a term that was created to sell books and online courses, but you’re never gonna close million-dollar B2B deals by clicking like on your prospects LinkedIn posts. However, engage in the comments and ask thoughtful questions that will lead to thought-provoking answers where you can.
LinkedIn also has company pages you should be tracking, similar to formal press releases. A lot of organisations will post regularly on the LinkedIn page with micro updates that you might otherwise miss. These might not be full-blown trigger events, but still allow you to have timely and insightful conversation when you speak with individuals on the phone.
If you use the paid version of LinkedIn you are able to send in mail messages which LinkedIn suggests are 30-times more likely than a cold call to get a response. I wouldn’t suggest using these messages at all. They look desperate and unless you’re dealing with someone who is extremely busy, or you’ve just not managed to break through that gatekeeper, they’re just not necessary.
For B2B sales, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are more difficult social media platforms to do research on. For example, in research done by UberCEO.com, out of 100 CEOs of large organisations, only 2 have Twitter accounts and 19 had a personal Facebook page. These individuals are shielded not just by a secretary, but a full PR team especially for publicly traded companies.
For a better option, I’d suggest having a quick Google search of your prospect name plus company name to see if any social media accounts pop up, but don’t spend too much time on this as most of the information we need can come from LinkedIn anyway.
Other places we should be inputting our prospect name include, zoom info.com, data.com, insideview.com And that’s just the starters.