"As every prospect is unique in its own way, the conversations you start with them must also differ."
ST Report Rising Stars 320

Here's how to nail your prospect research

Proper prospect research can make all the difference between a deal going through or falling short. When the time comes to identify potential customers and decision makers, it’s paramount to understand their business to the finest detail so you can frame your message for maximum impact. As every prospect is unique in its own way, the conversations you start with them must also differ. In order to make a sale, there’s basically nothing more important than creating a tailored experience from the get-go. Being relevant gives you the best possible chance to engage with a prospect and have a meaningful conversation.

As always, we’re here to help you nail that part.

Know where the prospect is coming from

Make it your mission to know as much about your prospects as possible. Every company wants to be awesome at what it does, so it’s you job to identify what it is that makes your solution perfectly align with their goals and vision.

The basic information you should collect includes the size of the company, its number of employees, annual revenue, typical sale size, etc. This fundamental organizational information is good for kickstarting prospect research. For instance, if your target market consists of SMBs that have around 100 employees, you can trim companies off the list that don’t meet the criteria. To truly grab their attention and provide them value, you must go deeper. This includes the business vertical they’re in, geographical breakdown of their presence, the number of their customers with a focus on the best ones, and in particular - the technology side of things such as web traffic, monthly visits, and the all-important tech stack.Career prospect

Image credit: Ivy Exec

Knowing which technology your potential client uses (and how) can help you customize your messaging and create a more compelling pitch. For instance, if the prospect in question has a robust tech stack your solution can simplify, you can add relevancy when you first reach out and send highly pertinent information their way that will make them think twice about what you offer.

Using this criteria, you can set a template to go by: an ideal customer profile that will help you grade prospects that deem the most likely to pan out. After all, 50% of sales time is wasted on unproductive prospecting. Way too much, if you ask us.

Get to those in charge

While you work the company and learn all you can about it, don’t forget that you need to identify the relevant person to talk to. The thing about prospecting that many seem to disregard is that it’s about finding people to sell your product or service to as much as it is about finding the right people to sell to.

With that in mind, there are really three types of people that you can run into during your prospecting attempts:

  • A decision-maker
  • An influencer
  • Everyone outside those two groups

Obviously, your primary target is someone who has the power to say “yes” to your pitch. These are usually C-suite type executives, but depending on the company’s configuration, manager-level execs can also be valuable to the cause. The influencer-type contact is traditionally a junior-level employee tasked with researching options for their superiors. They don’t have any real authority to make a final decision, but have enough power to influence the decision maker (hence, the name). As for the rest, they are probably a waste of your time that can be better spent targeting truly relevant position holders.Decision

Image credit: SquareWheel

The first place to look should be company pages such as “About us”, “Contact”, and others that might have information on employees, from their bios to contact details. Social media channels can provide more context, as well as some other useful information. LinkedIn stands out as the go-to social network for prospect information hunting, but a personal Twitter account and a company’s Glassdoor profile can also be helpful. Chances are, you’ll have a hard time finding the info you need so you can also try more encompassing digital platforms that, besides providing crucial sales insights, also automate this part of research by providing an email database obtained through legal channels.

Build on your prospect research with each call

Whether your sales team holds hundreds of people or just a handful of ladies and gents, you will eventually accumulate a number of prospecting attempts. The truth is that some succeed and some don't. Don’t despair - every buyer context is different. Some are in a different stage of the buying process than others so you need to authenticate their interest before trying to convert them. That’s why it’s important to build off of your previous attempts. Some things you cannot know without asking the right questions. Other times, you can add value with each message you send to peak their interest. The prospect in question will likely have a certain degree of knowledge about your product or service so if you can provide more value, they will more likely buy what you’re selling.

Wrap up

Just doing prospect research is a win on its own and while there are no wrong ways to go about it, not every way is as efficient as you’d like it to be. Some aspects are more important than others, but it all comes down to personalization. The more you can personalize your message to the prospect in question and their business, the higher the chances you’ll put under lock and key their interest and ultimately, their business.

The current zeitgeist in sales is all about delivering a personalized customer experience, and understandably so. Targeted sales insights based on personal data are the most effective weapon in your sales team’s arsenal. Adding a personal touch goes a long way in showing your prospects you’ve done your homework, but also that you’re in it for the long run and not just to make a quick sale. With ever-growing mountains of data, there is more than enough of it to tailor your message to an individual business and nail prospect research for times to come.