I really love my clients! They are a wealth of information for me. Upon a personal survey that I had conducted with my clients, I found an interesting fact: Did you know that in the B2B space, every business before choosing a vendor, evaluates at least 4- 6 companies on an average? Out of which, post their initial meeting the number drops to 2-3 companies. This leads to a series of discussions with the shortlisted companies and finally the deal happens with the best company that matches their fit.
Now, in this post, I am not diving into details as to how we sales people can crack a deal, Instead I would outline on how you can stay ahead of your sales competition when you are primarily being evaluated by your prospect.
With that idea, I asked my clients as to why they choose me and my business ahead of my competition? I compiled their answers into a single word which was refreshing and motivating for me. Well, they said they felt “CONNECTED” and hence my company could make it into the shortlist.
Now you can ask me, “So, How do I be connected to the prospect instantly and gain trust?”
The answer is simple, it’s information.
Yes, with information about their company, you will be able to relate to their problems 52% faster than trying to understand their needs on the first sales call.
Remember that, throughout your sales call, your objective is to be convincing when you say, “we would want to work with you and we see a great fit” Back this up by being able to talk about what makes both your company’s unique, and express your enthusiasm by showing off your knowledge and the value you bring in. Below are the quick guidelines on how you can gain insight about a company that you want to work with:
1. Company news
This is the most under viewed section by the sales executives when they visit their prospects website. The easiest way to stay on top of a discussion while on a sales call is by knowing the history and current happenings in their company. In today’s world, more than 73% of the companies update their website.
Primary sources are company’s RSS feeds, blog posts, and make sure you follow your potential prospects on LinkedIn, Facebook and twitter as social platforms are updated first. Some of the other sources for gathering information on public companies are BusinessWeek Online, Company Research, and Hoovers Online.
2. New funding
A company with strong funds is a very comforting factor for the sales executives. When on their site, click on the “Investor Relations” tab. For large companies, you will be able to access and listen to publicly available quarterly earnings and annual reports. These reports also cover information including new products, company risks, and whether revenues are growing or stable. If you are talking to a start-up, check out its profile on Crunchbase, Angel list or lead411.
3. Are they hiring?
This is one of the most important piece of information any sales person needs to know prior to a call. If a company is hiring for a position, it talks so much about their growth plans/ current situation or needs.
For example, if you are selling a marketing software and you notice that your target company is looking for an SEO specialist, then they are very good chances that they would listen to your offering. It will also give you enough intelligence to build a strong relevant story.
Company’s career page, linked in career section and few local job portals can give you this insight. Also, keeping a track of the HR profiles of your prospect company on LinkedIn can give valuable feedback as they are always on the hunt for talent.
4. Territory expansion
Territory expansion is a solid proof that the company is growing and is ambitious. One of the key reasons to expand overseas is diversification. Another reason to expand internationally, of course, is to fuel financial growth. Foreign markets offer new sources for revenue and profit margin expansion.
The best way to know if they have geographically expanded is LinkedIn. If you run an advanced search on the employees of a company; you would have the information as to all the locations the employees are located in. Many companies tend to have smaller teams or sales teams in new locations and that can be valid evidence about their presence.
5. Upcoming events
It is very important that you should be aware of the events taking place in the organization that you are talking too. Google news is an easy way to dig up the recent press. Go to news.google.com and search for the company name and read the stuff posted out there.
The person that you are scheduled to talk may have been mentioned in the recent events and being able to actively engage in that conversation definitely comes across as impressive.
It’s good to follow the company and their leaders on an ongoing basis. (Even if you are not scheduled for a meeting with them.) Newsle is a great source. You can enter anyone’s name and the site will keep you updated any time there is press on that person. Google alerts can be very helpful here too.
6. LinkedIn profiles
Running through linked profiles of the employees gives you a great insight on the kind of people that work, their skill level, and organizational hierarchy. With such information, you will know whom to address over the call.
Culture and office environment are so important. If you are a vendor looking to service them for a long period, the company will want to know if you are a good fit with their culture. Information on this can be found in lots of different places like LinkedIn and Glassdoor.
7. Shared contacts
There is an old saying, “People only want to do business with people whom they know”. Always pay attention to all the shared contacts you have. Bringing out their names on the call builds trust by 37% more than a cold reach.
LinkedIn and sidekick software provide these awesome features on shared contacts.
I once had a call with a CEO of a mid-sized software company. Out of my research, I had a common contact who knew the COO of the company. Over the call, when I mentioned that I knew John who is a friend of their COO, I gained instant trust and I could get a lot of their attention for the rest of the call.
8. Rivals of your prospect
Look up competitors by going to the LinkedIn company page and scrolling down to the “Other Companies People Viewed” section. There should be a few competitors there. Do the same thing with the competitors you find until you have a pretty good sense of who the big players in the field are. (Or, if the company has a Crunchbase page, you should be able to find a list of competitors on its profile.)
These are just some of my views. I would love to hear from you on what has really worked for you? Feel free to share your experiences.