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In working with many sales professionals over the years, I have observed that the most successful are not those with the best golf club contacts, the slickest lines, or even those that log the most time. The most successful sales pros are those that know when to walk away.

The secret is in spending a little more time up front before the first contact is made. This idea is elegantly stated by sales training expert, Steve Richard, and his 3-by-3 model for researching prospects.

Take 3 minutes and learn at least 3 relevant things about your potential client. What you want to learn is:

1) What is in it for you?

Is this person the decision maker for a sale? Or can they introduce you to a key decision maker?

2) What is in it for them?

What problem or activity can you take off their plate? Remember that the status quo or “do nothing” is your toughest competition.

3) What is the timing

Something urgent or down the road? With social media, here are some pre-sales call research activities you can quickly accomplish in 3 minutes or less:

  • In LinkedIn, look at the company page and prospect activity for changes or problems such as new product launches or strategic planning announcements.
  • In LinkedIn groups scan for questions or comments.
  • Via Twitter scan for complaints or questions that you could address.

“Honestly, pre-call research is really about discovering the ‘why,’” Richard explains. “Why are you calling, why should the prospect care about you, and why is what you’re about to tell them truly valuable to their business, rather than just any other business.” Do you use social media for prospect research? Share below.