Today I was reading the blog post by Sam Richter on Jill Konrath’s blog about sales intelligence. I’ve been asked many times lately how I prepare for a call, so I thought it would be helpful to document some of the searching that can help you get your foot in the door, too. Sometimes getting that first contact is the hardest part! See some of my advice on researching prospects below. The goal is simple– high impact outreach.
- Ask for an introduction on Linkedin – If you have a mutual contact or are a 3rd connection with someone on Linkedin, ask for the intro! Just go for it. We teach our clients to do a 6-Degrees of Separation search with all team members (assuming they are all on Linkedin) to find any pre-existing relationships.
- It’s Personal – Don’t ever do outreach to a prospect without searching for them on Linkedin, Google, Jigsaw, and even Facebook. You never know what you may find. Maybe you went to the same school or started out your careers at the same big firm. Maybe you both like hockey.
- Hot Off the Presses – When researching a prospect, don’t just read their company homepage. Take the time to read through the entire website and dig up the most recent press releases. Awards, new hires, and product releases may all impact your pitch. Most of the time, you’ll find much more relevant information about what’s really going on within the company.
- In the Public Eye – This may seem obvious, but if you’re preparing to call on a public company, make sure to look up the ticker symbol and all the publicly available reports. You can gain a lot by reading through SEC filings and 10k reports. Use Google Finance to track the competition and trends in a particular industry.
- Short Format – Today, some executives of big firms have established accounts on Twitter. This is a great way to figure out what they care about or what they are announcing. Make sure to follow all of the employees tweeting for a particular company AND respond! Over time listening to what they are saying pays off. Many owners and executives also write a company blog. Read it! You will get a sense of their personality and understanding of their business.
Now that you’re armed with all this intelligence, don’t blow it by sending a novel. Keep it short. Don’t try to tell them sell them, either. Make sure to keep your first email to a few jam-packed sentences totally focused on THEM! Also consider that most busy executives are getting your message on their phone. Your task is to grab their attention and make it immediately relevant. You’ll not only get your foot in the door, but show that you genuinely care about doing business with that company. It’s well worth it!
Looking for a pre-defined format to organize all of your research? We have what we call a “scouting” dossier for whale hunting companies available for free.
What else do you use to research prospects? We’d love to hear from you!