As stated in my new book, Close Deals Faster: The 15 Shortcuts of the Asher Sales Method, “In a globalized, Internet based economy, there is no excuse for a salesperson not to have done thorough research on the buyer and their company prior to the first meeting.”
There’s still too many salespeople going on sales calls without doing at least a modicum of research. It’s puzzling, since the internet makes it very easy. Mastering sales closing techniques without also learning how to research prospects is folly.
For corporate sales, LinkedIn remains the top resource for sales research. Most sales people already use Premium, and many also invest in Sales Navigator. These make research and prospect discovery much easier and I highly recommend the investment. For the sake of this post I will take a general approach so as not to exclude those on the free plan.
Here are 5 keys to be a LinkedIn sales research expert.
- Research the Company
First things first: find out all you can about the target company. Perform a search using the company’s name, and browse recent news posted by the company. I recommend clicking the “Follow” link so you get all updates from the company on your feed automatically.
Searching by company name under the “Content” option will monitor all posts which mention the brand. This will reveal third parties who are talking about it, providing even more data. This can also reveal shared connections, who are potential insiders that can “grease the wheels” and provide an introduction.
- Research the Industry
The best way to accomplish this on LinkedIn is to join Groups pertaining to your target company’s industry and follow the conversations. Again, a simple search under “Groups” will surface these. You can also join groups where key decision makers in your target company participate.
- Research the Individual
Even the free LinkedIn plan will provide a wealth of information on your decision makers. Alma mater, past jobs, job skills, charitable activities, and what sort of content they like to consume on LinkedIn are all available for researchers. And, of great importance is the revelation of mutual connections, who can function as insiders. One of the most effective sales closing techniques is to involve insiders in the process, so finding them is worthwhile.
*Bonus tip: use Crystalknows.com to reveal the personality of your buyers on LinkedIn!
- Research Competing Firms Doing Business with Them
Follow your competitors who currently do business with your target companies to keep track of any news or changes which indicate an opportunity to grab some business. Leadership changes, relocations, loss of key personnel, supply issues, bad press: all these might open the door in the mind of the buyer to source elsewhere.
- Research Buyer’s Main Competitors
In the same vein, if a prospect’s competitors undergo changes, this could present an opportunity to sell your products or services to your buyer. You can challenge them to capitalize on a weakness, or to avoid getting left behind when their competition surges forward. Either way, by following their competitors on LinkedIn you can fish for these opportunities on your feed.
For more tips on LinkedIn, check out “45 Experts Share Their Biggest LinkedIn Marketing Strategy.”