April 12, 2012

If you are noticing that your sales numbers are lagging, or you just can’t seem to meet your goals, it is vital to take a look at how you are selling and how you are handling your prospects.  Thoroughly researching your prospects is a necessary part of sales process improvement.  Let’s take a look at a few easy ways that you can find the gold hidden in your prospect list.

The first place to start is with the prospect’s web site.  You need to know absolutely everything there is to know not only about the company, but its key decision makers.  Read through the information they provide to the public and begin creating a profile for this prospect.  Note any big changes that have occurred recently.

Now, it’s time to dig deeper.  Begin by using Hoovers to look up any additional information that is available for your prospect.  Another overlooked sources for information on your prospects are internet news sites.  Type in the company or executive’s name and see what comes up.  Add pertinent information to your file.  If they are a publicly traded company, research their stock symbol and look back over the course of several years.  This will give you an idea of the prospect’s value.

To delve even deeper, the next step is to run a Lexis/Nexis search on the company, followed by a search of Dun & Bradstreet.  This is a vital step to determine whether or not a prospect is a good risk for your company, and you will be able to find out a lot more about their operations, how prompt they are with their contractors and whether or not they are a stable entity.

Once you get all this information, it’s time to start qualifying and quantifying what you have.  Use the data you have collected to begin shaping a plan for handling this prospect.  Find your key decision maker and list everything you know about them and their role within the organization.  In another column, list all the known information you collected, good and bad, about the company.  This will help you develop your strategy for your first contact.

Staying informed is another important part of sales process improvement.  This can be accomplished in a number of different ways, but automating your system will not only save you time, but it will also ensure that you get the information you need as quickly as possible.  Create a Google alert with the decision maker’s name and a separate one for the company.  If the company has an RSS feed, subscribe to it.  Follow them on Twitter as well and keep track of any big changes or news within the company.  These changes can spell big success for you in the future if they bring the company in line with what you have to offer.

These steps, although they may seem laborious, are indeed very important for sales process improvement.  How many times have you gotten what looks like a hot lead, only to find that the company is insolvent, or the key decision maker isn’t who you thought it was?  Research is the key.  Taking the time to dig up data will help save you time over the long term and the information you collect can help you shape your campaign effectively.