When it comes to sales, knowledge truly is power. The more you know about the men and women who will ultimately decide whether to buy from you or not – and the more insight you have into their organizations, future plans, and motivations – the easier time you’ll have seeing how your products and services could fit into the mix.
Knowing this, you’d think that salespeople would be tripping over themselves to find new sources of research and information. In our experience, however, most don’t go nearly as far as they should to learn about their prospects. If you want to become a RAINMAKER, you’re going to have to go beyond your competitors and gain an edge over them by having a stronger understanding of the sales situation. Here are five good resources you can get started with:
Usually having everything from their mission statement to press releases and future plans, your prospect company’s website will be your first stop before almost any sales call. Look around not just for facts, names, and details – as important as these are – but for a sense of how the organization sees itself in the marketplace.
Although this document is typically written for investors, it usually contains a wealth of information for ambitious salespeople, too. That’s because, in most annual reports, you’ll find a good overview of where the previous year’s revenues and expenses came from, not to mention future plans and forecasts, and even a personal note from the CEO. If you want to get a sense of a company’s health and direction, the annual report is a great place to start.
To dig even deeper into the fiscal picture of a public company, take a look at the 10K reports that can usually be found on the company’s website or at www.sec.gov. These aren’t as straightforward as an annual report, but they usually contain details on income, expenses, and even ongoing legal issues that can’t be discovered elsewhere.
Think about the brochures, profiles, and other collateral materials you send to prospects. Would someone who wanted to sell to you find them informative? Chances are they would. Sales literature is easy to obtain, and almost always yields a fair bit of insight into where an organization sees its competitive advantages… and how you can help them improve those strengths.
Both your target company and your decision-maker contact likely have profiles on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Why not check them out? At worst, you’ll find out that they have pets or enjoy fine foods; it’s more likely that you’ll also learn what their biggest issues and challenges are at the moment, as well as which parts of their department or career are most on their minds.