Sales Research

How much research do sales people really need to do to clinch the specification?

In today’s digital world it’s easy to click on a website or peruse Linkedin but in reality it’s surprising how few sales people are regularly preparing or planning for their sales calls or meetings. We know that specifiers and buyers now expect us to know something about their business even before we walk through the door. So asking really obvious questions like ‘what sectors of the market do you operate in’ can even be irritating to a professional customer who is looking for a ‘Trusted Advisor’.
‘Being a trusted advisor means that you have the ability to diagnose your client’s business problems and challenges and then to make the right recommendations to improve their situation’ (Shelley Cernel).
We should have gathered some insight beforehand so that the questions we ask are relevant to establishing some initial rapport (via Linkedin and their website) then adding value to our product and solutions. If we go into the call just keen to display our knowledge on the products and show how well we can demo our samples then we’ll hardly scratch the surface of what the really customer wants -a recommendation on how to solve their problems and how to help them. Consider in advance what objectives we want to get out of the meeting and spend some time researching both company and individual-this also shows a commitment that we are prepared to go the extra mile to work with them as a partner and that we’re interested in them.

One of the most useful acronyms I have come across and regularly use is DRIVE.

Desired outcomes -Discover customer needs; Establish credibility quickly; Find personal follow
up opportunity; Find business follow up opportunity, Get follow up meeting.
Risks to avoid -Talking too much; Losing Focus; Addressing the wrong problem; Not getting a follow up meeting
Investment in the call and account not to exceed- Eg half hour basic research (for first meeting); Premeet with          marketing? Presentation preparation; 4 meetings? Maybe 5? Deal within 4 months?
Vision or values – Usefulness; Listener; Trust-worthy; Problem solver; Friendly; Success together; Reliable; Competent.
Essential outcomes – Establish usefulness; Demonstrate understanding; Offer help; Make at least one promise; Schedule followup meeting (with decision maker if needed).

The BIG thing we all underestimate is practising these sales skills over and over until they become second nature.

Read about sales coaching and training in these areas: