Research Is a Key Element in Sales

Do your homework prior to every sales appointment. Show potential clients you have researched their organization and have a strategy in place. Set objectives for each appointment that are achievable and realistic.

There are many key aspects of the sales process, from the basic steps—such as the opening, presentation, handling objections, and closing—to developing a sales relationship. Other factors may include appearance, etiquette, listening, empathy, and professionalism, which also play a key role in the sales strategy. However, one major factor that often is overlooked is conducting proper research.

I’d like to focus on two primary research opportunities here:

1. The first is to research the company or organization you are soliciting to understand its growth opportunities, organizational chart, and regional/local office size and structure. Sources you could obtain this data from would include:

  • The company’s Website
  • The local Chamber of Commerce
  • Stock market criteria (Moody’s and Barron’s, as well)
  • Networking with community organization members (such as Kiwanis and Rotary)
  • Asking your initial contact several open-ended questions

This criteria is beneficial for obtaining additional clients within the organization or corporation, as well as developing your action steps to increase your targeted goal of maximizing market share for your company.

If you have completed an in-depth understanding of the company prior to the first solicitation call or appointment, you will be much more likely to be considered for its business in the future. When I sit down with clients after conducting the initial research steps, I incorporate my knowledge of their organization or corporation in the first minute by statements such as: “I understand you are planning on opening a new facility in Florida next year,” or “I read you are hiring an additional 200 employees for your IT department in 2017.” I suggest you continue to interject statements from your data gathering throughout the initial conversation. This will not only impress the potential client, but also will define you as a sales representative who takes the time to understand the corporation/organization. You will be remembered and respected by this client much more than your competition.

2. The other form of research I highly recommend is to research new technologies; new methods of gathering data, such as Google searches; new industry breakthroughs; and recent news regarding your competition. Read, read, read to research new innovative technologies to accelerate your information gathering and broaden your resources. Peruse trade magazines online and Google new creative concepts within your industry. Clients always want to know what the next new breakthrough is in your industry.

Smart sales managers know their competition, as well as their own service or product.
They then are more able to handle any objections or questions pertaining to how their service/product is the best choice for the client’s needs. If you walk in prepared and confident, your chances for a successful outcome increase substantially with each sales encounter. Visit and talk to your competitors. Make an appointment and have lunch with the top three to four competitors who continue to have the greatest market share or recently increased their percentage of share. You will learn a lot about them just by having a conversation. Often, I have found my competitors will send me business they may not be able to handle; you may have an opportunity to reciprocate in the future, as well. Do not look at them as the enemy, but as another way to build your own sales arsenal. If you are meeting with a new client who currently is using a competitor, try to understand why they have been motivated to use them in the past. This will enhance your insight as you develop your strategy to win this client and start a new sales relationship with them. Remember: Selling is a process that may not be won (and often isn’t) in the first or second meeting.

Do your homework prior to every sales appointment. Come in prepared and confident and show the potential client you have researched their organization and have a strategy in place. Set objectives for each appointment that are achievable and realistic. In future meetings with the client, discuss some of the criteria you covered in the last conversation and include more knowledge you have learned since the last appointment.

Richard B. Secord is a sales consultant and trainer. He can be reached at Liveforsuccess@aol.com.

 

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