It would be tough to find a sales leader who encourages their people to call prospects without doing any research. Fortunately, it is now established practice that a good prospecting process involves researching the buyer before calling or emailing them. What is not clear however, is the specific critical information you need to know before picking up the phone or writing your email. While every sale is different, there are five basic things you need to ensure you have clearly established before reaching out.

Their Name

Just because sales leaders agree that pre-call research is important, does not mean everyone is doing it. Case in point, my inbox still gets flooded by emails that open with, “Hello Funnel Clarity!” My name is Abin, not Funnel Clarity.

You would think that a name is an obvious piece of information to have before reaching out to a prospect but alas, many sales people are still falling short of even the most basic standards. This stems from the fact that a lot of B2B sales people fail to recognize that despite the fact that commission comes out of company budgets, sales is always about making relationships with other humans. You need to figure out the best point of contact for you in that organization and reach out to them directly, using their name.

Their Responsibilities, Not just Titles!

Titles can say whatever a person wants to on Linkedin but it’s the responsibilities held by the prospect that matters most while prospecting. I know managers who have more authority and responsibilities than a VP. Don’t take titles at face value! Not only are management levels in a title misleading about a prospects purchasing power, they can also be totally wrong in terms of their responsibilities.

For example, sometimes a VP of Sales is an Account Executive while the Manager of Business Development is actually in charge of managing the sales team. At face value, the VP sounds like a better prospect but if I put some time in to understand the org chart, I can determine that the Manager is a better prospect. Hence, don’t trust titles! Know a prospect’s responsibilities. 

What Their Company Does

One of my former colleagues gave me the best lesson on the importance of knowing what a prospect’s company does. A prospect of his picked up the phone and my colleague had done enough to get the prospect’s attention. About a minute into the call, the prospect stopped him and asked, “Can you tell me what my company does?”

My colleague had no idea. He froze and was so embarrassed about his lack of knowledge that he hung up the phone. Good news is that he eventually did a great deal of research on the company, called back the prospect, and scheduled a meeting with him. However, he learned a very important lesson; be ready to capitalize when you get a prospect’s attention by knowing something about what their company does. It gives you more credibility and also offers confidence that a question like the one above won’t leave you stumped.

Recent News About The Company

Relevant and recent changes within a company or its industry can provide a sales person with a lot of context. It can inform you on potential needs that a company has or will have. It also is a piece of information you can use to break the ice with a prospect.

For example, if one of your prospects just got recognized as an industry leader, mention it while reaching out to them. Your prospect will immediately realize you did your research, and will also feel complemented and happy, which can make your job as a seller much easier. After all, who doesn’t love to revel in their own glory?

Who Are Their Companies Customers?

Why would a company buy your products? So they can be better equipped to serve their own customers. Knowing your customer’s customers will certainly help you during your prospecting calls but if you do this work while prospecting, it can also yield tremendous results for you down the sales cycle.

A prospect only goes through complex buying cycles and puts in the work to evaluate vendors because it somehow supports how they serve their own customers. If you have an intimate understanding of this dynamic, you will be able to make a better case on how your product ties into the priorities of their customers.

Forgetting Anything?

There is a plethora of information available about your prospects and their companies. You can look on their website, social media pages, LinkedIn, or do a quick google news search. There is a lot to know but not all of it is necessary. These five pieces of information outlined above will serve you well throughout the entire sales cycle.

Want to train your team in proven prospecting techniques? Check out our comprehensive guide to sales prospecting, based on an analysis of 100,000 sales calls.