Sales 101 – The Most Successful Sales People Do Their Homework

31 05 2013

Fear1

The majority of my week is spent in one of three ways:

  1. Sitting in front of clients uncovering needs or finding that one big, hairy, problem that keeps them awake at night
  2. Brainstorming ideas with Media Sales Reps that addresses needs they’ve uncovered while meeting with clients or prospects
  3. Crafting ideas to use as valid business reason to secure that initial appointment

You see, I am in the relationship marketing and management business.  It is my job to come up with creative ways to assist business owners in moving their customers up the ladder of loyalty using a myriad of integrated marketing tactics that could include radio, digital, mobile, video, social, experiential marketing or a combination of the aforementioned in addition to numerous others.

Today, we have many ways to research a client and their business versus years ago when it was limited to print, networking, and (if you were lucky),  a little bit of data from the internet’s infancy.
Here is the process I use the majority of the time:  Prior to sitting down with a client or the sales rep that calls on them, I do my own independent research on the client’s business.  My research always starts with an organic search within that client’s business category on Google.  For example, if the client’s business category was furniture, I would Google St. Louis Furniture Stores.  Then I would check for the following:

  • Did this client’s business show up?  If so, were they on page one?
  • Did any paid search show up at the top of the listings?
  • How about their Facebook page, did it appear in an organic search result?

Next, I follow the same process but actually use their business name (example:  Fabio’s Fine Furniture) in my organic search.  I go through the same drill as with the business category search to see where they rank, and what exactly it is that is showing up in the organic search.  At some point, I would spend time with their website, audit their Facebook page (if applicable), check to see if they have any customer reviews or feedback (Yelp, FB, etc…), see if they have been in the news lately for any reason, learn about their origin, their owner, how many locations they have, etc…If at all possible, I would stop into one of their locations if it were a business I had never or infrequently visited.  What about networking?  Are they on LinkedIn?  Better yet, a I connected to anyone that is connected to them.

You only get one chance to make a first impression.  Don’t squander it away by thinking you’re prepared.  Really, REALLY do the research.  I’ve sat in front of enough clients that actually make it a point to thank me and/or the sales rep for being so prepared during the appointment.   Being prepared helps you understand the needs of your client better and gives you a head start with potential solutions to fill the need.  It also sets you way ahead of the competition as you have shown an honest and sincere interest in their business.  Not to mention the confidence you will have during the appointment and the credibility you will build with the attendees.

By doing your homework and researching the client or prospect, you will be well on your way to building a productive relationship.  So I ask you now?  Do you have productive relationships with your current clients?  Do you exercise the same philosophy with prospective clients?  Have you done your homework?

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