Cold call prospects research, or not? before calling?

Does it help or hurt research companies before you call them?

Now you may be thinking, well, uh, Scott, isn’t it a good idea to research a company a bit before calling to set up a discovery call?

Well, it certainly is a popular belief, but I have to tell you, I personally believe it is the DUMBEST bit of sales prospecting advice given.

Let me explain why.

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I smiled and dialed and scheduled over 2,000 C-Level sales appointments in different industries before writing how to books on the topic.

I never once, never, “researched” a company before the call. Never. Not once.

Your goal should never be to set appointments with specific Company A, specific Company B or specific Company C. Your goal should be to set the most qualified appointments for your time and money investment.

Mindset for appointment setting research process

Change your mindset from setting sales appointments or discovery calls with specific companies to setting appointments with as many similarly situated companies as possible. Who cares which ones they are?

If you call a list of 100 purposely selected companies you should care a lot whether you schedule 5, 12 or 18 qualified meetings from that group. You should not care at all about which companies they are with.

Here is the way I thought…

I work a call process 15 hours a week and schedule 10 appointments with no research.

When I research before making calls, I end up spending more than half of my prospecting time browsing the internet, checking LinkedIn, looking at websites, reading tweets, and not actually making calls. So now I spend half of my prospecting time researching and the remaining 7 ½ hours making calls.

For research to be worthwhile, I need to more than double my effectiveness to break even. Not going to happen.

What you know about them, will not win a discovery call

Your knowledge of a particular company is not what earns you a meeting. It is what your suspect thinks you might do it for them, that gets you a meeting.

That has nothing to do with your knowledge of the company at the time of your initial call. You getting a meeting is about YOUR perceived potential value in the eyes of the prospect, not what you know about the company at the time of the call.

Remember, it is not what you know about them that matters, it is what they think you might do for them that matters.

Enabling them to conclude that you might be able to help them is what matters, nothing else. That is what earns you meetings that convert into sales.

How to best research and prepare for cold calling

Research the GROUP before your set the sales appointment call. Not the individual companies.

And that is where the research magic happens. You research the group before you reach out, and know the needs, situation and results needed among the GROUP you are targeting stone cold.

You structure your messaging to enable the best response, the most sales appointments or discovery calls from that GROUP for the time invested.

Research the individual company once you have secured the first sales appointment or discovery call.

What might your cold call research uncover?

Another reason why researching each company you call is a waste?

The reasons why they need you are not publicly available.

In my long career and with all the reps I have helped and trained, I can’t think of one instance where a major account was landed because of knowing some easily available public information.

If you are working for an experienced, reputable company with credibility and experience up the Yazoo, do you really think you help yourself by getting Mr. or Ms. Big on the phone and saying “Hey, see you are opening a new location. That you are hiring new employees. That you just got some award.” Do you really think that impresses anyone and is enough to get you in the door?

In fact, it diminishes your credibility when in the first crucial seconds of an interaction you relate a mundane piece of info at the expense of clarifying what you do, your credibility, what you can achieve.

The real reason they may hire you is probably not publicly available. If their market share has dropped, employee turnover is high, their managers stink, or a competitor is eating their lunch, you are not going to find out those things casually surfing the web.

You should be enabling someone that has a problem to conclude that you are worth spending time with. Mundane info does not do it.

Info with impact gets you in the door. You must enable a buyer to conclude, “Hey, they might be able to help me.” I will listen more. I will meet.

It is critical that you do the research to correctly profile the companies you call so that you are calling into a group that you know with high probability has a high percentage of companies that typically have needs that you can solve —, and… it is cost-effective for you to prospect them given cost of setting an appointment, conversion rates, size of average sale and margins.

This is the step where most people lose it. They do not do the proper GROUP research and end up working a lower probability group.

Sell the meeting, not your knowledge of them

You are selling the meeting, not your product or service. What works to make a sale is not what works when selling a meeting.

Gear what you say toward 1.) your knowledge of common needs, hot button issues, and motivations to change vendors among a group of similarly situated carefully defined companies, and 2.) effectively communicating your value. What you say is not specific to any one company.

Ultimately, the main goal is to maximize the number of appointments with potential buyers for the time spent.

That is what drives what you do and say. Nothing else.

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