If you wouldn’t take a test in school without studying, then you should never get on a sales call without profiling a prospect beforehand. If you haven’t done the right research before picking up the phone, you risk asking uninformed, obvious business questions, missing the key business pain, or just crashing and burning because you’re reaching out to the wrong person entirely.

How do you effectively prepare for a sales call with a new prospect? Here is how to accurately profile a customer before a call, so you make the best possible sales pitch.

Research Company Goals

What are the goals and priorities of the company you’re targeting? Check out their website and try to understand the business’ value proposition and overall goals. It’s also smart to see if there have been any recent news stories regarding the company. You can use a sales tool like Newsle to track news and recent announcements on Google or elsewhere online. This makes it much easier to start off a conversation with a prospect at that business. You can say something like, “I saw that your company recently got a new round of funding. Congratulations! What are you looking to improve as your business grows?” This will improve the engagement level on the call, add much-needed context, and can lead to a much more personalized conversation with a prospect about their business needs.

Understand the Market

Take what you’ve learned, and compare this specific company to other customers you’ve already sold on your product. This will help you to prepare in advance for the types of objections or difficulties you are about to face from a new prospect. The more you know about your target market and ideal customer profile, the easier it will be to sell to new prospects. You want to try to guess the challenges facing the business, so you can answer their questions with ease. Of course every business is different, but if you know you’re selling to a SMB in the consulting industry that is trying to grow their business aggressively, that information from past experiences will be a huge help when you’re on the call. You will be able to offer a pitch that specifically answers some of the concerns facing that kind of business today.

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Call the Right Person

Now that you understand the business and the market, it’s time to figure out who exactly you want to speak with at the company. Depending on the product you’re selling, you may want to target a sales manager, CEO, or the VP of Finance. But you have to do research to find out who is the decision-maker and owner of the specific function that your product addresses. Once you find the correct person, you should also do research on them personally. Look them up on LinkedIn and see if you have any connections in common, attended the same college, or have any other common ground you can use to create a strong rapport. This will also help you on your first conversation, converting you from a stranger on the phone, to a friend and colleague that just wants to help.
Now that you have the background information you need, it’s finally time to pick up the phone and make a call. Armed with information about the company, the market and the person you’re about to call, you will come off as more intelligent, helpful and resourceful than any other sales rep. With the right research to back up your sales pitch, you can close that deal with ease.

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