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Inside Sales Start With Outside Legwork

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Inside Sales Start With Outside Legwork
November 20, 2014

  By Rory J. Thompson, Web Editor

You would think that any salesperson worth their salt would know to do some homework about a client before actually speaking with that prospective client. Yet according to one veteran of the business, it’s a lot less common than you’d think.

In a recent insight piece at The, Sales Consultant Tom Black dissected the proper way to go about preparing for an important sales call, but noted that many he met in his line of work had failed to follow even the most basic of steps.

“Abraham Lincoln said if he had six hours to chop down a tree, he would ‘spend the first four hours sharpening the saw’,” Black noted, adding that “Tom Peters, while at McKinsey and Company, said, ‘we prepared one hour for each one minute of anticipated meeting time with a prospect’ (30-minute meeting, 30 hours of preparation).” But these seem to be the exception rather than the rule.

“Today, sales people have more opportunity than ever to prepare for their sales calls. Yet over and over, I see sales people arrive on the call without as much preparation as possible,” Black observed. “Technology, social media and the glut of general information available allows us to be very prepared for every call.”

Black cites the plethora of social media available to all, including all the basics that most everyone uses when simply killing time at work.

“Of course, it goes without saying you should use Facebook (News - Alert) and Google. We make it a policy to Google-search every prospect before we go on the call. Recently, I was shocked when a sales person called on me and knew nothing about me and very little about my company,” Black related.

 He also favorably mentioned LinkedIn (News - Alert) as a great site for background info.

“Many companies I have been associated with lately have had a great deal of success with LinkedIn,” Black said. “This source gives you information about your prospect, their co-workers, their supervisors, their circle of influence and even details of your prospect’s performance. If you are not using LinkedIn, you are still living in the 20th century.”

Finally, Black let on that as connected as he is, he can also go old-school.

“I may be old-fashioned, but I still keep a paper file on each prospect as I begin the sales process,” he admitted. “I am informed and it is easy to start a conversation about their business. I dare say, if you do your homework, you will know more than some of your prospect’s employees do about their company.”

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