Salespeople are under a lot of pressure to win new business. This fact hit home a few weeks ago when I spoke to a salesperson who uses our research.
She told me she is expected to perform five demos every week. In fact, someone from headquarters calls her every Monday to find out what five demo appointments she has lined up that week. And just two weeks before, her company laid off a slew of under-performing salespeople.
I have to admit, just speaking to her made me a bit nervous, and I don't even work there!
That conversation inspired this article. Hopefully, the tips below can help your sales team meet their metrics—whether it's demo appointments, in-person meetings, or opportunities in the pipeline.
Finding a Good Prospect
When we do research for our clients, we're always looking for a "way in." In other words, we're looking for a project or challenge the prospect is facing that matches what our client sells.
Here are some of our favorite ways of finding that information:
Tip 1: Use the Job Postings This has helped us find hundreds of sales opportunities for our clients. The key is to use a site that aggregates job openings from many places (such as Career Builder, Monster, Dice, etc.). A good one we like is Indeed.com. Once there, go to the Advanced Search function. Next, type in a few key words that apply to your service/product. For example, let's say you offer business intelligence (BI) solutions. Type in that key word (or similar key words that would indicate a company is working on a BI project). You'll likely have to sift through a few postings, but it could prove worthwhile. Once you find a company that is starting a project in this area, your chances of engaging your prospect will improve significantly.
Tip 2: Regularly Review Vertical and Functional Periodicals
No matter what you sell, there's probably a monthly magazine that matches it. There are online magazines dedicated to IT professionals, HR, marketing, finance, legal, etc., as well as magazines devoted to verticals (banking, health care, retail, etc.). There are even online magazines devoted to specific geographic regions.
Each magazine is packed with stories and news events for that specific area. We recommend reviewing them regularly to find timely prospects. For example, many of our clients focus on selling to IT executives. Besides CIO.com, here are three other online magazines that may prove helpful:
• Baseline Magazine: www.baselinemag.com
• CIO Insight: www.cioinsight.com
• Computerworld: www.computerworld.com
There's an online magazine(s) for nearly every area. If you need help finding one that fits your solution, send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tip 3: Read the Earnings Transcripts
If your salespeople are looking for the six-figure (and potentially seven-figure) sale, have them read the company's quarterly earnings transcripts (if the company is public). Every quarter, public U.S. companies must present to shareholders and investors. Those meetings are recorded and later transcribed to written word.
At these meetings, the executive management talks about future strategies, upcoming projects and any issues or challenges they're trying to resolve. It's a great way to find out the more "hidden" type of information—information that's not being reported in the news. You can find a company's earnings transcripts at Seeking Alpha.
Silvia Quintanilla is president of Industry Gems, a boutique custom sales intelligence company dedicated to helping salespeople win large deals with America's biggest companies. For more information, call 510.745.9956 or visit www.industrygems.com, where you can sign up for the complimentary Sales Gems Bulletin (subscription box at the bottom left-hand corner). Every month, the bulletin highlights the best "door-opening" news that can help companies selling technology solutions to the Fortune 500 to get their foot in the door.