We all want the best for our buyers. But the greatest opportunities for new sales don’t come to you when things are going well for them.
Those great opportunities involve the problems that keep your buyer tossing and turning at night. That’s why you sometimes have to look on your buyer’s dark side.
Prospects may not volunteer this information, especially when they don’t know you well. It’s just too painful to talk about. You have to find it on your own.
When you research prospects, you’re really trying to uncover their greatest pains — those issues they’re experiencing that make them need your product or service. If you successfully communicate that you understand those pains and have ways to address them, you’re far more likely to get the prospect’s attention.
Beyond the obvious
Most sales reps start with the obvious, going to the prospect’s website and Hoovers.com for an overview of the company, its executives, and (from Hoovers) an idea of the competitive landscape.
A good start, says sales coach Ginger Cooper, but neither resource broadcasts what you’re really after—information on what they’re not doing well: problems that keep key executives up at night, impact sales or bottom-line profit and the job security of the key decision makers.
Here’s where to find the pain:
1. THE BBB Website
Most people don’t file a complaint with the BBB unless they’re really angry, so the Better Business Bureau website can be a great source for uncovering product and service issues. Type in the prospect company name and you’ll get a BBB rating, an A-F letter grade based on the number of complaints received and the time it took to resolve them.
Use this data for a more refined Internet search. Let’s say a prospect has 19 service issues. Click on that number to get a detailed explanation. Then do a Google search, using the issue (“service”) and the prospect company name/product name as your keywords.
Note: For some companies, you’ll get the option to click on a “detailed view” and an “industry comparison.” These provide additional data and give you an idea of how often other companies in that industry receive similar complaints.
2. Negative keyword search
Use negative words or phrases in conjunction with the prospect company/product name when searching the Net. You’re missing a gold mine if you fail to search on any bad buzz your prospect has received via blogs, opinion sites, and more.
Search on both the company name and on specific products/services offered. Alongside the product/company name, try typing in words like frustrated, disappointed, irritated, worst, hate, angry, problematic, terrible, cons, shortcoming, weakness, don’t recommend, problem, issue, challenge, don’t like, and anything else you can think of. You get the picture. You might also search on these keywords for your prospect’s competitors.
3. Prospect v. Competitor
Do a keyword search on your “prospect name v. its competitor name” and on your “prospect product/service name v. its competitor’s product/service name.” For example, enter “Costco v. Sam’s” or “iPhone vs. gPhone.”
4. Association websites
Visit your prospect’s industry association websites and look at topics for future webinars and conferences. Speakers base their presentation choices on high-interest, high-pain themes for the industry they’re addressing. By pulling up posted conference agendas, you can gain quick insight into issues that your prospect company is likely to be facing.
While you’re at it, check whether any of your prospect’s execs are on the speaker list and what topics they’re covering.
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