As a sales professional, when it comes to establishing rapport and engaging a prospect in a meaningful conversation, what you don’t know can hurt you.
For instance, you may not know that your prospect has been researching solutions to his particular problem for several months, and is well-versed in the features offered by all your competitors. So, in your initial conversation, you might suddenly find yourself on the receiving end of questions you’re not prepared to answer. Never good.
Or, you may ask a question intended as little more than a response check, and instead receive a highly informed, even sophisticated reply, one that could take you deep into the weeds. Maybe you’re fast on your feet and you recover nicely; or maybe it throws you. If the latter, your credibility in the eyes of your prospect takes a hit. Also not good.
On the other hand, when you’re armed with fresh, current, “socially enriched” insights and real-time data about your prospect, you’ve got the tools you need to genuinely connect, and begin an effective nurturing process.
I’ll elucidate. Let’s assume that in most cases, here’s what you know about your prospect:
- Her name
- Her place of employment
- Her title
- Her phone number (ideally with a direct extension)
Assuming all the information is current (and unless it’s been collected in an immediate, real-time search, it may not be) you still don’t have much to work with. You know her title, but you don’t know her purchasing history or authority. You can only guess at her position in the approval chain; her autonomy as a decision-maker. You know she works at a company you’d like to do business with, one that you feel can benefit from your solution. But you don’t know what tools she’s currently working with, or what options she may currently be investigating.
In fact, you don’t know if she’s got a problem at all! If, for instance, you knew that she had been active on social media, contacting friends and colleagues for opinions and checking reviews of various SaaS solutions similar to yours (or even yours!)—well, that would be pretty valuable information, right?
But you don’t know that. So you have to call, and ask. Which quite frankly makes you sound like exactly what you are: a cold caller, working the phone book. At best, it’s challenging to start a meaningful conversation that way. Your prospect is typically on the defensive from the get-go, and your exploratory call starts to feel like an inquisition.
Of course, as a sales professional, you’re skilled at eliciting information in as conversational, unobtrusive a manner as possible. So eventually you may be able to get the information you need to get the sales process on track. But that takes time, a valuable and highly limited commodity to both you and your prospect, and another obstacle to overcome.
Better idea: have the enriched data in front of you before you make the call. Know as much about your prospect as you possibly can, before you make the call. In sales, knowledge is power.