Are You Doing Enough Pre-​Call Research?

BY Jessica Helinski
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How much pre-​call research should sales reps do? That’s a question that has many answers depending on whom you ask. Some reps invest a lot of time in researching whom they will be calling, while others just pick up the phone. Partners In Excellence blogger David Brock discusses this in a recent post, and he believes the “right” answer lies somewhere in between. “The amount [of research] will vary based on who you are calling, how you create the best first impression, and how you maximize your impact,” he writes.

He acknowledges that finding this research sweet spot can be tricky, and shares some insight into how to effectively research for a successful call–without doing too much or too little. Below are his first two tips:

  • Don’t call just anyone. At the bare minimum, before calls, carefully narrow leads to include only those who fit best with your product or service. By properly choosing prospects, you will at least know that the ones you’ll be calling truly need what you’re offering.
  • Group calls by persona/​industry. Organize your to-​call list by industry type or company position. “The reason to do this,” Brock explains, “is the people in the same role in the same industry are likely to be facing similar issues. For a fairly small amount of research, you are likely to hit on issues they may be interested in.”

He then points out that these two tips require little-​to-​no research. Both can be done without spending a lot of time gathering information. Basic knowledge is all that is needed. Brock then goes on to share more advice that requires incremental research:

  • You can make a bigger impact by doing a bit of basic investigating. Brock acknowledges that this can be daunting for reps with high volumes of calls. But, a simple scan of a LinkedIn profile or his company’s press releases can give helpful insight into prospects. This basic research can provide you with a surprising amount of knowledge for calls that require a bit more prep.
  • Finally, some calls may require more preparation. Typically, these are the calls to high-​level executives or a “dream” prospect. In these circumstances, you should spend more than a few minutes on research. “…you want to maximize your impact and the impression you make on those calls,” Brock explains. “More importantly, you have to feel confident that you can hold up your end of the conversation.”

So, according to Brock, the answer to “how much research?” depends greatly on the type of call and whom you are contacting. Avoid wasting time–or appearing unprepared–by following Brock’s advice for balanced pre-​call prep.