20 March 2024 |

best way to research

By Gabrielle "GB" Blackwell

The challenge with research

The biggest challenge I see most sales leaders make is telling their people to research, but not showing them HOW to do it or what GOOD looks like.

The result?

  • Reps spend an inordinate amount of time researching, not knowing when to stop
  • Reps don’t know what makes great research points, instead opting for the mistaken belief that “more research = better research”
  • Reps get discouraged or lost in the research sauce because their efforts aren’t leading towards improvements in responses and conversions

With reps getting lost in researching, unsure of what to look for and when enough is enough, you’ll end up with reps pumping out “research” that looks like the pic below:

What’s wrong with this?

  • Corporate strategy doesn’t actually list out a company strategy at all
  • Under company initiatives, the rep has simply copy and pasted some fluffy branding jargon
  • The current challenges section definitely needs some work

A better way to research

What I’ve found super helpful in addressing research challenges is teaching my reps on the 4 rules of research focus:

  1. Keep research points to 2-3 bullet points max
  2. Use shorter form content to pull from, i.e. press releases, CEO quotes, quarterly earnings presentations, rather than 10Ks
  3. Look for language that points to primary business drivers, i.e. key objectives, strategy, expansion, digital transformation, etc
  4. Look for language that aligns well to your solution / service’s value proposition, i.e. if your offering helps companies scale their processes, look for signals of expansion or growth since that means a company will need to scale to support their growth strategy

So instead of reps just copying and pasting whatever content they can find, as pictured above, their research should look more like:

What’s right with this?

  • Measurable objectives (growing sales) are clearly highlighted
  • Explicit language around strategy (diversifying brand portfolio)
  • Keywords used by the company signal the how behind their strategy, i.e. strong execution, operational excellence, expand customer base

Work smarter

Another research area that typically gets missed is capitalizing on past engagement:

  • Closed lost deals
  • Previous conversations
  • Engaged with marketing content 
  • No show meetings

If reps aren’t currently looking at these kinds of activity types to see who they should be reaching out to and what they should be reaching out about, have them start there!

Leverage tech to find relevance

Reps have a super easy way of eliminating the guesswork of what’s relevant to prospective customers when they can look at past conversations and use the prospect’s words to inform research and relevance in their outreach.

Pictured above is a screenshot from Gong’s platform, showing the correspondence between a rep and their prospect and highlighting the big focus areas for the prospect!

Putting it all together

By bringing together focused research based on press releases, CEO statements, and/or earnings releases and combining that with research based on prior conversations and engagement, your reps will get a refined and direct message that’ll stand out from the rest.

Speed round advice on research

  • The amount of time for research should be commensurate to the priority level of the account; if it’s not a good fit account, don’t put good fit energy into research
  • Public companies are easier to research than private companies, so if your team is focused primarily on private companies, adjust expectations related to research levels
  • Research helps to create a hypothesis, but it is not law; use research as a way to prove you’re invested in the account, but make sure your reps are ready to be wrong once they’re talking to prospects

Lastly, share the love

I’d love to hear from y’all on any takeaways you’re looking forward to trying out or sharing!

Also, if there’s someone in your circle, network, and/or tribe who you think would benefit from this newsletter…be sure to forward it along! #sharingiscaring