Information is power, right? Especially when it comes to selling. The more information you have, the better prepared you are and the better your chances to convert a prospect.
The trouble is information isn't stacked on a shelf for you to grab. Sure you can visit websites but let's face it, websites are sanitized. They provide the visitor with the basics. There is no tab that says "Our Needs and Challenges." And sure, you can call a receptionist or secretary. Like she has the time, knowledge and inclination to spill her guts to you.
But it doesn't have to be so bleak. There are two secrets to getting GREAT information.
Secret #1: Call the Customer Service Department
If your prospect has a customer service department chances are it is staffed by reps who are genetically predisposed to 'help.' Their role is to provide service so it's not a real stretch from them to provide you with help and information.
Start by saying, "I wonder if you could help me?" Then pause and wait for them to say, "yes." Explain that you are trying to reach the person in charge of (whatever). Ask for their extension. Ask for their e-mail so you can send an introductory note. You might even ask the best time to call. Never misrepresent yourself but you don't have to say your sales rep unless you are asked. You'll be amazed at what you get.
Secret #2: Call the Sales Department
If you REALLY want superb information the place to call is your prospect's sales department. A few reasons for this. First, you can almost always reach someone in sales. They answer the phone hoping for low hanging fruit. Second, sales reps are simpatico to your plight. They sell too. They know the frustrations you feel because they experience it as well. And third, most sales people are by their nature, helpful, friendly and above all, talkative. They inevitably open up and give you a wealth of information that you can use to sell smarter.
Start by asking, "Can you help me?" Then go on to explain that you are a sales rep just like them and you're trying to gather some information on the company and the decision makers. Then sit back and start jotting down information.
If you were amazed at what the customer service reps' provide you'll be stunned at what sales reps will give you. Not only names, numbers and e-mails but insider information like when is the best time to call and who 'really calls the shots.' They list the company's challenges and opportunities and about how best to approach certain situations. And so it goes.
These two secret really work. They work because the are honest and forthright and because they are targeted to people who have good information that they are willing to share. Try them and see for yourself.
About the Author:
Jim Domanski is president of Teleconcepts Consulting and works with companies and individuals who struggle to use the telephone more effectively. Author of four highly regarded books on tele-selling, Jim also writes two e-newsletters for tele-sales reps and tele-sales managers. He has also provided training and consulting to audiences, universities, and clients through the US, Canada and Europe.