Years ago, the opening in-depth conversation between a B2B sales person and a potential buyer was generally dedicated to learning about the buyer(s), their company, their industry and their problems. Try that approach today and you’ll get kicked to the curb. As sales strategist Jill Konrath points out in her eBook Cracking the Sales Code “today’s prospects expect you to invest time in learning about them prior to making contact.” People are too busy to answer questions to which you could easily find the answers yourself.

In fact, taking the time to really learn about your potential buyer or new client before contacting them can substantially increase your success in getting to a conversation in the first place. Top B2B sellers know this and 86.7% claim to always research prospects before making contact (Source).

Always research prospects

Ask one of these top sellers where they do their research and they most likely will tell you the first – and possibly best – place to go to learn about potential buyers is LinkedIn.

Jim Duffy, founder of Social Selling Inc. and maker of over 400,000 cold calls in his career, uses LinkedIn extensively before reaching out to a prospect to schedule a meeting. Before he makes that first call, he knows enough about the person to a) be sure it is a good fit and b) say the right things to quickly convince the prospect to agree to listen to him. The result? Over the past year, Jim’s success rate with appointment scheduling calls has averaged 75%. Compare this to the 15% or lower success rate of most appointment setting calls.

What does Jim look at? Well, the obvious to start. Title, company, industry, location, current job responsibilities. But he also goes beyond that and looks at specialized features of a prospect’s background and common denominators from the buyer’s perspective. With this information he is able to establish a match before the call. Based on his research he disqualifies roughly 80% of the calls others make and spend his time on prospects who have a need he can meet. With these folks, he is able to establish trust because the talk track is aligned with the buyer.

So what about you? Do you and your business development people or other rainmakers use this extensive and (mostly) free resource?

Jim will be the first to tell you that conducting this kind of in-depth research is time consuming, but look at the difference in success rate: 75% versus 15%. The return on that research time is extraordinary. It gets you to real buyers and actual potential new clients faster and more efficiently.

What you can do this week?

Take a look at how you and your colleagues approach a new business opportunity. Do you ever waste time with people who were never really a potential new client?  Are you bothering to learn anything more about them other than their titles and company overview before you contact them?

Think about what information you could gather that would let you identify the real opportunities and then do something with it.

If you’re unsure how to mine LinkedIn for all the juicy details, contact The Conversion Company. We’re pros at it.