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Three Clicks to Researching Telephone Sales Prospects

When you study up on your prospects before your telephone sales calls, you gather information that is bound to unlock sales success. As a side benefit, prospects are impressed and flattered when you show you're acquainted with their business.

Before the Internet, doing such research was much more difficult. Today, you can find a ton of valuable information online. By investing even five minutes before an important sales call to dig up a little dirt on your prospect, you can dramatically increase your knowledge, improve your call performance, and increase the odds of success. And it's as easy as three clicks on your computer.

Click one: Visit the corporate Web site

On the company's Web site, you can find plenty about its services and products. Check for information about the senior managers. Often, their e-mail addresses are listed — and you may need those in the future. Review the mission statement or core values. Quickly read any recent press releases (ideally published in the past three to six months).

Don't put too much value on company-issued press releases. Press releases, in most cases, skew to the positive. Most are written to position the company as a leader in their field. You may want to check an independent source to verify some of that info.

Click two: Search online

Checking up on a company via an Internet search engine brings up references on other Web sites, from news and trade e-zines to personal blogs. Read a few articles about the company in third-party publications (although you're likely to see a regurgitation of the same press releases you discovered on the company's Web site). Find out whether others are critical or whether the company has some public relations issues. Be sure to check the date — an article that's 3 years old may not depict the present state of the company.

You may also come across the sites of competitors in your Internet search. Frequently, other companies buy ads around their competition's search-engine traffic. So find out what's up with the competition — you may even identify some future prospects!

Click three: Research your contact

Finally, research your company contact by typing the name into an Internet search engine. Of course, you may find information about her on the corporate Web site, but unless she's senior management, there's a good chance she's not included.

When you type the name into a search engine, you bring up references both professional and personal. You're as likely to learn that your prospect leads seminars in your industry as you are that she's president of the PTA. Personal information about a prospect comes in handy when trying to build rapport. Of course, if your contact has a remotely common name, you may run into problems separating facts about her from facts about others with the same name. With this type of information, you can guide the conversation to areas that you know will pique her interest.

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