The days of asking a buyer the question, “So, what do you do?” are long gone. With so much information on the Internet these days, why is a buyer going to be perfectly fine with a meeting or phone call from a sales rep who didn’t take the extra steps to even look at their website?

Buyers expect you to know everything about their company in and out. Why? Because a buyer want a sales professional who understands their business and how it can be improved. You’ve booked the appointment with them because you know their business and believe you can help them, right? Well, please don’t ask that question otherwise you can kindly escort yourself out the door.

Preparation for a sales meeting is the beginning of the second half for sales professionals. The way you come out of that locker room is most likely going to determine the outcome of the game. With today’s buyers changing more than ever, you need to be on your A game.

According to the respondents of a recent survey conducted by Frost & Sullivan (“Americas 2010 Sales Leadership Priorities Survey”), one of the major challenges business-to-business salespeople face is responding to changing customer requirements

6 steps of preparation for today’s sales professional

To increase deals closed and meeting acceptance rates, you need to prepare. As the great Sun Tzu said in his book “The Art of War“:

“To rely on rustics and not prepare is the greatest of crimes; to be prepared beforehand for any contingency is the greatest of virtues.” 

Combining the Internet with social media, here are 6 simple steps on sufficiently preparing for your next sales meeting:

  1. Visit the website and all social media profiles before the meeting. The website is there for the basic information, however, it is critical to view the social world of your account. Social media will give you a window into the day-to-day activities of the company.
  2. Check out the latest press releases to see all of their recent announcements (product launches, new executive changes, mergers or acquisitions, new partnerships). What direction is the company heading? (Usually new press releases will be on their website)
  3. Using a search engine, perform a search on each key executive’s names. You’ll discover what organizations they’re involved in, where they speak, maybe even what they do for leisure activities. Also, take a look at their social media profiles (if they have any). Like the company social profile, this will give you a look into their day-to-day activities. Maybe they went to a rival university or enjoy the same hobbies as you. This will give your meeting a little more personality.
  4. Perform a search for all news of the company (Google News is a good search engine). Also search Google for the company’s name plus the word “competitor,” to see who their competitors are (if you don’t already know) and what’s going on with them.
  5. Read the company blog. The company blog is the voice of the corporation. Most likely, they are writing on the basis of thought-leadership in their industry or information about their company (press releases, product announcements, events, etc.).
  6. Finally, an underused section: go to the “Careers” or “Jobs” section of their site to see what jobs they’re hiring for. Do the open positions offer further insight on what departments are lacking? (increases in production, what software systems they use, what they are looking for in an employee etc.)?

Doing these things will shed light on who you’re working with. You’ll be surprised at the things you can learn leveraging just Google and the company’s website.

increase preparation productivity and close more deals with technology

If you are using the previous 6 steps to prepare for a sales meeting, I can guarantee you are already on your way to closing more deals. However, what if I was to say you can accomplish these steps in only 4 steps? Like any other tedious action-item, technology can increase your productivity and help you close more deals than ever before.

“75% of IT buyers says sales doesn’t know enough about their industry.” (IDC: “The Buyer Speaks”) 

Here are four steps to finding out who’s who at an account and what’s going on using InsideView:

  1. Visit the company profile “Overview” as well as the social media profiles and blog in the “Buzz” section before the meeting. In one platform, you have the foundation as well as the social media profiles and blog. 
  2. Go to the “Smart Agent Results or “All News” to study and learn every aspect of the company and their recent announcements (product launches, new executive changes, mergers or acquisitions, new partnerships). Impress your prospect with the knowledge of everything that is happening with the company. Smart Agents scour the Internet daily and deliver it organized to sales professionals. Utilize every aspect of this state-of-the-art tool. 
  3. Go to the “People” section to see who’s who on the executive team. [NOTE: see what InsideView’s personal profiles look like by checking out Darth Vader…you’ll see what I mean] There is a world of information you can gather by doing so. Using Smart Connections you can see who in your personal network you are connected to. Also, check out their social profiles.
  4. Go to the “Competitors” and “Industry Profile” this is the final and probably the most important step. You will be presented with information you won’t be able to find anywhere else on the Internet: Challenges, Trends, Call Prep Questions and Size & Structure.

conclusion

As a sales professional, preparation is absolutely crucial prior to a sales meeting. By now in your sales career I’m sure this is nothing new. However, are you efficiently using your time to research all of the key criteria? The Internet is a great place to research and find all of the information you need. However, if you want to cut your productivity in half and find the right message in real-time, I suggest you take a look at a technology such as InsideView. As you can see, I was able to easily eliminate 2 of the 6 steps using InsideView. You can too.