In my previous blog post, I shared 5 forces that dictate any digital strategy. The first and most powerful out of the 5 were the Buyers a.k.a. prospective clients. They want all the possible information about the services/products to make an informed choice about the vendor but at the same time, are hesitant to give out adequate information over the phone or at the first contact.
In my career as a sales enthusiast, I have very often received inquiries from executives or associate level folks. They do not have decision-making powers and are entrusted by the senior stakeholders to shortlist vendors for a meeting or the next round. I usually call them “Gatekeepers”.
So before you go out and have a mini celebration of securing a sales meeting, it is very important that you ask yourself -
1. Do I know enough about the company - its background & digital history?
2. Do I know who the decision makers are and the timelines?
3. Do I know who are the meeting attendees?
4. And do I know about their digital appetite & how digitally active they are?
If your answer is a “YES” to all of them, you are all set for the meeting. But, if your answer to most of them is a “NO”, don’t worry - ask the gatekeeper and try to get them to divulge as much information as you can. Once you have the answers, I got you covered on how to make the best use of them.
So, in this article, I wanted to list down 4 must-use digital tools to build your intel before you head out for that crucial first meeting. The key to cracking the first meeting or any meeting is research!
LinkedIn is by far the most sought-after business-oriented social networking platform right now. Some good-to-know facts -
- More than 250 million monthly active users
- 40% user check LinkedIn daily
- On an average, 2 new users join every second
LinkedIn is the best platform to stalk the company, the gatekeeper (just to ensure that they are/are not a part of the decision-making process), stakeholders and any other employee from the relevant department. Take time to go through the profiles, their current responsibilities, interests, posts, etc. and it can help you prepare the right direction for the meeting.
In 2014, LinkedIn acquired Newsle which empowers users to get more insights into the people they are following. So, after this integration, if you are following the right folks from the prospect company, you would be able to find articles, blogs, news/media mentions of the relevant people that surface up and this can help you hit your meeting with them out of the park!
2. Sales Navigator
Sales Navigator extension on Gmail helps you to leverage some rich LinkedIn profile data to mention icebreakers and use the insights such as shared connections, interests, etc. to build rapport. If you have the email addresses of the relevant stakeholders you would be meeting, you can get a clear snapshot on who’s who just by hovering over the email address and can at times act as talking points in a meeting.
LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator can even help you navigate through your target organizations or accounts to discover the right people and get real-time updates about them.
3. Google Finance
Before you head out for a meeting, it is always imperative to know how well the company is doing financially, if the company is publicly listed. Google Finance lets you analogize stock trends with the most notable news or events pertaining to the company. This is certainly a very good way to keep up with the company’s progress.
Google Finance also gives you a pretty clear comparison or valuation of some of the company’s competitors from a similar industry. Now we all know that the best way to grab a company’s attention is by talking about its most envied competitors.
Perhaps, the best and the most powerful tool in the world right now is GOOGLE! If used with the right specific keywords, Google can give you all the intel that you need to build a good knowledge sphere about the prospect’s company.
I personally use Google to check out how the company is doing on the digital front, particularly if they are working with an agency currently, who the incumbent agency is, past engagements, achievements, mergers, acquisitions, awards, wins, change in management, industry trends, etc. This will help you build a strong case or act as a conversation starter.
It is critical to do research in order to take control of the meeting right from the beginning and maintain it throughout until you leave the meeting room. Always remember to have fun while talking to the other party and that will help you to stay on top of their minds. I remember how we had a chat about Kim Kardashian in a meeting with one of the reputed Government agencies in Singapore. And trust me, it worked wonders in closing the deal.
Better the preparation, higher are the chances of nailing the meeting. Or you might end up in an embarrassing situation like this -
To sum up, there are 3 things that you need to focus your research on -
1. The Person(s)
2. The Company
3. The Industry
And trust me, you will come out of the meeting room with flying colors!