If you’re a sales rep, your job starts before you pick up a phone or enter an email in a sequence.
Nobody is expecting your call. You didn’t ask for permission to end up in their inbox.
How can you prove that you have the right to be there?
Presales research gives you the right.
Samantha McKenna references the concept of Show Me You Know Me. That’s what presales research is all about.
When you know something about the person you’re reaching out to, you position yourself to start a relationship.
They’ll understand right away that you’re not spraying and praying.
You have a reason to believe that your product or service fits into their world. Something triggered you to contact them—after you did a little digging.
When you do presales research, you find nuggets that help you show a prospect you can provide value to them, specifically.
The 3x3 method
This is the goal state of your research sessions: Find three useful pieces of information in under three minutes.
In a pinch, you should be able to do it just before a call or, eventually, even while the phone is ringing.
When you first start doing presales research, you’ll need to spend more than three minutes. It won’t take too much practice to get to know your personas and your resources well enough to work faster.
If a persona I care about is VP of Marketing at an enterprise SaaS company, I’ll notice that eighty percent of what they do every day is common to all of them. Then there’s twenty percent that’s different, and that’s where I can kick up a conversation.
Soon, those differences will jump out at you. You’ll see ten About Us sections that are basically the same, and then the eleventh will be different, and it’ll give you a nugget.
You’ll become skilled at scanning for those nuggets very quickly.
You’ll also get good at noticing right away when an account isn’t right for you.
Maybe you see that their funding isn’t right for your product. Now you can save yourself a phone call or email, just because you spent one minute looking at their company’s website or LinkedIn page.
Presales research is great for that reason, too. It helps you make sure the leads you’re working are quality.
Ready to get to that three-minute mark? This guide is your head start!
The prioritization matrix
We’ll get into researching specific contacts, I promise. I’ll even show a video of me doing the 3x3.
Before your research even starts, you need to allocate your time to the right accounts and prospects. I use a prioritization matrix to do this.
First, I tier out my accounts into buckets.
In the first bucket, I put the companies that I want to prioritize. Those get one hundred percent personalization.
Tier one companies also get multi-threading with my Account Executive and my leadership.
I do 3x3 presales research for these prospects, giving me multiple nuggets that I can use to build a relationship.
In the second bucket, I put the companies that are still a good fit, but a little bit lower priority. They’re not the key logos I want, but they have the right titles, industry, and revenue.
It’s as if the first bucket is the NFL and the second is the arena football leagues.
These accounts might only get research on names and titles. I’ll do a quick check so I at least go in knowing that I’m calling the best person.
Third are the very low priority accounts. They’re the Pop Warner football groups. Maybe they still could use our product but they’re not where I need to spend my time.
I’m not going to research those third-bucket prospects, but it’s still important that I understand what they need.
This is where personas come in. Working with Marketing and Customer Success, we can identify who our buyers are. What are their challenges? Their goals?
I tell my reps all the time they need to live in the world of their personas. What groups are they normally in? If you get into some Facebook or LInkedIn groups, you can build relationships there.
The more time you spend in the mindset of your persona, the faster your research will become.
Doing the research
For tier one accounts that get full personalization, you’ll find gold in several places.
Remember you’re looking for information that can cue you into how to get in front of them with some personalized, specific information about how your solution can help them.
The company’s website has a few places to check.
Start with job listings. Look for a position that your solution might be able to fill in for or support the person in that new role.
Then you can say something like, “Hey, I saw you were looking for a social media manager and I’d love to talk with you about your social process. I have something that might be able to make it faster.”
Check blog posts and the press section. Again, look for anything that might tie to what you offer.
Resource sections are great. If the person you want to talk with has been on a podcast, listen to it. You’ll catch their attention right away if you mention something they said.
Outside of the website, check the company’s social media and the prospect’s own social media, particularly LinkedIn.
In this video, I show you exactly where I like to look for nuggets.
The golden nuggets one pager
Tier two and three accounts won’t necessarily use the 3x3 method. However, you still need golden nuggets to personalize your conversations.
Here’s a way for a whole SDR team to share golden nuggets: create a one pager for each persona you care about. The page should be full of one-liners and data points you can share in meetings.
Nuggets are specific information about how your product has helped customers. For example, the Falkon expansion platform helped one of their customers find 200 opps worth $4.7M in their pipeline.
How do you find the nuggets?
It’s back to personas again.
Use internal sources of information is to find data about how using your product has helped people like the people you reach out to.
Your best internal sources are your CRM, your marketing team, your CS team, and your RevOps team.
Start with whatever you have. Go look at the deals your company has closed, even if the account details aren’t an exact match. How many touches does it take to book a meeting?
Look at the data and see where a pivot happens. What made them talk to someone on the 14th touch? Was it a video? An email? A phone call? Now you’re empowered to be more effective.
If a prospect or someone else at their company is in your CRM, check the notes for nuggets.
Even if the person you want to connect with isn’t yet in your systems, your marketing team can help you understand their persona by telling you what other people in the same industry and role are interested in. They can tell you the angle of your product that’s most likely to appeal.
Your CS team can give you information about current customers.
Reach out and say, “Hey, you’re the CS for this account. What do we do for them? What are they using us for? How are they already solving problems with our product? What data do you have?”
Your RevOps team can help you with data nuggets, too.
When I worked at Yelp, they collected data on free accounts. It was product-led growth before there was product-led growth.
When someone used a free page, the RevOps team mapped data into Salesforce. This was great for us on the front line.
When I would call someone, I could say, “I see you’re using your free Yelp page. You’ve gotten 150 calls from it. Given the average price point at your restaurant, here’s what you’d be likely to earn with the exposure from a paid account.”
The goal is to use data to show ROI in a real way, even if it’s data for a similar business and not the person you’re talking to.
Even if you’re targeting a restaurant without a free page, you can say, “I wanted to reach out because one of your neighbors just started getting 500 phone calls a month with a Yelp account. They were seeing 150 per month with a free account, which was great, but now they’ve been able to hire another cook thanks to the extra exposure from a paid account. Can we look at the numbers for your business?”
Once the benefit becomes real for the prospect, they start thinking about what they could do after they invest in your product.
Setting up your day for research
I structure my day like this: six hours prospecting, one hour lunch, one hour admin. I put “admin hour” on my calendar and that’s when I build out my account list for tomorrow.
I think about who I’m going to be calling. Who am I following up with? Who do I need to research?
Thinking about these things all at once means that I’m ready to prospect without interrupting myself.
I work on two monitors and use a tool called Linkclump. It’s a free Chrome extension that lets you open multiple links at the same time. So I can scan ten prospects’ names and open all ten tabs at the same time.
Then I go through my 3x3 and close out the research on each prospect.
I take notes on a notepad, just the person’s name and bullets. Then I’ll go back and put the notes in the CRM—notation is important and we’ll go deeper in the next section.
Some people use Scratchpad or Dooly to lay right over Salesforce or Hubspot. They build you a notepad on the screen so you can drop them right into the CRM as you go.
Taking notes on your presales research is crucial.
So many reps hit the same accounts every few days, without noting that there’s a bad number of bad information. Then they stub their toe on that same account again two days later. Don’t be those reps.
Taking notes on your research is a one-time thing that can help you in the long run.
As you prospect accounts every day, clean as you go. One of two things will happen: You’ll book the meeting or you’ll prepare yourself for warm outreach in six months.
Take notes and correct bad information on:
- Phone numbers
- Company size
- Tech stack / products they use
Maintaining your account data also sets up marketing to work better with your team. If you find out that a prospect just started using a competitor’s product one month ago, note that.
Marketing can then run a campaign for everyone using that product. You also did yourself a favor. In three months, when the honeymoon phase with the competitor is over, you can call that prospect and ask how it’s going.
Taking good notes may go a little slowly at first, but you’ll get good at it quickly, just like the 3x3 method.
Start little by little. Clean up the accounts you’re already touching.
You now know how to warm up your cold outreach.
- Prioritize your accounts
- Get to know your personas inside and out
- Start a Golden Nugget one pager
- Make a list of tier one accounts to research
- Dive in!
You’ll find the tweaks that work for you as you practice.
Let me know how it’s going! I’m active on LinkedIn.
Check out this playlist to see more of Tom's warm calling tips.