|News and events: Research any news and recent events that have involved your customer. Good resources for this information will be press releases provided by the company itself as well as news articles written by third parties.
Know the industry: Understand the industry that your customer operates in. Get familiar with industry details such as terminology, history, news, trends, competitive landscape, etc. The internet, industry publications, trade magazines, etc. should be good resources for this.
Financial information: It can be beneficial to be familiar with your customer’s financial information. This can help you to understand their size, the strength of the company, their level of profitability, identify areas where they are having challenges, etc. Resources to use for this are the company’s Income Statement, Balance Sheet, and Statement of Cash Flows.
Challenges: Understand what challenges your customer is facing. There will typically be two kinds of challenges. There will be technical challenges and there will be business challenges. Technical challenges involve the company’s processes, technology, and employees. Business challenges involve their operations, customers, and competitors. Information on their challenges can be found be through researching and through collecting information through conversations with different levels of the organization. Understanding their challenges will help you find sales opportunities which will help you to increase your sales.
Critical business issues: Identify what your customer’s critical business issues are. These may or may not be the same thing as the challenges they face. For example, a key challenge could be finding qualified people to hire but their critical business issue is to grow market share. The main way to gather information on critical business issues is to collect this information through discussions with senior management.
Top priorities: It can help you understand your customer’s top priorities and the order they rank in. If you identified an opportunity where you can help your customer with a challenge and it is a top priority but there are two other priorities ahead of it, this can be very important information for you as you try to increase your sales. Knowing that the priority you are addressing can either tell you how you prioritize the time you spend on it or you could launch an effort to try to get the customer to change the order of their priorities.
Organizational details: Knowing organizational details are very important if you truly want to increase your sales. The best form of organizational details to have would be an organizational chart that displays all the individuals in the organization, what they do, and how they are structured from a level and reporting perspective. There are also some details that might not show up in an org chart that can be of value like influence, power, and politics.
Collecting information in these areas will enable you to effectively know your customer and will have a direct impact on your ability to increase your sales.
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