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The Best Kept Secret of Sales Research

Want to make sure that you're targeting the right prospects? And want to make sure that more prospects convert?

If so, you need to do some sales research. There are four types of sales research. The first three are relatively well-known, but the fourth isn't.

Here are three that are reasonably common in the business world:

  • #1. Research your wins. If you want to find out how to replicate your successes, you need to find out why you succeeded -- what helped move the sale forward and what delayed it. Almost every company does this kind of research.
  • #2. Research your losses. If you want to find out how to avoid your mistakes, you need to find out why you failed -- and what you could have done better. A fair number of companies do this kind of research.
  • #3. Research the no-decisions. When you examine situations where no decision was made, you can avoid the unnecessary sales expense inherent in chasing phantom deals. A few companies do this kind of research.
The fourth and final type of sales research is ONLY conducted within a tiny number of companies who are always superlative at growing share. They're not going to tell you the secret, because it's the main reason for their competitive edge.

I, however, am not bound to keep the secret so...

CLICK for the best-kept secret of sales research »

Here it is:
  • #4: Research the non-starters. Examine the cases where companies did a deal with your competitors and your company wasn't even considered for the business. Find out why you weren't even included in the deal, and why your firm was out of the loop.
This kind of difficult and deep research is the only way to uncover the real weaknesses of your marketing and sales efforts.

There's only so much that you can learn from opportunities in which you were involved. If you really want to find out what's going on in the real world, you need to get beyond your own limited contacts and experiences. And that means studying situations where you're not even playing in the same league.

How to actually DO the research? First, find out about those deals by keeping your ear close to the industry scuttlebutt, and by checking online sources for announcements of big deals. Then simply do what you do best -- make a cold call to the customer in question, find out who made the decision, and politely ask about it.

Hard to do? Yup. But if you get good at it, you'll find out exactly what you need to do to REALLY grow your business. And you may even develop a future customer or two.

The above insight came from one of the smartest guys in sales research and consulting, Jim Dickie, one of the principals at CSO Insights.