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42% of Sales Reps Feel Unprepared for Calls

3 min readAugust 29, 2013

New research by CSO Insights shows that 42% of salespeople don’t feel like they have the right information before calling prospects. This is especially true of inside sales reps who are handed a list of leads to call. Many reps who find themselves in this situation simply call down the list, hoping for the best.

It doesn’t have to be this way. With the right tools and a focus on the  critical pre-call research information, you can exponentially increase your odds of success.

Scan Your List For Patterns And Prepare Accordingly

Inside Sales study CSO InsightsA sales colleague recently told me that every time he’s given a call list, the first thing he does is look for a common thread. Are all the leads on the list marketers? Are they all from a specific industry? Did they all interact with a specific piece of content, or download a specific type of app? If a common thread can be identified, then a bit of research can then add value to every call.

For example, if I was handed a list of leads that all worked at behavioral healthcare companies, then I’d quickly try to examine which pain points in that industry my product could solve, and work that into my pitch or list of questions.

Recent Contact History from Marketing or Sales

The most important thing to ascertain is whether or not your company’s marketing or sales team has been in contact with the lead recently, and how they responded. All this information should be captured in your company’s CRM, or delivered contextually through a product like Revenue.io. This not only gives you historical context of your relationship with the contact, but it also gives you something to talk about. For example: “I’m following up on the email we sent last week announcing our new product release.”

Here’s what you’re looking for:

  • Notes from other reps (preferably Chatter feeds) on the lead or account
  • Marketing emails they were sent (and preferably a list of those that they opened)
  • Whitepapers or eBooks downloaded or clicked on
  • Web pages the lead recently visited

Hit Key LinkedInData

If you’re in B2B sales and you’re not looking up your leads on LinkedIn before making calls, then you’ve already fallen behind the curve. By quickly perusing a lead’s LinkedIn profile, you can:

  • Check out their status updates and the content they share
  • Examine a lead’s employment history
  • View their current company
  • Look over their skills and endorsements
  • Try to identify shared connections

The most important piece may be the first one – checking out a leads’ content feeds on LinkedIn. By viewing the content a lead shares on LinkedIn, you can gain insight into what she currently finds important. After all, most people share job-related content on the site. Referencing a lead’s content feed can be a great way to make sales calls sound less cold. That’s why Revenue.io’s inside sales apps automatically deliver a contacts’ content stream in the same app that reps use to make calls. This can help reps prepare for outbound calls quicker than ever before.

Research the Company

Appirio Data from Jigsaw.com

From Jigsaw

In addition to researching individual leads, it’s vital to quickly research  companies. Sites like LinkedIn, Crunchbase, Wikipedia and AngelList can give you a bird’s eye view of a company. Revenue.io delivers breaking news about companies in its feeds. We also recommend Data.com (previously known as Jigsaw). It’s an online business directory that can be used to quickly gain information about companies and their employees. As with LinkedIn, premium subscribers get access to more granular data.

Here’s what you’re looking for:

  • Has it made news recently?
  • Has it received recent funding?
  • How many employees does it have?
  • Do you know anyone else there?
  • Does it do business on a local, national or international scale?