Anyone who has even casually perused my blogs knows that when it comes to a successful sales effort or reaching your goals, it always starts with one thing: planningBut a key part of that planning that sometimes gets short-changed is research 

Planning is all about knowing who’s out there, what they’re buying and doing, and what they need. It involves knowing industry trends, what’s hot, what’s not, and how to position yourself as the solution to your prospect’s problems.  

Be honest. What’s your first go-to when it comes to finding out more about a potential customerSure….Google 

Google gives us a cost-free peek into boatloads of previously unknown or hard-to-find information, not the least of which is what the rest of the world thinks about your prospect, through reviews, star-ratings, and social media commentary.  

You could spend hours compiling reams of data. (Whoops, sorry, “reams” is an old-school paper term—let’s say gigabytes.) And lots of us do it.  

But do you know what is an even better research tool than Google? Yes, there IS one…..listening. 

Sound too simple? At first blush, maybe. But I don’t think so. Here’s why.  

If you do it right—and there IS a definite art to listening—a simple phone call to the right person can unlock hours of Google-able answers in a fraction of the time….improving the ROTI of yourself and your team significantly.  

It’s pretty basic, but think about how much time you spend rummaging around in that enormous virtual file cabinet looking for something, that, in reality, is just a short phone call away?  

I know, you say, who actually TALKS on the phone these days? Few folks seem to ever answer a call, and when someone DOES finally pick up, it’s frequently the wrong person.  

And that’s just terrible—when that happens, you may have wasted, like, an entire 30 seconds! 

But when someone does, you’ve saved a heck of a lot more than 30 seconds in web searching….not to mention establishing a personal connection. Plus, people are way more apt to talk with you if you aren’t pitching anything. So be sure to keep the pitch at bay during your research calls!  

Best of all, you’re in a position to get answers to many of your research goals, simply by 1) following a solid plan and line of questioning, and 2) listening carefully to the answers.  

It’s the second step that trips up so many of us—falling into that old trap of formulating our next question while the answer to the previous one goes sailing by.  

That’s why you need a measured, strategic, and patient approach. Taking the time to truly listen to the answers provided, and then moving on to your follow-up questions, can provide answers to questions you didn’t even ask….(but should have.) 

Don’t rush it, and keep your eyes off the clock—explore your new information source with as much care and detail as you would any new research project.  

Because you’ve tapped into the most valuable sales research tool there is: a human being.