How to Properly Research Sales Leads
Account-based marketing (ABM) is built on solid research. The ability to connect with people and businesses through shared interests doesn’t just make small talk easier – it’s the key to generating warm leads.
Establishing solid relationships in the field begins with knowing where the value is for the other party, mutual appreciation, and consistency. These are the elements that encourage investment and sales. So how does research support these qualities?
Account-based marketing relies on targeting high-value profiles. To establish value, marketers obviously have to know enough about a profile to gauge. Research goes further than that, though – it also frames the best way to approach a lead.
The approach should be determined by what a lead would potentially react best to. In the digital age, there are plenty of useful ways to gather this information. Still, there are nuances to consider as well.
Researching a company
If the lead being targeted is a business, then the first step is to hone in on the pain point of its operations. This pain point is the problem that needs to be solved. By understanding what it is, ABM leaders are in a better position to offer the right solution.
Due diligence also shows a commitment to transparency and thoroughness – two highly-valued qualities in business-to-business (B2B) relationships.
Researching a contact
Even if the account in question is a business, you still have to contact a person or a group of people. Even more than businesses, people are the most critical part of this process. Don’t neglect the first impression that comes from a well-researched opening email or a good word during the initial conversation.
Define the goals of the research
Before proper research can be done, the parameters need to be set. There is an infinite amount of information in the world, but not all of it is useful, let alone in this context. Marketers should always ask themselves one question here: why do I need this information?
Research won’t change the product or service on sale, but it can help frame it according to the customer’s view. Knowing what a customer or account values focuses the pitch around what they want, not just what you can provide.
This is a microcosm of consumer research, which would aim to understand a significant portion of a given market. ABM research is just scaled down to an individual level for effective targeting.
Understand the market context
That said, overall market research is essential for lead generation. Businesses rarely share the same perspective as their customers. If a given sector was a graph, companies and consumers would live at opposite X and Y axes. Thus, one of the most ineffective ways to approach leads is from any perspective that isn’t their own.
Research the needs of each lead in the context of the marketplace. Where does your solution fit in? This is the question that should drive the research to arrive at the most valuable answers.
Hone in on relevant platforms
Depending on the lead, the best information will be stored in different places. For example, an eCommerce beauty business might emphasize posting on Instagram and Pinterest. On the other hand, a B2B company might find more value in engaging with Facebook groups or posting on LinkedIn to attract similar leads.
Knowing which social media platforms a lead prioritizes may reveal key details about their own needs and interests. Don’t neglect the information you can gather on public profiles – more often than not, that’s the information they’re most invested in.
Identify common discussions in your field
Understanding the lead’s perspective is half the equation. The other half involves the shared interests between your marketing campaign and the lead that you contact. These shared interests are how connections are built. That applies to business-to-customer (B2C) relationships and one-time sales.
Common interests are vital when approaching other businesses. Unlike consumers, who only engage at the point of sale, companies have more in common on the backend. Supply chain issues, logistics, risk management strategies, and networking are all conversations ABM leads are interested in from a B2B perspective.
To make the most of shared conversations, find common ground and build on it.
Lead research best practices
Research can happen in a variety of ways depending on the ABM goals and available information. That said, a few best practices can be applied to most aspects of proper sales research.
Focus on public-facing information
Opening a conversation or email pitch with private information can feel invasive. Of course, no contact should ever start with distrust, but this information is also more difficult to acquire. So instead, focus on publicly available information.
Frame the uses
A detailed five-page report is impressive, but if half a page of well-curated information is just as valuable, save the paper and use that. Research should always be compiled according to its uses, and any data that doesn’t align with the ABM goals won’t be of much help.
Taking the time to conduct proper research shows the lead that you’re invested in connecting with them. A willingness to learn about others makes for a great first impression, which is the first step to generating a high impact sale.
Focus on relevance
Once the available research has been trimmed down to the most significant points, it’s time to understand the situations where that information is helpful. For example, will some of it be used in a cold email or a meeting request with a known party? Is the research meant to strengthen a pitch or show an intention to work together?
Research can make or break an ABM campaign. So don’t neglect it but don’t overdo it either. When it comes to powerful information, quality is always better than quantity.
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How to Properly Research Sales Leads – A few best practices can be applied to most aspects of proper sales research. A great ABM lead nurturing campaign starts with the freshest and highly targeted lists. Impact Enterprise’s highly skilled data specialists can get the data, cost effectively and efficiently. Test pilots are always FREE. Services include, lead validation, data enrichment, contact research, data entry & CRM hygiene; content services include content management, influencer mapping and moderation for social media; AI Data Annotation services include image labelling, language processing and geospatial analysis.
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