Insight-Led Prospecting for BD & Account Management

Originally posted June 5, 2016 as a LinkedIn post.

Insights are everywhere … well the concept of using Insights in your selling certainly is.  Sometimes missed in the discussion is how to go from Data to Knowledge to Insight to Action.  In parallel, sellers are often wishing they had more leads and are floundering trying to create their own.  Enter Insight-Led prospecting.

As I learned from Dave Davies with Force Management (a GrowthPlay company), one key to change is to understand that you need to change your Mindset,Process, Content and Tools in parallel.   Below are some suggestions for doing so to support your Insight-Led Selling efforts.  But first, the answers to a few questions about the post:

What

Researching insights to use in prospecting, opportunity planning & account management

Who

B2B Sellers and the Sales Operations team supporting them

Why

Keeping your competition two steps behind you(1).  You can also better sell value when you understand where your prospects are, and are going.

How

The first key element is shifting your Mindset.  Your mileage may vary, but I consider a good starting point to be:

  • Insights don’t happen without effort
  • I’m in it for the long haul – so I should invest some of my time now to plan the seeds for future insights I can leverage
  • Technology is my friend, but it is always changing so I can’t stand still
  • Sharing lots of articles (data/knowledge) with people is nice to a point – but if I can share Insights I will be remembered more fondly and get more calls back

To support this Mindset there are a number of great Tools.  Here are some I currently use to gather the data I might be able to turn into Insights:

  • Google Alerts: I have alerts set up for key customers and prospects (both company names and key executives). I also set up alerts for key terms (ex “sales transformation”) and update my Alert list each month
  • Seeking Alpha: I set up a “Portfolio” that includes all publicly traded firms that my key clients are pursuing, and get alerts sent each morning, along with information on a few key industries as well as Earnings Call Transcripts recently released
  • Financial Analyst reports: If you have money with an investment advisor check to see if your online account access includes a Research area.  I useMorgan Stanley, and that gives me access to reports from folks like Standard & Poors – in my case I set up a Portfolio list mirroring that in Seeking Alpha
  • Crunchbase: While the last two items help with really large firms, I find Crunchbase to be invaluable for information on firms with private equity or VC money (so this is really useful if your pursue High Tech firms)
  • LinkedIn: Plenty has been written about how you can leverage LinkedIn
  • Twitter: Same with Twitter.  But make sure you set up Lists with key prospects, clients, competitors, and analysts … and make those lists Private so no competitors can snoop
  • Owler: An interesting newer crowd-sourced intelligence approach
  • VB Profiles: Another good one for people pursuing High Tech clients
  • Crain’s and the like: I like the Crain’s Atlanta email for insights on local firms
  • Blogs through an RSS Reader: I personally use Feedly to consolidate all the blogs I want to look at. For example here are the PE/VC blogs I keep up with.  And one of my favorite non-traditional feeds is TBR Newsroom
  • Company Websites: I know you already look at your prospects websites … but if you aren’t reviewing these two pages please start: 1) Careers (to see open jobs and the descriptions for roles like their sellers); 2) Investors (have you ever seen the PPT deck the CEO shared with Investors for an earnings call? … great intel here!)
  • Company-supplied tools: Maybe you are lucky and your firm pays for someone like FirstRain. Leverage what you are given!

All of these Tools can seem overwhelming, so the key is to have a user-friendly Process and cadence to working with them.  A good starting point might be:

  • Daily
    • Sign up to receive daily email alerts for items you can’t have sent to your RSS Reader. Skim quickly for anything useful
    • Quick browse of your blogs and other news feeds (Apple News, Medium, etc.)
  • Weekly
    • Deeper reading of useful blogs and skimming your Twitter Lists and portfolios in SeekingAlpha, etc.
  • Monthly
    • Quick skim of your Tools (data sources), and Add/Change/Delete as needed
    • And maybe even write a LinkedIn Post occasionally on insights you find

And of course, you should set a general time limit based on your situation – ie if you are in heavy prospecting mode or new in a role you’ll spend more time on these.  If you are a Key Account Manager you might spend a medium amount of time, but restrict your Tools to focus on your small portfolio of accounts and the industries they are in.

And last, but certainly not least, is the Content portion.  Using your newfound Mindset, Tools, and Process should provide you with a lot of Content – potential Insights.   Here are a few ideas to kickstart your heart(2) in pursuit of insights that are valuable enough to share and build your credibility:

  • Big announcements in your client’s biggest clients … I recently saw a post about a new partnership for a key clients’ client. I was able to suggest it created a valid business reason for the seller to try getting a new referral from that client
  • A new round of funding for a prospect who had been complaining about lack of budget for a new project
  • Earnings call transcripts where the CEO spells out key initiatives to investors, along with some of the key metrics he will be discussing in future quarters. I bet 95% of the managers in publicly held firms don’t listen to their own quarterly investor calls so with a little work you can provide insights into what they should be considering when making buying decisions

Given all this, I suggest you start small … take 5 minutes right now to consider your own Insights focused Mindset and a few of the tools you might leverage.

Great sellers use different tools – please share your thoughts on other great Tools, Processes, Mindset or Content that others might find valuable.

Happy prospecting,

Tom

PS For my prior readers, you know I like to mix rock and work (hence I Wanna Wrok), so the footnotes today are about a few songs that came to mind while writing

(1) Two Steps Behind, a fine song by Def Leppard.  Little known fact – they played this with Taylor Swift on CMT Crossroads

(2) Kickstart My Heart by Mötley Crüe.  Keeping the country theme – this song was covered  by Rascal Flatts

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