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Do Sales Reps Spend Too Much Time Researching Prospects?

“How much time should my sales reps spend researching prospects? I feel they are taking way too long and should just pick up the phone and dial. Do you have an answer for this?”

SalesBuzz Answer: By Michael Pedone
Sales reps are in a tough spot in today’s world because everywhere they look, there’s an article, post or tweet telling them to “research” their prospects before calling them. Often times, “research” is incorrectly being sold as making “warm calls”. However, the reality is, unless a prospect is RAISING THEIR HAND, you can do all the research you want, but it’s still a cold call unless they contacted you first.

Should Research Even Be Done?

I would find it hard to come up with an outbound sales call scenario where research shouldn’t be done. But is over research happening? I’d say yes. In epidemic proportions.
Almost all sales people at one point or another tend to over research their prospects before calling and try to justify it to their sales managers (and themselves) as a necessity, when in fact, it’s call reluctance in disguise.
So here are some scenarios and tips to help your team get what they need while executing what needs to be done:

1) Build your prospect list

A sales rep should have anywhere from 200 to 500 leads in their name that match a certain criteria. This is a base of leads that have met specific requirements to be considered pre-qualified, top of the line candidates. Once these leads are marked, no further “research” is required. These are leads you can call on at any time and continue to work on building the relationship until the day comes that they are ready to buy.

2) Designated Hunting Time

Once you have your core prospecting list (mentioned above), you will always need to replace the attrition factor (includes everything from leads that may request you no longer contact them, to winning their business, and thus, they are no longer “prospects”). Set aside a time to go hunting for leads that match specific criteria that pre-qualifies them to be a prime suspect. It’s highly recommended that you do this “hunting” in the AFTERNOON – as in 3 PM or later. Why? Because if you are disciplined and making your outbound sales calls first thing, by 3 PM, you’ll be in need of a little break in the action, before finishing your day strong. Too many sales people come into work, fire up their computer and have no clue of whom to call first. So they start hunting. Meanwhile, a more prepared sales person at your competition is already banging out sales call after sales call and striking up winning conversations with the prospects you’re hunting for.

3) Have a Two-Minute Warning

If you find yourself investing more than 2 minutes researching a prospect, take a hard look at if it’s truly necessary. In some cases, especially in larger deals, you may want to know a little more about a client or a situation before going after them. But I’ve found that if you truly know what criteria pre-qualifies a prospect as a prime candidate, you will rarely need more than 2 minutes of research.
– Michael Pedone

Michael Pedone teaches inside sales teams how to pick up the phone and close business. He is the CEO/FOUNDER of SalesBuzz.com – An online sales training company.


Register Now for Our Next 8-Week Phone Skills Improvement Program!

  • Eliminate “No, Thanks”, “Not Interested” & “We’re All Set” Responses
  • Learn a step-by-step process for Cold Calling and Warm Calling
  • Neutralize Gatekeepers & Get Voicemails Returned
  • Ask Engaging Questions Instead of Probing
  • Improve your Qualifying Skills
  • Learn more effective Sales Questions to ask (and ones to avoid)
  • Give Stellar Presentations & Handle Objections
  • Close Follow-up Calls and Get Targeted Referrals
  • How to Set & Achieve Your Toughest Sales Goals
  • Improve Your Time Management Skills

Duration: 1 hour per week for 8 weeks
Where: Online @ your desk, conference room or home
Presenters: Michael Pedone