sprinterWhen I’m selling Internet marketing software or services and I receive a completed Contact Me form (not a white paper download or someone registering for a webinar, but someone filling out a form that says they want to talk with us about buying something – now) this is the sales research that I’ll do in the first five minutes:

0:00-0:30 Look at our CRM and marketing automation system to see how we’ve interacted with the company and person before, and what they’ve looked at on our website and downloaded from us in the past.Depending on the sales and marketing technology that your company is using, more or less of the following information may exist on your internal systems, saving you the need to move around the Web to find it:
0:31-2:00 Go to their website.See what business they’re in: what products and services do they sell?Look at their locations: are they local, national, global?Look at their Careers page: are they hiring many people? In what kinds of positions?Look at headlines of latest press releases

Who do they partner with?

Do they make it easy to find their contact information?

Does the site have links to their social media properties?

Check out their search engine optimization practices, are they advanced or non-existent?

– Are page Titles rich and unique, or is the home page Title something like “Home” or just the name of the company? Is the same Title used on all pages?

– Do they repeat the same meta data (description and keywords) for each page, or is it unique?

– What can I learn about what business they think they’re in, and potential competitors, from keywords?

Resize the browser to see if the site is responsive

Use Ghostery and Builtwith.com to see what technologies are being used for, and integrated with, the site. This gives me an idea of the depth and maturity of their digital marketing and, from there, likely how mature their total marketing effort is.

2:01-2:30 For public companies, go to a financial information site such as Yahoo Finance  and look at:- their market cap and annual revenue for a sense of size- revenue growth/decline- income growth/decline- How their stock is performing relative to the market and a few main competitors (if I know who those are)

For private companies, Hoovers or another financial information site may be useful.

2:31-2:45 On Google, search for the company and the word “news” to see if there have been any major recent events (acquisitions, change in top management, product announcements, etc.)
2:46-3:30 Go to LinkedIn- Look at their company page for more information on their business, size, number of employees, job postings, and use of social media- Look up the person who filled out the contact form to get more information about her and see if we’re connected-  See who else I’m connected with at the company
3:31-4:15 Quickly scan their accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ to get a sense of whether they’re active in social media and what they’re posting about
4:16-4:30 Look at a service like Spyfu to see how much search advertising they’re doing, if any, and more information on their keywords
4:31-4:59 Look at their site on my smartphone to see how they’re handling mobile – responsive, m., no support?
5:00 Pick up the phone and call the person

Of course I’m not actually timing this to the second; in some cases this research will go on a few minutes longer. Or shorter – with companies I know I’ve made the call in just two or three minutes. But in just a few minutes I can gather a tremendous amount of information about the company, the person and the sophistication of their digital marketing — certainly enough to have an intelligent conversation with them, with me asking a lot of questions, and to be able to answer their questions “Do you know what we do?” and “Have you looked at our website?” And I get a lot of information about whether this is a company we’re likely to even want to do business with (based on industry and size, for example) and the person’s role and seniority in the company, which may indicate whether they’re a decision-maker or an influencer.

And then I pick up the phone, because I definitely want to respond to their contacting us within just a few minutes. I’ll never take even 10 minutes before making the call because I know they’re probably contacting other companies, too, and in sales there is a great first responder advantage. And an equally great advantage to being an informed first responder.

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