Published by Bill Johnson, CEO at Salesvue

There are a lot of industry consultants out there who will tell a sales rep that you need to do research before making your first outbound attempt to connect.  The idea behind this is you will have a more meaningful conversation with that prospect.  For example reps will go to linkedin or other sources and look at my friend Mike McGuinness’s profile and try to understand what Mike might respond to.  A salesperson who knows that last quarter earnings grew 15% or that a company just received a Series A investment will have a better conversation than one who does not know that information.

Here is the challenge with the above philosophy – in a B2B environment the average connect rate for a conversation is between 3% and 12% depending on the functional area a rep is calling into.  If one assumes the overall average is 8% that says a sales rep has a 1 in 12 chance of connecting with a prospect.  When I have asked the average rep who does do research before hand I hear it takes 10 to 20 minutes to be thorough in that research. That means that rep is going to achieve 3 to 6 dials per hour and potentially have one conversation every 2 to 4 hours.

If by doing research the conversion rate was 100% then i would be all for doing the research.  The problem is research does not move the conversion needle significantly, but it seriously impedes the number of attempts and conversations a sales rep can have.

The goal of that initial conversation is not to sell something to someone it’s to get an appointment where a more meaningful conversation can occur.  Every sales rep in a B2B selling environment should be able to express his company’s value proposition and problem it solves in 60 to 90 seconds and be able to ask for a meeting.

With a 1 in 12 potential connect rate the research on the other 11 is wasted as not very many reps are going to retain that research for the next attempt which might be in a few hours or a few days.  Spending 20 minutes to do that research with an 8% probability of having a conversation is not a good bet of a sales reps valuable time.

Salesvue customer, LeadJen, which provides an outsourced appointment setting service, makes sure their sales team can have a meaningful conversation that gets the prospect interested in having a meeting to discuss LeadJen’s clients solution.  By training each rep on key metrics and attention getting messaging there is no need to do research before the call.  LeadJen has 80 employees scheduling meetings for their clients and 95% of their new business comes from referrals.  My guess is the process of better messaging and higher activity works versus spending 20 minutes researching an account with a 1 in 12 chance of having that “meaningful” conversation.