iStock_000041083032LargeThere’s no excuse for not doing your sales homework.

“My CEO will be in town, and I’d like to schedule time for you to meet with him.” That must be the hook for this year’s Dreamforce exhibitors, who got my name off the list of attendees for Salesforce’s big event next week. They’ve been calling me en masse. They all deliver the same canned message, and they’re relentless. Perhaps because I’m speaking at the event this year, they believe I’m easy prey.

The delete button is, once again, my friend.

Do Some Research, Why Don’t You?

I received a voicemail from Doug in Michigan, who invited me to meet with his CEO. I actually listened to his message because he outlined how his company and No More Cold Calling were aligned. And he made the business case for his software application by quoting details about the results his clients were experiencing. All good so far.

But when Doug mentioned his company’s name, he lost all credibility with me. You see, I have known the CEO of this company since he founded it more than five years ago. I met him when he came to San Francisco, and we’ve spoken many times since. Our philosophies are different, so we’ve never worked together, but I respect and admire him and the success of his company.

I might have forgiven Doug’s oversight several years ago, but there’s no excuse today for neglecting to do your research. One quick look at his CEO’s connections on LinkedIn, and he would have seen that we’re a first connection. Better yet, what if Doug actually had a conversation with all his executives, shared his call list, and discovered how the leadership team knew people on his list? Imagine the richer sales conversations he could have had.

We Should Be Smarter Than Our Buyers

Salespeople must do exacting research. It’s our job as smart, strategic sales pros to deliver value—real value—and we can only do that if we’ve invested time in researching our prospects. Why?

Because Buyer 2.0 is very good at homework. In fact, 86 percent of business buyers engage in research independent of the sales cycle. Before they make contact with us, prospects have usually checked us out, compared pricing, read a white paper or two, listened to a webinar, and/or viewed a demo. They’ve also researched what our competitors have to offer.

So Seller 2.0 must be just as well informed to compete in today’s challenging business environment. Forget the sales pitch; your prospects have already read everything you have to say about your company on your website. By the time they talk to you, they’re only interested in hearing what you can do for their companies, which means you must know as much about them as they know about you.

[Tweet “Forget the sales pitch; your prospects have already read everything you have to say about your company on your website.”]

Doug missed his chance. I’m sure he went on to the next person on his call list, as I’ve never heard back from him. I was tempted to call him, but I decided to write about my experience instead.

Stop Spamming

I’ve received more than five requests to meet with CEOs at Dreamforce, in addition to Doug’s. Maybe I should be flattered, and maybe that’s a paltry number.

If you’re one of the people spamming me—or spamming anyone else, for that matter—consider this: I don’t know who you are. The only way to change that is by making an effort to get to know me. Take a few minutes to check me out on LinkedIn, and you will likely find common connections. Cold calling or emailing me won’t get you anywhere. But a referral introduction from one of our mutual contacts would begin our relationship. And that’s what selling is about—relationships and trust.

Dreamforce 2014 (#DF14) will be an amazing event and an opportunity to meet colleagues, chat with clients and prospects, and learn. I’ll see you there, and I would be delighted to welcome you to my City by the Bay.

Connect with No More Cold Calling

Follow Joanne on Google+ or Twitter @ReferralSales, or connect on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Go Giants