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Do Your Best Sales Detective Work On Prospects
Blog / For Sales Pros / May 2, 2018 / Posted by Tony Hughes / 4308

Do Your Best Sales Detective Work On Prospects


Faster than you can say Benedict Cumberbatch three times fast: In sales, you’re only as valuable as the data you’re operating upon. You may dive as deep as the shallow end of the kiddie pool. The true sales hunters will dive 10,000 leagues deep below the ocean and know what their prospects had for breakfast that morning.

Show ’em you know ’em is a tale as old as time. Even in the Downton Abbey days and Inspector Hercule Poirot, it was a game of deduction.

If you don’t have a provocative business case that will pique your prospective customer’s interest, you’re sunk like the Titanic. Be the Queen Mary 2!

Knowing is half the battle, so the better you are at pre-call due diligence, the more of an edge you’ll have… but don’t get addicted to the time wasting death spiral of analysis by paralysis.

Here are some inspired “super sleuth” ideas you can exploit for “good” and if you’re “evil,” I can’t help you:

  • It’s highly plausible your prospect will just connect with you on LinkedIn and there’s a direct number or email on their LinkedIn Profile. I see this all the time. I’m not opposed to leveraging a personal email if they specify this as a preferred means of contact on their profile. When you reach out, make this the first line. “I noticed you listed your personal Gmail on your page.”
  • LinkedIn Open Profile is a status that users can select, and many C-Level executives and VPs on LinkedIn are open to a message from anyone nowadays. Yep, not everyone is eschewing social selling. This means you can message your prospects freely through LinkedIn without it counting against your InMail threshold of 30 per month.

“Open qualified conversations in Social, don’t push products.”

  • Are you Google searching their first and last name with the word “contact” or “phone#” or first name dot last name @ company to see if they have emails or phone numbers literally listed openly right on Google? My mind is blown by how many reps complain they need when the majority of their “impossible to reach prospects” are sitting on page 1 of Google.
  • Rapportive: Are you using it? LinkedIn bought it. It pings a Rapleaf database and within Gmail allows you to reverse lookup to verify almost any prospect’s email address. Once you have one email convention cracked, (let’s say first initial dot last name @ company), you can typically decipher and verify any address utilizing this plug-in within Chrome.
  • Are you looking through SlideShares and PDFs in a Google search to see if there are email contacts at the end of the presentation that you can harvest? Did your prospect give a speech at an important conference and leave a contact avenue?
  • Look for stakeholders that just left the company or worked there before to reach out in order to gain insider knowledge of who makes the decisions. Sometimes, they’ll even give you a phone number and email. I love to contact people who are “looking for their next role.” They’re open to help you crack into where they came from and can’t wait to help you when they land. Classic trigger event!
  • Make sure to type the person’s full name into Google and click News. Set Google Alerts for that name and their company. Sales Nav has some of this functionality baked right in with lead saves and relevant news updates on individuals and companies.
  • One of the biggest hurdles in hunting within highly matrixed organizations these days is simply figuring out which stakeholders to even call in the first place who will take you down the rabbit hole. This is where Advanced Searches on LinkedIn Sales Nav are so handy. Some tricks here are to search for the specialization in their title. So if it’s Social or Mobile, search that company in LeadBuilder for that specific title. Could be something like “Innovation.” Search using “contains the words” but then put it in parentheses. For the first time ever with Sales Nav, you can search all 500MM profiles with a unique text string. Could be some crazy piece of software initials or a star database. You can literally pull a needle in the haystack.
  • Prospect with InMail and especially e-mail over the holidays to generate auto-responders. These auto-responders provide direct cells you can call after the break, they also generate colleagues’ and subordinates’ names and even emails. Double up and reach out to any gifts of info you get back.
  • Adding prospects on Facebook is risky. Messaging them on Facebook Messenger is even riskier. Text messaging them is even riskier. You definitely should be experimenting with all of this for your vertical / territory. The invasive social networks come in handy when you get a high-level referral and that contact in common, truly knows the person well. They often respond, “I’ll just ping her on Facebook or send them a text.”
  • Being funny elicits a response and gathers information. Chatting up Executive Assistants, writing prospecting touches to the 6.8 (InMail, eMail, Text) – you will go much further if you think from The Godlike Mind of Mr. Bill Murray. Be amusing, prospects are very bored so if you entertain them, they’ll reveal information. Channel your inner Bill!

In the vast proliferation of ways to learn about people, one must listen more because there’s more noise out there than ever. To be the signal in the noise requires a compelling message that shows research has been done: social listening.

If you’re going to invest in only one tool in 2018, it’s most certainly LinkedIn Sales Navigator because as I present above, with some basic deduction and search tactics, you can get to most decision-makers with ease.

You’ve gotta be able to get Googly inside LinkedIn.

Pipeliner CRM empowers salespeople to be great prospecting detectives. Get your free trial of Pipeliner CRM now.

About Author

A bestselling author, award-winning blogger and the most read LinkedIn Author globally on the topic of B2B sales leadership. Tony’s first book is a business bestseller with his second book, COMBO Prospecting, available on Amazon here. He can be found at and

Author's Publications on Amazon

This unique business novel captures the essence of sales leadership. Everyone in business or professional selling should read it to learn how to become truly strategic and more effective in positively influencing others. Synopsis: Joshua Peters is a salesman in crisis - after losing a…
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In a world where everyone is completely inundated by phone calls, drop-ins, pop-up ads, and junk mail, how can you and your product begin to make its impression known in the business world? How do you break through to impossible-to-reach executive buyers who are intent…
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