Leveraging research time to increase sales effectiveness

by Vikrant Duggal

My objective with this essay is to help you increase your productivity selling.

You want to know what to do next, but it’s hard to tell. Should I send off quick follow up notes? Are the opportunities I’m spending time on worth it? Should I just disqualify some of them because people aren’t getting back to me? What should I be doing? Frustrating, I get it. I’m here to answer what you should do.

The ideal case at this moment is that you know the buyer and the timing is right. Please, please work on those opportunities right now. Meet face to face, call, follow up with that email and put a bow on those deals that fit the criteria. Get them closed!

“The ideal case at this moment is that you know the buyer and the timing is right…put a bow on those deals that fit the criteria. Get them closed!”

Once the above tasks are done, let’s take a step back and get ready for Q1 with a strong start. The next place to start is the folks who you’ve been trying to get a hold of for more than three months and you’ve heard nothing. Lastly, you want to focus on the newer deals. We will bucket these two groups together.

Allow me to set the stage:

I’m sitting here looking at my pipeline of opportunities and leads. Ideally everyone of my main contacts is the buyer in the specific company and I can get everyone of them on the phone and the timing would be right for them to buy. They would also know how I can help and believe I care and understand their problems and goals. This, however, is not the case.

Given in some cases I don’t know them well or they haven’t gotten back to me, what can I do?

  1. Above I addressed closing what you can. However big or small, just close the few opportunities that are almost there and you believe it’s realistic to close them.
  2. Back up, take a breath and study. Study your pipeline – the industries, companies and the people. If you know it’s too much of a stretch and you’ve given it your all disqualify. Here’s what we’re doing to do with the rest.


As of today, here are the top FREE mobile communication apps on iOS app store (you’ll find roughly the same on Android and Windows):

  • YouTube – video
  • Messenger – written/video/photos
  • Instagram – photo/short form video/written
  • Snapchat – photo/short form video
  • Facebook – video/photo/written
  • GMAIL – written

With the rise of podcasts – Spotify, SoundCloud and iTunes are contenders for attention. Email and phone are getting less effective, but still in play. Another item to now is that many professionals have LinkedIn and Twitter profiles (some more active than others).

The objective for most sales reps for SaaS companies is to get the buyer on the phone and keep their attention. For some of their deals they may also be focused on getting FaceTime.

With all this context I would stress to if you are relying mostly on automation tools and email, you’re not being resourceful. In fact, you’re straight up being lazy. Yes, there is a case to be made that marketing “should do this”. If you’re going to put your success in someone else’s hands then don’t read further.

I am mentioning the top apps so you are clear that the attention of the people you are looking to reach goes well beyond their inbox. The question you should be asking yourself is: where do I need to be to capture the attention?


Let’s start with LinkedIn. Powerful tool. We’ll begin with the search feature.

Here, I simply enter the prospect, or buyer’s name. For this example I’m going to use Robi Ganguly, Co-founder and CEO of Apptentive in Seattle, Washington as the person to research. He needs my help! Let’s take a look at the profile to see if there’s anything of value for me to learn more:

I’ve highlighted a number of areas where I can focus. Quickly I learn that Robi values relationships. He even writes, “truly meaningful and deep connections that are built over time…investment.” In the top right I see a link to “Show More”: a personal blog or Twitter handle can be of value to me as I take a few minutes to learn about him. I notice the profile has the university listed. Do I know anyone who also went to Pomona College? We happen to not only be connected, but have 107 mutual connections. It just so happens that “Show More” has a personal blog and a Twitter profile. Let’s see what more I can learn from Twitter.

I like to immediately jump to the bio. Robi tells me he likes to build things. Building things take time, require tinkering, require thoughtfulness. I can assume Robi will have these kinds of characteristics. He’s also passionate about giving customers a voice – quite possibly a strong mission attached to Apptentive. Here, I also learn that he’s active on Twitter with 17.4K tweets and 3.5K likes. We share some followers and the Photos and video tell me he may also be on Instagram, Facebook and/or Snapchat (all top downloaded apps).

In addition to this, I found a great blog post that Appentive turned into a 55-page E-book and through Google News search found a number of articles written about Robi and his company including the last funding round.

That took me less than 7 minutes. Now, I’ll spend another 5 minutes thinking through how to take the first steps.

To summarize: I know Robi loves relationships and cares about investing in them. I know he loves to build things. He’s also running a startup with about 50-100 people (learned from LinkedIn) so he’s not going to just answer any email or phone call.

Some questions to be thinking about when researching individuals:

  • How well do I know the individual and their role?
  • Do I understand their problems?
  • Has my company solved any problems for people in similar roles?
  • What’s the best way to build rapport with this individual that will allow me to connect with them?


I’ll now spend 20-30 minutes brainstorming what I could do to capture Robi’s attention in Q1 of 2022.

  1. Craft a compelling offer email that shows I understand the challenges of building and growing a startup
  2. Send Robi a holiday gift that could be a puzzle or game requiring building something – maybe a Seahawks puzzle
  3. Start engaging with his Twitter posts that I can genuinely add value to

Rinse and repeat the research steps from LinkedIn. If you reach a dead end use the search features of Google, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, etc. There are so many tools at your disposal. Take advantage of them!

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