In this series of articles, we’re exploring how to turn your CRM data into a strategic advantage. And we’re defining data as both the data you enter into CRM and external data, if you have a sales intelligence add-on. In the first article, we talked about turning news into sales. Today, we’ll look at how to leverage industry insights to get the inside edge over your competition.

In my opinion, if you can know only one thing when you meet with a prospect, know about their industry. Hands down!

Why? Because it makes you sound intelligent and sets you apart from 99% of the other salespeople out there.  Understanding something about your prospect’s industry, key drivers, and potential risks, enables you to relate to their world and demonstrates that you cared enough to do your homework.

I’m not talking about trying to be an expert. You’ll almost certainly fall on your face if you act like you know as much as they do about their industry. I’m talking about learning enough to ask intelligent questions and use the right terminology. For example, if you’re meeting with an insurance company and you talk about salespeople, you’re demonstrating that you don’t know much about their world. Their sellers are referred to as "producers". You need to know that and speak their language. 

Not knowing about their industry is like visiting a foreign country and knowing nothing about its culture and traditions.

How do I use industry insights?

In addition to speaking their language, I use industry insights as a priceless icebreaker.  Imagine this scenario. You’re about to call on Virkam Beri, the head of sales at Harley Davidson, and you come across an article about the growing trend of women riding motorcycles, while doing your industry research.  After you greet, you mentioned to Mr. Beri that you just read about this trend and ask, “How is this affecting your business...or is it just an urban legend?  You can bet you’ll grab his attention and get him to open up.

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