The Due Diligence Differentiator

Posted on Jul 10, 2010

By Dan Hughes Co-Founder and CSO of Broadlook Technologies

I remember a favorite question my father asked:  Is the horse that wins 10X the prize money, 10x faster than the others?  Often times, the winning horse wins by only a nose.

So the answer is “No”.  His lesson was that the winner only has to be a fraction better than the nearest competitor to win the prize.  What was I willing to do to be just a little stronger, faster, smarter and better than the next person in any of my endeavors?

Do not the same dynamics take place in sales?  Is the sales professional who secures the deal, make quota and achieves the financial rewards 10X better the next?  I content that it is the little things that makes the difference.  I believe a big differentiator is the ability and willingness to do the extra “Due Diligence” necessary to Know Everything possible about a company, contacts and the industry at large.

Having observed hundreds of sales operations; I am fascinated by both the hunger and satisfaction of finding a single point of contact and their email.  And that’s it.  These are the professionals who work hard to generate leads and make the persistent calls necessary to escort a sales opportunity to completion.

It’s resembles watching a mouse finding a scrap of cheese, grabbing it and turning high tail to run back to the hole to eat away…when there is a whole slice just around the corner available to be had.  If they had just looked a little more, they would have found enough to last a week. An email by itself is a simple nibble of cheese.  Why not feast on the wealth of additional information potentially available?  Due Diligence is the differentiator between a failed campaign or a first call attempt and one that generates advances.

Why do the majority of marketing and sales professionals do this? I am inclined to believe that we all are under the gun regarding our use of time, and are not sure where and how to look for the complimentary information that would make the difference between failure and success.

My personal “AH-HA” moment:

Back in 2005, I read of a Bay area technology company that delivers enterprise incentive management solutions to companies with direct and or distributor sale forces.  I believed the company to be a good fit for the Broadlook solutions and began my Due Diligence process.  It sounds more arduous than it was as I have the benefit of using Profiler to information mine the website and web footprint of the company.  Upon completion, Profiler found several hundred contact points including key decision makers in sales, operations and financial along with their bios and emails.  It also located the President’s contact information, including the email from a source outside the website.

I clicked the source and saw that his email was located from a chat group called Seabiscuit Live, a forum dedicated to fans of the famed racehorse Seabiscuit and the impending movie soon to be released.  My target President had written a personal note to the author of the “The Story of Seabiscuit” telling of his enjoyment of the book and his eager anticipation of the movie.

I was equally a fan and decided to leverage this information in my initial outreach to the President of this company.  My email subject line read something like this:

Subject:  Introducing Broadlook Technologies – I am also a fan of Seabiscuit the horse

I sent it off.  To me surprise, the president called me within 5 minutes and without saying “Hello…how are you?”, jumps directly to his point as asked “How in the H*ll did you know I am a fan of this book?”.

I responded, “funny you should ask, come to my desktop and I will show you Profiler”.

Subsequent comments required me to teach this “due diligence differentiator” to each of his sales professionals and Profiler for every sales personnel at the company.  They have been one of Broadlook Technologies longest running clients with tremendous productivity and quality of information improvements throughout their entire sales operation.

Now, had I just grabbed his email at first site and fired off a whole bunch of email and phone calls without regards to this additional information, I doubt the results would be the same.

What do you think?

What are you missing that could the due diligence differentiator between a successful engagement with a prospect, candidate, company, market influencers.