11752835_sI read a post this week by Colleen Honan of OneSource. Colleen is the SVP of Sales and Service for OneSource. Her blog was entitled, “Are you selling or searching.”

It’s a great question and it really got me thinking. What are sellers searching for and why?

Buyers are more savvy than ever. They don’t have time for salespeople who haven’t done their homework. They expect salespeople to be informed and relevant. Winging doesn’t work in today’s world. So salespeople set out on their search for information and insight.

There’s plenty of information available on the Web. So much information that it takes a great amount of effort (and time) to gather. Salespeople can’t find the bits and pieces of information and insight they need in any one place because search engines don’t work that way.

According to an interesting infographic created by CSO Insights on behalf of Lattice Engines, reps search an average of 15 sources before picking up the phone. Can you imagine the amount of time that this requires?

To start, salespeople will go to a prospect company’s website to learn a little about the company. They may go to the Management page to look for the right contact and to the Contact page to get a phone number. They may go to the news section to learn about current events. Then they might do a web search to determine who the competitors are and yet another one to learn about the industry.

Salespeople need information from internal sources as well. They might need to learn what successes your company has had with similar companies. They might want to know what salespeople have sold to similar companies and what the key selling points were. They might want to discover whether there are resources of particular relevance to the prospect. Are there any presentations, does anyone know the right questions to ask, what objections are common for the type of prospect.

It’s easy to see how information gathering is one of the largest consumers of a salesperson’s time. It has to be done because they can’t be effective in their sales conversations unless they’ve done the research. They only get one first impression.

On the flip side, spending all that valuable selling time on researching is a problem when it comes to productivity because gathering information keeps salespeople from holding more sales conversations.

No doubt about it, it’s important to gather information and prepare adequately for a call. But it’s equally important to find ways to improve the efficiency of the task.

Here’s why. First off, if you have a sales team, your revenue is derived from the prospects they interact with. Therefore the most revenue you can possibly generate has an upward limit, bound by the percentage of time spent engaging with prospects. If you don’t increase that percentage, you will have a tough time driving more revenue.

What are your salespeople to do? What are you to do? You might start by going to Colleen’s upcoming presentation at the  Sales Management and Performance Exhibition (#SMP2013) in London this week. Attendance is free. In case you won’t be in the vicinity, you should consider registering for the event anyway. I suspect they will make the presentations available online to those that registered.

There is an amazing line-up of speakers. Along with Colleen, one of my dear friends and consummate sales management expert Dr. Jonathan Farrington will be presenting. It looks like there will be 5 seminar venues and more than 60 fantastic speakers in all.

If you want your salespeople to spend more time selling and less time on everything else, reducing the time it takes to search for information and insight is a great place to start. OneSource’s iSell product along with Bloomfire are two great tools to help you get the job done. iSell is a one-stop research tool that tells salespeople who to call, what to say, when to call and how to call. Bloomfire is a one-stop information sharing platform for organizations to collaborate and share important information, documents, and videos.

Without the right tools, how will you unchain your salespeople and give them the freedom to make more sales calls before the year is over?

Nancy Nardin is the foremost expert increasing sales productivity through the use of tools. As President of Smart Selling Tools, she consults with many of the top sales productivity software vendors as well as end-user organizations looking to select the right tools. Click to get Nancy’s What & When weekly digest with invitations to complimentary webinars and informative publications. Follow Nancy on Twitter @sellingtoolsor subscribe to her Sales Productivity blog. Nancy can be reached at 916-596-3035. To schedule a free 30 minute consultation click here.