How to Automate Prospect Research With AI

Prospect research is an essential component of successful sales prospecting. However that doesn't change the fact that it's mind-numbingly dull and time consuming. This post shares how to use AI to automate prospect research, complete with purpose-built prompts you can steal.

Dan Moran
2024-03-20

Researching prospects can feel a long way off from the pipeline-building, relationship-nurturing, quota-hitting tasks that move the needle and generate revenue.

Prospect research is tedious. It’s highly manual. And it’s very boring.

But here’s the rub: There is no prospecting success without research.

  • Without research, it’s impossible to personalize outreach.
  • Without personalization, outreach immediately falls flat.

And the best sellers know this.

According to LinkedIn survey data, 82% of top-performing salespeople say they always conduct research before reaching out to prospects—compared to only 49% of other reps.

Even so, I know what you’re thinking. You’ve got targets to hit! You don’t have time to scrutinize every single contact and account on your list.

So what’s an enterprising sales rep to do? 

Enlist the help of the greatest assistant a salesperson could ever ask for: artificial intelligence.

AI excels at the mind-numbing and repetitive (yet essential) tasks that chew into selling time—like deep-dive account and prospect research.

Here’s how to put it to work so you can spend less time researching and more time creating outreach messaging that’s impossible to ignore.

1. Company website

The first place to look when researching a company is their website.

Only problem: B2B websites are notoriously overcomplicated and filled with jargon and industry expressions. AI can help you decode what a company does and who they do it for, explaining it in simple and understandable terms.

This prompt will help you do it:

Your task is to learn about [target company] using up-to-
date information, then answer the following questions in clear language, a neutral tone, limited prose, and without marketing terms or jargon:

What does [company] do?

Who are [company]’s ideal customers?

How does [company]’s product work?

What is the one big problem [company] solves for their customers?

Example output:

Sales prospect research in OneShot.ai, the best AI prospecting tool for revenue teams.
Here's the same company research prompt in the OneShot.ai

Instead of combing through the website trying to answer these questions, this process generates a neat summary of the company in question.

Related reading: How to Understand Any Company In Minutes Using AI

2. Use open jobs to infer company needs

Job descriptions are a majorly underused & underrated source of prospecting gold.

They’re packed with everything you need for super relevant outreach, including:

  • A description of a major company pain/need
  • A short & sweet summary of the company mission
  • KPIs they need this new hire to hit

But the problem is these nuggets are often buried in layers of fluff and corporate jargon.

This prompt is engineered to to extract key insights from job descriptions. If your target company is hiring, you can use this intel to create highly personalized and relevant outreach.

Use the inputs below to determine why the [Company] is hiring this role. 

Identify the key needs and pain points implied by the open position, and infer how making this hire will help solve these problems and achieve the company mission.

Company description input: [Insert company description]

Job description input: [Insert job description]

By hitting on the pain implied by the open role and smoothly tying in your value prop, you’ll create outreach that any stakeholder will pay attention to.

3. Recent news and events

Newsworthy events make for great prospecting icebreakers.

Major events such as fundraising or new product launches are often followed by big company initiatives.

💡For example: If your target company announces the hiring of a new VP of Product, you can expect some major changes (like hiring or new product releases)in the near future.

If your product or service is relevant to this change, referencing it in your outreach is a good way to capture your prospect’s interest and attention.

Here’s a prompt to automate the search for recent news.

Search for recent news about [Company]. 

Identify notable and newsworthy events, including but not limited to: 

- Fundraising 

- New product launches 

- Senior leadership hires/promotions 

Summarize these events in concise bullets.

4. Information about the CEO

Sometimes information about a company’s priorities and challenges comes straight from the source.

The CEO of your target company is probably active in the media. 

(Media, in this context, could be any public format or channel in which this person is featured.)

It’s their job to raise awareness about their company. So it’s in their best interest to get themselves out there and featured in interviews, podcasts, publications, and blogs.

Not to mention the content they create and distribute themselves.

Which means it's in your best interest to track this content down and scour it for relevant insights.

One of the surest ways to capture someone’s attention is to repeat what they—or their boss—has already said. This prompt will help find relevant info that you can use in your outreach.

Find the CEO of [target company].

List recent podcasts, interviews, articles, or any other media or content they have been featured in or produced. 

Extract relevant quotes and insights and list them below.

5. Information about the prospect

The best way to resonate with a prospect is to include information that is relevant only to them.

This is the core of personalization.

If the same message could be sent to someone else and none of the meaning is lost, then it isn’t truly personalized.

This prompt pulls together information about your prospect from multiple sources and provides a neat summary with all the most relevant information.

Analyze this LinkedIn profile: [Paste LinkedIn profile data]

Then search for any mentions of [prospect] on the [Company] website.

Generate a short biography that summarizes [prospect]’s main responsibilities, plus pain points and challenges they’re likely to face in this role.

Tying it all together

A major goal of prospect research is to uncover interesting and relevant nuggets of information.

Either about your prospect or the company they work for.

These can be used to craft super relevant messaging that stands out because you’ve shown that you’ve done your homework.

You can use AI to help with this, too.

After running each of the prompts above in succession, prompt the AI to pull the most compelling information out of everything it’s given you so far.

The technical term for this is prompt chaining.

💡Pro tip: Prompt chaining is the act of stringing together multiple prompts in a sequence. It’s how you get better outputs when asking AI to perform a complex, multi-step task like conduct prospect research.

Here’s how to do it:

Using the information above, generate a list of possible angles to use for sales outreach to [prospect].

These angles must be:

  • Relevant and personal to [prospect]
  • Appeal to their curiosity
  • Thought-provoking

The goal of this outreach is to get a response that leads to a conversation.

Related reading: Prompt Engineering for Sales 101

What is the ideal outcome of prospect research?

The ultimate purpose of prospect research comes down to three things:

  1. Gain an understanding of the target company

To successfully prospect and sell into a target company, you need to have a solid grasp of what they do, who they do it for, the challenges they’re experiencing, and how your product or service helps solve these challenges.

  1. Know your prospect

It’s the same on the individual level. You need to have a detailed understanding of your prospect’s responsibilities and pain points so you can effectively speak to how you can help overcome them.

  1. Uncover insights for personalized outreach

At the top of this article, we explained how research is essential for personalization. Static and impersonal messaging simply doesn’t cut it with modern buyers. Personalization is essential for breaking through and resonating with a potential customer. Research is how you find the nuggets you need to do it.

Build your own AI prospect research workflow

AI can help you massively speed up your prospect research. 

The key is to integrate these capabilities into a process that works for you. Efficiency is the goal. You don’t want to be fumbling around with AI for this.

This process can serve as a framework for you to build your own AI prospect research workflow.

Take it. Experiment with it. Tweak the inputs till you get the output you like.

And when you’re ready to scale this process across your entire contact list, check out how OneShot.ai can help you do it.

OneShot.ai uses AI to power outbound at scale. See how by booking a demo.
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