Traits of Top Salespeople

"Top salespeople are listeners: they listen carefully to what their prospects and customers say instead of waiting for their turn to speak."

Tag: LinkedIn

Prospecting With LinkedIn

Prospecting With LinkedIn

You have to improve and capitalize on your personal relationships with the companies in your territory. You should probably focus on the top five to ten companies that most closely align with your perfect customer. If you do not know someone at one of your top 10 accounts, that is not a reason to skip them. You must build that relationship.

You will create these relationships by leveraging:

  • Your best clients.
  • Your former employers and former co-workers.
  • People that your prospect respects.

The best way to make a connection to your unknown prospects is via the social platform LinkedIn. The site is arguably the most important social platform for business and especially for salespeople. According to HubSpot, 65% of B2B companies report that they have acquired a customer through LinkedIn. 

According to Jim Keenan, the social sales specialist in the “The Impact of Social Media on Sales Quota and Corporate Revenue” report, 78.6% of salespeople using social media to sell outperformed those who weren’t using social media. Also, social media users were 23% more successful at exceeding their quota by at least 10% than their non-social media peers. In 2012 non-social media users missed quota (by more than 10% or more) 15% more often than social media users.

LinkedIn is often identified as the place to go to look for your next job. Certainly, it is used extensively by recruitment consultants the world over to find and approach candidates. But to simply look at it this way is to do the network a significant disservice.

LinkedIn is a great way for you to build your personal brand. As I have explained elsewhere, customers buy from you based on three criteria – your product, your company, and you. LinkedIn is an excellent way to build that third component of your value portfolio.

You should be using LinkedIn as a source of new leads and tangible revenue. In fact, for business to business, LinkedIn is a critical tool that can make your prospecting faster, smoother, and, ultimately, more profitable.

Contacts are the power of LinkedIn.

If your contacts are predominantly family, friends, and old school pals, you’ve got some work to do. Your first-level contacts open up a route to a full range of second and third-level connections. This is how you scale your network. Strike while the iron’s hot – whenever you meet anyone (online or off), always follow up quickly with a connection request while you are still fresh in his or her mind.

You need to use LinkedIn to map out the decision makers within your target prospects. In a complex sale, there are numerous people involved in making and influencing a purchase.

When you meet an individual, you can learn a great deal about that person. Many people are quite open on their LinkedIn profiles. You can frequently discover which team they’re on, which office they work out of, and what projects they’re focusing on. With a little detective work, you can quickly build up a picture of who you should be talking to, what they’re like, and what they’ve done before. Make sure you read the recommendations that they have written and that are written about them, as this gives you an idea of who influences them.

With LinkedIn, you can almost always learn enough about someone to make your call more relevant and useful to them. And it’s not simply a case of digital stalking. 

You should pay particular attention to changes in profile, status updates, connections in common and anything they’ve posted to a group (which can be reason enough to call them in the first place). 

Comment to meet people

One of the easiest ways to become known to a prospect is to like or comment on anything that the prospect has posted. This won’t propel the prospect to reach out to you, but at least you will not be a stranger. After a couple of appropriate comments, the prospect will likely be much more interested in having a conversation with you.

Commenting on your prospect’s activity is also important within the forums or groups. You should join the groups that your top prospects frequent. When you are viewing your prospect within the group, you can follow their activity. Following a prospect allows you to have their updates and conversations in your LinkedIn feed.

If you are not connected to the prospect, then use InMail to make that first introduction. InMail is LinkedIn’s internal email system and allows you to send an email to any LinkedIn user. It ensures your email gets through to their inbox. LinkedIn claims that an InMail is 30 times more likely to get a response than a cold call.

LinkedIn has a fabulous search function. With their advanced search, you can find people by title, company, location, or keyword. By intelligently mixing the different filters, you can get deep and identify key individuals quickly and easily.

You can also save your search criteria and get a weekly report listing anyone new who matches the criteria. For example, you could save a search for Database Administrators in the retail industry within 50 miles of Atlanta. Then, each week, you will get an email with anyone new who matches the search criteria.

Information is king.

This statement is particularly the case when it is account news. With information, you can make appropriate decisions. As any salesperson will know, change creates opportunity. People join, people leave, companies make important announcements – any change can present a good reason to get in touch and offer to help. More than that, information on your prospect allows you to:

  • Respond to the events affecting your customers and prospects.
  • Have background talking material during your sales calls.
  • Find opportunities.
  • Establish financial justification for your opportunities.

There is a lot of information to gather about your accounts. You need a quick and convenient way to review the highlights of your account news so that it doesn’t overwhelm you. 

LinkedIn makes discovering these changes easy. You can follow any company that has a LinkedIn page. That way you’ll see anything that changes directly in your updates. It’s an easy way to stay up to date and spot new opportunities.

Header Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay
You Can Win Business Against Larger Competitors

You Can Win Business Against Larger Competitors

In most industries, a single company controls the market. Compared with their competitors, they have a much larger market share, top-of-the-line products, a more significant marketing budget and reach, and more company cachet. Life can be very intimidating for salespeople who compete against these industry giants.

However, a Harvard Business Review study provides some good news in this regard. Buyers aren’t necessarily fixated on the market leader and are more than willing to select second-tier competitors than one might expect. In fact, only 33% of participants indicated they prefer the most prestigious, best-known brand with the highest functionality and cost. Conversely, 63% said they would select a fairly well-known brand with 85% of the functionality at 80% of the cost. However, only 5% would choose a relatively unknown brand with 75% of the functionality at 60% of the cost of the best-known brand.

There are a few keys to competing with more prominent companies. In general, they boil down to just being a competent salesperson but let’s list some of the elements.

  1. Do your research – know your competition and what they offer
  2. Create a unique selling proposition (USP) that sets you apart from the competition
  3. Focus on quality over quantity – make sure each product or service is the best it can be
  4. Offer customer service that is superior to your competitors
  5. Stay up to date with industry trends, and find ways to incorporate them into your business
  6. Promote yourself online and offline through social media, networking events, and advertising

1. Do your research – know your competition and what they offer

Knowing your competition and what they offer is essential, as any salesperson knows. By understanding what your competition is offering, you can be sure to target your sales pitch appropriately. In addition, you can use this knowledge to tailor your sales strategy to meet your potential customers’ needs best. For example, if your competition is offering a lower price point, you may want to focus on the quality of your product. Alternatively, if they target a different customer base, you may want to adjust your sales approach to appeal to your target market better.

In today’s competitive marketplace, trying to win sales by offering the lowest prices can be tempting. However, this is often not the best strategy in the long run:

  1. Competitors can always undercut you on cost, forcing you to lower your prices even further.
  2. Customers who only buy based on price are often the least loyal and likely to switch to a different supplier as soon as a better deal comes along.
  3. Focusing on price can distract you from other important aspects of your business, such as product quality and customer service.

For these reasons, it’s usually best to avoid competing on price. Instead, focus on offering a high-quality product or service at a fair price. This will help you attract and retain loyal customers willing to pay a little more for a company they trust.

2. Create a unique selling proposition (USP) that sets you apart from the competition

In today’s competitive marketplace, it’s more important than ever to have a unique selling proposition that sets you apart from the competition. Whether you’re selling products or services, your USP is what will make you stand out from the crowd and attract customers. There are a few critical components to creating a strong USP:

  1. You need to identify your target market and what needs or pain points they have that your business can address.
  2. It would help if you determined what makes your business unique and how you can best serve your target market.
  3. You must craft a clear and concise message that communicates your USP to your potential customers.

By taking the time to create a strong USP, you’ll be able to increase sales and grow your business.

It is essential to have a unique selling proposition (USP) that sets the business apart from its competitors. Many factors can contribute to a USP, but choosing one that is both relevant to the target market and achievable for the company is vital. For example, a business that sells eco-friendly products may focus on its sustainable manufacturing process, while a luxury retailer might highlight its exclusive range of designer labels.

By definition, a USP must be unique, so you should carefully consider what makes the business special before choosing a USP. Once the USP has been selected, it should be prominently featured in all marketing and sales communications to attract attention and drive sales.

3. Focus on quality over quantity – make sure each product or service is the best it can be

When running a successful business, there’s no substitute for quality. No matter how good your sales team is, they’ll never be able to sell an inferior product or service. That’s why it’s important to ensure that every one of your products or services is the best. Whether developing a new feature for an existing product or ensuring that your customer service is responsive and helpful, making quality a priority will always pay off in the long run. Not only will your customers be happier, but you’ll also see an increase in sales and loyalty. So don’t cut corners – instead, focus on making every one of your products or services the best they can be.

4. Offer customer service that is superior to your competitors

In today’s competitive marketplace, offering superior customer service is essential for businesses of all sizes. There are several ways to provide service that is superior to your competitors. One way is to ensure that your sales staff is knowledgeable about your products and services and can give informed recommendations. Another way is to offer a broader range of products and services than your competitors. You can also set yourself apart by offering more personalized service, such as customized product recommendations or assistance with troubleshooting problems. By providing superior customer service, you will be able to attract and retain more customers, giving you a significant advantage in the marketplace.

5. Stay up to date with industry trends, and find ways to incorporate them into your business

Sales representatives should always be up to date with industry trends. This can help them identify new sales opportunities and also be able to speak knowledgeably with potential customers about the latest products and services. There are a few different ways to stay up to date with industry trends. Representatives can attend trade shows and conferences, read industry news sources, and follow relevant social media accounts. Additionally, they can reach out to colleagues and other contacts within the industry to get insights into what is happening. By taking these steps, sales representatives can ensure that they are always ahead of the curve and able to capitalize on new opportunities.

Businesses must stay up to date with industry trends. By understanding the latest trends, companies can adapt their sales strategies to suit the needs of their customers better. Additionally, staying up to date with industry trends can help businesses identify new growth opportunities. For example, if a new trend emerges that is closely related to a business’s products or services, the company may be able to capitalize on this trend by marketing its products or services in a new way. Finally, keeping abreast of industry trends can help businesses stay ahead of their competitors. If a company is aware of a trend before its competitors, it may gain a competitive advantage by being the first to market its products or services in a new way. In short, there are many good reasons for businesses to stay up to date with industry trends.

6. Promote yourself online and offline through social media, networking events, and advertising

As a small business owner, promoting yourself online and offline is essential. Social media is a great way to reach potential customers and build awareness for your business. But don’t stop there – networking events and advertising can also be effective marketing tools.

When it comes to promoting your business, sales are essential, but so are building relationships and connecting with potential customers. That’s where networking comes in. Attending industry events and meeting potential customers can help you make those critical connections.

And don’t forget about advertising. There are various ways to get the word out about your business, from print ads to radio commercials. While online marketing is essential, offline advertising can also be a great way to reach potential customers.

You can effectively promote your business online and offline with a little effort. By using a combination of social media, networking, and advertising, you’ll be able to reach more potential customers and grow your business.

It would help if you were the best professional that you could be. You must embrace work as a profession, not as just another job. A professional salesperson is proud of his craft and tries to be the best that s/he can be.

In my book, Eliminate Your Competition, I discuss there are three things that you must sell:

  1. your product,
  2. your company,
  3. yourself.

Since most products have competition that solves the core of the same problems, products rarely win the deal by themselves. Since most companies are high quality, the company’s reputation rarely wins the deal. The significant variable in all sales opportunities is you. You can show you are a better partner and advocate than the other salesperson. You can show that buying from you is better than buying from another person.

You may purchase my book from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at retailers like AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

There is a way to beat your competition, even if they have all their advantages. Believe it or not, this is possible with the right sales skills. Many small businesses have used effective selling techniques to overtake their larger counterparts. So don’t be discouraged; you can outsell any competitor with the right approach and attitude. Start honing your skills today! What are you waiting for?

Header Photo by Laura Tancredi: https://www.pexels.com/photo/skyscrapers-with-reflecting-walls-in-modern-megapolis-7078666/
Selling To A Committee

Selling To A Committee

According to a study by Harvard Business Review, buying committees are getting larger. Salespeople have no option but to become skilled at dealing with buying committees.

Whenever a company makes a purchase decision that involves a team of people, factors including self-interests, politics, and group dynamics will influence the final decision. Tension, drama, and conflict are normal parts of group dynamics because purchase decisions typically are not made unanimously.

One critical research finding is that 90% of study participants confirmed that there is always or usually one member of the evaluation committee who tries to influence and bully the decision their way. Moreover, this person is successful in getting the vendor they want selected 89% of the time. In practicality, it can be said that a salesperson doesn’t have to win over the entire selection committee, only the individual who dominates it.

According to Gartner, the typical buying group for a complex B2B solution involves six to 10 decision makers‚ each armed with four or five pieces of information they’ve gathered independently and must deconflict with the group. At the same time, the set of options and solutions buying groups can consider is expanding as new technologies, products, suppliers, and services emerge.

These dynamics make it increasingly difficult for customers to make purchases. In fact, more than three-quarters of the customers Gartner surveyed described their purchase as very complex or difficult.

Understand the Power Matrix

As you meet people and develop a sales opportunity within your prospect, you need a tool to help you make sure you develop relationships with the correct people with the appropriate power and influence to help you.

The Power Matrix is a great tool to understand the organization. I promise you, that if you can successfully fill out the Power Matrix in every account, you will be phenomenally successful. You can read more about the Power Matrix here and learn much more in my book Eliminate Your Competition.

You may purchase my book Eliminate Your Competition from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at the most popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at such retailers as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

Map Out Committees Early On

It’s often impossible for an outsider to get a clear picture of an organization’s internal structure and personnel layout, but we’re better equipped to map it out than ever. One simple first step is to pull up a list of the company’s employees on LinkedIn and seek out job titles that are commonly involved with researching vendors or choosing solutions.

If you’ve already developed a solid relationship with one contact at a company, you might consider asking them outright about additional key players. (“Is there anyone else on your team I should be chatting with about this? Would you mind introducing me?”)

Work with Marketing to Build and Shape Brand Awareness

One pitfall that can disrupt a unified front in the buying committee is when one member takes a liking to your solution, but another has never heard of your company. You can mitigate this risk by collaborating with your marketing colleagues on strategic brand awareness efforts. The tools available through LinkedIn make it easy to target your ads toward particular accounts, titles, or seniority levels.

And remember, it’s not just awareness that matters, but perception. Ads and content need to portray your brand in the right way — the same way you’re trying to sell it. So it’s crucial that the sales team take an interest in helping to create marketing messaging.

Keep Track of Movement within Accounts

Buying committees aren’t static. People enter, leave, and change roles. This is why we consider multithreading (connecting with numerous people at an account) to be so critical and why the ability to save accounts and leads in Sales Navigator is such an integral feature.

When you do so, you’ll receive sales updates that keep you posted on job changes and other important developments with your prospects. This enables you to react quickly and ensure you’re not losing touch with a committee without even realizing it.

Make Content Easy to Share

Ideally, the compelling content you share with your contacts on a buying committee will be shared with other members. Take steps to facilitate this outcome by ensuring your documents, videos, links, and pricing sheets are easy to pass along.

When it comes to making large purchase decisions, involving a team of people will always be messy. There will be tension, drama, and conflict as everyone tries to assert their own self-interests and negotiate for what they want. This is normal, and you should expect it. The key is not to let these dynamics derail the process or prevent you from selling your product. Learn to navigate these waters and understand how group dynamics can influence decision-making. You can sell your product with the right approach even when faced with committee buy-in challenges.

LinkedIn Best Practices

LinkedIn Best Practices

LinkedIn offers a multitude of benefits for businesses. To start, it has 3x higher visitor-to-lead conversion rate than Twitter and Facebook. Additionally, half of the members say they’re more likely to purchase from companies when they engage with them on LinkedIn.

How to Get the Most Out of LinkedIn #infographicYou can also find more infographics at Visualistan

Salespeople Should Stop Making These 11 Social Media Mistakes

Salespeople Should Stop Making These 11 Social Media Mistakes

There is no question that salespeople need a positive impression on social media. You can save the Facebook account for friends and family arguments and fun posts, but your LinkedIn account and your Twitter account need to be professional.

Remember, every sale is composed of three things that you are selling:

  1. Your product (and your product is probably not better than your competitor’s product).
  2. Your company (and your company’s reputation is probably not better than your competitor’s reputation).
  3. YOU!

So if the first two things probably tie with your competitor, the real thing that you sell every day is YOU. You are the difference maker in the sales process. You influence the sale every time that you interact with the prospect. The goal of social media is to affect the deal even when you are not in the prospect’s office.

If you want to understand more about how selling YOU is the most crucial part of what you sell, you can reach out to me, and we can discuss. You also may want to purchase my book Eliminate Your Competition from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at the most popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at such retailers as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

Social media is a great tool. It isn’t the entire sale, but it can be a definite difference maker in selling the third and most significant part of what you sell – YOU! So you cannot screw up your social presence. You need to make it work for you. Hootsuite is a great tool that I use, and they regularly advise on using social media. My article here was inspired by their original post. Here are eleven social media mistakes that all salespeople need to avoid:

  1. Overusing hashtags – stop at one or two and make sure they are relevant to what you are saying.
  2. Jumping on every trend – You look foolish when jumping on the buzz-bandwagon for a hot topic, rather than being relevant. Instead, you need to add value, not noise.
  3. Oversharing – You look silly, phony, and pretentious when sharing pics of your breakfast. Remember that your brand is a public figure. Sure, be entertaining, witty, and bold as long as you’re professional, useful, and savvy about what you post for your intended audience.
  4. Not responding to your audience – Social media is about being social (hence the term). When a friend says something to you at a party or when they see you at the grocery store, you don’t just walk by them, do you? You interact with them. Do the same with social media.
  5. Automating thank-you responses. – It is no very easy to hit a button on LinkedIn to say Thank You. Guess what – everyone on LinkedIn knows that you just hit a button. Don’t do it. Type a quick couple of honest words. It takes maybe a minute longer than the quick button and is 1000% more valuable.
  6. Posting for posting’s sake – if you have nothing to say that day, then don’t say anything. Be relevant, not a pest.
  7. Posting rather than talking – It is vital to evolve your social presence to speak to your followers. Don’t just put up a link to an article, explain why it is essential to read. I slightly break this rule for posting to Twitter for items that you wrote, that is okay. But, if you found a great article on WSJ or Forbes or some other business-oriented channel, explain why you are putting it on to your social channel.
  8. Worry less about the number of followers (corollary: Don’t buy likes or followers): It doesn’t do you any good. You need to have a relationship with those that matter to your career. False likes and false followers don’t matter. You won’t make more commission because you have 1,000 false followers!
  9. Don’t post about sex, politics, or religion unless it is to your friends and family on Facebook. Even then, remember it is part of you, and your future employer will read it. If you don’t want your next boss to read it on Facebook, then don’t put it out.
  10. Don’t share only other’s stuff – you need to offer your commentary about the world and your business.
  11. Stop auto-posting the same message. It is okay to repeat a post once or twice separated by a couple of days. These are streams of information, and your followers may easily miss a single post. However, the limit is three duplicates, and they each need to be at least 18-36 hours between posts (or longer). BTW, Hootsuite is an excellent tool for managing this.
Header Photo by juaniraola
9 Reasons Why Your LinkedIn Profile Doesn’t Get Noticed

9 Reasons Why Your LinkedIn Profile Doesn’t Get Noticed

9 Reasons Why Your LinkedIn Profile Doesn’t Get Noticed

From Visually.

 

 

Header Photo by geralt (Pixabay)

 

 

LinkedIn Checklist

LinkedIn Checklist

Use this checklist for auditing your personal LinkedIn profile. Also, use this time to ensure all of the information is up to date.

  • Do you have a professional profile photo?
  • Is your headline detailed and professional?
  • Does your summary include details and rich keywords?
  • Is your contact information available (be careful here as you don’t want to encourage spam)?
  • Does your Public Profile URL include your name?
  • Do you have details about at least your past three positions?
  • Have you include information about your education, your organizations, charities, awards, and other highlights?
  • Do you ask for recommendations and endorsements?
  • Have you asked to be introduced to other professionals?
  • Have you joined at least six LinkedIn organizations, and are you active in them?
  • Do you follow companies that may be future employers?
  • Do you follow companies that you currently do business with or would like to do business with?
  • Is your profile connected to other websites?
  • Are you updating your status regularly?
  • Are you sharing content on LinkedIn that your network can take advantage of?
  • Are you commenting on the updates from others in your network? Hint: Don’t just be a “liker” but instead make relevant comments.
  • Are you continuously reaching out to your network on significant changes to their life?
  • Are you asking 20-30 people a week to join your network on LinkedIn? Hint: do more than say that you saw their profile on LinkedIn.
Header Photo by geralt (Pixabay)