Tag: social selling

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
Send A Newsletter To Your Clients And Prospects

Send A Newsletter To Your Clients And Prospects

A newsletter is the best tool for maintaining a relationship with existing customers and qualified prospects that are uninterested at this time. I suggest that you send out your newsletter at least every quarter, but it would be more effective if you send it every month to your mailing list. I also suggest that you post your newsletter to LinkedIn using their blogging capability.

Of course, sending out a newsletter assumes that you are using a CRM to manage your relationships. If you aren’t using a CRM, you need to start immediately. I have written about CRM strategies in the past if you want a little more background.

Your customers should all receive your newsletter. Your customers need to be constantly cultivated for new business. Also, your customers may change jobs, and you want them to call you immediately. They will only do this if you have been consistently adding value to their working lives. Remember, the only way that you add value to a prospect is by making that prospect smarter. You can help an existing customer a few more ways by offering good customer service, but the most proactive method is to make them smarter.

It is not practical for me to put a template of a newsletter into this blog and have it be useful for every reader but below are some suggested sections:

  • Title/Subject: Make sure your title clearly states that this is a newsletter. Your title will be in your subject line of your email, and it will be at the top of your blog post on LinkedIn. You want your email recipients to know that this is an email to many people.
  • First section: A personal note of about 100-200 words on your industry or the local situation. Don’t be afraid to congratulate the local college for a great sports season. It should be personal and, if your prospects are local, it should be relevant to your geography.
  • Second section: News from your company. This literally could be a copy of a relevant or important press release. If someone in your product marketing group puts out a blog, that can be great content. Just make sure you include a URL link to the original content.
  • Third section: Links with a short description to download some new company content. Perhaps a new whitepaper was published, or a new video on YouTube.
  • Fourth section: This section contains selected paragraphs from a published article. This article should not mention your company but rather be about your industry. You don’t want this article to be a sales pitch, but rather it is included only to make your prospect smarter.
  • Fifth section: Links to upcoming events that you or your company is participating in. If you don’t have any events coming up in the next year, list a few links for events from your partners or maybe industry associations.
  • Sixth section: It may be relevant to have a bit of humor at the bottom of your newsletter. There are several open-source cartoons that you can embed. Of course, you need to be extremely careful that the humor is non-offensive to any demographic group and should be non-political. If you can’t do this well, skip the humor.
  • Seventh section: Give directions on how to unsubscribe and your contact information (including your physical address). This will help to keep you from being black listed by the various agencies that watch for spamming activities. If you use your CRM to create your newsletter or a campaign management tool (see below) then that template or tool should force you to put this into your newsletter.

Somewhere in the newsletter, either in the footer or in your opening section, make sure you invite people to connect to you on LinkedIn.

Building a newsletter is not difficult, but it may be a struggle for you depending on your skills or time constraints. There are a couple of tools that you can use:

  • Use your CRM: In many cases, your CRM will have tools built into the tool that will help you build and manage a newsletter. If it does, it will typically have a series of modifiable templates. This will make your delivery easier. Using that template, customize it to meet your company’s color scheme and then fill in the content on a monthly and quarterly basis.
  • Use a campaign management tool: Tools such as ActiveCampaign, Constant Contact, and Mailchimp are very easy to use if you are familiar with Microsoft Word. They each offer many templates that are easy to customize and save. They also easily accept a CSV import from your CRM or maybe Zapier has a direct integration between your CRM and the campaign management tool. If you want more options than the three that I listed here, simply search the web for “best newsletter tools” and you will see dozens of articles reviewing the industry. Don’t spend too much time reviewing all of the options though as no one is going to buy from you because you use one tool over another. They are all probably very good and you simply need to get used to the one that you choose.
  • Your email: Newsletters do not need to be highly formatted templates. In reality, you can simply create an email using your email client and then send it out your top prospects and customers. Just be very careful that you are not sending spam so don’t send more frequently than monthly. Also, if you use a simple email you should include a way for the receiver to unsubscribe from your list (and you should respect that request). It is better if you have a form that they can fill out but as a minimum you need to include similar to: “If you do not wish to receive this regular newsletter from me, please reply with UNSUBSCRIBE.”
  • Hire a service: There are many services available that will handle all of this work for you. Simply Google “marketing services” and then add your zip code and Google will give you several choices that are very close to you. If you don’t know someone in your immediate network that does marketing services, fill out my contact form and I will give you a couple of options of people that can help you that will do a great job. I personally do not offer this service but I have friends that do.

Start your newsletter today. Keep a schedule. The goal is to keep your name in front of as many people as possible and to start to establish yourself as a Trusted Adviser.

If you want to read more about creating a newsletter, there are probably thousands of articles giving you suggestions. Here are a few that are quite good:

  1. 7 Tips for Creating More Engaging Newsletters
  2. How to Create an Email Newsletter People Actually Read
  3. How to Write a Newsletter
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 Tips To Help You With Time Management

9 Tips To Help You With Time Management

Here are some tips that will now help you develop your time management.

1 – Set goals

I discussed in an earlier article on how to set your goals and you may want to click through are read how to set goals. I am a firm believer that you need to set five goals each for your family, your personal development, and your career.

2 – Find a good time management system and use it.

Everyone is different in how this works. There are lots of blogs out there to help you (here, here, here, here, and here for example). Pick one and stick to it.

3 – Tackle your biggest tasks in the morning.

The different systems out there will give you different advice. However, as a salesperson, your day will almost definitely get crazier as the day goes on. Therefore, every morning you need to make sure you accomplish your number one task before you do anything else. In my opinion, your number one task every day is to make sure that in the next two weeks, you have enough appointments scheduled with your largest opportunities in your pipeline.

4 – Follow the 80-20 rule. Another great time management tip is to use the 80-20 Rule, also known as the Pareto Principle.

In this case, 80% of your revenue is going to come from 20% of your activity. The Pareto Principle reinforces that you need to focus on your big deals as you need to have your 25 people in the Power Matrix covered and comfortable with you, your product, and your company.

5 – Schedule email response times.

Don’t respond to incoming emails until you accomplish your top goals for the day. Yes, this is difficult, but you need to ignore the internal marketing emails and even the emails from your boss until you get your top goal accomplished – get your appointments scheduled for the next two weeks.

6 – Take frequent breaks when working.

If you have an office day, you need to stand up and walk around every 45 minutes. Get a coffee or water. Look outside for a few minutes. Please don’t go out and smoke though because smoking is an almost guaranteed trip to the hospital or the morgue when you get older.

7 – Meditate or exercise every day.

Some time-management gurus will tell you to do this first thing in the morning. This may not be possible for some sales professionals due to interactions with customers or maybe the home office in other time zones. Instead, either workout or meditate (or both) sometime during the day. If morning works for you, that is better, but daily is essential.

8 – Make to-do lists in the evening for the next day.

Before you check out of work for the day, update your task list. If you prefer a piece of paper, then rewrite a clean version for the next day. If you prefer a software-based task list, review it and make sure it is accurate. Make this the last thing you do every day. Make sure that making your goal for appointments per week is one of the top one or two things for the next day.

9 – Turn off social media app alerts.

Every day you will log into social media to make sure you are appropriately communicating to your prospects. You need to create a reputation that you are making them smarter. However, confine this interaction to once in the morning and then once in the afternoon. For your personal social life of looking at cat videos and pictures of your niece – do that in the evening on your own time.

Header Photo by TeroVesalainen (Pixabay)
Sales Is Helping Customers Make The Correct Decision More Quickly

Sales Is Helping Customers Make The Correct Decision More Quickly

Whenever someone buys something, he or she is making a decision. The decision is to spend money in exchange for a product. Following this same logic, it is the job of salespeople to guide and influence this decision process.

It stands to reason that if you are trying to influence someone’s decision-making process, you want to start that effort as early as possible. It is progressively harder to change the decision the later that you start. Eventually, it becomes impossible to reverse the decision.

For instance, if you try to influence the decision one year after the decision is made, you have no chance of success. Your only opportunity that far out is to convince the customer to make a new choice and effectively throw that old decision out. For argument’s sake let’s say that you have 0% of changing the decision.

As we move the timeline earlier, it is probably just as hard to influence the process one month after the decision. You may have more time to achieve this since it might be possible to “return” the purchased product, but even in that case, the original decision is tough to change. As above, let’s assume that this is a 1% chance of happening, but anything past that one month mark is effectively 0%.

Your influence of a prospect’s decision is probably the same throughout the entire month after the decision has been made. Let’s face it you are late.

On the other end of the decision process, before the customer has ever thought about purchasing a product in your space, you probably have the most significant ability to influence the decision (assuming that you have access to the decision maker). Before the decision maker has ever thought of the problem that your product solves, you have the highest ability to influence that decision to be favorable to your product. After all, at that point, your decision maker hasn’t talked to any competitors and hasn’t researched the industry on the Internet. In fact, by this definition, the customer doesn’t even know of the problem!

So in the world of sales professionals where we influence the decision (which is our job) our ability ranges from 100% to 0%, depending on the buying timeframe of our prospect. As we can easily see, as soon as the prospect starts to research the space, our influence begins to dwindle. So it just makes sense that if you want to win more orders (and eliminate your competition), then you need to talking to prospects extremely early in the decision-making process.

The drop-off from a great deal of influence to almost no influence is not a straight line. At the beginning of the process the drop off is slow and then partially through the decision-making process competitors are eliminated, and the choices start to dwindle down. Finally, at the end of the decision-making process, the decision is pretty much made, but the last few steps of the process are to get everyone on board with the decision and perhaps to negotiate the final price.

We need to communicate to prospects early in the decision cycle, but we need to do it effectively and efficiently as we will never be able to predict when the early prospect becomes serious about the benefits that our products provide.

The big challenge is that you need to communicate with your early prospects without spending an inordinate amount of time with them because most of them are not ready to buy, but they are receptive to influence. Your challenge is to communicate with them effectively. Luckily, this is a lot easier in the 21st century that it has ever been. We now have exceptional tools to convey information to prospects quickly, efficiently, and cheaply. These tools are email and social media.

I spend several pages in my book, Eliminate Your Competition, describing how a complex business organization makes a decision. The reason to understand this process is for you, the salesperson, to know where you are in the process and realize that your ability to influence the decision is waning.

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.

Header Photo by Clker-Free-Vector-Images (Pixabay)

 

%d bloggers like this: