99 Problems BUT Prospecting On LinkedIn Ain’t 1

99 Problems BUT Prospecting on LinkedIn Ain't 1

99 Problems BUT Prospecting on LinkedIn Ain’t 1

“Aren’t you sharp as a tack.  Are you some type of lawyer or something/ or somebody important or something?/

Nah I ain’t passed the bar but I know a little bit/ enough so you won’t illegally search my shhhhh!”

Artist: Jay Z  Song: 99 Problems

On April 2, 2014 Koka Sexton, Sr. Social Marketing Manager at LinkedIn, posted an article titled, “How I Met Your Prospect on LinkedIn.”  This post grabbed the attention of several sales professionals.  Imagine if your competitor met your prospect on LinkedIn, developed a relationship, and closed them right underneath your nose?  How would you feel if your competitor started picking off your biggest customers one by one using social selling techniques?  You’re asking, how could this happen?  Why did this happen?  Who broke the sales laws?  Let me stop you right there.  No laws, ordinances, guidelines, or rules were broken when that customer decided to do business with your competition.  The competition worked smarter.  They knew that you were out cold calling, doing drop offs, having telephonic phone blitz, and offering them incentives like baseball game tickets…doing sales 1.0 strategies.  The competition 10x’d their game, and proved to the customer that they are a resource using social selling tactics that worked.  These social selling tactics allowed them to get pass the gatekeeper and develop a relationship with the decision maker.  Don’t take my words for it.  Pick up Josiane Chriqui Feigon’s book which is the 2014 AA-ISP Sales Book of the Year titled, Smart Sales Manager, and turn to page 11, chapter 1, as she quotes The DemandGen report, “Breaking out of the Funnel,” that “ 48 percent of customers followed industry conversations on the topic.”  She drops another gem quoting, “37 percent posted questions on social networking sites looking for suggestions and feedback…41 percent researched papers and postings from thought leaders.”

Think connecting with your customers and prospects is inappropriate?  Think again.  If you are not connecting with customers, you can bet your commission check that a competitor is connecting with them today. (see who’s connecting on LinkedIn by clicking here)  Don’t be afraid to include social media probes in your standard discovery process.  Asking your customer if they are on LinkedIn or any other social media platform can be the first step in developing a lifelong customer relationship.  Just ask the question, “Are you on LinkedIn or Facebook?”

Recently during a customer meeting, I witness a savvy sales professional asked the question, “Are you on LinkedIn or Facebook?”  She followed up the response letting the customer know that many people in the industry rely on her as a resource.  She informed the customer that she provides helpful insights spanning across multiple business needs that companies face in their day to day operations.  Sounds like an big bold statement?  Think again.  What insights can a sales professional have beyond the current solution they are pitching?  Ryan Maher explains these insights very well in his post, “Forget Cold Calls: 10 Ways to Make Hot Contacts.”  In his Solve a Problem section of the post he states, “tips on leadership, hiring, motivation, productivity improvement, cost control, technology, and any other topics that are relevant to the recipient’s job function.”  Sales professionals insights are not restricted to the solutions their company provides.  These insights can include knowledge of vacant office spaces if the company is planning to move, best restaurants for client meetings, and anything that could impact a business from revenue generation strategies to the most mundane yet necessary exercises that every business performs.  The action item here is take your knowledge and share it with your customers beyond the solution you are pitching.  This will prove to them that you 1) have their best interest in mind 2) you care about their business 3) you are a connector to other resources and 4) you are valuable and worthy of their time.

Include your core industry knowledge that you have and how you can Provide Actionable Communication with Knowledge (*check out the PAC(w)K post).  You can post relevant industry articles, infographics, whitepapers, and your product marketing collateral.  I like to do a 3+1 method of PAC(w)K.  This means for every three articles I share or post, I like to season in our own marketing collateral.   This shows the customers that you are not solely pushing your product 24/7 and you are sharing relevant information that is worthy of their attention.  This will make you invaluable to you customer over time.  You will be the ultimate resource and person of knowledge they seek out for assistance.  Sounds like an abundance of selling opportunities on the horizon, right? You betcha!

So how are you separating yourself from the pack? Are you THAT person customers see as a resource, industry knowledge expert, and thought leader if you are not employing social selling in your sales process? If you are a no show on social media and using outdated sales 1.0 tired baseball tickets tactics, do you think your customers see you as the “go-to person” to address their current and future business challenges?  Do you want to meet your competitors customers, build a relationship with them, and acquire them as new business?  I know I do.  You can start this process by asking the simple question to you customers, “Are you on LinkedIn or Facebook?”  NOTE: what if you customer is not on any social media platform? Craig Jamieson’s post, “What If Your Prospects Are Not Using Social Media?”  gives essential steps on how to deal with these few customers.

Need help creating more social media probes in your discovery process or want to learn more about social selling to generate leads, get to the decision maker, and close more deals?  Contact us at insidesalesmagic.com.  We can help you get started.

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Nuclear Physicist, Stunt Double, Astronaut, Farmer, Plumber…all and more are on LinkedIn. So why aren’t you connecting?

CJ Webster @insidesalemagic

CJ Webster @insidesalemagic

We turned up in the studio late night/
That’s why the songs that you hear are comin’ real tight

Song: Who Do You Love
Artist: YG and Drake

LinkedIn has the world’s largest professional network with over 277 million users and increasing users every day. So I wanted to test things out and see what type of professionals are on LinkedIn. I did this because a common objection and miss conception by some sales professionals is that “my customer is not on LinkedIn.” I have also heard, “my customers are very private and they are not that tech savvy to be on LinkedIn.” Another one I have heard is, “LinkedIn is for people looking for jobs. I don’t think anyone is on there that is a decision maker.”

Okay, so to help my fellow sales professionals step into Sales 2.0 I did some research on LinkedIn statistics. I also ran some fun outrageous searches to demonstrate that 1) for the most part, EVERYONE is on LinkedIn 2) LinkedIn is a tool that you can connect with people in every vocation known and 3) jump on the connection bandwagon before you get left in the cold because more sales professionals are using social selling (LinkedIn) to build relationships, generate leads, and turn cold calls into warm calls. So why aren’t you connecting?

Using statistical stats from Craig Smith of Digital Marketing Ramblings (DMR) along with my fun outrageous searches I believe after you read this you will jump to action and start connecting to build your network. Trust me, you will reap the benefits of taking time to grow your network.

DMR states that LinkedIn has 84 Million U.S. users. I ran a search for Stunt Doubles and found over 100+ Stunt Doubles. Hmmm, if I were looking for stunt doubles I now know they are on LinkedIn. There are 2.1 million groups in LinkedIn. You think there is a group for Stunt Doubles? I bet they do have one and all you have to do is join it. Your next step is to actively participate in the discussion to show you are a resource. This is one way to grow your network.

My curiosity started growing after the first search so I ran a query for NASA Astronauts. I admit that I don’t know anyone that is an astronaut but I did a search and yep, I found them on LinkedIn. I’m thinking about connecting with them to get some dry ice cream. 40% of users check LinkedIn daily. This means that sales professionals have a huge opportunity to deliver meaningful content that will get seen by decision makers. This beats knocking on doors and leaving “leave behinds” or your business card with the office manager. We all know where those “leave behinds” and business cards go…Chateau De Trash Can.

Let’s see what happens when I run a search for Nuclear Physicist. You think these guys are on LinkedIn? There are more than 300+ on LinkedIn. I’m going to connect with them and build a Sales 2.0 flux capacitor for the DeLorean sales approach being used by those not utilizing social selling. We are going to usher them into the new world of sales and update those 1985 tactics. There are 200 conversations per minute occurring in LinkedIn groups. I have a hunch that customers are doing research, learning about solutions, and making buying decisions. You can become part of the conversation if you are connected and join in the discussion.

Feeling really curious, I ran a search looking for Farmers, Plumbers, and Butlers. Ha! They were all on LinkedIn. It’s pretty conclusive to me that any and everyone is on LinkedIn so why not use this valuable resource to help you connect with your customers and “ski downhill” versus “swimming upstream?” No matter what industry you are in, your customers and decision makers are on LinkedIn and they are connecting. LinkedIn has over 1500 School and University profiles. I bet you that professors, and school administrators are on LinkedIn. BTW, I have found Judges, Mayors, and even Press Secretaries on LinkedIn.

Here are some more DMR stats on LinkedIn. The stats are pretty impressive and you have an opportunity to take advantage of this to grow your network, connect with customers, build your pipeline, and close deals.

• LinkedIn more than 277 million total users.
• 41% of LinkedIn visits is via mobile.
• LinkedIn is available in over 20 languages.
• Every second there are two new LinkedIn members joining the network.
• The average number of groups a LinkedIn user joins is seven.
• There are 8000 new groups created weekly.

The message is pretty clear. Start connecting and growing your network. (thanks DMR for the LinkedIn statistics)

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Connect with me on LinkedIn at CJ Webster

Stay updated on new blog post at inside sale magic and check out our last post, PAC(w)K = Provide Actionable Communication with Knowledge. PAC(w)K gives you guidance on how to build and strengthen relationships efficiently in your sales/professional role as well as your personal life.


PAC(w)K It Up!!!

CJ Webster @insidesalemagic

CJ Webster @insidesalemagic

What does Ben Horowitz and I have in common? We both love hip-hop and have a blog. So in Ben’s Blog style, I’m adding a lyrical quote to my blog.
Here’s the rules: chop it, bag it, stash it, stack it.
Get in, get out – that’s an O.G.’s classic.
Song: 1-900-Hustler Artist: Jay-Z

PAC(w)K It Up!

We sat at the edge of our chairs, legs locked and core engaged as if we were at the bottom movement of a squat. Our eyes were focused at center of the room, listening eagerly to one of the many messages that would change our professional and personal lives at the University of Notre Dame. Our professor addressed our EMBA class in South Bend, Indiana. On this day, his class would transcend beyond the needs of driving revenue performance, shareholder value, and blossom into a resource we could use in all aspects of our lives, both professional and personal. It was on that day, that all 60 of us learned how to create and maintain relationships with a purpose. PAC(w)K is an acronym for Providing Actionable Communication with Knowledge. Obviously with this being a sales blog, I will explain the concept with a sales slant, but you can take these same steps and use it beyond sales as it truly extends to all aspects of business and personal lives.

What is PAC(w)K?
Providing Actionable Communication with Knowledge (PAC(w)K) is a concept you can use to create, establish, maintain, strengthen, and nurture any relationship you have with another professional or person in your life. Think about that prospect you have in your current pipeline. You conducted a demo, or given a proposal to them and suddenly what you thought was a slam dunk deal forecasted for the month is now in jeopardy because the prospect/customer has gone radio silent on you. They are no longer returning your calls, and not answering your emails. You are thinking, “What’s up? I thought this was going to happen.” You start recalling your conversation with the prospect because you are questioning what could you have done better. Why are they not responding to your communication? Chances are you probably did execute the first appointment, demo, and proposal meeting well. But, did you connect with them on a professional or personal level to truly understand the needs and wants of their business as well as what motivates them? During these moments of silence, reps go crazy trying to figure out how to get the attention of prospects. They send emails with lowered pricing or extra add-ons in an attempt to sweeten the deal. They also continue to call, drop in, and leave messages with product specific information hoping the prospect looks up and responds. PAC(w)K assists in decreasing the radio silence. PAC(w)K helps you know what your prospects care about professionally and personally. PAC(w)K gives you an advantage because it gives you an overall better relationship with your customers. Having a better relationship with your customers will create more selling opportunities than you can ever imagine.

First rule of PAC(w)K is to have genuine interest in the relationship you desire to cultivate and nurture. This is important because you cannot PAC(w)K everyone. There is a limit to the people you can PAC(w)K.

Second rule of PAC(w)K is to think about the 10 – 20 relationships you want to create, establish, maintain and nurture. These are the people that you will communicate or PAC(w)K as frequently and naturally as the relationship grows. Think about those key decision makers in the key targets accounts you are trying to win.

Third rule of PAC(w)K is to recall the conversation you had with them and what needs, concerns, or interest revealed. Think beyond the sale. Go passed your product and your interest to get to what is the driving force behind their need. Apply the same thought to them as a professional. Use your tools, social media, and the internet to learn more about them. There is tons of information out there. Use it, learn from it, and apply it to your strategy when you communicate with them.

Fourth rule of PAC(w)K is to take what you learned from the third rule and support it with substantial information. This is where you want to use resources like Pulse from LinkedIn (personal favorite) , Flipboard app, news and magazine resources, and thought provoking messages like TedTalks, and Kahn’s Academy. Remember the first rule of PAC(w)K is to have genuine interest so be open to all forms of information. It can be a comic strip or a funny youtube video. Let the relationship you are developing establish the boundaries of the information you are using. As the relationship grows so will the boundaries because you are consistently learning more about your customer’s interests.

Fifth rule of PAC(w)K is to never forget the first rule. It is not about your interests. It’s about the interests and needs of the other person.
How often do you PAC(w)K? Is it once a week, monthly, or quarterly? The truly depends on the relationship and natural flow of information. I have some people I PAC(w)K weekly because our relationship has evolved to that level of communication and others I PAC(w)K quarterly. Sales professionals, I think you will need to read the situation first and then start applying the PAC(w)K rules to enhance your communication to the prospect.

Applying the PAC(w)K
PAC(w)K is the easiest thing to do. You can do it with a phone call, text, an email, a letter and more. You can use LinkedIn, facebook, and other social media as well. Variety is best used when dripping. I opt for using the phone or email so I can ensure that my message is specific to the person. Social media like linkedIn and facebook are powerful because you can share articles and TedTalks. Kim Nicol, who is building a meditation business, targeted to professionals in the legal industry around mindfulness uses social media to PAC(w)K her clients. She shares articles and her blog to reach and stay connected to her clients.

Can you have two PAC(w)K list?
I have a professional PAC(w)K list and a personal one. I have ten people on each list. These are the people and relationships that I deemed valuable and ones I’m working to maintain.
Now you know the rules and how to apply it…what are you waiting on. Create your list and PAC(w)K it up!

P.S.
1. Check out the 6th Annual AA-ISP Leadership Summit happening in Chicago, April 6th – 8th. You will learn from the best experts in sales at this meeting.
2. Looking to take your financial intelligence to another level? My dear friend, Jackie Koski wrote a book, titled Money Letters 2 My Daughter. It is an excellent book that will educate you about money. It is also the perfect book for anyone graduating from high school or college.


Friday is NOT National Contract Signing Day

CJ Webster @insidesalemagic

CJ Webster @insidesalemagic

Giving a deadline to receive signed paperwork on Friday? Think again my friend. Contrary to sales professional legend, Friday is NOT National Contract Signing Day for sales professionals and customers. It’s not even a hallmark holiday! Plus, most businesses are open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and AH YES…Friday. So why narrow your window on getting back a signed contract to the last day of the work week? This also falls in line with giving deadlines at the end of the month. Why do it? Did you know that of the 260 work days in 2013, there are only 53 Fridays? That’s 20% of the work week and it’s the bottom of the work week. That narrow time frame often leads to customers leaving the office early, not coming in the office at all, increase procrastination, and easy avoidance from sales professionals. This all adds up to miss forecasts, zero weeks, and your ticket into the Chasing Customer For Signed Paperwork Marathon. Want to increase your success and take your game to the next level?

Start by setting up close appointments on Monday. Who doesn’t walk around proudly with a huge smile when they start the week off with a signed contract? It just feels good! It takes the pressure off, and gives you momentum.

Secondly, set proper expectations up front and get the customer’s buy in. Be specific and spell out when you will meet and what the purpose of the meeting will be. This puts you in a position of power and it is up to you to make sure the meeting is not on one of those 53 Fridays – keep in mind we want to avoid those days if we can. Remember, you have 80% of the work week (M – TH) that you can use to schedule a close meeting. If your service or solution involves training of any sort, provide your customer with an implementation plan with set dates and times. Doing this helps you move the sale along the funnel, and keeps your customer engaged in the sales process. In addition, it is a great strategy to show customers that you will aid them in their transition from previous solution to the new solution and that helps you find new issues that will create new opportunities for your business – it’s a continuous cycle with endless commission awaiting you.

Lastly, make a rule that you will not conduct closing appointments on Friday, unless it is absolutely necessary. This does not mean that you take every Friday off. It means that you take control of two things. The first is take control of your calendar and remain discipline to your weekly objectives. To be specific, your calendar is not always open. Plan your activity and work your closing meetings into that schedule with the agreed consensus of your customer. Don’t be foolish, if the customer can only meet you on a certain date and time, and you can make it work, then make it work. What I am stressing is managing your activity in a manner that yields the best results for your time and business. Said differently, as you are closing a deal, you will need to replace it with 2 – 3 opportunities so you must continue to move deals along and grow your funnel. It is not a one for one ratio where you close one deal and you add one new opportunity. Most opportunities to close ratios are several opportunities to one closed contract.

Here’s to getting out of the gate fast in Q2 and no longer observing every Friday as National Contract Signing Day.

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Next post coming up… state capitals and sales metrics…huh? You’ll get the connection in seven days.

Happy selling my friends.