How do you prefer to buy? Do you want to be badgered by endless phone calls, emails and direct mail? Do you want to hear someone plead their case, make silly small talk and hope you’ll crack?
Are you waiting for a salesperson to call out of the blue?
Probably, not so much.
And yet, you show up for work on Monday and slog through the next five days hoping that strategy works for you. You do your best to sound interesting and interested; you make silly small talk, hoping someone will give you ten minutes of their already insane day so you can persuade them to meet with you.
Well, it’s your job and it’s what you’ve been told to do. And because you have KPIs to reach, quotas to meet and exceed (crush, as my kids would say) and managers, shareholders and spouses to please.
Guess what? Today, you need something more. Something beyond the force within you, even beyond the wind at your back.
And, the moment you take the foot off the gas pedal you slow down, even stop in your tracks. You need to accelerate, not just engage. Understand that the rules of engagement have changed and adapting is ultimately easier than either the status quo or fighting against the tide. Today, social selling is a key component of creating conversations, finding points of entry and closing business. It’s finding buyers on their terms, not yours.
First, let’s define social selling. Koka Sexton, LinkedIn’s Global Senior Social Marketing Manager describes social selling in his blog post “The Rise of Social Selling” as,“leveraging your professional brand to fill your pipeline with the right people, insights and relationships.”
To our point, it’s less about social media and all about you.
Studies show that 84% of complex B2B deals start with an introduction of vendor to purchaser*. That’s an example of social selling. Someone (prospect) needs something and asks their network (their CEO advisory group, their board, their team members, their golf or bookclub buddies). It’s often that simple.
75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-level/Vice-President executives surveyed use social media to make purchasing decisions.
Online professional networks are the number 1 information preference of buyers in the final stage of the purchase process.
If you understand and implement social selling, this is your time. If you want to make sure you have the traits of a social seller, download 5 Traits of Social Sellers from Sales Benchmark Index. (full disclosure: you will have to provide some information to download).
So what to do?
Give something of value away and they continue to come back for more.
As a salesperson (even if sales is not your full-time role, read on) your primary goal is to begin conversations, provide insight, understand their problem and find the point where what they need intersects with your products and services. This is just good business, it’s not superior sales skills. It’s good common sense.
Start conversations with more than just the people you think are important.
It’s not one or two or three conversations with three or four prospects. The funnel or pipeline always needs to be full. It needs to be bursting with good activity and the accelerating force (you) needs to understand the cycles and rhythms of bringing business to fruition. It’s your role, it’s what you do.
One of our clients, a marketing consultant remarked just the other day that “we can’t take the foot off of the marketing pedal”. When we do, it’s a bit like hitting the brake pedal. Failing to accelerate on either the sales activity or the content marketing creates problems. It slows down sales. Sales is the fundamental key to business growth.
Build your professional network to build your lead base
And, guess what? If only 30% of qualified leads come from your marketing department that means you are responsible for 70% of your leads, and perhaps, the company’s best leads. Why? You can influence them more directly. You may have a connection to them and a referral or introduction is stronger than someone downloading a piece of content. LinkedIn data shows sales professionals who use LinkedIn for social selling are 51% more likely to exceed their sales quota than sales professionals who don’t use LinkedIn for social selling.
Create a plan
So while content creates the potential for engagement, it’s people who accelerate the engagement from content to closed business in most B2B sales environments (we’re not talking about buying online apps). It’s YOU, as I mentioned in a previous post – Remarkable People Trump Remarkable Content, that delivers the greatest insight in any given sales situation, it’s the wisdom you’ve gained through experience and understanding pitfalls and landmines.
While your marketing department supports you with good content in the way of articles, posts, seminars, webinars and social mentions, you set your own plan into action. Develop your own leads, build your own network. Everyone on our team is heads up, meeting, talking, connecting the dots. Why? Everyone is in business development today and each person has access to the tools that make the most sense today. Have a sales plan, short and long-term goals, LinkedIn and some sort of CRM. (A good attitude, intentionality, and a good sense of humor are also helpful).
Over the next couple of posts I’m going to share how LinkedIn will add to and significantly increase your pipeline or funnel and help you reach those seemingly insurmountable sales goals, KPIs and master the art of accountability and productivity.
You will need to pay to play. If you’ve been considering an upgrade to your LinkedIn account or are upgraded, come join me. I’ll get started in our next post. If you’re still considering an upgrade, read Lindsey’s recent post, Advantages of a LinkedIn Premium Subscription.
If you feel like you are going it alone, you’re trying to implement these new strategies and the powers that be just aren’t tracking with you, share this post and the links provided. It’s real data and it’s working for those that work it.
My next post will cover LinkedIn’s new Sales Navigator including how we are using it at Intero, internally, and with our clients. Read more about Sales Navigator at TechCrunch’s review here. See you next week.