Posts Tagged ‘LinkedIn Pulse’

To Engage or Not to Engage, the LinkedIn Quandary

LinkedIn for B2B professionals does matter.  For the last few years I have been conducting my own private research and learned, at least for me, the top 5 reasons why people ask to be connected.

LinkedIn

 

#1 Engagement

The super majority of people (nearly 60%) send me invitations because I have engaged with them or with one of their connections.  Since LinkedIn changed its groups policies, these engagements are overwhelmingly from update posts.  Prior to this change, the invitation outreach was through groups.

Additionally within this reason for connection, I have included those profiles I have visited.  When a second or third degree connection has visited my profile, I usually return the visit.  In quite a few instances, I will then receive an invitation to connect.

#2 LinkedIn Pulse Articles

Even with all the people publishing on Pulse, my articles still continue to drive a significant amount of invitations to my In Box. Right now approximately 25% of all LinkedIn invitations are because of these articles. What I have also observed is quite a few people within this community will follow me first and then extend an invitation to connect.  Content marketing for B2B is a proven marketing method for attracting attention and beginning to build relationships.

#3 Direct Outreach

Sometimes either through a personal one on one meeting, I will receive an invitation to connect or I will send an invitation.  These invitations represent around 7%. Also within this group are those who are connected to one of my first degree connections and believe it may make sense to connect with me as well.

#4 Referrals

As my network has grown, I have begun to see an increase in referrals from other colleagues.  Those within my existing contacts also have made suggestions for others to connect with me. Where in the past this percentage was nominal, today it also hovers around 5%.

#5 Suggestions

Finally, around another 3% of my connections now originate from LinkedIn’s suggestions to connect. This is the smallest percentage. And for me has always been the smallest percentage.

For those engage in social selling or better yet social marketing, then it makes sense to be engaging on LinkedIn.  Share the update posts of others.  Comment on those posts.  My other suggestion is to keep track of those who visit your profile, research their profile to determine if an invitation to connect is warranted.

P.S. Please make sure your LinkedIn Profile is complete and engaging.  Many profiles turnoff more sales leads or prospects than they turn on. And no you do not have to accept all invitations.

 

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How Sales Pitches Keep the Reticular Activator on High Alert

Social media is one of the primary reasons for the increase in sales pitches.  All these usually free social media channels now have conditioned sales leads to be very wary of any inbound marketing messages.  What has really transpired is all these prospecting activities have put the sales lead’s reticular activator on high alert.

sales-pitches

Credit www.pixabay.com

Just as a quick review, the reticular activator is really a system within the human brain that essentially stays on high alert.  The actual name is “reticular formation” and it is located at the core of the brain steam between the medulla oblongata and mid brain.

What happens is the sales lead’s brain first recognizes sales pitches. Then the brain is now on high alert. These marketing messages are immediately discounted.  This might explain why messaging may require updates and changes as people become overly aware or sensitive to certain marketing messages.

The more the salesperson engages in sales pitches on social media the greater the chance to turn off all sales leads.  This is probably why education based marketing now considered influence content marketing continues to grow.

No longer is the salesperson or marketing person sending out buy this or buy that updates, but rather these individuals are  providing interesting, informative and relevant content with the intent to educate and ultimately influence a positive emotional reaction. From this emotional reaction, then a more logical action is taken such as sending a LinkedIn invitation or following the person on Twitter.

Possibly this may also explain some other behavior such as why people are reluctant to leave LinkedIn Pulse posting when directed to click on a link to read the rest of the article.  Their conditioned behavior of being aware has them potentially jaded as to what they may encounter if they leave the LinkedIn posting.

The goal of marketing is to create awareness and begin to build a relationship. Understanding how the human brain works including the reticular activator will support forward thinking salespeople to avoid sales pitches in their marketing and sales conversations.

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Sustainable Sales Success – Tip #19 – Open Mind

Do you believe you have an open mind?  If you truly desire sustainable sales success, then maybe it is time to open your mind to new ideas.

sales-successOne way to engage in keeping an  open mind is to read at least once sales book or a book about your industry, the marketplace or business in general.  If people buy from people they know and trust, your expertise and knowledge helps to build and reinforce that trust.

Another way is to stay open in  your thoughts is to read a variety of blogs, newsfeeds and engage in LinkedIn Pulse or LinkedIn discussion groups.  These interactive opportunities help to challenge the status quo you maybe currently experiencing even without your conscious knowledge.

Of course, not everything you read, see or hear is agreeable to your own beliefs and knowledge.  That is okay.  By being exposed to contrary views, you can improve how you state your position.

For example, some of my colleagues believe salespeople create value.  I don’t believe that to be true. During the last several years I have read several books, blogs and listen to this sales concept that salespeople create value.  This difference in belief has allowed me to better articulate why I believe this is a false belief.

My sense is salespeople confuse value creation with value connection or value clarity. People buy on value unique to them. (My third sales buying rule.) Sometimes salespeople must bring clarity to the sales lead about what is important to him or her.  Another advantage of an mind is it works with emotional intelligence instead of working against it.

Technology is probably one of the greatest impetus for having an open mind.  For salespeople seeking sales success, finding the best sales technology tools such as a CRM is essential.

One of the quotes I continually remember to continue sustainable success for me is this one by Henry Ford:

“If you think you can or you think you cannot, either way you are right.”

 

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How Sales Coaching May Lead to this Unintentional Result

Sales coaching continues to grow from internal coaches, sales managers to the hiring of external coaches.  Yet quite often this unintentional result happens as I was reminded by this statement made by a respected colleague:

Prescription without diagnosis is malpractice.

How can any professional coach worth his or her weight prescribe a solution without using a proven diagnostic tool is counter intuitive. To take this Captain Wing It action lessens the overall proven effectiveness of sales coaching, executive coaching, leadership coaching or business coaching. This statement is also true for workplace culture consulting to talent management.

sales-coaching

Credit www.gratisography.com

Imagine for a moment going to the doctor with a headache.  The doctor listens to your complaint and says “you need immediate brain surgery.”  No tests had been ordered. Not even a thorough examination was undertaken.  He listened and then prescribed.  Probably you would have walked or even ran out of his office seeking a second opinion.

When speaking with sales leads who are seeking sales coaching, I explain my coaching process and how it always begins with an assessment to better diagnosis the real problems and not the symptoms many others solve. Sometimes the sales lead does not want the assessment and that is okay because his or her refusal tells me he or she is not a right fit for my coaching approach.

Without the use of a proven diagnostic tool such as a psychometric assessment, the coach is assuming what he or she is hearing is accurate. Additionally the lack of a diagnostic tool weakens or totally eliminates the coaching plan and supporting process.  This lack of clarity dooms the desired results for both the coachee and the coach.

Read about how many diagnostic tools (psychometric assessments) are not proven in this LinkedIn Pulse Posting.

For example, one of the questions I ask any coaching sales lead is “If you were being interviewed for a job and asked to share your strongest talent, what would you say?”  I wait for the response and then ask this second question “How do you truly know you do that well because my experience is 98.7% of the people I have coached do not know what they do well?”

The second question is the one that justifies why my sales coaching process is different from many others.  So if you are considering hiring a coach internally or externally, it just may make sense to begin with a proven diagnostic (psychometric assessment) to ensure your coach is not committing malpractice.

Download 78-core-talents-self-eval-dl to self rank your own 78 talents and take advantage of a special offer.

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The Forgotten Word in Social Media

Social media has taken front and center stage in the B2B marketplace.  Yet as another report, the 2016 State of Social Business,  has revealed this one word – engagement – appears to be necessary in the digital marketing evolution. Yet from my experience in working with B2B salespeople and SMB owners this word is dramatically missing.

social-mediaHow many times do you receive an invite from LinkedIn and just accept it?  Do you make an effort to go beyond the initial acceptance to physically speak with that new LinkedIn connection?

Or what about those who like, share or comment on your LinkedIn Pulse posting to your blog content?  Again, what efforts do you make to engage in further conversations with these individuals?

Then there is the constant stream on Twitter where people maybe retweeting your posts.  Do you ever thank them or acknowledge their efforts?

How to engage people should be part of this social media integration.  People buy from people they know and trust.  People can’t know you until you authentically engage with them.  As the old expression goes, reach out and touch someone.

In the sales world, the quick fix has always been present.  Technology has opened up this world of social media and coined a new term social selling.  Old habits are hard to break and social selling for many translates into social sales pitches.

From this report, the shift is to integrator which requires considerable strategic thinking.  To be efficient and effective from a strategic perspective requires a strategic plan.  Unfortunately, many SMB owners have never invested in creating a comprehensive strategic plan.  Instead they believe a marketing plan is all they need.  BIG MISTAKE!

Additionally, building deeper relationships through engagement is the held as the second of five top external objectives by 53% of those who responded. Internally, closing the people and process gaps in this social business evolution is critical with the development of new skills leading these internal objectives.

Engagement is the bridge between marketing and selling regardless of the platform.  Within social business, the digital marketing trend will return back to the buyer and his or her experience.

Remember: No one wants to be sold be it face to face; tweets, LinkedIn Pulse Postings or updates, podcasts or blogs.

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Faith in Sales, in You and Your Solutions

A colleague of mine, Elinor Stutz, shared an article on LinkedIn Pulse in which she discussed a sales tip about commitment. She then went on to articulate numerous actions to ensure commitment. I added in my comments that having faith in sales is also important.

faith-in-salesFaith in sales means you first have faith in your overall sales process.  Have you invested the time to hone your process including marketing, selling and keeping? In today’s market, many focus only on selling and end up making sales pitches before the marketing phase has been successfully completed.

Yesterday I received a LinkedIn invitation from a complete stranger who wanted me to review his book.  He shared he had hired a researcher to find people who reviewed similar books.  From my perspective, he violated the number one basic buying rule: People buy from people they know and trust.

Peter Drucker said (paraphrasing) when marketing is done well selling is effortless.  Bad marketing makes selling that much harder.

Do you have faith in yourself?  Have you invested the time to improve your interpersonal skills to sales skills?

Do you have faith in your sales solutions?  Are your solutions sustainable or just another quick fix solving a symptom instead of the real problem?

I am reminded of the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  Jones had to take a leap or a step of faith to cross a wide and deep chasm that do not appear to have any bridge. Yet the bridge was there all along.  He just couldn’t see it.  In Stutz’s post she reminds us of the following:

“Progressing through the darkest tunnels leads to our brightest light.”

Faith in sales is what works with us to progress through those dark tunnels to lead to that bright light of sales success.  For without faith, we are truly lost.  Faith goes beyond confidence. Faith is something unexplainable because it defies reason and logic.

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Time to Fall Clean Your Marketing Toolbox

Fall is here.  Now is the perfect time to clean out your marketing toolbox and refresh it for the forthcoming last quarter of this year and the first quarter of next year. So what is currently in your toolbox?

marketingUpon opening your toolbox, you will have a removable upper tray that contains your lightweight marketing tools. Down below is a larger compartment to hold those heavier tools.  All of your tools have a cost.

For example, your lightweight tools include your elevator speech, business cards, stationery from envelopes to letterheads, brochures, postcards, postage, promotional items or giveaways CDs or DVD’s, Costs for these tools range from pennies to hundreds of dollars.

The heavier tools at the bottom of your toolbox have a lot of variety.  There are speeches that you can deliver to local organizations or to larger conference audiences.  Printed books such as Be the Red jacket or Fail-Safe Leadership along with published articles are always effective heavy marketing tools. Paid advertising, membership in referral groups, local chambers and other B2B networking groups are other heavy tools.  Finally, there is that all important website. And let us not forget your blog or other social content marketing channels such as LinkedIn Pulse.  These heavy tools costs hundreds to thousands of dollars, but may also provide you a steady stream of passive income.

When you analyze all the costs within your toolbox, you will be amazed at the total investment. For some this may quickly exceed $50,000. Whatever the costs, the results from these tools deliver must be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure their value.

Is your 30-second elevator speech effective?  How about your 60 second and three minute elevator speeches? If no one is seeking you out after you deliver your infomercial, then it is definitely time to refresh that tool. Have you updated your website to make it search engine friendly? By being proactive now will keep you from being reactive later.

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Add Amplification to Your Sales Strategies

Sales strategies abound in today’s B2B and B2C markets.  In many instances, the larger firms are ahead of the flow when it comes to including a new sales strategy into their sales playbook.  Smaller firms especially those with under 50 employees lack the exposure to many of these up and coming ways to increase sales.

sales-strategiesAmplification is one such sales strategy that is often overlooked by SMB owners and sales professionals.  This was quite evident during a discussion yesterday at the SouthShore Business Networking group.

I shared how by belonging to a community of like minded sales professionals I was able to amplify this recent LinkedIn Pulse article – Great Coaches Are Equal to Top Sales Performers.  I published this article on Friday, September 30, 2016.  On Monday I shared it within one community. By Wednesday am, the results from LinkedIn were impressive:

  • 257 Views
  • 50 Likes
  • 7 Comments
  • 22 Shares

Ninety percent of those who shared it had over 500 connections or 20×500 equals 10,000. Add this to my 2,500 connections and the amplification was four fold.

Many of these same individuals also shared it on Twitter.  A quick glance of the first 12 people who shared this article revealed amplification of over 10 fold to my current Twitter followers of 11,663.

Amplification through just one community increased my marketing reach from approximately 14,000 to over 150,000.  The best part of this sales strategy was it cost me absolutely nothing.

Discovering sales strategies that are cost effective and deliver measurable results is in many instances one of trial and error.  Amplification works. Probably the major obstacle is building a community of like minded individuals who recognize amplification is not a one way street.

As with other sales strategies amplification must be aligned to existing marketing strategies within the sales process such as content marketing.  To engage in this sales strategy without having a well thought of strategic plan is not forward thinking and will not be as effective as it could be.

Read Fail-Safe Leadership to better understand how misalignment impacts sustainable business growth.

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Before You Make That Request for a Guest Sales Blog Post

sales-blogToday I received another request for a guest sales blog post.  This individual was from Chicago and said he was a salesperson.  He also indicated he would send me some samples of his writing.

Several times a week I receive unsolicited requests from complete strangers to post an article in this sales blog.  The requests are very polite and all read very similarly.  I wonder if they paid for some course on how to approach blog owners?

Making a request is in all actuality making a sales pitch.  Very few people like sales pitches out of the blue from complete strangers.

People buy from people they know and trust.  If I don’t know you, I am probably quite unwilling to give you the opportunity to use my blog platform as a way for you to gain new business (increase sales), find a job or add to your contact list.

Depending on traffic, this sales blog and website receive an Alexa ranking between 150,000 and 200,000 here in the U.S.  The Worldwide the Alexa ranking ranges currently between 800,000 and 900,000. Given its relatively good traffic with over 152 million blogs on the Internet, unsolicited requests from my perspective suggest these individuals want to use my years of effective content marketing to their advantage.

Several of my colleagues do accept unsolicited articles for their sales blogs provided the author is willing to pay $250 or more.  Their reasoning is the requesting writer wants to use their established content marketing vehicle and therefore should pay for it.

Possibly a better approach would be to reach out to me on LinkedIn and begin to develop a relationship. This is called marketing. Another marketing tactic would be to comment on this blog or some other article I have written such as this one on LinkedIn Pulse, 7 Top Tips to Hire & Keep Rock Star Salespeople.

By reaching out to the owner of any sales blog first before making a sales pitch shows that you respect her or his time. Reading unsolicited writing samples takes time. Time is something all entrepreneurs jealously guard.

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The Old Gray Mare, Your Sales Funnel, Ain’t What She Used to Be

The sales funnel has dramatically changed because of the Internet and technology.  New research from McKinsey Decision Surveys revealed consumers are moving outside of the marketing and sales funnel with its traditional touch points. The findings reaffirm the marketing goal to reach sales leads at the moments that most influence their decision to buy. This is true for both B2C and B2b sales leads.

sales-funnelOver ten years ago,  I remember making a statement the marketing funnel is actually more like a web where there are far more touch points. These touch points can be direct through email marketing or paid advertising to more indirect through content marketing to social media sites such as LinkedIn. This report recognized the shift away from one way communication, product or sales based marketing to more two way engagement.

With additional research from the Corporate Executive Board suggesting 57% of the B2B buying decision is made before talking to any salesperson confirms how the sales funnel has evolved. Today’s buyer is more educated and more self directed in his or her solution research.

The challenge for 97.7% of all US business owners who have under 20 employees is how to adapt their sales funnel to the educated buyer who left that old gray mare and is now riding a far faster, more energized and agile marketing vehicle.  This challenge is even greater when the majority of these SMB owners have failed to engage in any strategic planning. They are still unknowingly riding that tired old gray mare.

Yes the sales funnel has changed.  I know this to be true because over 50% of my sales leads come from providing quality content through this blog and my LinkedIn Pulse articles. My sales leads are much more educated than when I first opened my executive coaching and talent development organization nearly 20 years ago.

If you are a SMB owner or a salesperson, this may be the time to rethink your sales funnel and dismount from that old gray mare. Remember as the buggy whip went out when transportation changed, your current sales funnel will evolve as marketing and sales continue to change.

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