Posts Tagged ‘LinkedIn’

I Have 13,000 LinkedIn Connections Now Justifies Bad Marketing

Bad marketing is rampant on LinkedIn. Yesterday after accepting a second degree connection, I received a message to read his article and get on the pre-order list for his book.  My response was:

So you reached out to me to make a sales pitch? Not the best use of LinkedIn. I will be disconnecting from you. Possibly next time attempt to establish a more personal relationship before the sales pitch.

He then said “The article is free.”  I responded “But the pre-order is not.” His comeback response once again reflected he is clueless about marketing:

Correct. I have over 13,000 connections. I have been forced to compress the “establishment of personal relationships” somewhat. No offense was intended.

Hmm, “forced to compress the establishment of personal relationships, somewhat.”  Double speak and makes sense since he teaches at the college level.

Real world translation is:

“I don’t have time for you to get to know and trust me. Just pre-order my book because I have 13,000 contacts.”

Personally I don’t care if this individual or anyone else has over 13,000 or 50,000 LinkedIn connections.  Plain and simple this type of email marketing is bad marketing.

Unfortunately social media has only worsened the problem of bad marketing.  People fail first to have a sales process and second fail to walk through that sales process without skipping steps. They believe they can send a sales pitch without developing any personal relationship.

The first phase of any sales process is marketing.  Here is where you as the salesperson get to know the sales lead and hopefully the sales lead is qualified.

If you are fortunate you are invited for a face to face meeting or even a phone call.  Now you are entering the second phase of the sales process – selling.

By listening and asking the “right questions,” you further learn the sales lead’s situation and may discover not only wants and needs, but more importantly what this potential ideal customer values.  Then you can connect your solution to his value drivers.

If you wish to increase sales, stop with the bad marketing (sales pitches), stop with justifying bad marketing and look to build real, authentic, personal relationships.

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Are You Missing this “A” in Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing has truly been a blessing for 97.7% of all U.S. businesses with under 20 employees. These SMBs with limited resources (people, time and dollars) can now take advantage of grabbing the attention of their sales leads and beginning to build a relationship.

Content marketing further allows these sales hungry professionals to further educate and differentiate their businesses from their competitors.  Yet, these same forward thinking sales leaders are forgetting this essential “A” in their 21st century social media marketing.

So what is that “A?”

Amplification

The plethora of social media channels allows for one message to be shared (think amplified) and this amplification costs nothing. Unfortunately, the super majority of SMB owners and sales professionals fail to build amplification communities.

Imagine for a moment you have 1,000 twitter followers.  The average number of followers is 707. Then consider the impact of building an amplification community of 10 other liked minded professionals who have at least 1,000 followers. Your message has now been amplified 10 fold.

LinkedIn allows people to follow you and becomes a potentially “de facto” amplification. Here other professionals can share your updates to your LinkedIn articles.  Sometimes you may need to encourage others to share your postings through a direct request on an article or through internal LinkedIn emails.

Facebook and Google Plus also allow for your postings to be shared.  The challenge is how to get others to share your marketing message. The answer is to build your own amplification community.  You may have several different communities depending upon your target audience and your solutions.

There are other tools to help with your amplification such as Hootsuite or Hubspot. These sites provide the opportunity to make multiple postings of the same content marketing message.

Remember, there are thousands of SMBs seeking to grab attention.  By understanding how to amplify your social media marketing messages will increase sales.

 

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Are You An Authentic or Just Charismatic Sales Leader?

Would you rather be an authentic or a charismatic sales leader?  This early Saturday morning question surfaced as I read a posting over on LinkedIn.  The posting linked to this HBR article.

sales-leaderMany people fall for the charismatic salesperson.  These are the folks with the warm smile and firm handshake. They seem to make that immediate emotional connection.  Their solutions appears to be want the sales prospect wants to needs.

Then after the checked has been received, the delivery made, these charismatic sales leaders can never be found. Excuses are made as to why something didn’t get done. Often times they will pass the buck, blame others.  Long term customers are really not their goal.

Authentic leaders appear not to be as charismatic.  They also have the warm smile and the firm handshake. Making an emotional connection may not be as immediate.  Unlike the charismatic sales leaders, they are around after the sale.  These individuals do not make excuses for them as the buck stops with them.

Another difference between the authentic and charismatic sales leader is their audience.  As I noted in the LinkedIn comment, the reason some people fall for the charismatic leaders is the internal desire for the quick fix.

Most of us internally want the quick fix even though we know the results probably will not be sustainable.  Time is precious and time is money.  When we can have those quick fixes, we then can go on to other important matters and happiness will follow.

We know this to be true if we look at all those quick fix products sold from the self improvement industry, the health industry to the sales industry.  Many of them are sold by charismatic people.  And yet the problems are still very much present.

Probably the most notable difference is authentic leaders are guided by non-negotiable positive core values (business ethics) while for some charismatic leaders they will do or say whatever they need to do or say to get their prospects to take action.  They may promise the moon (oversell the solution) or make negative comments about the competition. Again for them winning is everything and the heck with positive core values.

Each of us in sales has a choice to be an authentic sales leader or a charismatic one.  For me I prefer the former because I will never sacrifice my positive core values for a quick buck.

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The Spraying and Praying of Social Selling

As part of my overall social selling efforts, I regularly ask those who wish to connect with me on LinkedIn what prompted their LinkedIn invitations.  A more recent response was the following:

social-selling

“I just thought that it would boost my business so that’s why I joined hope you having a great day thank you.”

This struggling entrepreneur (yes I am presuming he or she is struggling) is engaged in the all too common spray and pray marketing behaviors.  In this particular instance, spray my name all over LinkedIn and it will increase sales.

How wrong. how sad and what a waste of resources!

Social selling is misnamed because what it really is, is social marketing.  Marketing is attracting attention and beginning to build relationships. Yet because people continue to call it social selling, some folks like this struggling entrepreneur believe it is selling.

Each day thousands of independent sales professionals believe if they spray their names all over the social media landscape, they hope (pray) to increase sales. They fail to understand the first rule of buying:

People buy from people they know and trust.

How this translates within the social selling world is through engagement. Salespeople must engage with potential sales leads, centers of influence, etc. to demonstrate their knowledge and their trustworthiness.

What would have been a better response by this LinkedIn member is something like:

“I enjoyed your recent posting (update, etc.) and possibly we can schedule a quick chat to better understand our respective businesses.”

“I am looking to expand my LinkedIn presence. Possibly we can schedule a quick chat to better understand our respective businesses.  Does (insert date and time) work for you?  If not, let me know some better times.”

The social media landscape can expand one’s market presence provided that individual understands this basic concept:

Marketing is not selling!

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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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Time to Leverage the Sales Currency of the Future

Yesterday I heard Nikolaus Kimla, CEO of Pipeliner CRM, make this very insightful statement:

“Recommendations are the sales currency of the future.”

He is so right in that people buy from people they know and trust.  Recommendations or testimonials reaffirm that trust bridge between the buyer and the seller.

Just recently in working with a sales coaching client, one of the salespeople said the reason a new patient came to their office was because of the written along with the video testimonials on their website.

SMB owners, salespeople and those in the C Suite have the opportunity right now to get ahead of the flow and start gathering all those recommendations and testimonials. Yet how many in sales actively leverage this sales currency by just asking for recommendations?

Sales Coaching Tip:  The third phase and final phase of the 7-step-sales-process-advsys is “Keeping” where people ask for recommendations as well as sales referrals.

The value of recommendations go beyond some positive words.  In many instances recommendations generate sales referrals.  This is what some in the past would call the “mother lode.”

Right now jump over to LinkedIn and look at your recommendations received and more importantly given.  Do you make it a priority to give authentic recommendations?

If you think recommendations lack sales currency, how many times do  you read the online product or business reviews?  Those are rated recommendations. Have you ever bought or not bought because of these reviews?

To increase sales requires being ahead of the flow as well as of knowing where the flow is going.  Leveraging recommendations can propel your business ahead of the flow while increasing your sales currency.

Doesn’t it make good business sense to undertake those actions now in the present?

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is Clarity Strategist for Forward Thinking sales culture. She works to close the knowing doing gaps that restrict sustainable business growth. Call her at 219.508.2859 Chicago USA time.

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Realtors Are You Missing This Marketing Platform?

Social media is a marketing platform used by many especially those selling real estate. Quite a few realtors have a significant presence on Facebook where they showcase their listings. Yet these same real estate agents ignore this other significant marketing platform which truly doesn’t make sense.

marketing-platform

Credit www.pixabay.com

First for clarity, a marketing platform is essentially a very detailed marketing plan that includes:

  • Ideal customer (demographics and psychographics)
  • Your messaging
  • How you will reach your ideal customer or customers
  • Monitoring of the results through key performance indicators (KPI)

Second, many firms actually have identified more than one marketing platform within their overall strategic plan because of the rise of social media.

Third the social media marketing channel that is being missed or ignored is LinkedIn. Possibly the reason for this oversight is because LinkedIn is considered for those selling or working in B2B industries.  Yet upon review of the ideal customer (potential listing client or buying client), probably he or she is directly or indirectly connected to B2B industries.

As someone who has extensively networked locally to nationally, I consistently discover the majority of real estate agents with no LinkedIn presence or a poorly written LinkedIn profile. Maybe I am just different, but the first action I take after meeting someone is check to see if they have a LinkedIn profile. I am going to make a huge presumption here that forward thinking salespeople take a similar action.

If people buy from people they know and trust, then why ignore this free marketing opportunity?

Each day there are numerous free webinars to free articles on:

  • The value of LinkedIn
  • Specific prospecting strategies on LinkedIn
  • How to write an engaging LinkedIn profile

By investing 20 minutes a day within this marketing platform, you may quickly discover incredible prospecting (think sales leads) as well as build your own credibility and trust.  The sharing of content, writing quick comments and reaching out to others all have an impact on how to increase sales.

With marketing budgets being limited for most real estate agents who are independent contractors, then ignoring any solid free marketing is foolish especially when potential buyers and sellers are potentially active within this marketing platform.

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Where Realtors Are Missing Sales Opportunities – Part 3

As we are in the process of selling our home, one of the first actions I take when I receive outreach from a realtor is to go to LinkedIn.  I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am as to how many realtors are ignoring LinkedIn specific to sales prospecting and sales opportunities.

sales-opportunitiesNow many of these realtors have Facebook pages.  And that is not a bad sales prospecting strategy. However given so many B2B professionals are on LinkedIn, here is an opportunity to learn potentially a little more about your sales lead especially if he or she is selling a high worth home.

Top sales performers do their homework when engaged in sales prospecting.  They know the more they know the greater likelihood they will convert those sales opportunities into actual earned sales.

Also having an extensive network is also essential within sales regardless of industry.  People buy from people they know and trust. An extensive network provides additional sales referrals and ongoing sales leads.

For example in speaking with the receptionist of my dentist, I shared we were moving. She asked if my husband was a veteran because one of the dentist’s patients was a realtor who mentioned she is now working with veterans.  I received the realtor’s name and number.

Upon returning home, my first action was to look her up in LinkedIn. She had less than 100 contacts and a weak profile. I was pleased to see she had a professional picture.

Then I called the realtor. We talked and I learned she had sold homes in the $250,000 to  $750,000 price range. If she is selling homes in that price range, there is a good chance the homeowner is on LinkedIn. To ignore LinkedIn she among many other realtors is missing sales opportunities.

The real estate marketing continues to evolve. Sales prospecting for realtors is also evolving.  To not take advantage of all sales prospecting channels is foolhardy and will work against the goal to increase sales.

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Be Selective Before You Send that Prospecting LinkedIn Email

How do you tell a potentially clueless or desperate LinkedIn member?  One potential identifier is a prospecting email sent by a professional colleague from over a 1,000 miles away to attend his workshop for executives just like you.  Gee, you think he would have known better. Of course with the extensive sales research regarding prospecting on LinkedIn, maybe he thought he could take a short-cut?

prospectingEmbracing the send all approach is a sales prospecting loser.  Yes going through your LinkedIn contacts one at a time is more time consuming.

Additionally what your LinkedIn email message says reveals a lot about your overall sales process (marketing, selling and keeping).  For example in a more recent LinkedIn email here is the first line:

“It may have been a while since we have connected but that does not mean I have not been thinking of you in some way!”

Really if this was true, why not pick up the phone and give me a call?  Even if I believed this first statement, the rest of the email shows me this is a 100% sales pitch. The email continues:

I have spent the better part of the last year focused on some of the biggest challenges that middle market businesses face on a regular basis and thought the result of that effort might interest you or I would appreciate your introducing this e-mail to someone that would benefit.

Given I am not this person’s target market, he thought his sales pitch would be of interest or I would willingly share it with my contacts.  I do believe in developing communities to expand one’s marketing efforts.

Using LinkedIn email in this manner is probably not the best tactic.  Additionally, we belong in a LinkedIn group which would have been a much better vehicle to share this event.

LinkedIn is a great marketing tool to prospect. As in the use of any tool, it must be used continually honed and used wisely.

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In Sales Thinking You Are Different Does Not Mean You Are Different

Sales differentiation is not an easy task.  With the Internet and all the experts in marketing (branding), having a unique message requires considerable work as well as having the ability to change as the market changes.

sales

Credit www.gratisography.com

Yesterday I received a handwritten postcard from a realtor.  I was impressed by this direct mail marketing effort.

In today’s busy world, sending a handwritten piece of correspondence is sales differentiation.  I have received dozens of direct mail postcards during the last several months, but this was the first hand written one. However, the message was not different even though I believe the realtor thought she was being different.

This realtor wrote “Let me prove to you that I’m the realtor who will take care of you and get your house SOLD not just listed.”

First, this realtor failed to do her homework.  Had she invested a few moments of time in doing some quick sales lead online research she would have learned of my background in sales.

Second, before I responded I did my research and learned she was not even on LinkedIn. Most of the realtors who had contacted me in the past were either not on LinkedIn or not active.

Sales Coaching Tip:  Most sales professionals in B2B along with many in B2C are on LinkedIn.

Third, the business model for this particular realtor is the same as the super majority of other realtors.  Listing the house is the priority not selling the house.

Given this realtor said she found the house on Zillow and if she read the information, she would have noticed the following statement “We will cooperate with realtors.”  This statement means we are willing to pay a sales commission if a realtor brings a qualified buyer who makes an offer.

Fourth, possibly the most serious sales marketing (messaging) mistake is not recognizing that today’s home sellers are more educated than in the past.  The sales data in the real estate market suggest anywhere from 80-90% of all homes sold are sold by another real estate firm not the listing firm.  With much of the marketing being free, receiving 50% of the standard 5-6-% commission does not make sense to the educated seller.

Thinking you are different in sales is not the same as being different. To truly Be the Red Jacket in a sea of gray suits requires any salesperson to be ahead of the market flow not in it or worse yet behind it.

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