Posts Tagged ‘LinkedIn’

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:


“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.



#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.



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.



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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LinkedIn Summary, Why the Third Person or Queen’s We?

If people buy from people they know and trust, why in the world would any reasonable thinking salesperson speak in the third person on LinkedIn?  I can appreciate the third person’s biographical summary on a publication or book.  That makes sense. To speak in the third person on probably the most recognized B2B social media site is beyond comprehension.

LinkedIn-SummaryThe third person’s summary ranks up there with the Queen’s We Summary.  Using this prime marketing space to speak at a distance instead of up front and personal really is such a waste.

The LinkedIn summary is the rest of YOUR story.  This is not a regurgitation of your resume.  No, this is your chance to touch a potential sales lead with your unique story.

What makes you different?

What specific skills do you have?

Why should people take that next step to reach out to you?

The rest of your profile can detail your work history, your education to even your endorsements and referrals. Leave your summary to be a powerful story.

If you are stymied, consider using the six (6) sentence Pixar approach that Dan Pink outlines in his book To Sell Is Human. In this approach you tell a tale that begins with Once upon a time and then illustrate the problems faced by your clients. The last sentence is the results of the impact of your solution.

Your summary has 2,000 characters. This is prime marketing space and should not be wasted.  Use as many characters as possible.  You want the read to keep reading beyond the summary to your work history, your education and your interests. LinkedIn is a powerful sales prospecting tool.  Like any other sales tool, use it wisely.

P.S. If you read my LinkedIn profile summary, you will learn I start with a question.  Personally I find those summaries that begin with the letter “I” to be somewhat ego driven with the focus on the individual and not the reader. Again, that only is my opinion.




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Always Be Careful of Your Sales Message – Part 2

Isn’t it amazing with all the resources at the disposal of B2B and B2C salespeople, so many still fail to do any to adequate research on incoming sales leads or sales referrals? This research allows them to tailor their sales message.  Doing the research is another sales behavior shared by top sales performers.

sales-messageBy investing the time to do the research about the sales lead, his or her company, the salesperson can discover any miss steps in her or his sales message. Possibly for some SMB owners and salespeople, research is not as critical. However if the commission is sizeable, several thousands of dollars, it would make sense to invest time to undertake the research.

For example, in real estate, most realtors can find the name of the owner of the property from the county records.  Then they can do a quick LinkedIn search because one would be surprised as to how many people are on LinkedIn.  The next step would be to do a Google search.  By better understanding the prospective seller’s work history, may help in further tailoring the message.

As we are selling our home, the sales messages have been overall quite disastrous (turn off).  Many realtors continue with the old sales presentations and advertise themselves as top salespeople.  Actually they are top listing people because 90% of all homes are sold by a realtor not associated with the listing firm.  They have failed to recognize the educated buyer.

Another example would be receiving sales referrals.  Instead of immediately calling and making that dreaded sales pitch, there should be adequate time in researching the:

  • Sales referral (This is also true for sales leads.)
  • His or her company
  • His or her industry
  • Trigger events such as economic downturns

Yes this does take time.  For me the time average is at least a couple of hours for a 30 minute first time meeting.  I review the notes several times just to have a grasp of what is happening within the sales lead’s business or industry.

With many executive decision makers saying sales meetings are a waste of time, the more you learn about the sales lead the quicker you can make those “value connections.” Sales exist because people have problems they want to solve.  If you want connect with what the sales lead values and have a limited grasp (not a know it all one) about what is going on in his or her world, you just may earn yourself the sale.

Ignoring the research just may have your sales message sounding common or even potentially insulting. The end result is you will remain pocket poor.

P.S. Believe it or not, your sales lead or sales referral probably has already checked you out.

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Are You Drowning in the Sea of Sales Excuses?

If you have read either Jeb Blount’s or Mark Hunter’s books on sales prospecting, you will read about a lot of sales excuses.  Dan Pink in his book To Sell is Human revealed that of the 7,000 American adult workers surveyed 40% of their time is engaged in non-selling activities. His conclusion is that in every hour, we are spending 24 minutes moving others.

sales-excusesThe question then is how effective are you in sales in moving others or are using this time as an excuse not to sell, not to prospect, not to increase sales?

Remember, the White Rabbit from Alice in the Looking Glass who was running about exclaiming I’m late; I’m late! In speaking with clients and colleagues, a lot of salespeople are late. They make promises to deliver proposals, make meetings and then never show up.

The marketplace has changed and continues to evolve given the expansion of technology and social media. People are changing the sequence of how they make those buying decisions.

Traditional marketing no longer holds true if we believe DemandGen’s research that 65% of the buyers believe that the vendor’s marketing content had an impact on their buying decision. Furthermore 82% of the buyers reviewed 5 to 8 pieces of content from the winning vendor (Forrester).

Sales excuses are no longer an option.  Either you do what you need to do, make calls, engage in research, write content,  hire someone to write your content marketing or continue to be pocket poor.

Here are some more sales excuses:

  • No time for LinkedIn yet the top sales people invest 6 hours per week (The Sales Management Association)
  • No time for social media as a lead generation source yet 5% of B2B sales team consider it essential (Ken Krogue)
  • No time to call a second time since 44% of salespeople give up after one call (Scripted)
  • Too busy to make a third call to a sales lead since average sales person makes only 2 attempts to call (Sirus Decisions)
  • No time for follow-up even though 80% of the sales require 5 follow-up phone calls after the meeting (The Marketing Donut)

There are plenty of sales excuses to go around.  Maybe now is the time to stop with your sale excuses and heed the words of Yoda  – Do or do not, there is no try (excuse).

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