Use LinkeIn To Save Time Prospecting For New Clients

To win the sales game you have to maximize the use of time.  Typically, sales professionals and business owners who have to sell are torn between balancing prospecting, selling time, and administrative time.  Anything that can make you more effective in using time is like money in the bank.

One of the best ways to leverage time is to use the internet to network.  You can really leverage your time by using the social networking sites that are out there today.  Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are quickly becoming the way for business sales professionals to leverage time.

These sites are not just for sharing what you are up to right now or show pictures of your family vacation.  They can be very powerful business tools.  For example, if you go to a networking event to meet new contacts you have an investment of approximately 3 hours.  You have to drive to and from the event, the time spent at the event itself, and the follow-up after the event.

If you contrast attending a networking event versus going on line and meeting new people, you can easily save more time.  In addition, you could meet more targeted people for what you do and begin to establish a relationship immediately.  Now don’t get me wrong networking online does not replace meeting people face to face.  You will want to do that with the people you meet online.  But with such tools as GoToMeeting® you can meet virtually with anyone in any location.  This means you are not tied geographically to one area.

This can be very beneficial if your territory covers a wide area.  You can network in two or three cities sitting at your desk.

But what is the best social network site for business?  You really should be using all three mentioned above.  Facebook and Twitter should be a part of your social networking.  However, to get started in social networking, LinkedIn is the best.  LinkedIn is the number one social network site for business.  Executives from all fortune 500 companies have profiles on LinkedIn.

Using LinkedIn you can interact with people that otherwise would be very difficult to interact with.  One tip to using LinkeIn effectively is to get to know people that know the people you want to know.  (now that’s a mouthful isn’t it!)   Another tip is to have a good profile page.  Your profile page is like your resume to allow other people to get a sense of who you are.

Learning LinkedIn is not a steep learning curve, but there are some “must know” items. You must know how certain things such as profile page setup, groups, LinkedIn advertising to allow you to use this networking site to its fullest.

I came across a good resource that gives you a step by step approach to using LinkedIn to increase your sales and make your networking more effective.  It is a video course called Linked Influence and it literally takes you by the hand to show you how to do everything.  This course will save you time in using LinkedIn,

To get more information on this course click here: Linkedin.winningthesalesgame.com

Like it or not, social networking is here to stay and if you want to remain on the cutting edge of marketing and sales you have to get onboard this train.    In the long run, you will sell more business in less time.

Happy Selling

What Every Sales Professional Ought to Know About Sales Strategy

What’s the difference between a sales strategy and a sales tactic?  The difference is the sales strategy is your plan to acquire the business and the sales tactics are the methods you will use to implement the plan.

Sales tactics include such things as how to open a call, how to handle objections, and how to gain agreement.  The sales skills needed to implement these tactics need to be continually honed and developed.Sales Strategy pic

The sales strategy involves determining what approach you are taking to the sale.  This would include such things as: taking the quality approach or the low price approach, consultative selling, your unique selling proposition, and determining your competitive advantage.

To be successful and win the sale game you need to have a sound strategy and effective tactics.  One without the other will not allow you to consistently sell a high volume of business and high margin business.

Because the sales strategy comes before the sales tactics, let’s look at some of the key pieces of a sound sales strategy.

The first step in developing your sales strategy is to conduct pre-sale research.  The pre-sale research gives you the information you need to formulate your plan.

What you are looking for in pre-sale research is information about your prospect’s industry.  Who are the major players in the industry?  What challenges does the industry face?

Then you want to find information about the company.  How long in business?  Who are the members of the executive team?  How do they create value in the marketplace when they sell their products or services?  What is their current situation regarding the products and services you offer?

In the pre-sale research you want to uncover as much information about your prospect as possible.

It is a proven fact that decision makers are “turned off” by sales people that ask them questions that they should already know the answer to.  The decision maker sees this as a waste of time and lack of quality on the sales person’s part.  Do good pre-sale research and you will set yourself apart from a lot of sales people out there.

Deciding on a sales strategy will depend a lot on what you discover in your pre-sale research.  In determining your sales strategy you want to take into consideration such things as: Is your prospect a value purchase or are they a price purchaser?  How many people will be involved in the sales process?  Who will be your competition on the sale?

Your sales plan will include:

Pricing strategy –

Develop your pricing strategy based on your anticipation of your prospect perceiving the value for your product or service.  Their perception could be shaped by what they are currently doing, competition, or the philosophy of the company.  Your pricing strategy is not the price you plan to charge, but how you are going to position your pricing.

Buying influence strategy –

Your pre-sale research should give you an indication of who will be involved in the buying decision.  Your strategy should be to make sure you take into consideration all of the buying influencers needs and wants.  In addition, you want to identify who will be willing to assist you (your coach) in working with the other buying influencers to help you get the business.

Resource strategy –

How much/many resources will it take to get the business.  Resources can be items and tools such as: data, reports, demonstrations, site visits, entertainment, etc that will be needed to acquire the sale.  Knowing the amount of resources helps you to gauge the cost of getting the sale.

Relationship strategy –

What relationships inside and outside your company could you leverage to advance the sale.  Customer testimonials from current clients can be utilized to create value.  Who do you know that knows your prospect (whether a current client or not) that could endorse you.  Part of your relationship strategy is to leverage the people in your company.  Relationships in your company that could move a sale forward could include the owner or president, support staff, etc.

Developing a sales strategy for each sales campaign is essential to keep you on track to acquire the sale.  By having a sound plan you can always see where you are and where you need to make adjustments in you tactics.

Of course there will be times when you need to change your sales plan altogether to get a sale.  That’s OK!  What is not OK is not having a good plan to start with.

Happy Selling

The Secret of Networking To Increase Sales

You go to a networking event and you meet a few people.  Some people could become prospects and some could potentially refer you business.  You get their business cards. After the networking event you get back to the office and put the cards on your desk where they just sit for a few days with no follow-up at all.  Has this ever happened to you?  I know I have done it.networking for sales image

The most important part of networking is follow-up.  It is in the follow-up that you expand the relationship that was initiated at the networking event.  The longer you wait to follow-up after the networking event the more erosion takes place to the new relationship.  So, let’s agree we need to follow-up immediately after the event.  If you can do it the same day that is optimal, but at the latest follow-up the next day.

A tip that may help you become consistent to follow-up immediately is to schedule your follow-up time at the same time you schedule yourself to attend the event.   Actually schedule in your calendar the time you are going to follow-up with the people you meet at the event.  This way you already have the time set aside to accomplish the follow-up in advance of the event.

Just as important as timely follow-up is trenchant follow-up.  You want to have hour follow-up be effective and move the relationship forward.  The best way to move any relationship forward is to keep your focus on the other person.  Don’t think in terms of what they can do for you, but think in terms of what you can do for them. (that was in a famous inaugural address…well it sort of went something like that)

There is a good reason for not being “me focused.”  Zig Ziglar, a famous motivational speaker, often says: “you can have anything you want if you help enough people get what they want.”  So if you want to have success in networking don’t focus on what you can get, focus on what you can give.

Now, back to follow-up!  Making your follow-up effective begins with the event.  When you meet someone at networking event get information about them.  Learn what they do in their business, what type of prospects they are looking for, what they like to do for recreation, etc.   Then discretely write some notes on the back of their business card so you don’t forget.

Then, when you follow-up you can reference your conversation in your follow-up. You can follow-up with an email.  Also, send a personal note which should arrive a couple of days later.  Better yet you could send them an article that may be beneficial for them in their business.  When you send the person something of benefit to them you are gaining favorable attention in their eyes.  Approaching the new relationship in this way will be non-threatening and the person will be more likely to meet with you to further the relationship along.

Networking is all about establishing mutually beneficial relationships.  Because people are so busy, it is very important for you to “stand out” from the crowd.  Keeping your focus on the other person and following-up effectively is the secret to showing how you are unique and a professional in the sales game.

Happy Selling