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

Good Conversation Stimulates Like Black Coffee

When was the last time you were really engaged in a conversation that was stimulating?  One thing is for sure; you were engaged in the conversation because the conversation was about something you were interested in.

Let’s face it there is nothing more boring than to be talking about something you feel is a waste of time.  With that in mind, how do you think your prospects feel when you are talking about something that is not of interest to them?

Conversations with prospects have to be crafted, planned, and well thought out to be stimulating.  One of the biggest challenges is to match the right conversation with the right person.

What I mean by that is a conversation with a CEO is going to be different than a conversation with a CFO, which is different than a conversation with a manager.  The reason these conversations are different is because the needs and interests of these people are different.

A one size fits all conversation about the value you bring to prospective clients will not work.   If you don’t tailor your conversation based on the needs and concerns (interests) of the person you are talking to, you won’t get very far.

For example, according to The Conference Board CEO Challenge 2010 Survey, the number one challenge CEOs say they are facing is excellence in execution followed closely by consistent execution of strategy by top management.  If you tailor your conversations to center around these points, you will be an instant hit.

It’s pretty easy to do.  You just simply state how your product or service will help with excellence in execution.   If you provide employee benefits you could discuss how execution is vital and what you and your firm are doing to address that.

Similarly, a recent study by IBM of over 1,900 CFOs and other senior financial executives revealed the top three priorities for CFOs are: reducing the cost base, making faster, more accurate decisions and providing more transparency to external stakeholders.

When you put yourself in the other person’s world and talk about things that are of interest to them you will increase receptivity to your message.  Your conversations will be engaging and you will develop relatedness at all levels in the prospect organization.

The best way to have stimulating conversations is to plan.  If you know you are going to be meeting with the CEO develop a few conversation topics of interest.  If you are going to a networking event and CFOs will be there, plan your conversations.

Taking a little time to plan and construct a conversation that is meaningful for your audience can pay huge dividends in the long run.  Always make your conversation stimulating.

Happy Selling

Have You Been Losing Sales to Hidden Competitors?

What happened?  You just knew you had a sale and then your prospect did something completely different than what you thought they were going to do!

What happened was you lost out to the competition.  The word competition can conjure up many things in your mind.  You may think about the many competitors that offer similar products or services that you do.  You may think about the advantages or disadvantages your product or service has in relation to your competitors.  Most of the time though, when you think about competition you think about competition as being another company, product, or service.

What you may not have taken into consideration is there are competitive forces that you need to contend with in sales then just “traditional” competition.  I often refer to these non-traditional competitive forces as hidden competitors.

There are two distinct hidden competitors that we are going to discuss.  The first is a mindset and the second is a buying influencer.

The “We’ve always done it this way competitor”

If the solution you are bringing to your prospects represents a fundamental change in the way they have previously done things this is a major competitor.

Consider if your prospect has been using your competitor’s brand for some time, the decision to move from the competitor’s brand to your brand may not be based solely on the value you bring versus the competitor.

In fact, your prospect may be sold on the fact that your product is actually better than what they are currently using.

However, part of the decision making process will revolve around the ease of transition from one company to the other company.

When you think of what is involved in changing companies there is a lot to change.   There are new accounts to set up from an admin basis.  There are new procedures and processes that may be different for your company versus brand X.  There are the new relationships that have to be formed.

As you can see with the amount of change that has to be made, part of the value you bring is eroded by the “cost” of changing.

What you have to do as the sales person is show how the transition will be minimal and easy.

The “outside looking in competitor”

In most business to business sales situations that involve a significant investment for products or services there will be many buying influencers in the decision making process.

Buying influencers are those people that have input into the decision making process.

Most of the buying influencers will be inside the company.  However, you may encounter a buying influencer that is outside the company.

Buying influencers that are outside the company could include attorneys, CPAs, consultants, and partners not actually working in the business.

The outsiders looking in play a role in the decision even though the product or service may not directly impact them.

Most of the times these outside buying influencers can’t give the decision to buy, but they can say don’t buy.

It is imperative that you know all of the buying influencers that will be playing a role in the decision making process.  You can’t be afraid to ask who will be involved in making the decision and confirm that you know and are aware of everyone that could remotely influence the decision.

With the outsiders looking in competitor you have to make sure you address their needs and concerns.  If necessary you may need to meet with them to understand what they want to accomplish and how your product or service would satisfy their needs.

In conclusion, competition can have many faces.  Don’t be short sighted and think that your only competition are the companies you compete against.  Competition includes all of the alternatives and obstacles that stand in the way of you making the sale.

Happy Selling