All salespeople would love more referrals and introductions to qualified prospects.
I don’t think I am breaking any new ground there, but how exactly does that work these days. Just a few years ago, you only had a couple of options. You could personally introduce two people, or you could call one person or the other on the phone and tell them to take the other’s call. Now you can give a LinkedIn introduction, recommendation, or endorse someone for a skill. You could like their post on Facebook or suggest a friend to someone. You might re-tweet an offer from a business friend on Twitter, or pin a picture of new product that you like on Pinterest. Of course you can do a combination of these on Google + or a number of other sites as well.
Somehow these new forms of referrals don’t seem to have the same pull as the referrals of a few years ago. Maybe it is just the shear number of things we “like” that they have been watered down, but I think there is more than that. I believe the impersonal nature of these endorsements damage the credibility of the referral and possibly the person doing the connecting.
In his book “Endless Referrals,” Bob Burg said, “All things being equal, people will do business with — and refer business to— those people they know, like and trust.”
There is no doubt that social networking has transformed this process. It is possible to do a quick search, and in seconds, “know” about a new person or business. We can even see what they are about and get a pretty good and accurate feeling about whether we “like” them or not based on their website or social media account, but what about that “trust” part. Social networking introductions, recommendations and referrals, also know as “social proof,” definitely add to the amount of trust developed.
My thought is that in most cases social proof provided online doesn’t add near the amount of trust that personal introductions did before the Internet era. Charles Green in his book, “The Trusted Advisor,” defined trust this way…
Trust Quotient = (Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy) / Self-Orientation
Using this as the standard definition of trust in an online referral situation, if your friend recommends a dentist on LinkedIn, there is a decent chance that you will find him credible in this situation, assuming he has used or at least knows this dentist. Also, it is unlikely that he is doing this selfishly, although sometimes companies do pay for endorsements online or run contests to like their company, in which case it would increase the self-orientation.
I think the lack of trust in online referrals falls between reliability and intimacy. Hopefully, we are all aware of the reliability issues with information found on the Internet. However let’s explore it in this context, sometimes people like and share endorsements for companies they truly like, and other times the just click “Like” without much thought. How can we trust that they really thought about the consequences of this action. Just because you follow a Celebrity on Twitter doesn’t mean you would go see their latest movie… It becomes very hard to rely on any specific action as a trigger for our trust in the level and intensity of the referral.
Perhaps more importantly, there is very little intimacy in these types of interactions. Intimacy in the trust equation means the sharing of honest, and sometimes private or vulnerable information. When we share our thoughts on social networks, we do so public and with a special filter on the information. We judge how it will be perceived by others who view it. For example, we might share intimately an embarrassing experience at the proctologist with close friend, but we will probably be more guarded about it on Facebook, Google or LinkedIn.
So what does this mean for salespeople trying to use social networks to increase their sales results?
Think about how you can be more credible, reliable, and intimate online.
There are tons of ways to increase your credibility. You can write blogs, bolster your LinkedIn profiles, request and share more endorsements and recommendations. You can compile and curate helpful information on your industry by sharing through your network. You can associate yourself with other experts and groups with credibility and continue growing your own connections and reach.
Reliability is a little trickier, but the good news is that there are tremendous opportunities online, especially in social media. Most people are very scattered and inconsistent with their social networking and sharing. I would encourage you to adopt a strict content and connection calendar to keep yourself on track. If you haven’t shared anything in months, your network and your prospects may assume that you are no longer active or no longer in business! That goes for updating your profiles, commenting on others posts, and responding to messages as well. The worst result would be to have a hot prospect reach out to you and that message to be sitting in an un-monitored inbox rotting while your trust quotient drops like a rock.
Finally, intimacy is the key to developing better relationships and better and more referrals. Think about how you can increase the 1-on-1 communication in your social networking. Blasting marketing messages to hundreds or thousands of followers isn’t very intimate communication, and it won’t help you build trust because it is also very selfish. Take the time to send private and personal messages to the people in your network. Offer specific and useful information to their causes, and you will find yourself having better relationships. When requesting and making introductions and referrals, do so with a specific and personal endorsement to increase the level of trust. It is one thing to say you like From Click To Close. It is another to say that you and Mike have been friends for years, and you are excited and impressed to see him grow into social networking expert.
I also recommend added connections ONLY with people you actually know offline and have a real relationship with… this will lead to a more intimate and useful network as a whole.
Be found, be likable, and be trust-worthy, and you will find yourself with more referrals!
How else can you build more trust and have more intimate conversations online?
Whether you’re an experienced social networker or just a getting started, here are 10 steps to connecting with your target market on LinkedIn:
1. Create an up-to-date profile and/or fan page
Before you begin connection, be sure that your profile is up-to-date with an accurate description of what you do, your interests, and your contact info. Make sure you include your website addresses, a professional photo, and your skills list. If you have multiple businesses invite people in your appropriate target market to become fans of your niche-specific business page.
2. Follow the favorites
Connect with leaders in your field/industry, who have a lot of influence, connections and followers, and request a connection them. This includes popular products, TV shows, or other specific interests of your target market. Anytime you make a friend request, include a personal note, as that will improve the likelihood that they will accept your request. Say something like, “I’m a big fan and I’d love to have you in my network.” Once they have accepted your invitation, make comments about their status updates to help you get on the radar, and in front of their thousands of connections.
3. Friends of friends – 2nd Degree Connections
Take a look at the people in the network of your industry leaders, as they are probably part of your target market as well. Send friend requests to those of interest to you. When you friend someone that you only know by association, send a personal note as well, like “I discovered your profile in ‘s network and would like to get to know you better by adding you to my network.”
4. Use LinkedIn groups
Look for groups that may contain your target market. In your search for groups, use keywords that describe your niche, industry, geographic area, interests, or whatever other terms you might use to find members of your target market. Join and begin to participate in the group so that they begin to get to know you. Then pursue the member lists for good prospects, start with the members you’ve connected with or have commented on similar posts.
5. Invite your existing email lists and address books
You can use your existing email database to add people from your clients, prospects, and other current contacts if they fall within your target market definition. Add a note to the invitation and make sure you are clear and professional about your motivation. Make sure to give them the option to connect with your personally or just follow the business page.
6. People You May Know
LinkedIn will have a suggestion list for people you might know. These recommendations are pretty solid, because they are based on similar work history, mutual friends and interests. Take them up on their recommendation and add these to your network, only if you actually know the person and have an offline relationship of some kind.
7. Add by interest or industry
Do a people search by job title, industry, geographic location, or interest. People with those terms in their profile will show up in your search, and you can request to add them based on common interests. Even better, you can see which of your connections knows them and request an introduction.
8. Build the relationship
Once you connect with someone, you need to begin to get to know them and start building trust so that you become their top-of-mind expert in a particular area. Begin building the relationship by sending a quick “thank you” note through LinkedIn, as well as a comment about something on their profile that interests you or in which you have in common. Watch for their status updates, as well, and comment on these when appropriate. Note when people post announcements or change positions and congratulate them.
9. Integrate your marketing strategy
Once you have built a good online reputation and credibility on LinkedIn, you can begin mixing in your marketing messages. Social networking sites are designed to be casual and personal like a business networking event, so don’t just copy an advertisement or sales messages. All you want to do is keep what you do and who you are on the top of your prospects minds. You can casually mention what you’re working on in your status, announce events, and make comments offering to help people with your product or service. Remember, people can remove, hide or block you as easily as they added you in the first place.
10. No More Cold Calls – Start Actively Prospecting
Here’s where it gets fun and where it pays off. Let’s say you need to make 10 dials to set enough appointments to hit your numbers. You can research the best 10 prospects on LinkedIn and find the CEO’s name, get a little background, their email and phone information, see their secretary’s name, or even their up or down-line in the company’s organizational chart. You then shoot him an email through LinkedIn Mail with the subject line. “Question” and include your unique selling proposition, and ask if they would be open for a quick phone call the following week at a specific day and time to see if there is reason to work together.
If you repeat this process 10 times, you have now scheduled your 10 dials in your calendar, 10 CEOs are expecting your call, and you are fully armed to have a sales conversation with them next week. No more cold calls, and no more procrastination since you have scheduled appointments with connections.
No prospecting strategy works unless you consistently implement it over time. As a newbie to LinkedIn, you might want to spend as much as 60 minutes per day researching connections and participating in groups. As your network grows, you may spend only 15 minutes 3 times per week on LinkedIn. The key to success is to put this strategy on your calendar and make it a routine part of your ongoing prospecting behavior.
LinkedIn is strict and very particular about how its participants contact each other. Many sites, including LinkedIn limit the number of new invitations allowed in a given day or week. If you exceed this amount you can get penalized or removed for spamming. If you stick within the guidelines of people you know in person or at least you have their email addresses, you should stay within most limits. If you ever receive a warning, you should stop immediately for that day and reduce your efforts moving forward.
While social networking is an inexpensive marketing tool, it can be effective in helping you grow your business. You should maintain your other prospecting strategies, and simply add this strategy to your prospecting activity.
A well-rounded prospecting plan needs to include social networking, and it could mean that your prospect well will never run dry and you never have to make another cold call.
Thank You Mr. Prospect for teaching me…
- My time and energy is a valuable commodity, and I can’t give it away for free.
- To be more organized and follow up in a timely manner.
- To ask the tough questions and have the guts to get to the truth.
- To have a plan and a system for my sale.
- To stretch my comfort zone so I can call at the C-Level.
- To listen more than I speak.
- That lowest price doesn’t really matter if I do my job right.
- I really don’t have to explain everything about my service, and that people will trust me to do my job.
- Some people do have budgets and are willing to spend them on the right solution.
- Prospects can make firm commitments and live up to them, and I can too.
- Not all prospects are right for my product or service, and it is OK to get a no.
- Prospecting will pay off, and nothing motivates me more than winning a sale.
- Social calls in sales are a myth, and the bottom line of selling is going to the bank.
- Sales is a skill that not everyone can master, and I am valuable to my company and family.
- Before I can “have” or “be” I must first “do” and “become.”
And Most Importantly…
To get what you’ve never had, you must do what you’ve never done.
|Are your emails getting rejected…
Email is tough way to communicate:
Email is actually a fairly reliable means of delivering communication. As long as you didn’t get a bounce back notice in your email that you had the wrong email address, the chances are that it was delivered to the person intended. The problem is that it is really difficult to get a response.
There are several reasons for this:
- You went to junk mail.
- You were collected in a spam filter until tomorrow.
- You were 1 of 200 emails in their inbox.
- They didn’t want to respond.
- They didn’t read the email.
- They didn’t check their email.
- They were too busy…
The list goes on and on… but one thing is for sure. Email is a pretty unreliable way to get a response.
|or worse, going unnoticed?
Here are some tips to get your email opened and read by your prospect:
First, you have to get into their inbox. If you have not previously emailed each other, there is not much you can do, but I do have a few tips.
- Use your domain name email address.
- Avoid mass emails
- Don’t use spammy language.
- Make it plain text or limit pictures and links.
Have you noticed the state of your junk mail folder lately? It is probably full of fake accounts created on gmail, yahoo, or hotmail. Most of them also mention prescription drugs, dating sites, or “adult” content. And chances are they have some kind of special, sale, discount, free offer, or promotion. Many of them have just a picture or link.
Once you are in the inbox, you have another second set of problems. You are going to need to get noticed, opened and read. Your email is only 1 event in hundreds or thousands in your prospect’s day, so it is going to need to be quick, memorable, and easy to deal with. Here are some tips:
- It’s all about the Subject line.
- Give them a context about how they know you or why they should.
- Make it short. 3-5 sentences should be good.
- Make it a simple message with one theme.
- Make it super easy to respond, and don’t rely on it.
KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid. The longer, more complicated, harder to read, harder to respond, and harder to relate to, the worse your chances of getting read and replied to. People are busy, distracted, and generally not interested in you. They are interested in themselves and the 157 other things on their plate. Keep it simple and don’t require a lot of work to respond. In fact, don’t require a response at all, if possible.
Here is an example of a good prospecting email:
Have you ever had anyone talk to your sales staff about how to use social media and email correctly?
I got your name from Tom Jones at the Chamber event, and he said you were concerned about your teams internet behavior.
If you think it makes sense, we can talk it out. I am available on Wed at 10am, and I will call you then. If that doesn’t work, shoot me back a better time or have your secretary reschedule with me.
From Click To Close
Would you open it, and would you respond? It’s not perfect, and makes a couple of assumptions, but overall it should get read and responded to. First, who doesn’t want to know what the question is? Plus, it may be from a client or prospect of theirs Second, it is personal and shows that I know the person by name and was referred. It is only 4 sentences so they can read it in a few seconds. I connected with his business concerns and not what I wanted to sell, and I didn’t ask him to respond unless it was a negative.
Finally, I set it up so that I can follow up by phone. I don’t want to get into a long back and forth with email, talk about price, or have the sales conversation over months of emails. Also, I don’t want to put the responsibility on the prospect to be required to take action. Right now, Steve is only obligated to take my call on Wednesday or reschedule. That is pretty easy.
Bonus: You save yourself a lot of time and energy too! You can plan out your whole week’s prospecting calls by sending these emails a week early or on Monday, and you have effectively booked yourself solid with productive calls.
If you have any other tips that you think might work better, or any concerns about this approach, please leave them in the comments below. Thanks for reading!
|Social Networking Goals for Salespeople
In recent survey, networking was ranked as “important” by 90% of business people. It is clear that most salespeople see business networking events and social networking as valuable skill. Chances are however, showing any kind of legitimate return on investment for your time spent on social networking sites is going to be fairly difficult. That is, unless you have some SMART goals and a plan of attack to reap the rewards.
How to set sales goals for your social networking activity:
You are going to need a few types of goals for social networking and for sales to find and prove your success:
- Daily goals
- Short-term goals
- Long-term goals
Setting Daily, Short-Term, and Long-Term Goals
As in any area of life, there are some things you can just flip the switch and do, some things that take special timing or longer effort, and then there are long-term, stretch goals that may take years or a life-time to attain. It is important to break these activities up into manageable groups so that you can focus day-to-day, but not loose site of the big picture.
Daily goals are the small steps that you can complete every day that lead you towards your ultimate goals. These easy tasks are just like flipping a switch, when you decide to do it. For example, you can send and email to a client, post a status update, or send invites to a special event. A great daily goal is to call or meet at least one person in real life that you are connected to online.
Short-term goals are the intermediate steps that take weeks or months to complete, or require special timing. These goals require extra planning or effort, or are not feasible to do in a day or every day. For example, you may want to 50 new leads per month to hit your quota, give referrals to your top strategic alliances, or host a meet-up at your office. These goals are not typically not feasibly done everyday and require some time-frame between 7 and 90 days to complete. A great short-term goal for social networking is to add enough new leads to your pipeline to hit your sales goals each month.
Long-term goals are typically those BHAG goals. That’s right the Big Hairy Audacious Goals that will make your year and signify your ultimate success. These goals typically take 90 days to a year or more to check off the list. This is your ultimate yearly sales quota, the income you want to make, the public praise or private pat on the back that drives you in your career. Most people have these goals in the back of the heads, but again, studies show that very few have them down on paper, or a plan to attain them. A great long-term goal for social networking is to develop the relationships and personal networking strong enough to provide a steady stream of qualified referrals, so you never have to prospect or cold call again.
You have spent some time reading this. Spend a few more minutes and write down your top 3-5 goals for each category.
People with written goals and a plan to achieve them are over 10 times more likely to achieve the levels of success they want in their business and their life.
|How to set goals for your social networking behavior, results and target markets.
Getting Started With Goal Setting
Before you start setting goals for your social networking activity and results. There are a few things you need to know about goal setting in general.
- Just the act of setting SMART goals increases your chance of success by 10 times.
- Written goals increase that likelihood even more.
- Sharing your goals with your team, family or accountability partner again increases your chance of success!
- You can only manage what you can control. Setting goals for other people’s behavior is futile.
Studies show that only about 50% of people have goals in general, only 10% have written goals, and only about 1% have a plan to achieve them and share them with an accountability partner. Those people who do all three are exponentially more likely to achieve their goals than those winging it.
I hope that doesn’t come as a shock to you. If you wanted to take a road trip, you might want to decide where you are going, get directions, and tell someone else where you are going. Chances are you would get there safely. If you just took off one morning with no goal or plan and didn’t tell anyone, you might end up lost forever.
Most importantly, you can only manage what you can control. You have probably heard about SMART goals before, but you may not have considered this. Setting goals for result, especially those that depend on the action of others is generally not helpful. They are nice to have in mind, and important for determining your behavior, but they alone will not lead you to success.
Let’s use an example. If you set a goal to get 100 likes on your Facebook business page, it sounds like a good goal. However, it tells you nothing about how to actually achieve it and what actions to take. Even worse, it depends on other people to take the action by clicking “like.” You can’t force anyone to do that, so your goal is out of your control.
If that is the result we want, there are still goals we can set. The just need to be SMART goals which we can manage and control.
Smart Goals are:
- Attainable / Achievable
- Relevant / Realistic
Specific leads us to the exact location we want to be on our road trip. Measurable and attainable tell us that we need to be able to track our progress, and it needs to be a behavior we can control. It is hard to measure unspecific feelings, or generalities like “be more successful,” “be well-liked in the community.” or even “get more leads.” How can you tell if you are making progress or even achieved “being successful”?
Relevant or Realistic is also very important. If you goal seams impossible, it is unlikely that anyone will go after it. Great goals inspire action. It needs to be relevant to the outcome you want and realistic so you believe you can achieve it with the right actions.
Finally, goals need to be time-bound to drive you to action and inspire you to achieve them. This can be done in to way. By simply adding a date that it is to be completed, or by adding how often you need to take the action. Let’s try some examples for social media.
Setting SMART Goals for your Social Networking activity
There are three categories that you will need goals for in your social networking activity. You will probably want to plan and track your progress toward what you need to be doing, who you want to reach, and the end results for your business. In other words your behavior, targets and results.
- Post status updates on Facebook three times per day, morning, noon and night.
- Write one call-to-action message, one original thought or blog, and re-share some interesting post about my industry on Facebook to fulfill my 3 post per day on Facebook.
- Send 5 Tweets per day, 3 Re-tweets of interesting posts, 1 original thought, and 1 call-to-action.
- Post one interesting article, either mine or someone else’s on Linked In.
- Share a link to an interesting article or +1 a website on Google+ once a day.
- Write one original blog about an industry hot topic per week.
- Send and informative email blast to my clients and prospects once per week that contains my new blog post, a call-to-action, and links to my social networking accounts.
- Respond to every email, direct message, or comment received within 24 hours.
- Add any new connections or business contacts I have made to my email lists each week.
- Find 1 new interesting industry expert to follow on Twitter every week.
- Add any new requests or suggested family, friends and personal connections on Facebook who I would like to talk to in the real world, each week.
- Add any suggested connections on LinkedIn who I have met in person or done business with in the last year, or I know well enough that they would take my call.
- Add suggested connections to appropriate Circles on Google+ each week, if they are someone I would like to keep in touch with.
- Update my list of the top 10 potential clients I am targeting weekly, and make at least one attempt to contact them or share an interesting article with them.
- Make contact by phone or email with at least 5 of my top 20 referral partners or strategic alliances.
- Clean out my contact lists every quarter, and remove anyone I no longer want to be associated with or have not interacted with in over a year.
- Schedule 1 meeting per work day with a referral partner.
- Schedule 1 meeting per work day with a potential client.
- Follow up on all leads generated through my calls-to-action on the social networks and email blast.
- Ask for referrals, reviews or recommendations from every new client.
- Thank referral partner with an appropriate reward for each referral that becomes a client, and explain why if the referral did work out.
- Review my Google Analytics, Facebook page dashboard, and any other reports monthly, and make notes on what generated the best response and track my progress.
There are many other goals you could set, but these are some of my favorites, because they are all things that you can control and do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. It is very hard and frustrating to only monitor results because they can fluctuate on thing outside your control. Plus, if you try to manage results, you are managing in the past. Typically, the results you are getting now are based on your activity from one to 3 months ago. In longer selling cycles, it could even be that the sales you get this month are a result of networking or referrals from over a year ago.
Feel free to use any of my goals above, or discuss some more appropriate goals for your organization. The ones listed above could actually be mores specific, but I wanted them to apply to more people. For example, “follow an interesting industry expert” would actually be better as, “follow an internet marketing expert.”
Goal setting will set you apart from the majority of humans and businesses, so take an hour to write them down this week. Then just follow the plan and adjust as necessary. Keep them SMART, and keep them positive. If you need any help, just email me.