When you come right down to it, there are only two simple, but critical, tasks in selling and those are to find and then to convert and your habits must support these activities. There is nothing beyond that we really need to focus on. Everything that we do supports these two efforts in one way or another. Simple.
We can separate find (prospecting) into outbound and inbound initiatives. While outbound prospecting has always been the domain of sales, inbound has traditionally been more focused on a marketing effort with those generated leads being passed on to sales for conversion. However, we do need to also recognize that today’s social selling models and tools make inbound prospecting, in many ways, also the responsibility of salespeople (as is customer service). The times they are a changin’ and the lines have definitely blurred.
Why marketing and customer service? In social selling, being an effective marketer also becomes a key prospecting activity. Perhaps more importantly, if done right, your marketing activities will generate leads that will come directly to you. As for customer service, consider that your single largest untapped revenue base is likely your existing customer base and this is based on their ability to buy more and to refer you to others. Conducting marketing and customer service related duties (as they pertain to your selling efforts) should take no more time than our traditional find and convert activities.
Essential habits …
Habits are something that are cultivated through repetition. In doing so, they become second nature. These are activities that we perform automatically and consistently. Only then do they become effective.
- Every day you must prospect.
- By the end of every day you must update customer records and respond to customer communications. Then you must plan and prep for tomorrow.
- Before every call, you must review your notes and develop your goals and plan for that call. After every call, you must schedule a time for your next contact and update your notes. Top salespeople will schedule follow-up calls before that call ends.
- Every week you must review your results and plan for next week and every month, you must do the same.
- We always seek ways cultivate and grow new and existing relationships and show continuous gratitude for those that you have!
In addition to all of this you must prepare proposals, conduct presentations, educate your customers and your prospects, track order progress, and 100’s of other major and minor (yet important) tasks. Oh yeah. You also need to close deals.
Essential tools …
Now, how do we apply this via social sales? Since this article is on essential habits that drive activities, I think that you need a basic social toolkit in order to be effective at these and my toolkit is going to include:
- A good CRM and a good Social CRM would be even better
- A social dashboard
- One social network and since I am B2B, I choose LinkedIn. Remember that your network choice should be based on your industry, your focus, and where your target market can be found
- Your smart phone and/or tablet for mobile.
Finally, you must have a proven system for planning. I happen to be very fond of my to-do list. While I have tried to use quite a few web-based applications for this purpose, I continue to return to paper and pen. Maybe I like the activity of crossing things off as completed.
My to-do list reflects my next two weeks of upcoming activities and tasks. I review it constantly and rewrite it completely every two to three days. If I have spare time during the day, or if I get stuck on a current project, I always look at my list for something due later that can fill my time right now. By staying ahead, unforeseen fires, or opportunities, are generally responded to easily. Let’s look a closer look at each of our social tools ….
How a salesperson can work without a CRM, and still be highly effective at their craft, is something that eludes me. I used a shoe box in the early days of my career because … even the smallest computers took up their own air-conditioned room. That was my excuse. Today … what’s yours? Manila folders that are filled with documents, scraps of paper, and post-it notes just aren’t going to cut it these days.
There is a reasonable possibility that you absolutely hate this idea but, it as an absolute essential that you be able to properly maintain a central database of your customers and prospects along with a history of your prior communications, events, and notes from meetings. Beyond that you must have the ability to set reminders (and recurring reminders) to get back in touch, track and complete assigned tasks on-time if not ahead of time, and to manage your pipeline of existing opportunities.
A good Social CRM will provide your with the additional capability to find and nurture new opportunities and relationships (via the social networks) along with the ability to further cement those that you already have.
I’ve chosen LinkedIn for a variety of reasons. My profile, my activity, and the ability to basically blog on LinkedIn via publishing provides me with my inbound marketing tool that allows me to demonstrate my experiences, skills, and expertise … to my target market. At the same time, LinkedIn search, saved searches, and tagging are instrumental to my outbound prospecting efforts. As an engagement tool, and particularly combined with groups (once again inhabited by my target market), I will be able to develop new and existing relationships. For my purposes, it just works.
Your Social CRM may include some sort of social dashboard but, even if it does, it will probably be limited and likely won’t be mobile. I happen to like Hootsuite to fulfill this slot but certainly you do have other choices. Make one. Even if I am only focused on one social network, in this case LinkedIn, this also might include my company page and multiple groups.
You have to be mobile. If you travel, you simply must be able to take it with you! Also think of the things you can accomplish during traditional dead time. Waiting for your next appointment. Sitting in your easy chair. Extra time during lunch. Hate me but, I see selling as a 24/7 profession. Your tablet can be a great way to conduct a presentation or even have an online meeting. Take a look at Refresh (only IOS at this time but also available on the web) to catch up and remind you of what makes this prospect or customer tick before you walk in their door.
Habits drive activities that yield results
Now we can pull all of this together. Go back to those habits that you need to develop and match those up with the tools that you have at your disposal that will support your needed activities. If your toolkit is a little light, fix that! Next walk through and document how all of this will work. It does not have to be fancy. It can be as easy as …
- Create a saved search on LinkedIn for my target connections and connect with 10 each day. Personalize every invitation.
- Tag each connection by industry.
- Send each accepted connection a thank you note.
- Create a record in my CRM for each that is a prospective customer.
- Before every call to a prospect or customer, review their LinkedIn profile and Refresh record. Plan for the call.
- After each call, make the associated notes in the contact record and schedule my next reminder.
And so on, and so on, and so on. You get the picture. You are developing a plan and now work it. Stay focused on your plan, your goals, and your customers. For my money, one quality call trumps ten bad ones every day.
Good habits, particularly with the assistance of our social tools, will dictate those activities that will be necessary for maximum success. It’s really that simple. What about you? Do you have any suggestions to contribute to the conversation?