Or, putting it another way, would you invest $1 to get $16 back? You’ve worked hard to get this opportunity with your dream client. It would be a shame to blow that now. A $100,000 sale will yield an average of $10,000 in commissions for most B2B straight commission salespeople. Is $10,000 worth an extra couple of hours of prep work that will maximize your chances of landing this account? I would think so. There is nothing worse than losing a sale and then arriving at the uncomfortable, yet honest, appraisal that you could have done more.
As the old saying goes … “There is never time to do it right but, always enough time to do it over.” The problem is, with sales, you might never get that do-over and nor will you be spending those commission dollars. Bummer. Do your homework and be prepared. For that matter, you should have been doing your research before you even started to chase them.
Examples of wasted effort
I receive messages all of the time and most of these are regarding solicitations from vendors for me to connect and/or to generally use their services. Obviously, some time and effort has gone into these requests. I would assume that they would wish me to take action on their offers in a positive manner. If that is the case, why do I get …
- Messages that are addressed to the digital equivalent of “Dear Occupant”? You have managed to find my website or my profile but, despite my name being plastered all over those, you could not find it? Your form letters are about as difficult to spot as a Nigerian bank scheme.
- Messages on LinkedIn asking me if I do something that is entirely unrelated to what my profile boldly and bluntly states. Why in heaven would somebody think that I have any interest, or expertise, in injection molding (true story)?
- Template invitations on LinkedIn. In all fairness, and this is a LinkedIn peeve, the service will not always allow you to personalize your message but, if you haven’t even looked at my profile, I’m fairly confident that you would not have personalized it anyway if you were given that opportunity.
- Recently a gentleman left a comment on one of my web pages where he went into great detail about how he was a nationally recognized sales expert and a best selling author and he asked me if I would consider promoting one of his services on my website that, in fact, would compete directly with mine. He provided me (and my readers) with all of the necessary links to do so. I was stunned. Not so much as a “I love your site!” let alone did he play any songs from my favorite radio station, WIFM (what’s in it for me?). I deleted his comment. Honestly, other than the fact that he did use my name, I smelled form letter. Wrong message, wrong place and wrong offer. Rookie mistakes from an expert.
What a waste. Certainly, you could make the case that much of this is mass marketing, it takes very little time and, if you throw enough crap against the wall, some of it is bound to stick. However, in my business, you don’t mass market. You build relationships. You build the kind of relationships that deliver repeat and referral business.
What you should be doing
I read an interesting article on LinkedIn recently that stressed the importance of using personalization (always) along with commonalities (areas that you have in common) and advocacy (sincere compliments), where appropriate, when sending any kind of direct message (apply to email as well as private social messaging). Sound advice! There is only one catch. You are going to have do your homework, read your ounce of preparation, in order to accomplish these objectives and to garner the commissions that are associated with them. Fortunately, the Internet will provide us with a veritable bounty of nuggets of actionable intelligence.
In another great article that appeared on HubSpot Blogs – 3 Tips to Write a Cold Email That Gets a Response the author, Heather R. Morgan, really digs into LinkedIn search and profiles to discover many of the same things that we are talking about. Kudos!
What follows now focuses on LinkedIn, however, the goals are just as applicable, and achievable, on many levels with any of the major social networks and all pertinent networks should be included in your studies. You should be looking for …
- Work history – Not only are you looking at commonalities, pay close attention to their career path and particularly their history with their current company. Especially these days, be aware of whether or not they might be working for more than one company.
- Summary – Ideally, their summary should provide you with a good overall view of their offerings and their responsibilities.
- Education – Much like work history, education can identify commonalities and perhaps sports teams allegiances. Go BSU!
- Shared connections – A shared connection can not only provide introductions, they can also probably provide you with more insight into this person.
- Recommendations – Not only from who but, also what qualities they are being recommended for. Do you know the recommender? If yes, see shared connections. What they are being recommended for can provide you with excellent clues to what they value in business relationships. For example, if Joe is touted as being highly responsive, I might suggest that this is a quality that he holds dear in others.
- Articles that they have written – These are great resources on so many levels and are also great conversation starters with the author!
- Updates – What types of updates do they share and with what frequency?
- Groups – Not only do groups indicate interests, they might also be a great forum for you to engage (if appropriate) prior to any formal connection.
- Expressed likes and dislikes including supported causes – Look for these as well as causes and volunteer work. Perhaps you can treat a pain or you might share a common charitable focus.
- Websites – While you would expect to find their company’s website, often you will also find their personal blog or website.
Take it a step further to discover …
- Who they talk to – You will find this in both your news feed as well as their activity streams. Often, they will be speaking with people who are not in your circles but, maybe they should be.
- What personality clues can you identify? – Are they techies? Fun people? Detail oriented or bottom line? Discover these and you probably will know how they will need to be sold to.
Next continue this process for their companies …
- Company pages – Should they have company pages on the social networks, visit and read those including their latest news as well as reviewing their employee lists.
- Their website(s) – Read through every page and, if they have one, at least the most recent articles on their blog. You might be amazed by what you will find buried in their site maps.
- Conduct a Google search and search for news besides the web. This same search should be conducted on individuals.
- Services like Owler (free) are great resources for discovering just a ton of information on companies as well as on their competitors!
Armed with this discovery information, you should be then able to effectively map your calls and your next moves. It is very important for you to establish goals for each and every call including what your desired outcome is. Take notes and track your results!
It is often said that sales is a game of inches. For that matter, in any competitive selling situation, every customer has a scale that weighs one proposition again the other and whoever carries the most weight wins. Given the choice between two seemingly identical offers, would you choose the one where that person went the distance, did their homework a little more effectively, or the one who did not? Simple answer. Something has to tip the scales. It’s entirely up to you which way those scales lean.
How about you? Do you have anything to add to this discussion? If so, please share that below so that we can all benefit!