Selling is not a “chicken or egg” riddle. There is no question that, if you can’t find new sales opportunities, there will be no new revenues. In today’s world of social selling, this task falls into two disciplines … being found and finding. Both can be applied to recurring orders from existing accounts as well as referrals from these customers.
This is called prospecting and it is hard, back breaking work. Sometimes you feel like a hog snorting the ground in search of elusive truffles. Yet, your pot of gold might lie behind the next door or at the receiving end of your next phone call. The best salespeople prospect consistently. Sorta’ salespeople … don’t.
Your potential customers are actively searching for companies and people who can potentially fill their needs. They are doing much of this electronically via a combination of search and recommendations from sources who they already trust.
Get your profiles in order – This is job #1 and do not, do not, become active in social selling until your social profiles are looking spiffy. Not doing so is the equivalent of making high-level sales calls while dressed in greasy dungarees. However, if this is the dress code for your target market, please ignore this admonishment.
Be part of the conversation – Activity = Visibility. If you are not an active participant on the social networks, you will be invisible. Becoming visible will require you to start discussions, comment, like, retweet, share, and respond. I am amazed by those who won’t even take the time to reply to a valid message that has been directed at them.
Educate – Become a resource. Share great content that is related to your services. If your potential customer is out there making attempts at self-education (they are) prior to reaching out to a salesperson or a company, you can significantly enhance your chances of being found and … of being selected.
Your sales territory has moved online. Even better, it’s a lot bigger than it ever was before. This holds true even if you want, or need, to apply real-life geographic boundaries to it.
Define what your customers look like by building a buyer persona(s) – It’s very difficult to find what you are looking for unless … you know what you are looking for. Think of your best customers. These are the folks who consistently deliver new revenues in terms of repeat business and referrals. Would you like to replicate them?
Go where your customers are – If your customers are on Instagram, you need to be there as well. Conversely, if your customers aren’t on Facebook… feel free to continue to share those pics of fuzzy bunnies but, only on your free, non-selling, time.
Learn to filter your news feeds – If you want to focus on what your target market is talking about, there are only two ways to do this. The first would be to only connect/follow folks who match this status. The second way is by filtering your news feed so that you only see what this select group is discussing.
Filtering is easily accomplished in Twitter and Facebook with lists, circles in Google+, and … there is no longer an easy way to do this in LinkedIn which really chaps my buttocks. However, LinkedIn groups, that are frequented by your target market, can help to mitigate this shortcoming.
Become a search ninja – Most of the social networks have some sort of advanced search functionality. Additionally, you have Google. Now take your buyer persona and apply these desired attributes to your searches. Voila! Targeted prospect list.
Engage in a progressive and personalized manner – The easiest way to squander an opportunity is to move too fast and/or to treat this person like they don’t matter. Immediately hitting a new Twitter follower with a sales pitch ain’t much of a reward. Using an automated DM compounds the insult. Good luck with washing the stink off.
Escalate the connection to real-life – Not only is a real-life relationship more valuable that a virtual one, it is where and how business gets done when you are in sales. Good grief! It’s not like we are limited in ways to do this. If geography is an issue and you can’t drive or fly, get on Skype or any video platform of your choosing.
Do your social research – In the old days, we would real-time scan a customer’s place of business in search of clues that would allow us to form a unique connection. Now you can do it at your leisure from any internet capable device. Best of all, if you take the time to do it right, you will be fully prepared before the call.
Don’t overlook the fact that it is ten times more costly to find a new customer than it is to maintain an existing one. Think of your accounts not in the terms of the sale but rather in terms of CLV (Customer Lifetime Value).
Stay engaged with your existing customers – See the above paragraph. It’s going to be unlikely for them to place their next order if they haven’t seen from you, or even heard from you, since they cut you that last check. However, that nice young salesperson from Company X seems to be quite anxious to earn their business.
You gotta’ love new salespeople. They’ll call on any account simply because they don’t know any better. A seasoned sales pro might hesitate making that call because they know that this account belongs to you. The newbie has no such preconceptions and they will be extremely grateful that you have left the door open for them.
Extend your tentacles to other people in the company – This not only allows you to discover additional opportunities in other areas of the company, it also helps to insulate you against unforeseen personnel changes. A simple search on LinkedIn by company name, location, and whatever other parameters is a great way to start!
Referrals are being given in-person, per their traditional route, as well as online. These may be shared proactively or as a result of a request by a potential buyer for your services. Regardless, will your name be a part of the discussion?
Create social debt – I certainly did not invent the term social debt but, I just love the way that it seems to roll trippingly off the tongue. One example would be to introduce a client to a new highly qualified customer. It’s better to be owed than to owe but, what’s even better is when you need to call in that favor.
Earn the right – Bob Burg famously coined the phrase “Givers get!” If you think for one minute that the mere glow of your presence will earn you referrals … sales may not be the best profession for you. You have to earn the right to even ask for referrals let alone have them sent your way unannounced.
Leverage relationships – Of course, if there is no relationship or you have not done your part in providing value to that relationship … you don’t have much to leverage, do you? If you read the fine print, everything that we have discussed in this article is designed to place you in a position where you are entitled to apply this technique.
Fear of rejection
If cold calling didn’t work, doesn’t work, it has as much to do with the fear of rejection as it has to do with the questionable effectiveness of the activity itself. Nobody likes to make cold calls and, because of this, the largest majority of salespeople will either not make the calls or .. aren’t much good at them when they do.
However, warm calls have the ability to remove most, if not all, of this fear and social selling is designed to allow for this cold to warm transition. Better yet, social selling will dramatically increase your prospecting effectiveness and you have to love that! You can take this to the bank … along with your commission check.