Posts Tagged 'expert selling'

How to engage your Linked-in contacts

Linked-in is the silent superstar of social media, it owns the online business connections market and it is without doubt the best online tool for relationship and reputation management.  Most people however just use it like an online rolodex and fail spectacularly to use Linked-in to engage their contacts on a deeper level.

Social media is changing the way companies communicate with customers and contacts and this has led to a plethora of social media consultancies (usually referring to themselves as gurus or experts) advising business people to set up Linked-in profiles and get as many contacts as possible.  One such agency even charges by the contact they deliver for you.  This sort of low level thinking has contributed to a lot of people getting to a 100 contacts and thinking right job done. You can almost hear the sighs of relief now that they have reached the point where they don’t need to work live a slave to look credible.

The problem is that it’s not job done its job started, to get the biggest return on investment from social media you actually have to be social!  A strange concept I know but in business contacts are nothing, relationships are everything.

In the near future people begin to look at numbers of connections, friends, followers etc in the same way as we now look at “hits” as a way of measuring a web business. Yet then as now an internet based technology has had a huge impact on business but with the wrong Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s).  The amount of connections you have isn’t a KPI but the relationship value of those connections is.  The problem is that using all the social media tools in the world won’t help your business, you have to engage your clients on a deeper level than your competition or you won’t be able to compete.

Six keys to improving the relationship value of your Linked-in contacts

1. Quality not quality – First and foremost don’t ask people to link-in unless you know them and want to manage your relationships with them more effectively. Just keep telling yourself it’s a relationship game not a numbers game. At a networking event recently overheard someone say we should link-in to a man he had just met only to have the other person respond “I think we linked-in after the last chamber event”. In my view you should only Link-in to people you have worked with, done business with or know really well.

2. Update regularly – The is a twitteresk feature on Linked in called update and it asks you to post in 140 characters what you are working on – use it and use it every working day. People who visit your profile page will see that you are putting in some effort to your Linked-in page and they will respect that. Your contacts will also usually get an update email of what you are doing every week and this keeps you in touch with your most important contacts for the investment of five minutes per day.

3. Share – Using Linked-in along isn’t a social networking strategy its just one of the tools you will need. If your client’s perception of your credibility and knowledge is key to your success lawyers, accountants architects, IT sales etc then you should blog some useful tips and ideas and share it with your contacts via the update function and by via email.

4. Linked-in messages –When one of your contacts posts an update don’t just read it and think “that was interesting” drop them an email via the system and offer advice or tips, encouragement or a well done as appropriate again a few minutes a day can pay dividends.

5. Network – The most powerful thing you can do with your contacts is bring them together. Ok so some will be in different countries but 80% will be in your local area so BE SOCIAL. In the last two weeks I have held two speakeasy networking events where I have pointed at a bar and invited a dozen of my Linked-in contacts to meet me for a beer and a catch up.  As they all arrived at the same time I introduced them and there are two join ventures in the offer and five very warm sales pitches taking place next week – not only that I received several emails from people saying they were the best networking events they had ever attended.

6. Ask – this is what its all about, Linking-in to people you don’t really know, who don’t really trust you and then failing to engage them means that you have a dead list and a dead list can’t connect you to anyone.  I will bet if most people did a people search for their number one target client in their city they would find several of their connections know them but they wouldn’t have the depth of relationships that would allow them to ask for an introduction.  I am one step away from my top 20 target clients and in 80% of the cases it is one of my Linked-in recommenders that knows them.  It took me a year and I have turned down more offers to connect than I have accepted but my list of contacts is alive and kicking and every time I have asked for an introduction I get it.  Obviously no-ones profile or contact list can ever be perfect but by following the tips above you can improve the value of your Linked-in contacts significantly.

This blog is part two of my series on getting the most from Linked-in you can find part one here http://bit.ly/7JtgEV I hope it helps.

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp

Intelligise – Be Brilliant

http://www.intelligise.co.uk

Advertisements

Everyone hates “Sales People” BUT they love “Experts”

Solo oily heed text

Everyone hates sales people – admit it you do as well – even sales people hate sales people!

When a sales person approaches you in a store and asks “can I help you” unless you are in the Apple Store or maybe PC World you automatically say “no thanks just looking”.  Even if you are not just looking, even when you really could do with a second opinion on which shirt goes with the trousers you just picked out.  When a telesales person gets you on the phone you will rarely give them the chance to tell you about the deal they have for you or the service they offer.  At the networking event when someone you just met delivered his elevator pitch before you have even had a conversation and tried to force his card on you, the only person watching who didn’t know that you were not going to do business is the salesman.

The rare exception I mentioned was when you go into the Apple Store or PC World you actively seek out the salesman to ask advice we value their expertise, you understand that you may know less than them and so you are desperate to tell them what we need, how we will use it and how much you can afford and boy will their advice influenced your buying decision.

Why?

Because everyone hates “Sales People” BUT they love “Experts”.

But it doesn’t have to be that way!

In the 80s and 90s sales people were trained to push information, to state the features and benefits overcome objections and then try to close the deal.  The world has moved on but sales training in the main hasn’t.  People don’t want to be sold to they want to be engaged, advised and empowered to make the buying decision themselves.   Engaging means sharing expertise, questioning and delving deep into the needs and wants of the buyer, engaging is far more powerful than running through the old style sales script.  Engaging empowers the buyer to make the decision, it is easier than selling, it’s more fun AND everyone I coach to engage increase their sales by at least 25%.

So stop selling people what you want them to buy and start engaging and helping people buy what they really need.

Fortunately becoming an expert is easy, yes you need to read your product manual and service level agreement etc but that’s just background info.  The best way to become an expert and be loved by your clients is to ask questions.  A field sales person will meet between four and a dozen buyers a day, a telesales person will talk to at least 20 decision makers a day and a retail sales person will talk to up to a hundred.

Now imagine if those sales conversations were used to engage and to understand the reasons that the buyers may want to buy and to understand the problems and pain experienced by the buyers of their service.  How long would it take for every one of them to become real experts in their marketplace, to be able to offer really credible advice and to share information that will empower the buyers, make them respect the sales person and make it far more likely that they will buy?

Results can be instant but to make engaging a habit and get 25% plus sales increases usually takes people I coach about three weeks.  The person in every business that is best placed to access the knowledge required to become an expert is the sales person but most of them just keep trying to force the sale through rather than listening to reasons that their prospect needs to buy and that’s a pity because everyone hates sales people BUT they love experts.

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp

Intelligise Be Brilliant