Thursday, August 28, 2014

Social Selling Tip: Use twitter to build strategic relationships

Imagine being in a crowd and shouting out news about your latest sales campaign. You'd struggle to be heard above all the other voices doing the same thing. There is a high chance that nobody would hear. That's how most people use twitter!

Now consider this, you're standing in the same crowd, you actively start talking one on one to someone. Even though the crowds are shouting all around you, the person you're talking to will lean in and listen carefully to what you have to say. Even more so if you let them do 80% of the talking.

I follow/unfollow a lot of people on twitter. When I look at my twitter feed, most of the tweets are of little interest to me. The tweets that interest me the most are the ones where someone has mentioned my twitter handle. I don't have the time to review all the other tweets.

Twitter has a great feature called 'lists'. Lists allow me to organise people into groups. When I view a list, I only see the tweets from people who belong in that list. I don't even have to follow the person.

Here's an example of one of my lists. I call it 'Sales Targets'. The list is marked private so that I am the only person who can see it. In this list are people who I would like to build a relationship for the purpose of making a sale.

Everyday, I am able to prioritise my time on social media by reviewing what is being said in my most important lists. I review my 'Sales Targets' list and I look for opportunities to engage with people. Notice the use of the word 'engage'? I look for things that we have in common so that I can join the conversation. Over time, we build a relationship.

Can you imagine what it is like when I pick up the phone to talk to a sales prospect for the first time? It's not a cold call neither is it a warm call. By this stage I'm calling a friend!

Here is a video clip that shows some details about using lists.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Social Selling Tip: Understand the pain before trying to fix the problem

For a sales person, that first meeting or interaction with a new buyer is critical. It is important to know who you're talking to, what drives them and what motivates them. While these factors will differ depending on their job role and position in the corporate hierarchy, we often try to solve problems that have nothing to do with their job role.

Recently, I have taken on a new sales role. I am providing Time & Attendance solutions to enable businesses to manage workforce costs. My buyer could be a LoB Manager (Line of Business), Payroll Manager or an Operations Manager. Each of these people have different requirements.

So, I've been doing research into what drives a Payroll Manager. By connecting with people on LinkedIn, I've been able to meet with several people to talk about some of their key motivators. These are easy to identify with more mature businesses as Payroll Manager's deliver to a set of KPI's (Key Performance Indicators).

This got me thinking a bit more about how to identify specific pain points for an organisation. I managed to find a great source of information that often lists the pain/problems in a bullet point format. 

If I need to talk to someone in Payroll, I begin by going to a job website and searching for Payroll positions that may be available. Most of them list the key requirements for that role. Requirements, obviously relate to the business goals that the applicant is going to be tasked with meeting. My job is to work out how I can help.

Another thing you can do is to review LinkedIn profiles. Do a search for a particular job role or function. When you read someone's profile, you will notice that they may have outlined their roles and responsibilities. However, some people will have listed their achievements. Achievements are great! By considering their achievements, you'll be able to work out what their initial problem was.

With this basic research you should be able to formulate a basic understanding of what drives and motivates someone in a particular job role. This is especially important when you don't have a good understanding of the role.  

Make a list of the key issues and work out what the questions are that you need to ask that are relevant to the person you're talking to. By asking these questions you will be able to determine the best way for you to be able to "help". Notice I use the word "help", that's the job of a sales person.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Social selling tip: Targeting your customers is not the best strategy

It's easy to find a prospect on LinkedIn and to think that your job is half done. Learn a little bit about their interests and hobbies, pick up the phone and call them. The social salesperson's whole mentality has moved from cold calling to warm calling. In my opinion it is still a cold call and now you're not just an annoying sales person, you're also a stalker!

We all know that the best way to make a sale is through a referral. This could be through a customer or a friend. Either way, a referral gives you credibility and that is what turns a cold call into a warm call.

Don't get me wrong, using social media to identify sales suspects/prospects is a good place to start. The question you need to ask is "How do I get a referral?"

LinkedIn is a great tool for enabling us to identify people who may know your suspect. Again, the natural inclination would be to call someone you know and ask them to make a referral. However, just because they seem to be connected on social media, doesn't mean there is a trusted relationship.

Let's face it, if you are having to ask for a referral, there is a problem. You have to earn a referral. Sounds a bit like real world selling, right? 'Social Selling' is about using social media tools to improve real world selling.

Over the past few days, I have identified a number of suspects. There are about 200 of them in total. I have been through each profile and kept a tally of the people in my network who are connect to them. My goal has been to identify the top 10 people who are connected to my list of suspects.

This list seems to contain people I know well as well as others who I am yet to meet. They are potentially people with the ability to influence a number of my known suspects. Which relationship is of more value to me, the influencer or the customer? The influencer!

Having identified these people, I am going through the process of earning (not asking for) a referral. I am frantically setting up meetings with these influencers. I need to understand how I can help them. Sooner or later, if they will be interacting with my sales suspects. If they like me, then they will make an unsolicited referral. 

Here are your next steps:

  1. Search LinkedIn for potential sales suspects
  2. Bookmark each suspect as you will want to refer back to them
  3. Search each profile for people within your network who are connected to the suspect (I use a spreadsheet to track this information)
  4. Identify the top 10 influencers
  5. Focus on spending time with your top 10 influencers

Friday, August 22, 2014

Using gaming to change employee behaviour

Gaming changes employee behavour
Mark Sumner (ASB) & Vaughan Rivett (Social Biz Guy)
have gamification in their sights
The Auckland Social Media Club packed out the venue to hear from a panel of gamification experts. A variety of people shared stories about using gaming to engage people for marketing, health and education purposes.

With the New Zealand elections being held in just a few weeks, a new game has been launched for young mobile device users. Using swipe Yes/No techniques, young people can learn about political parties. The goal being to educate young people so that they will vote.

This got me thinking about how gamification was a key part of the way business was done when I was at IBM. A simple process of earning badges provided over 440,000 employees with challenges and rewards to help them learn new strategies. The goal was to improve productivity and knowledge sharing.

One thing I have discovered with Time and Attendance solutions is that a number of them have a capability for 'points'. Points can be used to modify employee behaviours. For instance, employees often call in sick on a Friday or Monday, it's often known as a 'long weekend'. This has a direct cost to the business as sick leave entitlement is awarded.

To help address this problem, a gaming system could be put in place where employees are awarded points for being present and not claiming sick leave on a Monday or Friday. A leaderboard could be provided so that the team could see who held the top scores.

With any gaming system, there needs to be some sort of reward. Believe it or not, a leaderboard is often enough. However, other rewards could be offered. If absenteeism is an issue for your workforce, then the financial benefit may mean that a substantial reward could be awarded to top performers. I'm sure that an additional week of paid time off would appeal to most employees.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Work available: Citrix Upgrade

On behalf of a friend (who is the IT Manager of a 200 user organisation) I am looking for an IT company to upgrade a Citrix environment to the latest versions.

They currently have Citrix ZenApp 6.0 and would like to upgrade to 7.5. There is also a Citrix Access Gateway and Web Interface that will also need to be upgraded. They would also like to have a conversation about moving to a virtual desktop.

Your company will need to have a New Zealand office with Citrix certified resources available in Auckland. If you can help, please email me.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Social Selling and Social Media will not work for you unless you have friends

A change of job has meant that I have needed to build a new network of friends, or should I say add to my existing networks. Note the use of the word 'friends'. I'm not out to get Facebook likes, twitter followers etc, I'm actually out to make friends. Maybe it is more like online dating! Okay, even I admit that sounds a bit stalkerish.

The fact is, when you are in a sales role you need to have a network of good friends. That is typically where your sales leads and referrals are going to come from. If you don't have a lot of friends in the area that you are trying to sell into, then you're going to need to get out there and make some.

Here are three simple things that I do to build new friendships online:

1. Identify those who are influential online
A simple search of people with 'payroll' (the skilled people I can help) in their LinkedIn profile reveals more than meets the eye. There is a lot of information that can lead you to finding the influencers. By looking for the groups that people belong to, it is easy to see which groups are popular. Just take a look in the groups and see who the most active people are.

2. Connect with the influential
Once you have found a few of the influencers, now is the time to make a connection. Whatever you do, don't start asking to connect on LinkedIn or Facebook. It's far too early for that malarkey! Where are your social skills? Find an opportunity for them to become aware of you, a good place to start would be to respond to a comment they have made in a LinkedIn group. Remember you need to start adding value at this point in the game.

3. Engage
Find ways to engage online. A lot of influential people will be active on more than one Social Media site. They might have a blog or even a youtube channel. I monitor these people on twitter a lot. Twitter is a good place to be able to participate in a conversation. 

Once you have been connecting for a while, you need to work out a way to meet with these people in real life. I often do this by offering to meet for a coffee, in some cases I join events that have been promoted by the people I have now built a network with.

So, at which point of this process do I do the hard sell? The answer is, I don't! Sales is never about selling anything, it's about helping people. It's about helping a friend with a problem. The more friends you have, the more people you can help.
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