I absolutely love the personal relationship building aspect of sales. Based on building these personal business relationships, I discovered the secret power behind LinkedIn.
It’s the personal connection which makes the difference. Bottom line... you can't consistently become successful in the sales world without building personal, authentic and meaningful relationships.
It is amazing how 80 years later, Dale Carnegie and his infamous book, "How to Win Friends and Influence People" still resonates today. The two key successes in sales today, building relationships and changing the way people think. This can be still accomplished by integrating "social" into the sales process.
I often refer to myself as an old school sales guy with a modern twist. Yes, the old school foundation of selling is still alive and well. The foundation is simple, never lose sight of the two P's... prospecting and the phone.
Using my personal connection philosophy, I put to use a daily dose of the 5 Vitamin C’s. These are Cleverly Capture, Converse, Collaborate, Connect and Convert. This allows me to start connecting with key people and decision makers--the same people who often times ignore my countless voice mail and email messages. Yes, I still use the phone and I still leverage email; however, the calls and emails take on a whole new meaning. These have now become warmer and a bit more personable based upon the relationships built with my LinkedIn connections. Within the business community, LinkedIn has become my best social business development friend.
Life as a copier rep is challenging and I get it. I thrive and embrace personal and business challenges. No risk no reward!
"Choices, Chances, Changes... You must make a choice to take a chance or your life will never change"
Fast forward with me to the summer of 2013. After spending almost 20 years of my sales career with the same dealership I decided it was time for a change. I set the ego and fear aside to embrace the next chapter of my copier sales career. This opportunity was a "net new" sales position within the Corporate Major Account team for a global office technology manufacturer. I was handed zero current clients and had to build out a target account list to call on. This didn’t bother me as I knew LinkedIn was my best business friend.
I ask you all, how many tenured sales reps would leave 20 years of business behind them to venture off into new horizons without a single account to feed off of. The answer my friends is zero!
The $1.3 Million Sales Story
The first 90 days was humbling as I threw up goose eggs; big fat zeros! I was beginning to build my relationship funnel. I strongly believe in order to have a healthy sales funnel you have to engage and commit to building up your relationship funnel while managing your network funnel as well. From my relationship funnel, I soon started to convert these relationships into net new meetings. These net new meetings took on an entirely different meaning as I already had developed the personal connection on LinkedIn.
I need to confess as I used the FREE version of LinkedIn to do my sales damage in 2014! I poured years and years of self-education to create the mindset and skill set around effectively integrating the use of LinkedIn into socially developing business.
Folks, you can build your brand for free on LinkedIn. You can post content for free on LinkedIn. You can engage in conversation for free on LinkedIn. You can search for prospects for free on LinkedIn though with some restrictions now. You see where I am going with this... lay the foundation and build the framework to incorporate the use of LinkedIn to enhance your prospecting efforts. The cost to start is zero my friends, the rewards are priceless.
LinkedIn is just a vehicle to enhance your business development. It does not replace old fashion hard work, dedication and commitment to be your very best.
In the span of 12 months, I leveraged these LinkedIn relationships to bring in over $650, 000 of net new business in conjunction with $1,300,000 in sales revenue in calendar year 2014! Yes, this is correct 50% of my sales revenue was directly attributed to how I leveraged LinkedIn. LinkedIn became the cog in the wheel of my prospecting strategy and success.
It's about building your credibility and leveraging your network!
LinkedIn offers more context into not only what we can share about our professional accolades, but also learn about new sales opportunities, companies, and the people we want to be connected with. LinkedIn provides sales professionals the tools to have their own personal website to promote their personal brand and share their professional story. The single best branding platform for copier reps I have ever seen!
“49% of buyers research vendors through their LinkedIn profiles” – LinkedIn Research
Successfully integrating LinkedIn allowed me to build out my professional image, helped me to tell my story and to generate awareness in a highly competitive sales environment, Los Angeles. In many cases LinkedIn is being used as a resume to showcase or to use as a self-promotion site touting sales accolades. Why is this? In my opinion, it all starts with getting out of our comfort zone to learn new methods of engaging with business professionals. Change is difficult especially for adults. As the executive buyer is changing so should we as salespeople.
Your LinkedIn profile is your professional image to the business world. Are you seen as a subject matter expert? How are you positioning yourself as a thought leader? You are creating your personal brand via what you promote within LinkedIn. LinkedIn has become the largest use of a database in the world.
I started with promoting my professional image
It all starts with your professional headline. This is not the ideal position for your job title. Do you honestly think anyone cares about your job title? Along with your name, your professional headline travels with you everywhere you go on LinkedIn. Every comment, every published post and every group discussion your headline follows you. You have seconds to bring someone in who in turn will spend the time to canvass your LinkedIn page. With 120 precious characters you have to promote value, create your call to action and compel the visitor to continue reading your profile.
"Think of the challenges your prospects have and how you can help solve them"
Align to your prospect with your story
After drawing executives in with your headline, pay close attention to the summary section. In 2000 characters or less this is your story. A great read is Simon Sinek's Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. I used the summary section as my why. Why would someone do business with you? What do they get when they engage with you? What makes you who you are? This is your personal story-telling time. I drew in my visitors by sharing with them what they can expect by engaging with me. It was my promise of value which catapulted the start of many real conversations.
“People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe”,
Generate awareness and attract executives to your LinkedIn profile
Completely optimizing your LinkedIn profile is a must. No excuses! The time is now! Resuscitating your sales funnel through social business development is a must for copier reps. Commit to nurture, grow and build those business relationships.
The 7 free steps I used on LinkedIn to build my sales funnel
1. Crafted and curated educational, relevant content to share
2. Shared the content with my social network to help kick start start conversations
3. Became a frequent visitor of who viewed my profile
4. Converted these viewers to 1st level connections through personal invitations to connect
5. Reviewed the content engagement section for comments to my posts leading to further conversations
6. Mined my network by reviewing 2nd level connections and then asking for help
7. Turned my online conversations to offline meetings
It all starts with making this a daily habit. Nothing happens until you make the commitment to drive change in your life.
If an old school, baby boomer copier guy can adapt so can you!
I encourage you to start having conversations with your LinkedIn connections. LinkedIn is about building relationships. Be authentic, add value, listen, build trust and be yourself.
Salespeople today must position themselves to be viewed as go-to resources for thought leadership and industry news. Incorporating LinkedIn, I firmly believe you will have less competition for the executive buyer’s attention, you will create a positive personal brand image, you will position yourself as a subject matter expert but most importantly you will consistently keep the sales funnel full of prospects. It is all about the top of the sales funnel. Nothing going in means nothing is coming out!
If you enjoyed please share your comments. Look forward to connecting and starting a conversation.
Check out more at the Social Sales Academy blog site.
I appreciate getting the opportunity to share my LinkedIn stories. Integrating the use of LinkedIn was my “game-changer” in the highly competitive copier world. With great pride I transform and coach copier sales professionals to grow net new business by helping them tell their story and communicate on LinkedIn. My commitment is to help independent office technology dealers thrive in a changing marketplace. You can follow me on LinkedIn, Twitter, as well as at the Social Sales Academy