Social networking needs to be turned up side down to get sales outcomes. If you’re selling technology, let the technology help you sell.
Technology selling has always been about relationships. But why don’t we capitalise on our greatest sales asset – our contacts? IT people use social networking probably because of the technology familiarity (email, chat, websites). The value for sales people is to use the information for business networking to build your sales approach to new customers.
For example, currently LinkedIn lists 579 CIOs, 2,480 IT Managers and 139 Data center Managers within 50 kilometers of Sydney CBD? Before you spam all of them, the real advantage is not in these numbers.
Buying technology is full of risks. Consequently “people references” build a “trust” in gaining access to the right contacts. Of course unless you’ve found a viable proposition (not “me too” but cheaper), your first meeting will be short lived and reputation possibly tarnished. Last year I started using my LinkedIn profile as a research tool to target new prospects. I’d like to walk you through the process I used.
Initially I’d found information indicating a business whose condition meet my “offering” selection criteria. Then I filtered LinkedIn contacts by this company (current employees), then by area and finally role type. This turned up 127 contacts, 55 who had common contacts with mine (330 at that time). Further investigation revealed four (4) key contacts who I knew well enough to ask for help investigating whether my sales proposition had legs. Here’s what I was able to find?
Who was responsible for decisions? Who did they report to?
What’s important to the business right now? What’s working/what’s not?
Information they thought would help me? What would be the advantage/best approach?
Realistically apart from asking “Will you sell it for me?” the possibilities were endless.
How big? How much? Where about? Who else? Why? Why not? By when?
Secondly, once pinpointed, using various Google searches I discovered plenty on the decision maker’s background. Cross referencing this with LinkedIn I uncovered a list of “who they knew…who knew me well”. This provided a group of trusted references. My sales strategy was to leverage these people’s opinions about what I had done for them. Some had previously provided LinkedIn references. Parts of this were used to proposition “why this key decision maker should meet with me?”
Next, even more importantly, from their LinkedIn profile I could “see” who they were in contact with (internally & externally), what they’d done in the past and an insight into their personality, interests and preferences. This opened rapport opportunities for the first meeting.
This information gathering exercise was efficient, allowing me to contact multiple people, about this prospect, without being annoying or "questioning" like a lawyer. Without social business networking this would have been ten times more difficult.
With a valid “Wiif-them” proposition and using email, mobile & voice mail empathetically, I established a “common interest” meeting with two key decision makers whom I’d never meet previously! Not a bad outcome. Selling technology isn’t for the faint hearted, but if you use the technology to help, the road to sales success can be shortened.
Organised Solutions delivers sales training & coaching programs in Connection Selling and Sales Psychology. The above outcomes were achieved using techniques from these courses. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or www.au.linkedin.com/in/organisedsolutions