“I don’t like the sales process. I certainly don’t want to cold call people and I am uncomfortable with sales in general,” words from one of our shiny, brand new clients.
This is a client sentiment we run across often at myMarketing Cafe. In fact, it’s why many of our clients have turned to us for our services. They want to grow their business and client base, but they “hate” having to sell.
It’s really hard for me to tell them, “You’re going to have to learn to like it.”
But, I do have to tell them that, because if you are in business, you must be able to sell your product or services. If you can’t tell people why they should use your business, you can’t count on them to come up with the answers on their own. However, you also shouldn’t be selling, you should be building relationships.
Start with a buyer persona.
Don’t roll your eyes. You’ve heard it before, I know, but it really has to be the first step you take. We always begin by telling clients to create an ideal buyer persona. This gives you a picture of the type of people you want to approach. It defines everything from their demographics information, education or skills, job title, to even some interests. When you create a buyer persona, you arm yourself with a “model client” description, and it makes it easier to recognize this person when you come across them.
Build a stronger Network. (Think strategically)
We use LinkedIn as a management tool for organizing our network. Take that buyer persona you created and begin searching for your ideal prospects on LinkedIn. Connect with them AND people who are important to them. Build a circle of common connections to improve your value in the eyes of your prospects. LinkedIn’s tools allow you to categorize your contacts, track your history with them and schedule future interactions. (For more specifics on this process read, Five Underused LinkedIn Features for Sales and Marketing.)
Research your prospects and give them a reason to connect.
Anyone can mindlessly click the “connect” button on LinkedIn and build a network, but it won’t produce optimal results. Give yourself a manageable number of connection goals for each day. Research your prospects to learn more about them and look for areas where you intersect. Is there anyone you are both connected to? What companies are you both connected to? How could the work you do benefit them? Conduct a search outside of LinkedIn and look for other intersections. There may be something on a personal level that you both are interested in.
I research new contacts in search for the answer to one question, “how can I help them?” I also don’t limit myself to my own services or skills, and instead, I consider all of my contacts, because introducing them to one of my contacts might just be the best thing I can do for them. Doing so may save them time and money, and that’s valuable!
Send a thank you note to those who accept your invitation to connect. (And that’s it.)
Have you ever accepted a new connection and then immediately received a sales pitch? I have and it NEVER works. You’ll find better results by sending a thank you note and adding the contact to your watch list. Begin a relationship with them by learning more about them and looking for reasons to reach out. Look for opportunities to engage with them. Subscribe to their blog. Comment on their LinkedIn posts. Follow them on Twitter. For more details read, LinkedIn Etiquette: 4 Bad Behaviors Costing You Business.
Go offline and connect In-Real-Life
Once you have a few exchanges with a new prospect, invite them to connect offline either via a phone call or meeting. Pay Attention to this next part: Be mindful of their time! When someone asks me to go for coffee, I immediately think, no. Of course I love interacting with people and getting to know them, but in-person meetings are something we need to earn. Coffee means driving time, scheduling a place, etc. It can quickly turn into a half day event. If you want to truly show your value as a connection, start with a phone call to get to know them. Make that phone call completely about your new contact (Read 8 Game-Changing Steps.) When you do schedule an in-person meeting, make the reason because you want to show them a new tool, or a case study you just finished that you think will help them, or something else of TREMENDOUS value. In fact, that first phone call you have with them will uncover many ways you can help them and will naturally lead to an in-person meeting.
Most importantly, don’t expect immediate results unless you are in the retail business. Most savvy business people will want to do their homework before making a buying decision. Your job is to position yourself as the right decision by having meaningful discussions, sharing high quality content, and being helpful.