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The Best Advice I Learned from Top Sales 2.0 Conference Speakers

Joanne BlackToday's guest post is by Joanne Black, America’s leading authority on referral selling and author of NO MORE COLD CALLING™ and Pick Up the Damn Phone!: How People, Not Technology, Seal the Deal. Connect with her at www.NoMoreColdCalling.com or call her at 415.461.8763

 

This month I talked to a number of speakers who will deliver presentations at the Sales 2.0 Conference on April 27 and 28 in San Francisco. What did I learn? Here are the five takeaways you need to know if want to create a successful sales future for yourself.

Takeaway #1 from Tiffani Bova“Current sales metrics don’t match the buyer’s journey.” 

Ever watch a bouncing ball? It goes from one side to another, up and down, and all around. It's tough to follow. That's the digital buyer. These prospects come into the sales process at different stages and go bouncing around, collecting new information and shifting their focus back and forth.

Yet, salespeople are still measured on legacy metrics, as if customers start with zero knowledge of us. Reps are measured on calls made, social touches generated, and emails sent. “But legacy metrics don't work anymore,” says Tiffani Bova, “because the digital buyer is no longer linear.”

Tiffani will discuss other dangers sales organizations face in her presentation, “Who's in Control of the Sales Process? The Customer!”

Takeaway #2 from Matt Heinz: “Sales operations should be a marketing function, not sales.” 

When Matt Heinz offered this advice, I thought it was another case of marketing trying to take over sales –- until he pointed out that sales teams boost productivity by better utilizing marketing resources. He explained, “Sales operations has evolved into sales enablement –- which should be handled by a group that can systematize and scale the repeatable tasks that are essential to sales.”

Then salespeople can focus on what they do best: Building one-to-one relationships.

Matt will suggest other time-savers in “How Sales Operations Can Double Your Sales Team's Productivity.”

Takeaway #3 from Patricia Fripp: “No matter how experienced you are, you can’t ‘wing’ a sales presentation.” 

Prospects don't care about you. They don’t want to hear how great your product is or how long you’ve been in business. They're only interested in what you can do for them. Those answers require research and practice.

Patricia Fripp says salespeople should spend at least 30 minutes rehearsing and personalizing every client presentation. “People get cocky,” she told me. “They’ve been selling for years, so they think they can wing it. No way. When all things are equal, your presentation determines whether you win or lose.”

Don’t miss her breakout session, “Superstar Sales Presentations: The Inside Secrets.”

Takeaway #4 from Michael Nick and Drew Wright"When prospects won’t decide, walk away.” 

You've already "spent" your commission. Now the customer says he's not moving forward, with you or anyone else. Losing to “no decision” is even more embarrassing than losing to a competitor. You’ve committed to a forecast, and now you have to backpedal with your sales manager.

Michael Nick and Drew Wright will demonstrate the cost of waiting in their breakout session, “Overcoming No Decision.”

Their caution: If you’re hemorrhaging dollars, get out early. If you expect a delay, make a go/no-go decision.

Takeaway #5 from Jamie Shanks, Kurt Shaver, and Anneke Seley: “The most important component of social selling is marketing.” ­ 

I had serious doubts about this advice from Jamie Shanks. Then he explained how a marketing-driven social media outreach helped him create a referral network of advocates and influencers.

As Jamie said, “LinkedIn is a tool that enables social selling. It’s not social selling. It’s the medium.” Jamie will share his secrets on the “Generating Revenue Using Social Selling” panel, alongside Kurt Shaver and Anneke Seley.

Kurt agrees that marketing should drive social selling. Everyone has to publish content now, including sales. But instead of creating new content, he says salespeople should focus on sharing content from marketing. “Marketing is staffed, trained, and authorized to create content on the company’s behalf.”

Anneke points out that because social selling is new territory, many sales leaders don’t see its value. Without the right motivation and compensation package, reps won’t follow the plan. “Managers will just be adding one more thing to their day,” she explains. “All the training in the world won’t make a difference until their peers start getting results.”

Anneke says to stay for their panel. Cocktails follow.

Thought leaders aren’t supposed to rehash the same old ideas. They’re supposed to add something new to the conversation. I learned tons from these thought leaders, and I look forward to learning more at the Sales 2.0 Conference on April 27-28 in San Francisco. As a guest blogger, I’ll share more words of wisdom throughout the event. Hope to see you there!

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Why Sellers Must Focus on Relationships, Not Their Networks

Joanne-square-250x250Today's blog post is by Joanne Black, America’s top referral sales expert. Visit www.nomorecoldcalling.com for more articles, tips, and free resources. You can also find Joanne on Twitter: @ReferralSales.  

 

 

George thought he’d nailed the link between social selling and referrals, but as it turns out, he had merely bought into the popular misconception that social media would do his job for him.

George knew lots of people who surely knew lots of people. So he decided to use email and LinkedIn to ask his vast network for referrals, but no one responded. The problem was that George had forgotten about the social part of social selling.

Sales is social, but too many people forget that the quality of their relationships, not the quantity of their connections, really counts. You can collect LinkedIn connections like baseball cards and get nowhere, or you make the connections you already have stronger.

Yes, George knew a lot of people, but he hadn’t been in touch with many of them for a year or more. He had contacts, not relationships. Now he needed to reconnect on social media and schedule time to talk – to find out how their circumstances had changed and in what ways he might be able to help them.

“That’s a lot of work,” he said.

Of course it’s a lot of work, but it’s our job as salespeople. If bringing in new business was as simple as pushing a few buttons, we’d have to find new careers.

Stop Typing and Start Talking

Who doesn’t love a good shortcut? While there’s much to be said for efficiency, however, you can’t get caught taking shortcuts when it comes to conversations.

The art of conversation is your competitive advantage. Conversation is the key to problem solving and relationship building, which are at the core of social selling. It’s also become an increasingly unique skill set. The digital world, as great as it is, has left an entire generation of salespeople afraid to pick up the phone and have real conversations. Text messages with truncated words or 140-character Twitter posts do not facilitate the kind of meaningful, effective dialogue that increases sales conversions or gets you referrals.

People do business with people, not with robots or tweets or any other fancy technology. Social media is the place to start a conversation and begin a relationship, not to pitch your services or ask for referrals. That’s like walking up to someone and saying, “Hey, do me a favor,” without even asking how the other person is doing.

Show up online as you would in person. Just because you’re online doesn’t mean social etiquette is off the table.

Referral Selling IS Social Selling

There’s a direct correlation between your personal connections, ability to generate referral introductions, and sales success. Referral selling is the most personal, most social kind of selling you can do. When I refer you, my reputation’s on the line, so I need to be sure you’ll take care of my relationship as I would.

Social selling is a great way to expedite the first few important steps in prospecting: researching potential clients and identifying referral sources. Engage people on social media, then pick up the phone and take the conversation offline. Find out how your referral source knows the person you want to meet. Explain the business reason you want an introduction, and then ask how you can reciprocate.

It’s never too soon (or too late) to ask for referrals, help someone, contribute to a conversation, say thanks, or just catch up. Step out from behind the technology curtain and discover the real world. It’s waiting for you.


Why Inside Salespeople Make Great Social Sellers

KurtShaverToday's guest post is by Kurt Shaver, founder of The Sales Foundry. 

 

 


The shift from using outside sales forces to inside sales forces has been going on for years. A 2013 study by InsideSales.com revealed that inside sales positions were growing 300 times faster than outside sales positions. Industry leaders know why: maintaining an inside sales force typically costs less, and the constant introduction of new technology allows inside salespeople to achieve results similar to those realized by outside salespeople. Communication technologies such as Voice over IP, CRM, email, and even videoconferencing bridge geographical barriers and allow inside salespeople to build personal rapport close to that enjoyed by outside salespeople.

In some instances, the more frequent interaction between inside salespeople and clients results in even stronger relationships than those developed by outside salespeople, whose large territories often mean they visit clients infrequently.

Social selling is the newest trend in sales. The Aberdeen Groups reports that teams using social-selling techniques exceed their quota 31 percent more than teams that don’t use social selling. In a social-selling pilot by IBM’s Cloud Services group, inside salespeople increased lead generation using Twitter and LinkedIn. The pilot resulted in a 400 percent sales increase, compared to a similar product launch, which did not employ social-selling techniques. It resulted in a decision to move forward with a roll out to all 1,700 inside salespeople.

Here are four reasons why inside salespeople make great social sellers:

1. Inside salespeople are at their desks. In this era of smartphones and iPads, outside sales reps are more connected than ever, but they still burn more hours in meetings, flying in airplanes with no Wi-Fi, or driving (no texting!) than their inside-sales counterparts. It is simply easier for inside salespeople to participate on social networks.

2. Inside salespeople are skilled at building virtual relationships. With onsite meetings, lunches, and golf outings removed from their schedules, inside salespeople have learned how to use the phone, email, and social media to communicate effectively. Imagine an inside sales rep in Seattle whose sales territory is Ohio. The rep can build a network of Ohio contacts and a good reputation by contributing valuable information to local LinkedIn Groups in which customers and prospects are members.

3. Inside salespeople are used to juggling many activities. Often, inside salespeople are responsible for a larger number of smaller prospect or subscription renewals. They are used to quick phone and computer interactions with many contacts throughout the day. This rapid-response skill is the ideal personality trait needed to succeed in the 140-character world of social networking.

4.  Inside sales reps are more likely to be “digital natives.” For many companies, the average insides sales rep is younger than his or her average outside-sales counterpart. That is because inside sales is often the training ground for a career in outside sales. Salespeople who have grown up in the digital era are comfortable, not only with the mechanics of social networking, but also with the philosophy of being transparent and sharing information online.

As more buyers spend more of the sales cycle online, it will be easier to engage them on social networks via an inside sales team. Can you think of any other reason why inside sales reps make great social sellers? Share your thoughts in the comments section. 


How to Ditch the Generic Sales Pitch in 60 Minutes

Will Spendlove 1Today's guest post is by Will Spendlove, vice president of product marketing at InsideView Inc.

 

 

Which kind of sales pitch would a prospect prefer to hear, a personalized message or a generic sales pitch? These days, prospects can get generic information about companies and offerings online. If you can’t talk with customers about their personal business needs, you’re going to have a tough time engaging them.

The good news is that salespeople can tap social networks to discover all kinds of relevant information, leading to great conversations with prospects, which in turn can lead to closed deals. So how do you use social networks to ditch the generic pitch in 60 minutes? Let’s start the timer…

00:00

Pick leads on which you can find a good level of base data to qualify them, such as company name, industry, size, etc. Social selling won’t work on a random lead on which you have only a name and email address. This is a targeted technique, so you’ll need enough background to start your online search and know that you’re researching the correct person and company.

05:00

Online, look up the name of your lead plus information about his or her company. A search engine is fine; a business-data service like Hoover’s can also be useful.

15:00

Find the blog, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn streams for the target company. Add the target company’s name as part of the search string, such as “manufacturing equipment Maytag.”

Find news that starts a conversation or backs up your pitch – or both. A company missing its earnings might not be directly relevant to what you’re selling, but helping the company drive more sales or speed production can be a point that’s reinforced with such news.

25:00

Find Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn profiles for your lead. Look for any information that might be useful. Maybe his or her last few tweets mentioned working long hours (which might indicate a stalled project or new product), or the LinkedIn profile shows a recent promotion (which might indicate company growth).

Also search for any social connections, professional or personal, that you might have in common with the lead. This can help you get a warm introduction. Even if you don’t know anyone in common, you might find an unexpected link (for example, that you attended the same college).

40:00

Triangulate the information -- background, company, and personal/professional -- to brainstorm your entry points. You’re looking for a personalized hook that’ll get the lead interested immediately, such as,

“Hi, Sally, I’m with Vandelay Industries, and I think we can help with your upcoming product launch in Europe. We’ve worked with Bob Smith, who you managed in your last role, and he loves our product…”

If you’re not seeing obvious hooks, work with your manager to brainstorm ideas.

55:00

Practice your pitch, then call your lead and demonstrate that you know his or her business and pain points. The fact that you’ve done your homework will automatically convey your respect for this person’s time.

There you have it -- the 60-minute approach to social selling. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll never want to go back to the old ways of generating leads, because this method really works. If you sell a complex product with a long sales cycle, you might be able to get by doing this work manually. For high-volume sellers, however, it’s wise to invest in a solution such as InsideView that pulls together social information and online data and makes it available in a central location.


The Sales Model of the Future: Interview with @Gitomer

I'm really enjoying my series of videos with top selling author Jeffrey Gitomer. He is a great thought leader who is always thinking about the future and energizing audiences with his enthusiasm and new ideas. In the video above, we discuss how mobile devices have changed the game of sales. As he points out, more than 70% of social is mobile. If you don't develop a mobile strategy now, you are dead in the water. Watch the video above to see his tips on how to develop a winning mobile strategy that will keep you selling successfully now and in the future.

If you want to learn more about how you can succeed in sales, I highly recommend you check out Jeffrey's virtual training center at http://www.gitomervt.com/

 


Nine Things I've Learned in Nine Years as a LinkedIn Member

KurtShaverToday's guest post is by Kurt Shaver, founder of The Sales Foundry. This post appeared originally on The Sales Foundry blog and is used here with permission.

 

http://thesalesfoundry.com/category/linkedin-philosophies/

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In March I celebrated my nine-year anniversary* of joining LinkedIn. I was living in Silicon Valley managing sales for a software company when I first heard of LinkedIn. You don’t get much more “early adopter” than that. I signed up on March 14, 2005, as member number 2,174,063.**

Here is what I’ve learned in nine years:

1. It’s no longer just an online résumé. While its use for hiring purposes accounts for half of LinkedIn’s revenue, LinkedIn has moved beyond this single purpose. Every day it’s getting to be more like users’ personal Website.

2. It is ridiculously underutilized. Like many software applications, the average LinkedIn member uses less than 10 percent of it capabilities. As one of my friends remarked, “I can’t believe you built a business teaching people to use a free Web app.” That’s because people realize its value and complexity.

3. There are hundreds of LinkedIn user interfaces (UIs). Part of the complexity comes from the fact that there are hundreds of LinkedIn UIs when you consider the combinations of free and 15 premium versions, operating systems, browsers, and mobile platforms. That mean features and screens are not consistent.

4. LinkedIn likes phased feature rollouts. It is good to be cautious, especially in a network of 275 million people. I have taught classes in which some people did not have a feature first rolled out seven months prior. It can be frustrating because members often do not know the schedule.

5. It’s a powerful tool for finding people. As more members joined and kept their information up-to-date, smart salespeople realized that LinkedIn is an incredible database for finding prospects. Add the unique benefit of being able to leverage your network for introductions, and it becomes one of the top ways to initiate a sales dialogue.

6. It’s a powerful tool for building your brand. The other half of social selling is building your value and attracting potential buyers by sharing content. LinkedIn continues to add features to position people as subject matter experts.

7. LinkedIn giveth and LinkedIn taketh away. Just as valuable new features appear, sometimes valuable ones disappear, too. R.I.P. to Events, Reading Lists, Signal, Activities, LinkedIn Today…

8. It’s mainstream media now. If content is king, then LinkedIn is the king’s office. It is many people’s top destination for business news related to their interests. Acquisitions like SlideShare and Pulse, along with the LinkedIn Influencers and the new long form Publishing feature for the masses, all support this ambition.

9. It’s amazingly well self-policed. For all the horror stories and misuse of other social networks, I have to compliment LinkedIn and its members on maintaining good business etiquette. Sure, I occasionally see discussions that belong on Facebook or other more personal social networks, but, in general, people stick to business.

* Find your “Member since” date in Settings.

** Your member number shows in the browser bar URL when you are looking at your own profile.

What’s your LinkedIn member number? Please share your experience with LinkedIn in the comments. 


Avoiding A Social-Media Spectacle

GregTiricoToday's post is by Greg Tirico, director of digital media and content for Sage

 

 

Social-media interaction and real-time marketing can be risky. We were recently reminded of the importance of communicating professionally on social media when a very unkind response to a LinkedIn request went viral. The backlash to the unorthodox response is proof that social media can have a negative effect on a business or organization when made available to the public.

With this in mind, here are some tips that people should remember when it comes to professional interaction on social media.

  • Networking hasn’t changed just because we have the ability to connect via social media. First and foremost, seek to help. In turn, when you need help, your network will be primed and ready.
  • Speaking of your network, the worst time to build one is when you actually need it. Social-media tools help you build a network quickly – one that is far wider and more varied than in the past – but the quality of your connections, not the quantity, is what counts. Get started now. Don’t wait.
  • Any connection you make – be it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. – deserves a little attention. I investigate any connection I make on LinkedIn. Does this person have a Twitter handle listed? Check out what this person is saying. Is there a blog listed? Go read the most recent article, and leave a comment. It doesn’t take a lot of time. I find that the personal touch usually gets lost when networking in the social space. It’s far too easy to hit the connect button and just move on. You wouldn’t shake hands with someone, accept a business card, and walk away, would you? Don’t do that in the social space, either.
  • Set up an approval protocol for tweets and live communication. For instance, don’t answer an angry tweet with an angry tweet.  A good rule of thumb is to refrain from writing a terse response to someone you don’t know.  If you have any doubts, write your tweet or response and have someone else take a look at it before you hit the send or post button; two heads are better than one. The irony in the LinkedIn story is that the woman who responded so tersely to the Millennial looking for a LinkedIn invite was so much more inappropriate in her response than the person who sent the simple request.
  • Act appropriately after the social-media blunder. If you’ve posted something inappropriate or participated in social interactions that, after the fact, you find has or may hurt your business, take steps to remedy the situation. If the post or message has gone viral, don’t ignore it, but attack the situation to get ahead of it. If an apology is in order, give it. Most importantly, put a plan into place to ensure that it does not happen again.

Get more Sage business advice at http://na.sage.com/sage-na/newsroom/in-the-news.


Growing Your Business through Social Referrals

Today's post is by Dick Beedon, founder and CEO of Amplifinity. Hear Larry Angeli, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Amplifinity, present at the upcoming Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco on May 5–6, 2014. Read the agenda or register now to take advantage of discounted rates.

In a highly connected and social world, asking your brand advocates to endorse your company to their networks can be one of the easiest and fastest ways to generate qualified leads.

Consider the following facts based on our experience with our clients at Amplifinity:

  • Referral customers are less price-resistant.

  • Referral customers are less likely to question your product’s benefits after a purchase.

  • Referral customers are more loyal and more likely to refer someone else to you.

Our data consistently indicates that customers who register for our clients’ referral programs make more than one referral when they follow our Referral Program Best Practices. Further, the top 10 percent of brand advocates will make 10 or more referrals over the span of a single program, resulting in 1.5 new clients per advocate, per program.

This advocacy channel is always on and continually active – making referrals, passing on information about products and promotions, and creating brand awareness and goodwill on your behalf. Compared to more traditional advertising and marketing tactics, implementing a referral program as a first step in a brand’s long-term advocacy marketing strategy generates higher-quality leads more quickly and at a fraction of the cost.

Brand advocates step forward and help out because they trust and like a brand’s products or services and/or appreciate the brand’s relationship with their customers. Moreover, we find that our clients’ advocates actually want to share their positive experiences and recruit their friends to become customers too, so taking advantage of this network is often just a matter of the brand automating the process of asking for referrals. In this way, brand advocacy becomes a win-win situation for the brand and its loyal customers.

Today, what others say and write about you online defines you, sometimes more so than your own messaging and marketing materials. Using social channels to create advocates can pay huge dividends in the growth of your business.

Hear Larry Angeli, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Amplifinity, present at the upcoming Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco on May 5–6, 2014. Read the agenda or register now to take advantage of discounted rates.


It’s Just Sales, Stupid

Gretchen DeKnikkerToday’s post is by Gretchen DeKnikker, cofounder and CMO of SocialPandas.

 

 

 


“Social selling” has become the buzzword in sales, and it has come with an onslaught of training on how to become a “social salesperson.” Really, sales is still sales. It’s still about listening. It’s still about uncovering a pain point and finding a solution. It’s still about relationships and connecting on a human level.  

In the not-so-distant past, a sales rep would walk into a prospect’s office and instantly profile the individual. From the display of family photos and diplomas to a mug bearing a sports team’s mascot, experienced reps would identify multiple points of connection in the first 30 seconds. They had an instant sense of who they were meeting and could use this insight to build the kind of rapport and credibility that repeatedly win deals.

Even with the ascent of new technologies, relationships remain the foundation for B2B sales. You may meet via Web conference or “ink” the deal with an electronic signature, but at the end of the day, people still buy from people. Yet most of today’s typical social-selling prescription advises sales reps to behave like marketers, publishing content and mining for buying signals in 140 characters or fewer.

SocialPandas, the ultimate wingman for sales,is a powerful tool that scours pervasive, publicly available social data, making it easy to quickly get to know your prospect.  Beyond just the static intelligence your predecessor gathered walking into an actual office, SocialPandas delivers timely, relevant insight into what is top of mind for prospects. Insight about the conferences they attend, their pursuits, such as cycling or chess, or their love of a certain brand of coffee can be used to build rapport throughout the sales cycle, because connecting in real life is truly social in sales.

For the past two years, we’ve observed our users incorporating social selling in many forms. Here are a few of our slightly contrarian best practice recommendations:

Put down the megaphone and strategize. If you blindly start broadcasting into the digital abyss because you read that customers complete 50 to 70 percent of their buying process before reaching a salesperson, then you’re probably going to invest a tremendous amount of time that yields disappointing results. Yes, the buyer journey is evolving, but social channels are not a magical lead-generation unicorn that will turn your desk phone into an ATM.

It’s OK to lurk. You don’t have to engage in Twitter streams and troll LinkedIn groups to enter the age of social. That’s not to say that reps shouldn’t gather that widely available insight.They absolutely can and must.When used effectively, social media opens up an entirely new source of intelligence for even nonsocial marketing mavens. 

Leverage social intelligence your way. The use of social channels comes naturally to some, and it didn’t happen overnight for those who have cracked the social-selling code. When reps choose to interact on social channels, some take a very personal approach with their prospects, while others keep it all business. It’s all about what works for you. Altering your style to incorporate social best-practices will come across as disingenuous. If you think Twitter is stupid or sharing content is marketing’s job, it’s OK to do it your way.

Sales has always been and will continue to be social. Follow the adage, “Keep calm and carry on,” and evolve in a way that works for you. Oh, and let SocialPandas deliver the social insight you need to win. Email beta@socialpandas.com to sign up for early access.

Read more about SocialPandas.


Ditch Your CRM and Get More Done!

I've seen the future, and I’ve decided to ditch my CRM and get more done.

What's the secret? Contatta. It’s a brand new cloud solution that could have 10 million subscribers within the next five years. I think it’s destined to dwarf salesforce.com’s numbers. Why? Because this software works for the salesperson, not the sales manager.

Here is a little-known fact: the average time a salesperson spends on salesforce.com per day is less than 40 minutes (check Alexa.com for average site visit), which represents only 8.3 percent of a salesperson's day. Contatta is designed to help salespeople work smarter, collaborate better, and leverage social media to the max. It’s like a Swiss Army knife that has everything a salesperson needs to sell like a rock star.

Contatta has been developed and designed by the creator of ACT!, Pat Sullivan, who sold ACT! for $45 million to Symantec in 1993. He then started Saleslogix and grew his second company to more than $100 million and sold it to Sage for $260 million in 2001. He has quietly spent the last few years designing and developing Contatta, which in my opinion will lead to a business three-peat.

Here are just three of the most exciting functionalities, among many others:

1. Contatta turns email into a sales-productivity hub. You don't have to hunt for past emails or spend time searching for files that you know you received but can't locate. You can transfer emails to a workroom, which allows you to work on your projects whenever you choose. No more lost emails or dropped projects.

2. Contatta turns email into a social-media listening post that would make the NSA proud. This clever software not only allows you to see what your prospect has tweeted or posted on Facebook or LinkedIn, but you can see all your salespeople’s connections and leverage the collective social-media power of your entire sales team.

3. Contatta ends email forwarding forever. The sales team can share emails (private or public settings), and anyone from your team can collaborate and add messages, comments, and advice, so your salespeople can tap into the collective intelligence of your organization.

I've had the privilege of interviewing Pat Sullivan, and I’ve edited this half-hour video down to the most essential 3 1/2 minutes.