Category Archives: Blog

LinkedIn or Linked Out?

LinkedInWhat a great innovation. LinkedIn gave us a true social media-connecting place. A home where we can share profiles, experience and get in touch with past, present and future peers. LinkedIn was an open place to learn from others and share our knowledge, but something went terribly wrong. This group of networking individuals became a fertile hunting ground for Gypsies Tramps and Thieves.

Profiles are now being read, not to build personal relationships, but to collect marketing contacts to pitch unwanted products and services. Is there any doubt that many C level executives, decision makers and busy professionals have linked out of LinkedIn? No one wants to put a “Kick me” sign on their own back. As the number of LinkedIn departures grow so does the entrance of more and more marketers. LinkedIn Trainers have now broadened their scope from how to set up a profile and use LinkedIn to how to increase your revenue by harvesting this social media crop of networkers.

Introducing Patty Profiler. Patty spends her days, using LinkedIn search tools, to find people who are targets for her products. Once located you are asked to connect for the purpose of her gaining more contact info to be put into a database to be texted and emailed the benefits of her products and services. Should you somehow make the mistake of revealing your phone number in your profile, you will then enjoy and endless stream of phone calls from offshore solicitors.

Introducing Dan Discussion. Dan spends his day joining and participating in discussion groups and is eager to respond when innocents, seeking guidance or information, ask questions. Dan is quick to respond and skillfully turns the question or problem into an opportunity to provide a raving review of how this similar problem was solved by using XYZ product. Dan of course sells the XYZ product. Dan has also been known to start a discussion by dangling a question, as bait in front of his discussion group members who think they are participating in an information exchange but in reality will wind up with an unsolicted sales pitch.

Introducing Terry and Tom Tag Team. Like Dan, Terry and Tom are self-promoters but have figured out that once they enter a discussion group, members can view their profile and see their profession. They realize that the value of their sales messages would be diminished if they pitched their own wares so Terry and Tommy, who are from different industries, take turns creating responses to discussions that praise how they have benefited from each other’s products or solutions. The innocent discussion group member once again believes they are getting generous unbiased direction but in reality have just been Tagged Teamed.

Introducing Carl the Collector. We all know Carl; his profile shows up as having over 500 connections and is proud to brag he has several thousand. Carl couldn’t possibly connect with all these people with the intention of which Linked was built. Mathematically, if he made contact with two each day, it would take him over three years to get around to all of them. So why is Carl such a collector? What does he do with all those connections? Carl’s wife is Lisa the list seller. Connecting with Carl and giving him access to you and your network is a free ticket to automated phones calls at dinnertime pitching you a free summer vacation.

And finally, I present to you, Competitive Connie. Connie is in the same business as you are. She is your competitor. Under the guise of, “ I think we should talk and help each other”, asks to join your network. Once in, Connie scans your connections and guess what? She just got access to your customers for future prospecting for her services. The fox is now in your hen house, the very hen house you built on LinkedIn.

Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves have driven out many a sincere LinkedIn user. More and more people grow weary of spending time on a social media site that now puts them at the bull’s eye of solicitation. As these people leave and more marketers join, the future LinkedIn might just be a place where no one is sincerely connecting, everyone is pitching and no one is catching.

Author: Rich Lucia

#CONV15 03.16.15 – Rich Lucia Presenting at MS Convergence 2015

Microsoft Convergence 2015Join Rich Lucia in Atlanta, Georgia for Microsoft Convergence where leaders will gather to explore, share and experience business solutions. Rich will be presenting Don’t Get Stuck in the Past: Three Keys to Selling in the Now

Event Details:
What: MS Convergence 2015
Where: Atlanta, Georgia
When: March 16th at 11:00 in B406

Where do you turn when sales aren’t where they should be? To your sales tools that have been used with great success for years? Not so quick. Your customers have changed the way they buy. If the mission is to win the game of today, then you must use the tools that customers respond to NOW. Join Rich Lucia, Business Development Specialist, to learn how to sell in the now by finding your ideal customer profile, driving them to your door, and nurturing them to close the deal.

Key Learning #1:  Understand how buyers now bring more diverse motivations, values and perceptions
Key Learning #2:  Learn how and why customers buy in today’s world
Key Learning #3:  Get three critical tips for selling to today’s customer

See you March 16th from 11:00 – 12:00 in Room B406! #CONV15

Learn More

The Sound of One Hand Clapping

It’s in the news – the economy is coming back. You’re looking forward to a rise in revenue as you watch your sales organization begin to clap at the prospect of long awaited sales. But don’t expect the revenue to just start pouring in. If you send your sales force out there with the same approach as last year, I’m afraid the results will be like the sound of one hand clapping – nothing!

Dollars are not plentiful, and we may never see the spending frenzy of yesteryear. Your salespeople will now face the challenge of their lives: competition. And it won’t be another company that sells a product or service similar to your own, but a new competitor – everyone! Your sales force must be ready to compete for your customers’ entire budget, mind share and attention. This will require a new set of skills. Skills not in asking the questions, “Do you need any?” or “Do you need more?” but skills in understanding your prospects’ and customers’ organizations – their goals, objectives and challenges.

Relationship building has never been more important. Gone are the days of being the “salesperson” for XYZ Company. Customers have grown tired of the order-taking robot whose appearance generates an under-the-breath, “Ughhhhh.” Customers want, no need, a “Trusted Advisor.” Someone who can see the world through their eyes and feel their pain. Someone who will actually help them get their mission accomplished.

A good “Trusted Advisor” knows his prospects’ business and knows his customer. How does this happen? Relationship Building. By building a close working relationship with your prospects, you can be that Trusted Advisor and be in the best possible position to have them take advantage of your products and services. This just might require a different mindset and skill set when you’re with your customer or prospect. It begins with caring. Caring about what your customers and prospects care about and listening intently to learn. I was asked once, “What technique or trick can I use to make the customer think I really care?” I responded, “There is no trick. You just need to really care.”

So, sales managers, before you dust off your call reporting system to increase the number of sales calls through micro management; before you fill the arms of sales reps with glossy brochures and tell them to “Ask for the order, often;” step back and take a look around. It’s a new world out there. A different time and place. A different culture. The selling skills of the past just won’t work anymore. Before we can win the sale, we have to relearn how to earn the right to present our product or solution. Is the economy bouncing back? Sure it is. But save the applause. Customers have changed. If we want results, there’s work to be done. Sales development now requires a holistic approach. Sure there are new social selling tools but used together without regard to how they might be in conflict can be as dangerous as mixing medications. Look into Integrated Social Selling to achieve the success you seek.

Author: Rich Lucia

It’s No Time to Invite Company Over if Your House is a Mess

You have finally made contact with your new prospect. After a brief interaction, you managed to generate enough interest to move to the next step. However, your next step might not be your prospect’s next step.

As you reach into your pile of brochures and sort through your PowerPoint point slides, what do you think your prospect is doing? They are looking you up on LinkedIn and your website to learn more about you and your company. If your profile on LinkedIn is a mess and your company’s website has seen too many excuses of, “We are working on a new site” then you may as well have taken your new prospect by the hand and walked them off a cliff.

Gone are the days where you were the only point of contact and a smile was your rite of passage. Information is easily found and if your electronic profile doesn’t match your presented one, you lose.

Integrated Social Selling, as part of a system, trains you to pay close attention to all of your initiatives, making sure they are in lock step and presenting you, your company and your brand as a unified holistic solution.  Before you invite someone into your home, make sure it is fit for company.

Author: Rich Lucia

You Can Lead A Horse To Water, But First You Have To Find A Horse

Sales training usually starts in the quest for more sales. Seems to me that the most knowledgeable presenter, objection handler or expert closer is helpless when seated in front of an empty chair.

Let’s work on how we engage a new prospect before we jump into the tailspin of verbal gymnastics. Buyers are not welcoming doorknockers anymore and the Internet provides more objective information than the salesperson who is paid on commission.

What works today? Try these seven things on:

  1. Understand that buyers have changed. If you are using the same techniques your father did, you are probably on the wrong track.
  2. Only focus on the people who are predisposed to buying your product or service. Leave the rest to those who want to risk their arms and legs wrestling alligators.
  3. Find someone who can introduce you to these ideal prospects. These new prospects don’t know you so they won’t take your call or email unless you come recommended by someone they trust.
  4. Make sure your electronic profile matches you. Your LinkedIn profile and your website should be in harmony. You are going to be checked out by your prospect so prepare for it.
  5. Know your customer. If you can see the world through your prospect’s eyes you will know what your prospect buys.
  6. Leave the canned pitch in the can. Relate to this prospect as a person not a mountain to be conquered.
  7. Make sure all your selling initiatives are integrated. Too often, we sabotage our mission with conflicting sales strategies. Use Integrated Social Selling to get on track and keep on track.

Concentrate on finding not only a horse but also the right horse. Climb up on a duck and it just might be a whole different experience for you, and the duck is not going to be too happy either.

Author: Rich Lucia

What Happens In Your Home Should Stay In Your Home

I always found it a bit ironic that salespeople rank the highest in not wanting to be annoyed by telemarketers calling their homes. “Don’t they realize it’s dinnertime and, no I don’t need carpeting or draperies? Who would buy something over the phone anyway? I don’t even know these people.”

Yet 14 hours later, following direction from their sales manager, they plow through lists of strangers calling them cold, hoping they feel differently about the interruption.

It is unfortunate that we have to encounter this torture in our own homes but to take it to our workplace and duplicate the madness makes no sense. Better it should stay in the home. Integrated Social Selling puts practices like this to the test and makes sure that as we pursue business, our initiatives are congruent with our mission.

Author: Rich Lucia

Don’t Worry About The Competitors Outside Your Company

Don’t Worry About The Competitors Outside Your Company; Start Focusing On The Competitors Within Your Company.

Many companies today spend a great deal of money, time and resources on competitive analysis. What are competitors saying? What are they doing? How does that affect my offering and my business? Has it occurred to anyone that the real missed opportunities and true competition just might be created everyday within the company?
In this fast moving world, many companies have turned to technology to keep up with the latest tools and practices. You may have already jumped on the bandwagon and invested heavily in the “flavor of the month” solution looking for that silver bullet that will propel your business development efforts into success. Who has taken on the task to insure that these latest and greatest social tools play well together? They just might be competing with each other.

Sure, LinkedIn might get you connected to people, but are they the right people? The people who are predisposed to buying from you? SEO can drive traffic to your website, but is it the right traffic? When the people who are predisposed to buy from you view your website, what do they see? Do they see what is of interest to them or a beautiful assortment of graphics and pictures that were selected from the artistic preferences of its designer? Introduce a new social selling tool that might work independently but you may find it trying to collocate with your other initiatives, resulting in conflict, and there you have it: Internal Competition. These tools and practices are designed and implemented in a vacuum. They have the possibility of competing with each other and can unknowingly sabotage your mission.

These are just some examples of how the race to keep up and use the “latest and greatest” tools can unknowingly lead to conflict and ineffectiveness leaving you with an internal competition where there is no winner. This type of competition is greater than what any competitor can bring to bear.

What can be done? Well, for starters, shift some of the attention from external to internal competition. In order to succeed, it is going to take a new focus to make sure that all the tools and processes have a purpose and are successfully integrated with each other.

Integrated Social Selling is just that; a process that identifies the specific value of social selling tools and practices. It designs an integrated roadmap to have all resources working in harmony to successfully achieve the mission. The process starts with identifying and finding the “ideal customer”, from nurturing them through the buying experience, exposing them to their buying preferences, monitoring and suggesting next steps, to teaching your sales personnel how to interact with today’s new breed of buyers.

There are no silver bullets, however, practicing Integrated Social Selling allows your resources to work together for an efficient and successful outcome.

Author: Rich Lucia

Is Your Sales Strategy … Ready, Fire, Aim?

Working with sales management teams around the country, I often see the desire to “fill the sales funnel” overshadowing straightforward logic. Instead of ready, aim, fire, modern tactics have turned into ready, fire and we will aim or qualify prospects afterwards. We were all taught to accept that if you put prospects in the top of your sales funnel and work them until you realize they are not a good fit or they elect to take another path then you are following the proper process of the sales cycle. If too many prospects don’t make it out of the end of the funnel and result in sales, managers often sent their troops out to find more people to pour into the top of the funnel. Again, not worrying about aiming, just fire away and we will spend time money and company resources to do the aiming later. That is why the graphic chosen for the selling cycle process is a funnel.

What if there was a way to work towards reshaping that funnel into more of a cylinder? You would be spending more of your time and resources on people who would have a greater probability of making it all the way through the selling cycle and becoming customers. Your order cycle would be quicker, there would be fewer distractions from people who will never buy from you, and your overall cost of sales would drop. So how do you change the shape of the selling cycle from a funnel to a cylinder?

It begins with losing the thinking that quantity is better than quality. The reality is that standing on the edge of the woods, shooting, and hoping something runs into your shot, is not hunting. The quality over quantity goal begins with identifying the profile of the person who already wants or is predisposed to wanting your product or service. How do you do that? Easy, look at your existing customers. Profile them and study why they bought from you. This will give you will have your ideal customer profile. Armed with your new knowledge, go out and hunt only for that profile. Avoid the temptation to spend your time with just anyone. Remember, it is quality you want, not quantity. No more ready, fire, aim. You want your selling cycle to look more like a cylinder not a funnel.

This immediately rules out cold calling. There is no way you can know a person’s profile by cold calling. Sure you can ask, if you get through, but you are back to wasting time putting everyone into your sales cycle and qualifying them later. Using social media, such as LinkedIn, if used properly and integrated with your ideal customer profile is a start, but beware; many LinkedIn zealots have transferred the quantity over quality methodology from the old sales cycle thinking. Some users are out to see how many people they can connect with and they wear the number of people in their network as a badge of honor thinking this is the new measure of success. Some Twitter users have also fallen into the same trap. They have confused how many people are following them with listening and tweeting. Are you focused on the right people? Your social media efforts must be integrated with your ideal customer profile. This will give you the first two components of Integrated Social Selling. The other components of Integrated Social Selling will continue to assist you in pushing out those sides of the sales funnel so it will look more like a cylinder.

Leave the Ready, Fire, Aim strategy for the people who have no direction, purpose or plan and are willing to bet their fate on luck, rather than following an Integrated Social Selling Playbook.

Author: Rich Lucia

What Happens When a Challenger Sales Rep Meets a Challenger Prospect?

Challenger Sales caught the world’s attention by revealing that most buyers are now almost 60 percent through their order cycle before they talk with a sales rep. Prospects are getting their information independently and access to old-fashioned probing is no longer permitted. These facts are hard to dispute but the conclusions and solutions of Challenger Sales are highly questionable.

The Challenger Sales rep has been profiled as someone strong that will stand his or her ground with a customer. They are known as strong debaters and often have conflicts with other team members in their company. In the Challenger Sales process, sales reps are encouraged to challenge their prospects’ assumptions after they have labored gaining knowledge and making decisions via their research. Challengers then question their prospects’ beliefs by providing “compelling data” to prove them wrong. In the Challenger Sales methodology, the roadmap is taking control by presenting first and asking questions later.

In comes today’s prospect. They can be called the Challenger Prospect. They worked hard independently to gain knowledge. They forged an opinion and believe they are correct and the purchase ownership is theirs, so they feel in control of the experience. Why would we throw a Challenger rep into this scenario? The Challenger Sales rep would be better suited to the prospect of yesteryear that had little information and needed to be led, while today’s prospect might find being challenged a bit unnerving.

The Challenger program contrasts a Challenger Sales rep with what they call the “Social” sales rep. The social sales rep focuses on knowing their prospect, what they buy, and do their best to befriend them. Now, I do not have access to the data used or have the means to validate what the Challenger program used but has there ever been a situation where your solution was better and cheaper yet you still lost to someone who had a better relationship with the prospect? Despite this common scenario, Challenger Sales puts the social sales rep at the other end of the success chart.

I can’t argue with the information presented about our changing prospects but how we treat them can’t be something suited to what worked in the past. How many people, after gathering information and coming to a conclusion, would be open to being challenged? Let’s say you wanted to buy a truck. You searched trucks and decided on a Ford F-10. You went online, picked out your towing package, color and interior and then headed over to the Ford showroom to buy your F-10. The sales rep just finished the Challenger sales book, and in an effort to win the dealership’s Fusion contest, starts telling you that you really don’t need a truck and you should buy a Ford Fusion. As a Challenger Sales rep, he stands his ground and shows you the statistics of how many people buy Ford Fusions to win you over. Does the response, ‘OK’ immediately come to mind?
Now, for all you Challenger Sales zealots, the acid test. You have read the book, completed your information gathering, and reviewed the proof data. You have made up your mind that Challenger Sales is the answer, as is your right to do so. Now I come along, as a Challenger author, stand my ground and challenge that premise. How are you feeling about being challenged?

Author: Rich Lucia

In Search Of The Sales Holy Grail

I often travel throughout the country to work with sales organizations and a common theme seems to be in play. Everyone appears to be looking for that one thing that is going to lift revenue to new heights. People are looking for the Holy Grail of sales tools that is the answer to prayers.

It appears the world of business development has spilled into two camps. On one side of the great divide, we have the traditionalists who seek age-old sales training and selling techniques. Their thinking is that it has always worked so why reinvent the wheel. They seem to be more content with following past processes over getting results. They forget that buyers have changed and how these buyers get their information has changed, locking many of the doors that once had a welcome mat. These die-hard traditionalists have an answer to cold calls that don’t generate results – make more of them. Of course, when the strategy does not work, they seek training from 20-year-old sales manuals to polish their cold calling skills.

On the other side of the great divide, we have the early adopters with their answer to business development. They throw out all of the old selling techniques and believe that social media is the only true modern path to business development. They have even engraved, “Social Selling” on their Holy Grail, as they chase the latest social media platform and abandon the one before. Their battle cry is, “it has to be good – it is new.”

So, who is correct? The answer begins with an understanding that there is no Holy Grail, and as difficult as it is to accept, there is no magic pill and no one silver bullet to effective business development strategy. It is going to take a combination of the correct selling tools to get the job done today. Having an understanding of buyers today and selecting selling tools that are effective with those buyers is one half of the mission. The second half of the mission, an even more important one, is realizing the tools you select are supposed to compliment each other. Selling tools and your processes have to be integrated. You can create and deliver the best presentation of your life, but giving it to a person who has no need for it will result in no sale. Don’t use a great tool to drive an interested party to your website, only to find when they get there it has extinguished their interest because it was designed for your company’s bragging rights instead of being customer-centric.

It’s going to take a holistic approach to business development today and therefore the need for Integrated Social Selling. By social selling I am not talking about the new branding of social media but instead how do we become closer or more social with our prospects and customers. In this age of point and click, are we really working harder to know our prospects and customers and how they buy? Are we working all stages of the sale cycle with the laser focus of purpose and making sure we aren’t unconsciously sabotaging our efforts by ignoring the power of integration? Have we become content in accepting a sales funnel with its 85 percent effort and wasted resources or are we working to widen it into more or a cylinder shape?

Replace your search for the Holy Grail with the knowledge that a holistic, integrated plan is needed. A plan that insures that you have correctly identified your target, selected the correct tools and they are working with each other and not against each other. Do these things and keep a Social Selling Playbook and you will achieve successful business development today using Integrated Social Selling.

Author: Rich Lucia