Category Archives: Networking

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

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

Forget the Elevator Pitch, Take the Stairs

There is so much emphasis these days placed on how you must develop an elevator pitch. You know, what you say to someone when you first meet them about what you do (as if you were in an elevator and have to capture their attention before they get out). Ask yourself, do you want to listen to an infomercial when you first meet someone? Well guess what? Neither do they.
I get a big kick out of networking events that start off with a rotating chance to give your elevator pitch. As you speak most people aren’t listening to you as they are mentality figuring out what to say when it’s their turn. Some people are making believe they care with a visual that is more like a bobble head doll with a glazed over stare than truly listening. It’s as if everyone is pitching and no one is catching. You can’t play ball that way and starting any relationship with “I” is an open invitation to the land of loneliness.
We all would be better served to spend the time working on our elevator pitch to develop better listening skills. Learn how to ask people what they do and why. Show them you really care about what they are saying. They will appreciate it much more and you just might learn something and gain some insight into their personality. Sure you want to help people but hearing someone rattle off what they do won’t immediately light a fire under you to reference them to your contacts. After all, just because they can say what they do in thirty seconds doesn’t necessarily mean they are good at what they do. I know the elevator pitch is quick, and taking the stairs of listening takes more time, but listening, not talking will be more appreciated and have a more valid outcome. Remember the best relationships are built one step at a time.

Author: Rich Lucia