Reverse Prospecting: Your Buyer’s Looking For You

 

Reverse

Understanding your buyer’s journey is the first step to delivering explosive growth results.  The age of the buyer has arrived and the seller no longer is in control.  Buyers today are prospecting more than sales people.  How?  By scouring the internet and leveraging social channels to learn and make decisions.  In fact, if you’re the seller, you’ve become the passenger on this purchasing trip.  So make yourself comfortable, stay observant, and most of all have fun on the trip.

Your buyers know more about what they need than ever before.  There was a time (and it goes further and further back each day) when the buyer had to rely on a sales person to identify his problem and present a solution…the seller’s solution.  Not any more.  Have a runny nose and sore lower back?  A quick trip to the website WebMD can provide you with information on what may be going on with you.  You need to put in a new garbage disposal?  There are hundreds of how-to videos on YouTube that provide step-by-step instructions that take a job that previously required a plumber and turned it into a DIY project.

We have all become addicted to information.  In fact, more than 80% of 18 – 44 year olds say the first thing they do in the morning, immediately after opening their eyes, is to check their phones.  Information.  We want lots of it, all the time.

Buyers have this access to information and are using it more and more.  They Google, Facebook, YouTube, Tweet, and ask their LinkedIn groups for information, recommendations, and ideas.  If you’re a seller without a social selling strategy you’re already trailing the pack.  And if you think your product or service is too complex to promote via social channels think again.  General Electric has hundreds of videos on YouTube on MRI equipment, jet turbines, and lighting.  Toll Brothers, a national builder of custom homes, provides a website that allows someone to design and build their dream home and see it!  Buyers are not just using the internet to shop for shoes, sweaters, or books.

Having a social presence isn’t enough. You can’t set up a Facebook or LinkedIn page and check off the box and say its done.  You have to be active…engaged.  You have to create content, share content, weigh in on content others have shared.  This is where your buyers are looking for you.  Your paradigm must shift.  Buyers are now conducting a form of reverse prospecting.  They’re looking for you…you just don’t know it.  So if you’re a seller, and you’re not visible in the areas your buyers are looking for you, you simply won’t be found.

So get started.  Take it slow.  Don’t try to boil the ocean in a day.  A retweet here, a LinkedIn post there, a blog here, are all activities to get you on the road to being found by your buyer.

Advertisements

5 Things Social Sellers Do Differently: SCOPE

socialselling

Social sellers are today’s modern day sales people.  They know how to connect, where to connect, and when to connect.  Establishing a personal brand is the cornerstone of today’s social seller.  It’s no longer enough to sell a well-known, or respected product, from a great company.  Today’s buyers want more…they want to buy from someone who delivers an equally great experience…on a personal level…beyond the company brand.

Here are 5 things social sellers do differently than sales people of yesteryear:

  1. Share.  Social sellers are reading, absorbing, processing, and sharing large amounts of information on a daily basis across their network.  They are both sources, and producers, of content, insights, and information.
  2. Connect. Social sellers recognize birthdays, anniversaries, key milestones, accomplishments, as well as, the periodic “hello”. They are following – not stalking – key influencers and thought leaders and connecting via Twitter, InMail, or directly through email.
  3. Observe.  Social sellers are constantly observing. They are looking at who’s who, what she’s sharing, who she’s following, her ideas, insights, actions. These sellers are constantly balancing the importance of context and content. Content without the right context has as much value as a snow shovel provides to a resident of Jackson, WY, with a hundred foot driveway, where 60 inches of snow each year is the average. Not a lot you’re going to do with a shovel.
  4. Participate. Social sellers are active in LinkedIn groups, tweets, Likes, and Shares.  They raise discussions, respond to conversations.  They have a voice for their ideas and viewpoints and are active participants, not armchair quarterbacks.
  5. Empathize. Social sellers understand.  They relate. They feel.  They empathize.  This ability to connect with others, to “walk a mile in my shoes”, to make others feel valued and relevant are key attributes of today’s social seller. Empathy is what ties the previous 4 items together.  For without it, sharing, connecting, observing and participating would lack relevance, and irrelevance is a manifestation of inauthenticity. Genuine empathy equals authenticity.

Birds of a Feather

birds

Growing up my parents taught me the concept of “birds of a feather.” Seems that people tend to think of you relative to the company you keep. Hang with kids that are constantly in trouble and you too will be tagged or labeled as a trouble-maker even if you weren’t involved in the trouble caused. Befriend the kids with the brains and before you know it you could be viewed as one of the class geeks. Right, wrong, or indifferent the truth is that birds of a feather do flock together. And if that’s the case it may be time to take inventory of those you choose to surround yourself with.

A couple of years ago I attended a high school commencement ceremony. The principal of the school gave one of the most eloquent speeches I have heard. Perhaps it’s my age, perhaps it’s the benefit of life experience, regardless, I was jolted by a comment he made at the end of his speech. He said, and I quote, “If you’re in a room, and you’re the smartest person in that room, then you’re in the wrong room.” What am amazing insightful comment. Think about it.

We all need to be encouraged every now and then. To feel challenged. To be pushed, prodded, and sometimes forced to do things we don’t want to do in order to develop and improve. And if you believe that improvement comes from working or practicing with others that are not as good as you but better than you’ve just validated the birds-of-a-feather belief. Sure you can learn things from people who are not as skilled as you or as experienced as you. I learn things everyday from my children that amaze me. But relative to improving your craft, your career, you need to work with others who KNOW MORE than you, have DONE MORE than you, and are currently DOING MORE than you in order to help you improve.

Building a valuable network is the most critical element of success for growing leaders. Of course you could say an individual’s ability to learn is more important that having a network, or integrity, or sense of humor, but those are innate characteristics, your network is an external element that is needed to compliment your innate skills and abilities. Some of the most well-known, effective leaders achieved their accomplishments with the assistance of others in their network. Think FDR and Churchill, or Reagan and Thatcher, or W. and Blair. If you’re a sports fan think Walsh and Montana, or Jackson and Jordan. No matter what the profession, the true professionals understand that they NEED to pull from many other sources to help improve their results. So do you.

I’ll be blogging later this week on best practices in developing a high-value, high-performing network.

To Social Media or Not to Social Media

idea

I’m often asked “should I be doing social media?”  Teachers, athletes, corporate executives, doctors, and lawyers all struggle with answering this question. And even if they’ve answered “yes”, they still need to decide just how active they want to be. Jumping into the realm of social media requires time, knowledge, and consistency.

Here are some reasons why you should participate in social media regardless of your occupation:
1. More than 1 billion people on Facebook
2. Nearly 300 million LinkedIn users
3. More than a billion people watch more than 6 billion hours of YouTube every month
4. A quarter of a billion people on Twitter

Need more reasons why you should get involved with social media? Here goes:
1. News and world events are unfolding on social media often times faster than they hit traditional media. Accidents, disasters, and gossip, all originate via social media channels first before the Main Street media picks it up.
2. Sales, offers, deals, etc are all launched on social media. See ads for Nordstrom, Jos. A. Bank, Macy’s, and even your local bakery via Twitter, Facebook, or a daily blog.
3. Embrace technology and the new communication of the world. You can fight it all you want but social media is not just here to stay but is growing. New social media platforms are being born all the time. Think Instagram and selfies.
4. Social media is where your friends, family, customers and prospects are hanging out. It’s where conversations begin, problems are voiced and solutions are provided. Many companies are employing a social media staff to build a community they can engage and learn from. It provides these companies with real-time insight into the customers wants, needs, problems, etc.

How should you get started? Here are a couple of ideas:
1. If you’re a business person you MUST have a LinkedIn profile. This profile must be complete with a photo and contain sufficient background information. Less formal than a resume, yet powerful enough to provide the reader with a clear view of who you are and your capabilities, interests, and accomplishments. Join some groups. There is a group for just about any of your interests. Join and participate in their discussion boards, or better yet start a discussion of your own.
2. Tweet. Set up a Twitter account and Tweet. HubSpot, a major Inbound Marketing firm, suggests tweeting 5 – 7 times each day throughout the day. Anything less than that is insufficient. Once you set up your Twitter handle look for people to “follow”. You’ll find that those you follow will open your door to followers of you. Tweet relevant content. Stay away from personal, emotional tweets. Don’t drink and tweet as your comments once posted live forever and can be found by any one.
3. Set up a Facebook page. Yes Facebook is a bit more personal than LinkedIn or Twitter but you must have one. Prospects you’re targeting, if you’re a business, or customers you’re trying to learn from are all on Facebook. If you’re not there, rest assured one of your competitors is.

Jump in. Get involved. You’ll be amazed at how much you learn and how many doors begin to open.

3 simple steps to get started with Small Business Marketing

Small business owners often ask “Do I really need Marketing?”  The answer of course is absolutely yes!  In fact, as a small business owner you need to market yourself more than the bigger brands that have already established awareness and familiarity with their products and services.  But how do you do this on a tight budget?  When do you find the time to market your business when you’re doing inventory, payroll, selling and servicing?  Take a breath and relax.  It’s not complicated and it won’t break the bank either.  You will need to spend some time getting started, but once you do you’ll find the positive results to be energizing and encouraging.  And when you begin to see favorable results based on your early efforts, this momentum will make adding an additional Marketing tactic here or there so much easier.  So what can you do to get started Marketing your business?

Here are 3 simple steps to introduce some basic Marketing tactics for your business.

  1. Set up a LinkedIn profile for yourself.  Set aside 30 minutes to get started.  You’ll need to write a short summary of what you do and what makes you special.  It’s important to highlight your “specialty”.  If you deliver outstanding service before, during, and after the sale explain how you do it in a brief statement or two.  Be bold but don’t mislead.  Be clear, concise and to the point.  Say what you mean and mean what you say.  Make sure to also include your photo on your LinkedIn profile.  This is an absolute MUST regardless of how much you dislike pictures of yourself.  Get over it.  It’s been proven that people are more likely to read, click, or pursue an interest when there is a personal picture accompanying the profile.
  2. Recognize customer milestones.  Most small businesses really know their customers.  Use that knowledge to your advantage.  Recognize birthdays, anniversary’s and key milestones.  Word of mouth is the best advertising you’ve got and paying that extra bit of attention to your customers will help create strong advocates for your business.  People spend an average of 3.2 hours per day on social media, and with 1.1 billion Facebook users it’s likely you’re getting talked about already.  Make sure you’re included in that conversation.  Satisfied customers will talk, and the power of social media will only expedite your message getting out to new prospective customers.
  3. Networking.  Most people associate networking with Sales but it’s really a Marketing function.  What’s the difference?  Think of Marketing as all the activities required to create the opportunity to sell.  It’s all the front end work.  Studying your market, knowing your competition, pricing correctly, creating a strong and compelling value proposition.  Sales is just that…taking that lead that’s been created from your Marketing efforts and turning it into a revenue generating customer.  So think of networking as an outbound Marketing effort.  You need to identify which functions to attend, who to talk to, what to say, how to follow up.  Networking is critical for small business owners.

These are 3 simple steps to get started Marketing your business.  I will dive deeper into each of these steps in future blogs.  In the mean time, check out the Small Business Administration website for some additional Marketing tactics.