Getting and maintaining a sales prospect's attention is often the single hardest yet most important step in any sales process — but especially a virtual selling process. Traditionally, salespeople have simply bought prospects’ attention with free lunches, dinners, or drinks. Or maybe an invite to a ballgame or other event helped them achieve access. But in today’s remote work-from-home world, those traditional tools are proving far less effective. Sales prospects now value their time more and have figured out that hiding behind a digital wall makes life easier. All of this means salespeople today MUST EARN a sales prospect’s attention. So how do you do that?
First, Trade Information for Interest and Attention
If you want prospects to give you the time of day, much less an hour for a meeting, be the one with all the answers. Be the person that has the answers to prospects' questions — before the prospect even asks them. Then share that information liberally and freely with them via social media, email, or even old-fashioned mail. Eventually, you’ll become known for knowledge, and invisible prospects in search of answers or help completing their self-education will find you before you find them.
David Droga once said, “People will take interesting calls.” And he’s right. I’d argue they’ll also read interesting social media posts and emails. So when you’re cold calling with content, always ask yourself, what’s in it for the recipient? Why should they return your email or agree to take your call? If the answer isn’t compelling, stop and find something more relevant and interesting to send.
Second, Join a Few Clubs (Embassies)
Head over to LinkedIn and search their Groups Directory for keywords associated with your industry. Look for ACTIVE groups that seem like target-rich environments. Do the same on Facebook (yes, believe it or not, you can drive B2B business leads on Facebook too).
Don't just join -- participate. But remember -- you must behave since revoking your access is just a mouse click away from whoever administrates the group. As I’ve written and taught before, Embassies aren't places to go trolling for business. They are a coveted opportunity for you to be helpful, be kind, and in general, likable. They are opportunities to earn the respect of people who one day might just buy something from you or at least recommend you to a colleague.
Third, Make a Great Virtual First Impression
Make sure you are ready to be discovered by today's Invisible Buyers. Research shows that more than 70% of prospects Google sellers BEFORE deciding whether to respond to a cold outreach effort. Go look at your LinkedIn profile as well as any other profiles you maintain online.
What would a perfect stranger think after landing on your profile(s)? Would your personal brand create trust and/or inspire confidence that you can help the prospect solve an important issue? If not, you have a problem.
In today’s digital-first world, sales prospects must leave your profile convinced that you have something of value to offer them. Then and only then will they grant you that initial sales call you need to move them forward on their buying journey. To do that:
Fourth, Build a Content Curation Machine
A well-designed content curation machine is the secret sauce powering the first three tips I've shared today. To create yours, you'll need to:
Specifically speaking, most of what you see in today's Social Selling efforts is content filtering -- folks finding and sharing "helpful" articles, research, etc., on social media or via direct channels such as text and email. That’s a great way to gain awareness but does little to create trust or build credibility.
When you curate content, you find and share it along with contextual information you add. Let’s face it. You can program a bot to filter and share. But when you genuinely curate, adding additional contextual information that serves as a frame of reference, you craft an image in the prospect’s mind. You evolve from a human RSS feed for (insert topic here) into the known expert for your industry or vertical. If your sales teams don’t understand how to do that, consider investing in virtual selling skills training.
There is any number of content curation platforms available today. Here at Converse Digital, we use Feedly. It’s easy, inexpensive, and via Zapier, we can connect it directly to our social media sharing tool and our in-house project management platform that powers our weekly newsletter, Insight & Information.
Once we identify a relevant source, say a blog feed like Insight & Information we can just add it to Feedly via one click. Feedly will then ask us to categorize the feed under a predetermined list of categories like Agency Business Development, Content Marketing, Social Selling, Virtual Selling, etc. Then, Feedly automatically pulls in every post published under that feed and places them in a folder under the assigned category.
At some point, a Converse Digital employee will manually review every story in our Feedly instance and manually assign it to specific “boards” that indicate where the story should be shared. They can also add notes to the story, such as suggested social sharing text or maybe specific highlights in the story that should be called out when the article is shared.
Unfortunately, Feedly doesn’t let you tag content. Ideally, we’d place content in buckets like Content Marketing, Sales Strategy, etc., and then tag it by relevant industries or solution types. That way, a salesperson could simply search by tag to find ANY relevant content regardless of which folder it resides inside. We get around this by creating tons of very specific folders and assigning articles to multiple folders. It’s not perfect, but it works for us.
The main point is to separate the curation and sharing functions. Let Marketing or a designated person build and manage your curation machine. Then train your sales teams on how to access the machine and effectively use the information contained there to solve the biggest challenge to effective virtual sales prospecting — gaining and holding sales prospects’ attention.
Need a little help? Drop us a line. And we can chat.
Whether you believe first impressions are forever or not, do you really want to risk being wrong? Especially since it's so easy to take simple steps to ensure your first impression is always positive and sets you up for future success. Speaking of first impressions, if you're a first-time reader and I've made an excellent first impression on you, why not consider subscribing for a few more impressions? Of course, you can cancel free of charge at any time . Till next week.