I’m still aghast at what I heard yesterday at a conference featuring a salesperson as a speaker on prospecting.
Read the Article Here
Sometimes, just like dating, your sales relationships don’t always turn out the way you hope they will. Sometimes, you get put into the dreaded Friend Zone. Sigh. Is there any way out?
The Friend Zone isn’t all bad, because at least you’ve become a trusted part of the prospect’s inner circle. Still, you see the prospect playing the field, picking one of your competitors instead of you, time and again.
It’s time to make your move. This is your chance to engage in a little chest puffery…a chance to prove your value. A chance to move out of the Friend Zone.
You’ve got to remind that prospect that you’re a contender! You’ve got to take a bold step.
Here’s my advice: take the prospect out to lunch/coffee/cocktails. Tell them you appreciate the friendship, but you’d also appreciate a shot at their next piece of business. Remind them of what you have to offer. Brag a little about recent accomplishments – you know, make them a little jealous that you’ve got others in the wings! This will result in one of three things:
1) The prospect will be honest with you, and let you know why she hasn’t chosen you previously (a.k.a. she’s just not that into you).
2) The prospect will open her eyes and realize the error of her ways. You’ll work together happily ever after (a.k.a. you’ve been Disney’d).
3) She’ll refer you to a friend who might have business for you (a.k.a. set you up on a blind date).
Either way, you win. You’ve gotten some good feedback, and/or you’ve gotten her to open her eyes to your dual value – both as friend and potential business partner, or you get a referral out of the deal.
I’d love to hear from you if you try this! Post your thoughts, or email me at email@example.com.
Well, the good news is that your profile looks and sounds like 90% of the other sales profiles on LinkedIn, so you fit right in.
The bad news? Your profile looks and sounds like 90% of the other sales profiles on LinkedIn, so you don't stand out.
Unless you want to be viewed as a commodity, lumped in with everyone else who sells something similar, it's time to stand out. Tell a story. Share your passion for what you do. Humanize yourself and be authentically YOU. Don't do yourself and your prospects the disservice of just plopping a boring resume on the page.
Take just 30-60 minutes to review and rev up your profile. It has all the fixin's to become your best prospecting tool, if you just help it along. Then set a quarterly calendar appointment with yourself to update your profile so it doesn't get stale.
How will you tweak your profile to stand out? To make a more human connection to people who stop by? If you need help, get a professional profile review.
Shawna Suckow is The Customer Expert. She works with salespeople to help them understand and connect better with today's prospects. Learn more at www.shawnasuckow.com.
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Well, I've perused the upper half of your LinkedIn profile and you haven't lost me yet. If I happen to have extra time on my hands (chuckle), I’ll glance down at your endorsement section, where you’ve listed all your talents, and your connections can give you a one-click endorsement.
Wow – you have 37 talents – how awesome for you! The problem is that only the 10 with the most votes are shown, and all those other wonderful things you claim to be good at? Well, they languish at the bottom, getting only one or two votes.
That actually has the opposite effect of what you're hoping for. The lack of votes on those 27 extra talents below the top 10 makes you look like you aren’t an expert at those things. Stick to just 10, and you’ll get a higher concentration of votes on your true top skills.
Wow, I have a LOT of free time, because I’m scrolling all the way down to the bottom, hoping for something else – something to give me insight into who you are, what commonalities we share. I do look at where you went to school, in case that might be a conversation starter.
I glance at your groups, again searching for some relevance. It's a good idea to join groups based on personal interest as well as business interest. Who knows - we both might be Hawkeye fans, or support the same charity group, or have the same interest in robotics. I'll never know if your groups don't reflect that about you.
Unfortunately, I didn’t see any video uploads – those would have really set you apart, because salespeople hardly ever include them in their profile.
I would have loved to see a fun, self-deprecating video you filmed yourself – nothing highly polished, that’s too inauthentic. Something where you said,
Hey mystery person looking at my profile, I’m a real person. I hope we can connect and see how we can help each other someday. I’m a 20-year industry veteran, a father of three, a volunteer at my local food shelf, and avid reader, and an Iowa Hawkeye fan – but don’t hold that against me. Let’s connect and cross paths someday.”To be continued...
Be sure and subscribe to my posts over there on the right, so you don't miss Part Four of Four (and after that, the next series in my LinkedIn rant).
Shawna Suckow is a professional speaker who loves to close the gap between sales professionals and today's evolving customers. www.shawnasuckow.com.
I'm done checking out your photo & summary. Assuming you haven’t lost me yet, I move on to your job history, just hoping to make some sort of meaningful connection in my mind, because that’s again what we humans do.
Have you worked somewhere before that I might recognize? Maybe you worked with someone I know – hey, that’s a connection! But wait, red flags are going up. You’ve been in a lot of sales positions, and you’re listing all your accomplishments, like the fact that you’re an excellent prospector, you always crushed your sales goals, and you were top notch at developing new market segments.
But I’m not a marketing segment, I’m a person.All these listed sales accomplishments are great if I’m looking to hire you as an employee, but what if I’m a prospective customer? These tell me you’re more interested in closing the deal, and that’s a turnoff to anyone these days.
What I want is a 1-2 sentence story beneath each past job about how you helped customers – how you were passionate (there’s that word again), dedicated, and relationship-oriented. Don't just use those adjectives, either - don't say you're passionate, show me.
To be continued...
Be sure and subscribe to my posts on the right, so you don't miss Part Two of Four (or maybe five if I'm on a roll!) in my LinkedIn rant.
Want me to do LinkedIn blackbelt training for your sales group? firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hi. I’m your prospective customer. We exchanged business cards at a recent event, and I may be in the market for what you’re selling, so rather than go to your web site or call you up (how 1990s!), I decided to check out the person behind the card, so I mosey on over to LinkedIn. Here’s how I read your LinkedIn profile.
Hmmmm…let’s start with your photo, because that’s the first thing we humans notice – photos before words. You look business-like, the photo is recent so I can math it up to the real-life person I met last week. Nothing out of the ordinary, nothing blurry, not a selfie. Check.
On to the Summary section, because that’s really the most important part to me. It’s a glimpse into who you are – your passion for your job, how you got your start, what you love most about what you do. Yeesh. What I’m seeing is a pitch about how great your company is. To make matters worse, it reads like a marketing brochure, not like a conversation. Where are YOU in all this? I want to form a relationship before I make a buying decision these days, and I want to form it with a human being – NOT a company. The overwhelming majority of buyers these days immediately distrust a company, so I was hoping for more of the human being I met last week. What makes you tick? Are you ethical? Passionate about your industry? Interested in the sale, or the customer?
To be continued...
Be sure and subscribe over there on the right, so you don't miss Part Two of Four (or maybe five if I'm on a roll!) in my LinkedIn rant!
This is Amit. He's a 13-year-old trinket salesman in India, and he knows more about selling than many sales people I've encountered in the past 20 years. No joke.
Amit met us as we pulled into a popular tourist site. My immediate thought was, "Oh no, another pesky street kid trying to sell me junk I don't need." He knew I was thinking it - he gets that reaction all the time, I'm sure. Salespeople know this reaction all too well, no matter what they sell. Depending on your timing, you could be the customer's best friend, or the anti-Christ.
Amit didn't do what I expected him to...what all his competitors do. He didn't pounce on me and immediately jump into his sales pitch. At 13, this guy already knows about differentiating himself in an overcrowded marketplace. He started with a simple, "Hello, where are you from?" I was intrigued. I must admit, I got pretty adept at brushing off these trinket sellers before they even open their mouths, but Amit was different. He was establishing a human connection, not just launching immediately into his spiel.
So I played along and told him I was from America. "I'm Amit," he said, walking alongside of me to the entrance. "What's your name?" I told him my name, and then he did something really different. "Look at my face," he said. "Remember my eyes. You remember me when you come back out, okay?" Done. Human connection completed. It was at that very moment that Amit became more than a salesperson to me. He bacame a person.
When you email a prospect, do you launch right into your pitch? When you invite someone to connect on LinkedIn, do you use that horrible, generic invitation text, or do you make a human connection first?
In these over-marketed, multi-media saturated times, you'll just be another face in the crowd to us, unless you stop to make that human connection first. It's easy to forget when you have to chase down more volume to make the same numbers you made five years ago. It's easy to get caught up in the process and forget about the people. Speaking from your customers' point of view, if you can establish a simple, authentic human connection, we just might hop off the hamster wheel we find ourselves on these days, and connect back.
Some of you might be curious to know if I ended up buying anything from Amit. When I emerged a couple hours later from the tourist site, there was Amit, and he remembered my name. This kid probably met 200 people in those two hours since he met me. Did I buy anything from him? I did not. I did better than that - I gave him money just to take his picture. He was shocked. I told him twice how incredibly bright he is, and that I'd be telling my friends in America about him. I hope the kid gets to realize his true potential someday.
Apparently, every RFP these days is an emergency, requiring a 24-hour turnaround time for suppliers to return complete, well-thought-out, creative proposals (sound reasonable?!). I heard so many suppliers complain about this when researching my new book (Supplier Pet Peeves), I've lost count!
I know three or four years ago, many RFPs were indeed emergencies, requiring really quick responses. Planners often didn't get the green light from their higher-ups until the last possible minute, due to the unpredictability of the economy. It forced a lot of us to scramble, which meant our suppliers had to scramble to get us what we needed, ASAP.
Today, I don't think every RFP really IS an emergency - I think it's a lack of understanding on the planner's part about what really goes into a proposal. It's just a template, after all, right?! Well, sort of. Many suppliers use templates, but they still have to infuse them with creative solutions to meet your group's special needs, figure out all the moving pieces to assure a good fit, and determine special concessions to make the proposal attractive without breaking the bank. It takes a lot more than 24 hours to put together a strong proposal, and that's if they have nothing else going on and can drop everything to focus on it (riiiight, because we're all just waiting at our desk for emergency projects to drop).
So planners, do you really need your proposals in 24 hours, or is it just a habit to ask for this turnaround time? Can you spare a couple extra days? The more time you allow, the more organized you seem, and the better (and more customized) your proposal results will be. If you DO need every RFP response in 24 hours every time, perhaps there's some better system you can implement - I'm sure you don't need the constant stress, either.
If ALL you need at this stage is a quick response with just rates/dates/space, be sure to note that you don't need a full proposal.
Your suppliers will thank you!
This is a true story that just took place last week. It happens everywhere, but this time it happened in India. I completed site inspections of about a dozen hotels, and I want to share the contrast between hotels that did everything right, and a couple that completely failed, despite their five-star status and worldwide pedigree.
It's important to note that the two failed site inspections were at different locations of the same chain. While I won't name names, I will spell out that this is one of India's largest five-star hotel chains.
On our way to each hotel visit, our local DMC called each property with a heads-up when we were 10-15 minutes away. Each property met us at the door with wonderful greetings, offers of cold beverages and exchanges of business cards. Each property, that is, but the chain mentioned above, which I'll call XYZ Hotels. XYZ Hotels prefers to have the prospective client wait in the lobby for 10 or 15 minutes. Then, after coming out to greet us without apology for the tardiness, the salesperson goes to obtain room keys, keeping us waiting another 10 minutes. Then the tour proceeds without the usual small-talk, without asking us what we wanted to see, making the experience entirely impersonal from the moment we got off on the wrong foot, to the moment he unceremoniously deposited us back into our car.
I know what you're thinking - perhaps that salesperson got side-tracked on an important call, or was finishing up another tour, or had a horrible coffee mishap, or...or...or. This happens, and it's completely understandable. What's interesting here is that my local source says this is typical behavior at ALL of their salespeople, and a culture of self-importance at this particular chain that sends a distinct message. I'll say...I sure got the message.
After the tour at one of these XYZ hotels, we headed for a nice, hosted lunch at the hotel's restaurant. The salesperson sat us down, and then excused himself without explanation, just saying he'd meet us afterward. Wow - apparently we didn't deserve his timeliness at our arrival, nor his time at lunch. The sister property behaved similarly, much to my surprise. One bad site inspection is easily forgotten, but to hear this happens regularly is not. Is it cultural? No. We were treated quite well at the Fairmonts, Marriotts, Hyatts, Le Meridiens, Oberois and other properties we visited.
The other chains weren't perfect, but they at least nailed the first impression and showed us that our visit was important to them, not an imposition. They were interested in the human connection. As I've said a million times, we planners want to feel like our piece of business is the most important you've ever had the pleasure of bidding on. Am I being a little hoity-toity here? Perhaps. But I speak for planners everywhere, whether their business is 25 rooms or 25,000. We all just want to be treated like we matter.
I've had all kinds of site inspections in 20+ years, and things happen. Schedules get confused, salespeople have things come up, planners are often late, but simple acknowledgements of these faux pas usually suffice and then we proceed on the tour.
Had this been an isolated incident at one property, I wouldn't be writing this. The fact that this is a trained behavior and a permeating company culture really shocked me.
By the way, whose huge, presumptuous, bag of brochures didn't make it into my luggage home? You guessed it.
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