social business sales strategies and tips

This is a guest post from Josh Moore, Co-Founder & Chief Revenue Officer for the full service, Social Business Marketing Agency, Marketing Nutz.

This title may make a few of you laugh, and a few of you think I have lost my mind.  Either way, it got your attention enough to read this post, so it worked!

My play on words beckons back to a day not long ago in the 90’s to a show fondly called “Beavis and Butthead”.  You see, Beavis would yank his shirt up over his head, throw his arms in the air and yell “My name is Cornholio!  Take me to your leader”!  This would be followed up by his pal Butthead yelling back “Shutup Beavis”!

It is the first month of the year, and all the sales and business development hunters have their numbers to go after, and are ready to go on the big safari for clients large and small.  I am included in that bunch and am ready to go hunt myself, but am unique in that I am also the recipient of many of the cold calls and e-mails from these individuals.

So, needless to say, I am getting tons of calls.  A few good, and many that fall into the category of “My name is Cornsalesio – Take me to your leader!  Whom in turn get a “Shut- Up”!

Because I run our partner program, as well as lead our sales effort, I watch and listen closely to all e-mails, forms, and calls coming in to talk to us.  This includes both as well as sites.  This is the first time in my career where I have been on the receiving end at this depth, and I have learned quite a few mistakes we all make when reaching out.  Some of them are just stupid, and I will list those, but the subtleties are what make all the difference in who gets a conversation and who doesn’t.

What NOT to do when you are reaching out to a prospect or potential partner:

  1. Don’t be lazy.  If you go to my web form on the site, and it is asking YOU for YOUR budget, that probably isn’t the way we want to communicate with someone who would like to sell to us.  Don’t fill it out.  It discredits you and your company and you likely wont get a call back.
  2. Don’t be lazy.  If you call the general phone line, do some research and determine WHO you want to speak with. Leverage the power of social and platforms such as LinkedIn to do such.
  3. Don’t be lazy.  The days of canned sales outreach via e-mail are gone. Not sure they ever were really here.
  4. Don’t be lazy.  Sending the same SPAM email to my LinkedIn inbox because we are connected will get you nowhere, except a disconnection.  I trusted you when we connected and you broke my trust.  This is not only lazy, but it’s stupid.
  5. Don’t be lazy. See a theme here?  If you contact any company and try to go straight to the top to pitch, you better be ready to explain yourself and your product well.
  6. Don’t be a sissy.  If you want to sell something, SELL IT.  Don’t sugarcoat, or fake that you want to partner, or say my least favorite phrase “explore synergies” if all you want to do is make a sale.  People smell it a mile away.
  7. Don’t be a slick Willy.  When you leave a message, don’t just leave your name and number and ask for a call back.  You will generally get a call back, but your chances of a conversation are low at best.  This one is stupid.
  8. Don’t create and invite me to a LinkedIn group just to sell to me.  Build a relationship first or I will leave.  This is stupid, but new to lots of folks, so I will give some slack on this one.
  9. Don’t tell me you want our company, or our CEO to test/review your product but want me to buy the subscription to do it. 
  10. Don’t tell me to take a look at your app and just send me a link.  Why should I?
  11. If you are selling your platform as one you would like us to partner or affiliate, make sure the site works first before you reach out.  We understand there is pressure to drive revenue ASAP, we launch platforms ourselves.  Alpha/Beta bugs?  Cool.  Inoperability and horrible user experience at first glance, nope.  The old saying “you only have one chance to make a first impression” applies greatly here.

I have covered off on a few areas that we have already seen this year that need some work, or are just plain stupid.  If you are doing any of these, take a deep breath.  You aren’t alone!  I have been guilty of many of them in the past, and clearly many of our peers are still actively pursuing entrance to the stupid sales tactic hall of fame.

So, here are a few things that will help you in the coming year to make your goals, and reach more people.

What TO do when you are reaching out to a prospect or potential partner:

1. Leverage social media to learn about your prospect contact. 
I put this first, because it is the biggest problem with those of us in a sales hunter type role.  We are aggressive and tend to be a bit ADD in our personality.  This means we are great with relationships, and don’t mind hustling to make the calls and send the e-mails.

That’s great, but hustling, calls and e-mails are all for not if we aren’t making an impact. I promise if you do your research prior to outreach in 2013 your results will increase immensely.  This includes knowing the individual you are trying to reach before you ever make the first call.

Thanks to social media we now have amazing tools, many of them free to know the person on a professional level (LinkedIn), and on a personal/professional level (Facebook/Twitter, etc.).

This replaces the old get in the office and start looking for pictures of them with kids on a boat, or fishing and doing the “look for the hook” to find common ground.  It’s already there, before you reach out, and at your fingertips.  Don’t be lazy (and stupid).  Do the research, get connected, build the relationship and THEN reach out.

2. Leverage social media to learn about your prospect company.
Same goes for the company you are calling on.  Some of you may remember the old days of having a Hoovers account, or trying to dig up as much info as you can on Yahoo finance about the company you were going to see.  The world has grown leaps and bounds since then.

With social business, business profiles on all platforms, Wikipedia, and many time the companies own web-sites you can know more about a company’s history walking in the door than many of its employees.  Make it a point to do this.

3. Pick your battles.
The two suggestions above take time.  I know because I do it.  This means you cant do this for every outreach.  Determine the accounts that are your “A” priority and start there. After you have wheels in motion with them, go to the “B” accounts and so on.

So, your question is, what do I do with the others?  The answer is one of two choices – The first choice is to do nothing.  Like I said above, you only have one chance to make a first impression. Why throw it away because you want (or need) to “look busy”.

If you have a sales leadership team that is basing your success only on the number of calls or e-mails you make, then send them this post.  If they don’t currently or don’t want to “get it”, they are stupid.  There are many sales organizations out there that “get it”, and it may be time you started looking to work for one that does.  You will make more money, that’s for sure. This doesn’t mean I don’t hold my teams accountable for the amount of outreach they make, but meaningful outreach trumps numbers every day, all day.

The second choice is to build relationship.  Identify the individual you will be selling to or partnering with and try to connect on LinkedIn.  Join some of their groups.  Support their company, follow them on social platforms and setup a Google alert for them.  This will give you a head start when you are ready to get to them for the TLC needed for outreach.

4. Plan your work, and work your plan.
You should know right now who your top 10 prospects are for the year.  If you don’t, you are just swimming in the ocean with no direction.

Get your compass and waypoint and start swimming!  I know that when I was in a business development hunter role, my close ratio was 80,10,3,1.  I needed to make 80 initial contacts to generate 10 conversations, to generate 3 deep discoveries, to make 1 close.  This was selling at the enterprise level, and everyone is different, but I encourage you to try and figure out this number for yourself.  Your CRM system can really help.

5. Use your CRM system. 
It is your friend!  I used to be a horrible offender of not using my CRM to effectively manage my accounts and contacts.  Learn from me, and don’t do this.  Don’t be lazy!  Enter in the conversations, outreaches, and focus on relationships.  It WILL help you be successful, and may keep you a job when times are tight for a company.  It’s your only proof, aside from your closed business.  That being said, pipeline doesn’t matter during layoff time.  Closed business does.

6. Hope Is Not a Strategy.  This is a great saying to live by as a sales and business developer, but also the title to an amazing book by Rick Page.  If you are selling complex or high tech products and services I highly suggest you pick it up.  It changed the way I approach business.  This book is not for the lazy, but will show you a full breakdown of the complex sales process as Rick sees it and probably open your eyes to a few things you have not thought about in the past.  I am not affiliated with Rick.  Have never met the guy, he just wrote a great book.

I think that’s it for now.  If you have any questions, feel free to comment, I will try my best to get back to you via the comment stream.  We also teach social business sales training for organizations from startup to Fortune 50. If you need help, ask!

2013 is going to be your year, now go out and get it!  Oh, and remember, DON’T be Cornsalesio!