This week I engaged in a discussion on LinkedIn about the type of interaction that is acceptable between new business connections. Is it OK to pitch your business at a new contact, or should you shield your true intent until you’ve wooed them with articles, wise comments and other displays of how brilliant you are? The initiator of the conversation thought the latter. I defended my corner in favour of the direct approach. Surely LinkedIn is today’s alternative to working the room at a networking event? Identify likely prospects, tell them what you do and, if the signals are good, proceed to set up a meeting and sell to them. People who are in the market love to be sold to.
OK – I learned my sales techniques three decades ago. Rapport, reputation, fact-find, presentation, close. A process that was widely understood with no fluffing round the edges. Does this still work now or must business people remain coy; entering into vague flirtations with no clear agenda, no timescale and a lot of wasted effort? Should we just hope that customers will somehow work out that we rank above our competitors because our tweets are regular, our Facebook profile is compelling and we must be a desirable supplier with our massive online following?
I challenge any business owner to report a ratio of social media activity to sales.
Consider these equations:
Decision maker contact x 10 = meeting x 1
Meeting x 3 = sale x 1
In other words, if you speak (that’s speak, as in using your voice, not via email) to 10 decision makers, you will get one meeting and one out of 3 meetings will result in a sale. These figures hold true over a period for anyone who believes in the product or service they aim to sell. Believe me. It works. I did it, and trained others to do it for 25 years.
All the other stuff you do is not sales but marketing and PR – very important too – but don’t kid yourself that you are selling, unless you are making real life connections with real life buyers.