Archive | Sales Strategy

B2B, Key Accounts, Referrals, Lead gen, Social Selling etc.

The Brand Triangle – three elements for better lead generation and sales success

What does it take for people to buy our products and services – and why does the brand triangle help us with lead generation and sales conversion?

They are effectively buying a promise that they will receive a benefit. Buyers need to have a lot of trust, especially for larger, complex and mission-critical purchases.

We see that trust is needed at three levels:

  • in the sales advisor – the person helping the buyer to decide,
  • in the product or service – that they are contracting to buy, and
  • in the company or business – that is delivering, supporting and developing the product or service.

Brand Triangle Personal Product Company Wurlwind

Consider this – when you last bought something significant did you need to feel comfortable in all three areas?

And if you chose not to buy something from a supplier was that because you disqualified them in one of these areas?

Putting the customer at the centre of the brand triangle

We’re being advised to “put the customer at the heart of our business”.

And this is especially true here, in this brand triangle model.

More than that, the concentric rings represent suspects, prospects, customers and advocates as we move to the bullseye.

And in our eyes these are defined as:

  • suspects – qualifying contacts – people (and companies) who meet our criteria of ‘ideal clients’, even if they don’t have a need just yet.
  • prospects – qualifying opportunities – people (and companies) who meet our criteria AND they have a need for what we provide
  • customers/clients – people (and companies) who have paid us money in return for our goods and services
  • advocates – customers and business partners who are actively recommending and referring us to other potential buyers

And, if viewed graphically from the side this looks rather like the sales funnel, with suspect at the top of the funnel and advocates at the bottom.

The rise of Personal Branding

Personal branding has been around for many years at the celebrity level, for people in the public eye in film, music, sport, politics etc.

Personal branding for senior professionals, consultants, business owners and others in business is relatively new.

There is admittedly considerable overlap with reputation.

Time was when it took a lot of money and time to create a brand and communicate it, so it was the preserve of larger companies and significant products – ones with sizeable sales and revenue potential.

The Internet and digital channels have broken down the cost barriers allowing individuals to develop and communicate their personal and professional brands in a way that was unthinkable and unreachable even a decade years ago.

In business personal branding rarely exists in isolation, and this article on the brand triangle attempts to clarify the interrelationships in a practical way.

Lead Generation – Engaging with Suspects and Prospects

Lead generation may be a continuous background activity and/or a campaign by campaign specific activity.

Outbound lead generation

In this model this means essentially identifying people who are our ideal clients and reaching out to them with a message that attempts to touch those who are interested.

This might mean advertising, it might be cold-calling. It might be direct mail. and there are many other activities.

We may strike lucky and contact those who are interested (prospects), but there are probably many who are not looking and are merely suspects.

The pitfalls of this are the number of people who are interrupted and who are not looking for what we offer, and the cost of that failure.

Inbound lead generation

The beauty of this is that we are only attracting prospects to contact us – people who are actively looking to solve a problem that we can solve.

We are doing this by understanding what they are looking for, and being in the places where they are going.

This might be (relevant) exhibitions and conferences, website optimisation for SEO value, article marketing, content marketing etc.

The pitfalls are that there are many places our buyers might look, and there’s a big investment especially if we only want a small number of clients.

Three strands to lead generation

To very briefly touch on a huge topic, lead generation can be undertaken by any combination of the three elements, personal, product and company.

For smaller businesses and solopreneurs the individual will be more significant than the product or company level.

  • Personal lead generation – this might be cold calling, seeking introductions, encouraging referrals,
  • Product/service based lead generation – this might be more offer based, with a price promotion for example, or specific SEO type activity
  • Company level lead generation – this is where PR, the website, sponsorship, exhibitions and so on are typical of this level

This highlights the challenge for many solopreneurs and small businesses – developing a marketing strategy – and then executing it effectively.

The brand triangle model can provide ideas about how outbound and inbound are complementary, and evolve over time.

A client of ours had an effective start-up model – the 4 + 40 + 400 strategy. He took a direct sales approach to gain his first 4 clients. He then employed a sales person and together they won the next 40. Then he recruited distribution partners to reach the next 400 clients.

 

Lead Nurture – the Know, Like and Trust Journey

Much of what we do in sales and marketing is to build up that trust, by going through the Know, Like and Trust progression with prospects.

  • The company visibility and reputation is developed over time, to emphasise that it is a good organisation as a supplier.
  • The products and services are created, updated, communicated, promoted, delivered, to reassure potential buyers of their value.
  • And personal contact continues to guide, advise and steer the buyer (or buyers) through their buying journey.

Again, this is where the brand triangle model is very useful, to check that trust is being established in all 3 areas.

Larger businesses will have marketing departments and product teams responsible for these activities, which will support front-line sales people.

Business owners, solopreneurs, consultants and others running their own business will be responsible for these aspects themselves.

 

Why does a Personal Brand matter?

Impulse purchases – those that are low cost, low risk – probably are not that influenced by personal brand. Sure, we’d prefer to deal with a friendly shop owner or assistant, but increasingly we’re happy to buy online from an ecommerce website.

Considered purchases however are much more influenced by the person who provides information, advice and who guides us through the purchase decision.

And they may have been our first contact with the proposition, especially if they contacted us, or if we were referred to them by someone.

And, in a wider context, Personal Brand is “what people know about us, and how they feel about us”, based on what they can find out and what they hear from others.

And this is where a positive Personal Brand and also visibility is a huge asset.

1. Our Personal Brand helps us to engage better

The purchase/sales process starts when a buyer engages. And that initial engagement could be in any of these areas – person, product or company.

It could be as a result of outbound lead generation or an inbound enquiry triggered by one of a plethora of activities. If personal brand is minimal then that’s reducing the engagement opportunity by a third.

2. Our Personal Brand helps us build Trust more quickly

When you rapidly moved through the purchase process was it because you were quickly and convincingly taken through the know like and trust progression in all three areas?

And was that because the person leading the sale demonstrated that they, their products and the company were aligned with meeting specific needs you had?

Once they had established trust as a person with you were you more willing to trust what they said about the products and about the company?

They demonstrated that they understood you, and had invested thought, time and probably money to meet the needs that you and others like you have, on a repeatable basis.

3. Our Personal Brand makes us more memorable

It may be cheesy to have nick-names, strap-lines, memory phrases and other devices that we choose to associate with our names, but they are ways of making ourselves more memorable, and memorable for something specific – a positioning statement or similar.

By taking responsibility for this, creating a phrase, using it regularly, we are making it easier for people to remember us for what we want to be remembered for. Without it we may be forgotten more easily, or people are unclear about our positioning.

4. Our Personal Brand makes us more referrable

Once we have become memorable, and have a market position, and maintain consistency, we become much more referable. We become the go-to person for something specific – for our specialisation. When a topic comes up in conversation, or a question, or a need, we are the name that is mentioned.

 

 

How to develop a Personal Brand

Over the past few years I’ve worked with and helped many independent consultants and business owners to discover, define and develop their personal brand.

This goes way beyond a CV, and beyond the positioning statement at the head of the CV.

And of course they should be created with the ideal client in mind, which is where this article started.

So let’s put the customer at the heart of our personal brand, as they are at the heart of our businesses.

For more information, advice and tips about PERSONAL BRANDING – take a look at  the Category here.

For more information about Personal Branding and the Brand Triangle

There are many resources about Personal Branding on this website, and on the Internet.

For example, have a look at the Wikipedia entry on Personal Branding here.

And for a chat about the Brand Triangle, Personal Branding and Lead Generation topics raised here why not book a discovery call with me, Mark Stonham, below.

Mark Stonham Wurlwind Discovery Call

Value Propositions – packaging knowledge to support Social Selling

Wurlwind Social Selling - Value Propositions
Knowledge is a wonderful thing, and valuable when it solves problems.

And in business the value increases as we solve bigger and bigger problems, helping people to save time and money, to make money, to reduce risk and so on.

But time is precious, so the challenge is to maximise our value to prospects and customers and minimise the time spent on relatively low value activities.

The good news is that, with a bit of thought and preparation, we can make buying and selling easier by having packaged value propositions.

For the provider or vendor, packaged knowledge becomes easier to sell and to deliver multiple times, and is something to offer and promote through LinkedIn.

And for the buyer it is more tangible to buy, and lower risk if there are recommendations from other happy buyers, and it makes referrals and introductions easier.

And these packages don’t all have to be exchanged for money. They may be offered in exchange for information from the prospect, for example their email address, or filling in a form, or exchanged for their time, for example an exploratory meeting.

Quick start tips

There is a booming market for information products, especially for diagnostics and for training, so this is a good place to start looking for ideas.

  • Could you create a simple information product that you can give away in exchange for an email address or business card?
  • Could you provide a diagnostic or advisory product that enough people would pay £97 or similar for?
  • Could you package your high value products as a framework or methodology around which there are tailoring and customising options?

The additional benefit of this is to raise your credibility as an expert in your area, having invested to create product and gain social proof, endorsements, testimonials and recommendations.

Tips to identify what value propositions are worth packaging

On a simple basis there are three steps to making a sales: Get the buyer’s ATTENTION. Get their TIME. Get their MONEY. And these steps are reflected below.

1. What could you package and offer on a website registration page or in exchange for a business card?

Contact us forms and newsletter subscriptions are passe, as most prospects are looking for something with a much more tangible payback before they part with their email address these days

  • If you’re a Business Leader or Business Owner you could share your insights and expertise by having a book or presentation or even a video made where you impart some of your wisdom.
  • If you’re a Sales Leader or Sales Professional you could develop a compilation of client case studies as a PDF document to email to people on request
  • This is not the time to pitch product, but to assist the buyer to recognise ‘do we have a problem/opportunity?’ and how do I quickly investigate whether there’s a business case for more detailed investigation

Sales Pages and Landing Pages are the foundation of lead generation campaigns, and the payback of the packaged resource behind them is something that can be offered through LinkedIn.

2. Can you turn lead nurture on its head and turn it into Commercial Teaching?

Considered purchases entail research, not just into vendor solutions but also into internal costs and implementation. Vendors who help buyers, including business sponsors and line managers, to do their jobs better can become trusted advisors and heavily influence the purchase.

  • If there’s a time delay between initial interest and the purchase decision (for luke-warm prospects) it works well to deliver Commercial Teaching over a period of time, in which case an email sequence of suitable content could be very effective, and is trackable too.
  • If there is one principle buyer then a 1:1 meeting with an educational agenda, perhaps with some preparatory work for them plus some follow-on steps may be applicable
  • If there are several people involved in the purchase then buyer facilitation to shape the agenda and equip them to gain consensus and actually move forward could be best achieved in a group workshop.

Consider the buying timetable and the decision-making group (research via LinkedIn) and the issues they need to address in order to make a purchase as part of planning your packaged value proposition for this stage in the sales process.

3. Can you create an entry level chargeable educational product to offer?

There may be many people who have limited budgets but who also have a desire to gain an understanding, knowledge and skills in the topic you are an expert in.

  • Can you compile a list of questions that they are asking, plus those you know they should be asking, and structure them into a logical sequence?
  • Is the local market large enough, and the value high enough, for people to come to a training workshop at a suitable venue on a particular day?
  • Can the teaching be delivered at a distance, through webinars and online training (and do you have / can you get the resources to promote and administer this?)
  • Or maybe you can package and deliver this to larger clients on a company by company basis on their premises.

There are many variations available, to support the purchase / sale while also qualifying intent and earning income (or at least contributing to marketing and sales costs) along the way.

Notifying people of the course availability via LinkedIn is an option, and to advise 1st connections to see if the know anyone who would benefit from it.

Download our Pocket Guide to Social Selling

If you haven’t already done so get a copy of our guide, which covers more LinkedIn Tips and introduces the Social Selling Matrix.

Social Selling Goals and Objectives

Wurlwind - Social Selling Goals and ObjectivesAs time and resources are precious it’s understandable that decision-makers are looking at social selling goals for reassurance that sales effectiveness will improve.

Measuring the ROI of LinkedIn use and Social Selling activity can be tricky. However, outlined below are ways to be clear about Goals and Objectives and ways to monitor activity and results.

To use a driving metaphor, knowing the destination and reaching it (sales target) is what really matters. Doing so safely, comfortably, courteously, economically etc. are also important. Being a ‘good driver’ and driving a clean and well-maintained car also count.

There are many ways to measure and track use of LinkedIn and Social Selling activities and link them to Sales. 

Developing a plan that aligns social selling goals with your other sales activities (and then working the plan) is the secret to success.

A great way to track this is to develop a Dashboard or table/chart. Track your progress and results over time so you can see how the momentum is building, and refine your activities as you go.

Quick start tips

To avoid measurement becoming onerous let’s start by tracking the indicators that are readily available:

  • Check and track the number of 1st connections you have in LinkedIn
  • Track your activity level, using the Recent Activity number within LinkedIn
  • Check and track your SSI score (Social Selling Index) on a regular basis

Check your LinkedIn SSI here

  • Track the Enquiries and Referrals you get through LinkedIn on a week by week basis

Pick a time in the week where you can do this regularly, such as Friday evening or first thing on Monday morning.

As your network grows, your activity increases, and the quality of your activity improves as your skills develop. You should also see a payback in terms of Enquiries and Referrals, which you could then track through to eventual sales.

Tips to help you define your LinkedIn, Lead Generation and Social Selling Goals

1. Outcomes – align social selling goals with your sales process and metrics

Identifying and implementing lead generation techniques that are consistent with your marketing and sales model and processes is the start.

  • Sales – is the ultimate goal, but for example, refine the definition to be clear if this is from existing or new customers
  • Enquiries and Leads – be clear how these are defined, and the quality and quantity that are relevant
  • Referrals and Introductions – this is a major potential ROI of LinkedIn, especially if this is a big part of how you generate new business already.

Consider the timescale that you want to focus on. Is it a week, a month, a year? Maybe you need a blast of lead generation to fill your sales funnel or pipeline. Maybe you want to build a steady flow of leads. Consider whe your buyers are most active in their interest? Is it seasonal, based on their financial year etc. or are buyers looking on a continuous basis?
Note: Big numbers generated by some people may sound attractive, but double check whether they are relevant to your business model. If they are not then the techniques used to achieve them may not be appropriate for you and your business.

2. Assets – create resources with measureable value from your activities

This is the side of LinkedIn that is enduring and has the potential to deliver benefits 24/7/365

  • Contacts – the number of connections you and your team have, and company page followers, are easily measurable and therefore trackable. Quality matters too, and LinkedIn provides some stats on both. How many contacts do you want to add over a specific time period?
  • Content – this is pretty important if you’re to be found and to have online sales relationships. Content also increases productivity, if there is an appropriate mix created and published and viewed. How much content do you have the resources to produce. Create the higher value pieces first.
  • Reputation – this is a tough one to measure objectively, but one that is none the less important to have as a goal or objective to inform decisions.

Like physical assets, digital assets will decay unless maintained and used. A large network of contacts and lots of content are of little value in isolation, but are both much more valuable when they are connected, especially in a way that enhances your reputation.

3. Activity – the essential ingredient in order to get a return on investment

Reading articles, attending webinars, going on training courses, etc. are only really valuable when put into practice.

Like the traditional cold calling numbers game (eg. dialling 100 numbers a day), so too there are activity metrics that can be applied in the LinkedIn and Social Selling area. But again these need to be aligned with sales process and objectives. Here are some suggestions:

  • Track your activity to build lists of prospects through LinkedIn
  • Track the increase the quantity and quality of contacts in your network
  • Monitor your activity to stay visible to your network eg. your Recent Activity number
  • Track the Likes, Comments and Shares on your Posts and Company Page Updates
  • Record your progress using the Linkedin Social Selling Index (SSI)

Tracking these numbers takes time, so choose those that are easiest and most relevant to your business model.

The bigger Social Selling picture

The real payback occurs when techniques become more effective and they contribute to the achievement of the bigger Sales measures. The relative contribution against other techniques is important to consider. Developing new strategies and operational methods and skills for the long term is a by-product of short-term effort.

Doing all the heavy lifting by ourselves is tough. When our reputation develops and word of mouth and referrals carries our message far further than we can that the real benefits show up.

Which is why there should be a balance of short, medium and long term goals and objectives for Social Selling.

Download our Pocket Guide to Lead Generation using LinkedIn and Social Selling

If you haven’t already done so, get a copy of our guide, which covers more LinkedIn Tips and introduces the Social Selling Matrix.

Social Selling Matrix – the Business Development Blueprint for Consultants

Many people have an official or unofficial role as a consultant.

They are Trusted Advisors who make recommendations based on their knowledge and assessment of a particular situation.

Medical Consultants are a great example. They assess complex situations. They also educate and advise their less experienced colleagues.

In Business most disciplines and functions have people in consultant roles, going through a similar work pattern.

– Business Consultants
– Management Consultants
– Sales Consultants
– Marketing Consultants
– IT Consultants
– HR Consultants
– Technical Consultants
– Legal Consultants
– and so on

NEXT PAGE >> Goals & Objectives

 Trust is Critical

Successful Consultants are Trusted in their area of expertise. The advice the provide has significant implications on the recipient.

In a medical context it may be the difference between life and death, with huge implications on the patient and their loved ones.

In business it may be the difference between growth and profit of the client, or missed opportunities, liability, fines, or worse.

Reputation is Key

As a patient or client we probably don’t know enough to judge whether one consultant is better than another.

So we rely on third parties to verify and validate the consultant credentials.

Have they passed relevant exams? Are the respected by their peers? Who are their clients? What results have they achieved?

Multiple Clients

Senior advisors within an organisation will have established channels through which they gain opportunities to add value.

Independent Consultants need to gain multiple and regular opportunities to contribute – to have a bank of clients who seek them out.

The Hybrid Network – Off-line and On-line

The rise of the Internet, websites, search, social media and more has extended the options to develop a network considerable.

While the principles of attracting clients and finding new customers still apply there are far more choices that can be used.

At Wurlwind we’ve developed an end-to-end, joined up, full-cycle approach to business development for Consultants.

This reflects the subtle and significant ways BUYING IS CHANGING

And in response Marketing, Sales and Business Development is CHANGING TOO.

It is the Internet and access to information and the ability to publish that lies behind this disruptive change.

And in the Business to Business (B2B) market it is the LinkedIn platform, network and community that is providing a means for independent consultants to respond.

Why we developed the Social Selling Matrix for Consultants

To help consultants to understand, plan and implement changes at strategic, operational and tactical levels we’ve developed the Social Selling Matrix.

The Matrix is grounded in 30 years B2B sales experience plus deep understanding of LinkedIn and participation in the evolution of Social Selling.

There are 10 elements to the Social Selling Matrix which encompass all the areas of business development that are essential.

Each of the following 10 pages introduces that section or topic.

The top of each page provides highlights and quick actionable tips – with the lower part providing additional tips if that’s where you want to drill down.

The Social Selling Matrix sections:

To put the sections into a logical sequence for someone approaching this for the first time:

1. Goals and Objectives

Four Foundations
2. Ideal Client
3. Value Proposition(s)
4. Personal Brand and Profile
5. Company Brand and Page

Three Stages of the Sales Funnel
6. Attracting and Finding Clients
7. Gaining Agreement
8. Nurturing Clients and partners

Supporting Resources
9. Content
10. Technology – Apps and Tools

Where’s the payback?

There are some quick win highlighted throughout the matrix. The Worksheets and Toolkits are the way into these.

The main payback is a change of mindset, culture, sales operations and resources.

This is a journey. And it may take 3-6 months for people to make appreciable progress.

Do you want to Develop your Consulting Practice and Win more Clients?

If so – Click here to Start Your Journey into Social Selling with me, Mark Stonham, Founder of Wurlwind.

 

Or, if you’d like a chat first, send an email to me, Mark Stonham at mark@wurlwind.co.uk, and I’ll be in touch asap.

NEXT PAGE >> Goals & Objectives

 

LinkedIn for Sales and Marketing and Business

LinkedIn logo - business people use LinkedIn for many purposesIt’s amazing what people can use LinkedIn for. Some use LinkedIn as a contacts directory to look people up. Some use LinkedIn for market research and for news. Others use LinkedIn for recruitment, either to find a job, or to find candidates. But increasingly people are using LinkedIn for Sales, and to improve their sales result. And as more people join LinkedIn and use it more so the potential is increasing, for those who know how to work LinkedIn effectively to help them to work smarter and get greater results in less time.

People use LinkedIn for Business, and business related contact and activities, in many ways. For sure, business is about relationships, and there is a social element as people get to know, like and trust one another, as the foundation for a commercial arrangement. Where people live, where they went to college and university, which subjects they majored in, any sporting or artistic achievements they have. which community groups they may support. All these aspects help to build up a profile and enable areas on common interest to be found quickly.

The breadth of functionality of LinkedIn is creating new opportunities, and smart people and companies will capitalise on them.

LinkedIn for Sales, and supporting the sales process

In the business to business markets it is the customer facing sales people who stand to gain the most from LinkedIn. Being able to identify and target potential customers and clients with greater accuracy, researching people and businesses prior to a phone call or meeting, and seeing who is connected to who are just some of the tasks sales people use LinkedIn for.

Increasing the quality of client contact time, through better preparation, and reducing the elapsed time from initial thought to first contact and ways LinkedIn can help. For others in sales there are more advanced strategies available, particularly around being alerted to Trigger Event happening in the lives of companies and decision-makers, and responding to them quicker that competitors.

LinkedIn is a powerful way for a sales person to build their own market position, based on their expertise and knowledge. A strong LinkedIn profile, and contributions into key groups are just the start of ways a sales person can create a strong sales platform, to open doors of senior executives and set-up significant meetings and opportunities.

LinkedIn for Marketing, and for lead generation

Raising awareness for your company and it’s products and services, researching suitable companies and people to target with marketing campaigns, advertising through LinkedIn, and generating traffic to the company website are just some of the areas that marketing can use LinkedIn for.

Creating a customer community within LinkedIn is an advanced strategy that develops from testimonials and endorsements. Just imagine how powerful it would be if your best customers were sharing good news and tips about your products and services and the service they received from you. The LinkedIn network facilitates this, for businesses who want to develop down this route, and build a long-term advantage.

LinkedIn for Business, and gaining a commercial benefit

Although the cost of using LinkedIn is free or relatively cheap, it is the time aspect that most people are concerned about. For sure there is a learning curve. There is also set-up time. And then the big one which is ongoing activity, and responding, and being ‘conversational’ and building relationships.

Trial and error, and using only basic techniques, are the ingredients for a low level of results for the time involved. A better return on effort will be achieved through an injection of skills and guidance on effective tactics, techniques and strategies.

LinkedIn for Businesses, of many different types

There are very few businesses who cannot benefit from LinkedIn in one way or another. For some businesses there may be social media alternatives that are more attractive, as part of their digital marketing mix. But where there is a business to business market plan then LinkedIn has much to offer, especially for companies and firms in the following sectors.

  • LinkedIn for Technology Businesses – finding, engaging and building relationships with customers, distributors, suppliers etc, often outside the immediate geography, is where  LinkedIn is really strong.
  • LinkedIn for Professional Services – business support, office services, HR, and a wealth of other service providers can benefit from LinkedIn
  • LinkedIn for Lawyers – commercial law is a rich seam for LinkedIn, especially for company changes and larger projects
  • LinkedIn for Accountants – being able to provide advice on many topics and a network of good connection give accountant and edge.
  • LinkedIn for Financial Services – to market to high-net-worth individuals, business owners, employees,
  • LinkedIn for Marketing Agencies – branding, communications, web design, PR are just a few of the agencies who benefit from LinkedIn.

LinkedIn for Not-for-Profit and other Organisations

There are many functions and things that not-for-profit, charities, associations and others in the ‘third’ sector can use LinkedIn for.

  • LinkedIn for Charities – finding donors and sponsors, volunteers and patrons
  • LinkedIn for Education – finding funding, governors and tutors, and helping students to find placements and jobs

LinkedIn for Relationships

The core service from LinkedIn can be likened to the telephone service. There is a directory of users. And users can communicate one with another. Different people use the phone system in different ways, to achieve what they want to. Likewise with LinkedIn there ae many different ways it can be used.

Take a look around the Wurlwind website, enter your details below, or call us to find out more ideas about what you can use LinkedIn for.