I’m reading Jeb Bount’s Fanatical Prospecting right now. I’m in the last few chapters, and he reminds me:
The power of personal connection is as strong as it ever was.
In 20 years I’ve been in sales and sales management, this point remains. Quite frankly, unless you’re in a commodity business, I’m not sure much has changed in the process of sales. The methods in which we communicate are different, but if you offer a product or service with any complexity, you need to build a relationship, uncover a need, fill that need with your product or service, and follow through on the promises you made.
When I’m speaking to business owners, sales people, and sales leaders, I hear the same common problems in closing more sales:
Problem #1: they aren’t getting enough appointments.
Upon which I ask, “how many sales calls are you making a week?”
The answer “not enough.”
Problem #2: I don’t have enough prospects in my pipeline (which should be problem #1, but it’s not the first thing I hear).
To which I ask “what are you doing to fill your pipeline?
The answer: “not enough.”
Before we can address problem #1, you obviously need address problem #2. Reading Jeb’s book, made me think about several ways you can fill the pipeline so you have more people to call while simultaneously building influence so you have more success booking appointments which lead to more sales.
People are busy. I get it, we’re all busy. Unless you take the time to build familiarity, as Jeb puts it, you are going to have a harder time convincing people to do business with you.
Here are my Top Five Ways for Sales People to Build Familiarity AND Fill Your Pipeline with Prospects:
1. Create valuable content that is meaningful to your prospects. Most small to medium businesses do not have marketing departments that create content you need to attract customers, so you need to create it. Content could be in the form of an ezine, a blog, or videos. Find out what your prospects biggest challenges are, and solve them using content. You’ll become a known resource for your prospects and you’ll be the first person they think about at the idea of needing a product or service like yours.
2. Share valuable content that is meaningful to your prospects. If creating content is hard for you, my first suggestion is to watch Seth Godin’s YouTube video title “2015 Inbound Keynote,” that should help. If it’s still tough, then research other content you can share. That could be a magazine article (I like to clip stories from Harvard Business Review and put them in the mail with a hand-written note, no-one ever gets good snail mail anymore and I’ll stand out). It could be a podcast, an electronic article, a YouTube video, market report, or white pages. You can set a Google Alert for a specific industry and you’ll have content delivered to your email inbox daily that you can choose from.
3. Interview your prospects. I find even busy people like to give back. I love to use market research to get in front of my prospects, to learn what their challenges are, and to set myself apart from the competition. I have a set of 10-12 questions that change depending on who I’m speaking with and the process takes less than 15 minutes. It gives me valuable insights to what they need and often they can squeeze me in for a quick conversation that isn’t a sales pitch.
4. Make your prospects the experts. This is another content driven idea! Interview your prospects on a specific area of business as an expert in their field. I’m working on a new program that focuses on the differences between genders in sales, so my process is to interview my prospects on this topic and highlight my findings in videos, podcasts, and blogs (maybe even a book). They are the experts, and I am aligned with experts by creating the process.
5. Netweave at your networking events. This is a term coined by Bob Littell that refers to thinking about how you can help others by making an introduction to a 3rd party at a networking event. Most people at networking events tend to focus on themselves (who can they sell?). Bob challenges you to think about who you can help with your own connections. This helps you become thought of as a resource and quickly builds credibility.
BONUS! I like to follow up with a connection on LinkedIn after netweaving at networking events. This way I stay in front of my prospects after I’ve made the introduction to my connection who can help them. The prospect is more likely to accept my LinkedIn request and then my content starts to show up in their newsfeed building even more familiarity.
Do you have any fun ideas you would like to share about building familiarity? Please add a comment below and join the conversation.
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About the author: Jennifer Darling is your Positively Successful Sales Coach. She has worked with 1,000s of businesses in strategic planning to increase their revenue. She provides sales, marketing, personal development and business consulting for small to medium businesses, corporations, nonprofits, and groups. Jennifer possesses 20 years experience for companies such as NBC, CBS, FOX, and Comcast. She holds a Master’s Degree in Management and a Bachelor’s Degree in Advertising & Promotion. Learn about upcoming events right here on my website.