As a sales manager you know that it’s increasingly becoming difficult to get mindshare from buyers in a noisy marketplace. To add to this, it doesn’t make it easy when every competitor has a similar sounding story.
What you need to do is allow your reps to display their expertise. Notice how I didn’t say “turn your reps into experts”. I really believe that sales people have great experience and expertise. What’s missing is not their desire to convey it, that they try to do every day by phone, e-mail, etc. The challenge is that those communications mediums are becoming increasingly crowded and noisy.
You should implement a plan (speed is the key) to get them to use social media as well. Below, I’ll provide you with some tactical tips you can employ right away to get them going. The goal is blockbuster brand ambassadorship (say that 3 times fast)!
Remember, as you deploy your plan have clear and measurable goals. Something as simple as “I want Brad to share 10 pieces of content this week”. For the fear of sounding like a cliché, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.
Let’s dive in.
Engage With People Online
Once you’ve identified who and where your prospects are, find them and proactively pursue them. Don’t lead with the pitch. Lead with information that allows your reps to demonstrate their personality, build rapport, all while conveying value.
If you want to talk to people you’ll need to muster up the courage to do so. But don’t ask them for something, offer them something of value first.
James Altucher, my favorite blogger/writer and all around inspiring guy, once told an audience of how he was looking for a job. He sent his top 10 dream employers lists of things to make them more money/do something more efficiently/etc. While some ignored him, some got back to him. They implemented his ideas and made money from it. James was set. In fact, those relationship ultimately lead him to start and sell a business worth millions.
Be one with the James. I can’t stress this enough. It sounds simple but it’s excruciatingly and mind-numbingly important!
Participate In Conversations
There are thousands of buyers having conversations online. Join them. Get yourself in there. Don’t be a fly on the wall. Walls don’t pay the bills (unless you’re in construction), buyers do.
Reps need to announce their presence. It’s important that you set very hard and fast goals on how many conversations they need to participate in. You will need to do this for about a quarter and manage around it.
Once they start seeing results, they’ll be hooked. They’ll see, for instance, that buyers are actually friendly online than on the phone. Why? Because your reps will have lead with value and insights and not tried to sell anything.
Share Content and Then Share It Some More
The importance of sharing content cannot be understated. Let it be the way you demonstrate expertise and value.
Your buyers can read everything about you from your LinkedIn profile and corporate website. But that’s not what they want in terms of information. They want to understand who you are, what makes you tick, what your thoughts are, and more.
By sharing insightful information you have the ability to convey your experience and expertise to the buyer. It allows you to talk the talk effectively to distinguish yourself from your competitors. Ultimately, buyers will always choose to talk to experts, not sales people.
Share content to convey that expertise.
Ask Customers to Share Expertise
As you look to purchase any new product or service, one area you’ll put weight on in your decision process are recommendations and reviews. Your buyers are no different.
They want to associate themselves with brands and people that have the least risk of failure. Remember that old saying “no one ever got fired for buying IBM”? There’s a reason. Big blue represents a beacon of stability in an otherwise risk-laden IT industry.
So here’s a neat tip to get your reps building their personal brands. Get them to do short mini video interviews with their buyers. These are not testimonial videos per se, but they allow your reps to ask intelligent questions of your customers and have a real-life business conversation with them.
You can then share these videos to all of your social media channels (side note: upload videos to YouTube, it is quick and easy).
The result will be nothing short of fascinating. Your reps begin to look like “rock stars” in the eyes of buyers. They’ll be able to convey their years of experience and expertise in a way that says “yes, I know my stuff” without sounding like a pushy sales rep.
Prospects will also see how your reps interact with their peers. If I’m a Director of IT and I see one of your reps do a video with another Director of IT, my guard will come down. I’ll be convinced that I can have a conversation with your rep and not get a sales pitch in the process. That builds rapport and relationship.
Try it. It’s fun!
The common denominator amongst all of these is to encourage/incent your reps to be proactive! Take all of these tips or take only one.
The choice is yours.
But, if you’re looking to have your reps be brand ambassadors, then you must try some of these ideas.
Buyers today are turning off and tuning out with traditional sales pitches. They still seek education. Your mission (if you choose to accept it) is to provide them this education and be there as a resource. Social selling allows you to do this. It allows you to take some good old fashioned networking and value techniques and marry them to online tools.
How are you building brand online today? Is there anything here I’ve missed? Let’s continue the conversation. You can tweet me here and connect with me on LinkedIn. And if you need any help or have questions, here’s my calendar availability.