The biggest challenge to small businesses today is obscurity. If people don’t know you exist, you don’t exist.
The same holds true for your sales team.
Sales is a tough grind – from prospecting through to closing, to managing a customer account for growth. But how do you manage accounts if there is no business? No matter how hard your teams are grinding in the market, no sales equates to no business.
Here’s the dichotomy: most businesses fail because they’re only focused on their core expertise. But, there isn’t emphasis on proactive prospecting and selling or servicing customers to gain more business.
The golden trifecta for company growth.
For many businesses, there is a suspension of belief moment – they believe and hope that customers will find them. This is the case for companies with small sales teams as well.
Social Selling & The Modern Buyer
Consider that you are a modern buyer in this day and age. You likely use the internet to conduct a lot of research about products and services you’re interested in.
What are some of the most recent items you’ve bought? And now ask yourself if you researched these on the internet. You may have used Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, Forums, Review Sites and more.
Your sales team needs to be familiar, use and generate leads from these sites. Why? Because your buyers are on these very sites using them in various ways.
They could be doing initial research, talking to people for opinions, and generally networking with like-minded people. This is a golden opportunity for your sales team.
Let’s explore why with four possible ways.
1) Wealth of Leads
No matter who you are, you need leads. Perhaps your marketing team can get these for you, but for most of us, our sales teams are doing the heavy lifting in generating these. In some cases, it could be a bit of both.
Data from our latest Social Selling Trends Report for 2017 reveals that sales people who use social in the sales process are 40% more likely to hit revenue goals than their more non-social selling/internet-friendly counterparts.
This number is similar to LinkedIn’s data which reveals sales reps who use social generate 45% more sales opportunities! These are sales skills that can be learned and applied to cause significant impact to your sales number.
Social selling helps capture more leads than traditional prospecting.
If you believe leads are the lifeblood of any business, then it would be wise to use these modern tools to help your business.
How different would your business look if each sales person had 10% more sales this year? How about 45%?
2) Brand Recognition: A Challenge for Companies and Sales Reps
People buy from people, not companies, right? How many times have we heard this saying?
Many believe this and Nielsen’s data from 2013 shows that while customers trust a company’s message 33%, they trust the message from a person they know 92%. Whoa – that’s huge!
It makes sense then to have our sales reps spend time with potential customers and use their influence accordingly.
But, there’s a problem.
Most people don’t want to deal with sales people – they’d rather deal with experts. While it’s likely that your sales reps have expertise/specialization in what they do, how do you convey that to customers if they don’t want to talk to you?
Expertise is a wonderful thing if people know you exist. As companies die from obscurity, so do sales reps.
One of the best ways to convey your brand and image is online. It’s not the only source but it’s a very important one. How you present yourself online matters.
If I sell office furniture, complex manufacturing equipment or software solutions, it’s hard to convey expertise in a 30 second cold call or a 30 minute sales meeting. I can do my best but the clock is my biggest enemy.
By building a brand online and sharing informative articles and content, I can begin to brand myself as an expert in the space.
Additionally, chances are that people (like you) are googling my name. And what they find about me matters. If my LinkedIn Profile and other social profiles are set up professionally, I will have the ability to showcase what I’m about and what I know.
These are small but powerful examples of how sales can build a reputation and brand onlineho more effectively.
The more we look like and present ourselves as sales people, the more we tell potential and would-be buyers that this is all we are (or capable of). It’s time to get creative and begin to convey our expertise out there.
3) Promotion & Getting Your Name Out
Some people view promotion as something that they’re above or too good for. Some business owners and small team leaders view promotion as necessary but don’t know where to begin.
Most businesses today resort to the same cookie-cutter promotional techniques that they see other businesses do. The thought is that if someone else is doing it, it must be working.
While there is likely some truth to this, the main ways to promote today are completely out of date and out of step with the digital world.
Again, it all comes back to where do we, as consumers, do our research?
If there isn’t a focused way to get our own personal and company names out there in the market, we’re missing the horsepower of the internet.
A social profile is one thing, but I’m advocating for a much larger and most consistent presence across any digital channel that your customers live and breathe on. If you don’t feel your customers are using the internet, then you’re safe, but I believe you’re in the minority.
Chances are, the majority of all consumers are now actively using the internet and its various tools/sites to find information.
So if you are interested in promotion, shouldn’t this medium be a focus for you?
Lastly, how should you promote yourself on digital?
While there are things like Google AdWords and other ways, consider that buyers are technically looking for answers to questions.
According to L2 Inc., a digital research and advisory firm, ⅕ of all questions now typed into Google have never been asked before in the history of humanity. That’s powerful.
So consider that your ability to educate will, inadvertently, be a way for you to promote yourself as well. It’s a true win-win. The customer wins by learning something new with your authority guiding them, and you win by potentially converting that person into a lead.
Clever? You bet.
4) Competitor Differentiation
While this point is written separately, it’s intricately tied to all of the main ideas discussed above.
By you actively practicing these concepts, the natural byproduct will be you separating yourself from the pack of competitors in your industry.
A lack of marketing and sales creativity generally keeps most competitors obscure and you should absolutely use that to your advantage. By selling yourself through brand, proactive lead generation and promotion, you will begin to see how you can stand out.
Think about what your competitors are focused on – the majority are focused on their core area of expertise, but never on sales & marketing.
I’m making a case for you here to not be that type of company or team. Focus, instead, on sales & marketing as well (in addition to your expertise area).
The Bottom Line
The best way to overcome obscurity is to mix it up out there; trying new things will always benefit you as you’ll have embraced learning as your core skill.
Ultimately, the ability to practice the 4 key areas in this blog will help you stand out from the crowd.