Tag Archives: prospecting

6 Tips to Augment Sales and Prospecting

We all know that LinkedIn is the social network for making professional connections, building networks and searching for jobs or candidates. It’s a fantastic tool for those of us in the business world who want to see what our peers, competitors and friends are doing in their professional lives.
But the benefits and uses of LinkedIn certainly don’t end there. While the days of a dedicated real-life sales assistant may be long past us, we do have tools like LinkedIn that can help augment our existing sales approaches to better improve our chances of connecting with the right people or closing that elusive deal.
And if you aren’t already using LinkedIn, you may be at a disadvantage. According to the Sales Management Association, 96% of sales professionals use LinkedIn at least once a week and spend an average of six hours per week on LinkedIn. In fact, 79% of salespeople using social media to sell outperformed those who weren’t using social media.  A number of today’s top insurance salespeople are increasingly using LinkedIn as a primary source of new leads and prospect connecting.
So how do they do it? What makes people using this simple social media channel so much more successful than those who stick to the traditional methods of phone calls, emails and in-person meetings? Aside from optimizing their profiles, which you can read more about in this blog post, here are six tips to really take advantage of the capabilities of LinkedIn to improve sales.
1. Put an End to Cold Calls
Let’s face it– most of us aren’t big fans of cold calling. It can be at best awkward and at worst contentious. But with the amount of resources and background information available on LinkedIn about any given person, you can almost always find a little nugget of information on a person to break the ice or get some insight on what policy type may fit that person best. And since people are notified when others view their profile, many people will already recognize your name because they’ve seen it appear in their notifications.
2. Broaden Your Connections
Remember that LinkedIn is not Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg’s social media site is for engaging with friends and family members; LinkedIn is for professional life. There is certainly overlap–and sure, it’s perfectly fine to connect with friends and family on LinkedIn, too, but first make sure to connect with all of your existing business contacts, coworkers and associates. Secondly, the site should be one of the first places you go after making a real-life sales connection because the more connections you have, the larger your network will be. Your first-level connections open avenues of contact with a wide range of second- and third-level contacts.
3. Bypass Email and Instead Try InMail
Getting anyone’s contact information can be tough. Getting a business decision-maker’s info? Next to impossible. But with LinkedIn’s InMail feature, users have a direct line to contact prospects. LinkedIn estimates that an InMail is 30 times more likely to get a response than a cold call.  While users need to be connected to message each other for free, LinkedIn Pro accounts, which charge a fee, allow users to InMail a limited number of people each month (using credits) that they’re not connected with. The real kicker is if someone responds to your InMail within 90 days, you get that credit back to use to InMail someone else.
4. Use the Advanced Search Capabilities
LinkedIn’s searching feature is great, but its advanced search truly is the perfect tool for sales professionals. With the free version of LinkedIn, you can search people by company, location or title. With a paid account, you can distill even further by company size and leadership level to target those people making decisions on their enterprise’s insurance needs. Try setting up a weekly search report using the titles most common among your current connections to find people you may be able to sell to whom you haven’t met yet.
5. Keep Tabs on Clients, Companies and Competitors
Chances are you already have an open communication with your existing clients– and that’s great. But to use LinkedIn to bring in new sales, you should always keep track of those people and companies you’re not working with currently to see what they’re doing and discover if there are any recent changes to their employment or corporate status, which may provide a reason for a touch point. Additionally, keeping tabs on your competitors lets you use their disadvantages to your advantage, if you can point out those disadvantages during a sales pitch.
6. Leverage the “Who’s Looked at Your Profile” Feature
While this feature may seem a bit creepy, it can really work to your benefit. Make sure to check out who has been viewing your profile. If you have a free account, you can see a limited number of people who have viewed your profile. The paid account gives you the entire list of those who have viewed your profile and do not have their own profiles set to anonymous. If a prospect has recently viewed your profile, it gives you an immediate excuse to connect. Take advantage of the opportunity by sending a message, offering insights or investigating how you can help.
While LinkedIn likely won’t make the sale for you–though it would certainly be nice if it could–it is a valuable tool for supplementing your current sales approaches to deliver better relationships and more prospects and improve the way you talk about insurance products.

Call It What You Want

Call it what you want … lead generation, business development, canvassing, door to door, talking with referrals, follow up from a networking event, asking for referrals or even making the “Dreaded Cold Call.” You can disguise it anyway you want. You are prospecting!

Prospects may come from a variety of sources that include your warm or natural market. You may also receive a steady flow of prospects from centers of influence, such as attorneys, doctors, accountants or VIPs in your community. What about referrals from clients or friends? You may even belong to associations and business networking groups. What about social media? (compliance permitting).

Skeptics say that prospecting is dead. It’s not. And it never will be. The decision to prospect is yours alone.

True, the old way of selling is dead and gone forever, but prospecting continues to be the foundation of all successful businesses and salespeople. So what is prospecting?

Prospecting is defined as “in search of” or “to labor for.” What are we all searching for? We should be prospecting for (or searching for) new customers, or new business from our existing customers. It’s that simple.

Question — If you had the cure for cancer, how many cancer patients would you approach each day? Of course you would approach as many as you could. Make sense?

Why then, do we stop prospecting? The simple answer is that it is hard work. We get lazy and complacent. After all, it’s easier to check your voicemail or email isn’t it? Voicemail can’t object, email doesn’t challenge our value. We get caught up in all the stuff that really doesn’t matter.

In closing: The following quote from Frank Bettger’s book How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling says it straight out, “You can’t make a sale, until you write some business; You can’t write some business, until you have had a conversation; And you can’t have a conversation until you make the call!” Are you ready to have more conversations, write more business, and make more sales? The decision is yours and yours alone.

Happy Prospecting!

Are You Ready To Quit Your Career In Sales?

Sales is really simple. It’s a contact sport — being in the presence of the prospect or client either by phone or face-to-face. Sometimes when we get away from the basics and fundamentals we find ourselves full of fear, worry and anxiety. I heard a wise man once say, “Work, don’t worry.”

I remember what Tom Vanyo said to me at a sales meeting in May of 1984, “If you don’t make a major change today, you will be doing exactly the same thing next month or next year.” I had been putting off keeping track of the number of calls I made each day and how many new prospects I talked to. I personally thought that keeping track of my numbers was a waste of time and paper.

At first it was depressing. The numbers were so revealing. I thought I was so productive. I couldn’t believe how much time I was wasting each day. The numbers told me how few new prospects I was actually talking to each week. After all, prospecting is the foundation of all successful salespeople. After disciplining myself to keep track of each dial, contact, prospect, and sale, I was able to determine how many dials it took to reach a qualified prospect which turned into a sale. By keeping track of my numbers it began to motivate me. Each day I could see real progress.

I know that sales is more than a numbers game. But how will you ever know what’s working and what’s not unless you keep track? You see, it’s too easy to get faked out by being busy as I learned by keeping track of my numbers. By keeping track of my numbers each day it revealed how productive I was and how much time I was wasting with prospects who would never say yes.

There are two major reasons for keeping track of your numbers each day:

  • Number one, you want to know what’s working and what’s not. Most salespeople avoid keeping track of their numbers because it reveals too much about what they really don’t want to know.
  • The second major reason for keeping track is the discipline of doing it. The discipline of keeping track each day will affect all other disciplines. In my search for the secrets to success in sales I have found there are no secrets. Sales is a highly disciplined activity repeated every day.

Happy Prospecting!