3 Tactics to Stay Connected With Your Target Audience

What can you do today to help you to survive the current state of your market and thrive as it evolves? Consider these three tactics to help you maintain a strong connection with your audience.

Digital marketing — and marketing more broadly — is always about making it clear to your target audience that you can help them address the issue they need to solve. Nothing about the conditions we’re facing today changes that, though the issues your audience is facing very likely have.

So, as much as we’re all tired of hearing about our “unprecedented” times and “the new normal,” we do have to adapt our organizations to the conditions we see in our markets, or risk our own extinction.

What can you do today to help you to survive the current state of your market and thrive as it evolves? Consider these three tactics to help you maintain a strong connection with your target audience.

Trim Costs Without Negatively Affecting Your Audience

Where can you cut costs in a way that does not impact your ability to connect with your target audience? Begin by looking at what you’re doing now. For example, digital ad costs have fallen. If you can craft a message that still resonates with your prospects, you may be able to increase your impact at a lower overall cost, and certainly at a lower CPM. (Be careful, though, if your targeting relies on IP address identification. With many corporate folks working from home, their IP address will not be that of their organization unless they’re accessing the internet through a corporate VPN.)

What alternative to currently dormant channels have you shied away from testing in the past because of budget or bandwidth concerns? Virtual events rather than in-person events is the most obvious choice, but there may be other areas in your arsenal worth investigating.

Explore New Tactics for Your Sales Team to Employ

Speaking of alternatives, if your sales force has typically relied on face-to-face meetings to drive revenue, they’ll be itching for new ways to connect with potential buyers. They may be more open to new ideas than in the past; for example, creating a library of online resources.

The key here is doing the work to ensure that the resources you create align with the sales team’s needs. This makes creating a digital library a great way to get sales and marketing working together, even if they can’t be together physically. (I’m sure some of you are thinking about how that physical distance might make the process easier …)

Even better, a library like this works not only as a short-term play to get the sales team through a time of limited contact with prospects, but it also can pay benefits far down the road in the form of an expanded reach for the sales team as they become more comfortable using these tools in their sales process.

Improve Customer Experience

Don’t forget to check the possibilities already right under your nose. As difficult as it can be to connect with new prospects for many marketers at the moment, existing clients are likely far more receptive to your messaging, particularly if you focus on empathy, humanity, and being helpful.

Ask what help they need, share the struggles that your organization is going through, and make it clear that you will help them any way you can. Consider making a pre-emptive offer to clients that addresses problems you know they are facing. (See Point One above about asking what they need.) The short-term cost of any unpaid effort will pay long-term dividends in the kinds of trust and good will that lead to client retention and improved lifetime value.

How to Use Content Marketing to Support Your Sales Team

Improving your sales team’s effectiveness is an ongoing process. Content marketing can help. In fact, content is no longer a nice-to-have. For most marketers, it’s a must-have. Here’s why.

Improving your sales team’s effectiveness is an ongoing process. Content marketing can help. In fact, content is no longer a nice-to-have. For most marketers, it’s a must-have. Here’s why.

Content IS Your Sales Team

For starters, today’s buyers are typically far into their decision-making journey before they invite a salesperson into the conversation. So for the first three-quarters of that journey, your content marketing is a proxy for your sales team. If it’s not demonstrating your expertise and its applicability to the problem they’re trying to solve, you will never be in the running for serious consideration by your prospects.

Being in the running isn’t really our goal, though. We want to make the short list and, ultimately, win the business. For that, content can again ride to the rescue, setting the stage for the late-funnel work that your actual sales team will do.

The question is, what kind of content will do that? Content that is optimized to attract your audience, is structured to create a story that engages your audience, and which asks the questions that will move your audience toward a decision.

Optimizing Your Content Marketing

For your content marketing to work well, you have to know who will be reading it and what their objectives are. Your content has to address the challenges they are facing and understand what their status quo looks like.

That last bit is key because your competition is not just the other firms with whom you trade account wins and losses; it’s inertia. If you can’t create a case that points to real business improvements gained by changing what they’re doing now, you won’t lose the sale to your competitors. There simply won’t be a sale.

Story Follows Research

Once you’ve done the research that helps ensure you’re speaking the using the right language and addressing the right issues, you must get their attention and get them engaged. This is not a time for same-old, same-old. It’s time for constructing a narrative that brings your value proposition to life.

Data can support your story, but the human and emotional aspect is what resonates with even the most analytical audience. Make them feel the decision they’re about to make and let the data support that feeling.

Ask and Answer

Finally, it’s question time. You should be ready to ask questions that will move your prospect toward the next step on their buying journey. And you should be prepared to answer the questions that you know (from your research) are top of mind for prospects at each stage.

Whether your content answers those questions or your sales team does will depend on the questions and on the nature of the prospect and the sale. Either way, strong content is an important part of giving your sales team the best chance for making the most of the opportunities your marketing creates.

How Pushing Credibility Works Against Cold Email Success

Nothing screams “I’m trying to persuade” you louder than trying too hard to establish credibility. Ever go on a date where your date tried to posture? You detected it instantly. Meeting a customer for the first time is the same. Signaling “I want you to respect me!” is the kiss of death in business.

Nothing screams “I’m trying to persuade” you louder than trying too hard to establish credibility.

Ever go on a date where your date tried to posture? You detected it instantly. Remember back in time: They were attracted to you, but you weren’t sure.

Then, suddenly, you were. This person was not a match.

Because they started caring too much. They were trying too hard.

Meeting a customer for the first time is the same. Signaling “I want you to respect me” is the kiss of death in business.

The moment you start caring too much you risk being seen as desperate by prospects.

It’s the same with your cold emails or LinkedIn InMails.

Don’t Believe Me?

Reach into your email. Do it now. Seriously. Look for that latest spam email you received from someone who wrote in a way that screams, “I know you won’t believe me … so here is research from a credible source … to convince you to talk to me about buying my thing.”

It shouldn’t take you long to fish one out. Or maybe I’ve just described your email technique.

Truth is, most field and inside sales teams are actively told to establish credibility when cold emailing. Without being seen as credible, your email will be deleted by prospects.

Simply. Not. True.

Without being provocative your email will get deleted. Credibility has little to do with cold email success.

Tough love: Most marketing, demand generation and sales enablement professionals who’ve never sung for their supper will probably never understand this.

If your support team is under incentive to produce new client accounts they will know: Trying to establish credibility–too early — sabotages the chance to get conversations started.

Don’t fall into the trap. Don’t write to be seen as credible from cold.

Anatomy of a Failing Cold Email

Here is an example from a student I’m working with this week. I’m not using his name or company to protect the innocent.

Hello, [client],

My name is [name] and I’m with [company name]. Hopefully you have heard of [company name], but in case you haven’t, for over 50 years [company name] has helped organizations in the engineering, surveying, construction, mining, architecture, manufacturing, utilities, forestry, and government sectors to measure, analyze, design, and build more efficiently and profitably.

[Company name] national team of professionals combine software, hardware and services to provide tailored solutions to improve your workflow, from field to finish.

The email goes on to use phrases like, “I would love to get to know your company and projects better as perhaps there are X and Y products we can provide you.”

There are a lot of other cold email offenses I can flag as problematic. But do you see how using words like “I’d love to” and “Hopefully you’ve heard of us” sound a wee bit too much like the seller cares too much?

Notice how the message starts off. Do you see how talking exclusively about how established the company is can be a huge turn-off?

Be Different: Provoke

This same student, with a bit of coaching, was able to produce a totally different, effective cold email approach. Here’s the lead-in…

[client],

Would you be open to an unorthodox but effective way to reduce your inside print costs? (and potentially turn them into a revenue stream?)

He went on to describe how he did exactly what is described for an architectural firm located within the same city as his prospect.

What the seller described above is provocative because it’s short, sweet and focused on the potential client’s open-ness to hearing about a different way to achieve a goal he/she probably has.

There is no need to attempt to establish credibility in the first stage of a conversation. Because there is no decision being made here — other than replying to an email message.

Leverage Neutral Credibility

Trying to appear credible causes readers to run the other way, hit delete. It feels too persuasive. These days we are all bombarded with messages trying to persuade us. Those that do manage to persuade us are neutral. They don’t try to instantly persuade.

Consider the above re-write. Notice how the seller does not try to persuade. He doesn’t try to look credible. Instead, he hits on a subject the client likely cares about … in a way they cannot resist acting on.

That is credible. Especially when all the other emails hitting his clients’ inboxes look like his first message — desperate! The fact that my student’s message is not posturing and trying to persuade is, in effect, credible enough to earn a reply… in comparison to the competition.

The idea is to provoke a conversation, then earn consideration for a serious discussion (and perhaps a future purchase).

Bottom line: Credibility is over-sold as a means to get conversations started. When we try to establish credibility the first thing we reach for is “our story” or third party research.

Because we feel it’s necessary to convince clients we’re worth talking to.

Stop.

Instead, provoke reactions in ways that do have credible elements (tied to customers’ goals) but do not posture (look desperate).

Need more examples? Have some to offer yourself? Let me know in comments or shoot me an email!

Unintended Results of Social Selling Training

Do you want to: Upset and discourage your best sales reps? Reinforce prospecting tactics that have never worked? Encourage reps (who know better) to spam potential buyers? Pay a premium to achieve all of these horrors? If not, then you need social selling training for your sales team.

The Silver Bullet for Driving Sales & Impressions: DATADo you want to:

  • Upset and discourage your best sales reps?
  • Reinforce prospecting tactics that have never, ever worked?
  • Encourage reps (who know better) to spam potential buyers?
  • Put your sellers’ “personal brands” in front of sales outcomes?
  • Pay a premium to achieve all of these horrors?

If not, then you need social selling training for your sales team.

Forget about my opinion. Look around. Social selling (as it’s being practiced) is a waste of time for most sales teams.

Whether you’re new to social selling or using LinkedIn for sales you should know the truth — and make changes to how you measure social selling’s impact.

The Truth About Social Selling Training

I’m not saying LinkedIn isn’t a valuable tool. It is, for some sellers. But for most it’s proving ineffective because of misguided curriculum within social selling training programs.

The lack of productivity isn’t intentional. However, it is avoidable by assessing your reps’ current communications techniques and improving them. Social selling training must help sellers become better conversation-starters.

Most teams will benefit from focusing less on sharing information on LinkedIn — more on plumbing its database for leads the good old-fashioned way.

Effectively, prospecting.

Success is less about farming leads, more about hunting prospects.

Social selling training must help sellers become better interrupters. Better prospectors. Everything else is a waste of precious time.

Why You Must Measure Reps Differently

Whether you’re getting started or considering further investment in social selling training, measuring your team is vital. However, LinkedIn statistics are not enough to determine how effectively sellers are using LinkedIn.

Use of LinkedIn is a nice-to-know. Effectiveness is a must-know.

Effective use of technology is the most difficult part of social selling. Hence, many sales managers settle for less. Don’t. Beware.

LinkedIn itself and social selling gurus are often financially motivated to sell practices that don’t much work.

Here’s proof: Have a look at sellers’ typical social selling activities. An honest look. How’s it going lately? Usually we see…

  • Comments on prospects’ LinkedIn posts going without interaction.
  • Posts of press releases on reps profiles yielding radio silence.
  • Updates (more press releases and regurgitated articles) seeing likes.

It smells a lot like a mass marketing campaign, doesn’t it? Most sellers (even the good ones) are broadcasting: Having a one-way monologue on LinkedIn.

Beware: Assessing your sales team’s LinkedIn Social Selling Index statistics (usage) is not enough to determine how effectively they are using LinkedIn to prospect new business.

Don’t settle for less than sales outcome measures.

A Perfect Storm

Comments, posts of press releases, updates sharing articles… these activities rarely connect to a clear, effective prospecting process. Worse, sellers are being encouraged to act as marketers. And they’re rejecting it.

It’s becoming a perfect storm of productivity loss.

Have a close look. Most social selling training investments aren’t paying off. Because they train reps on marketing tactics rather than prospecting skills.

The result: Sellers (hunters) are becoming in-effective farmers. They’re planting seeds that never sprout.

Because they can’t. Germination is impossible. People aren’t on social media to be sold to. In fact, according to Simon Marley, CEO, of Growth Logik, an increasing number of decision-makers are hiding their true authority on LinkedIn.

Think about that!

Bottom line: The most effective digital / social sellers are focusing less on sharing information on LinkedIn—more on plumbing its database for leads the good old-fashioned way.

Prospecting.

This in mind, here are three questions you should be asking sellers in every pipeline meeting.

  • Why do you invest time on LinkedIn? (at all)
  • How do you invest that time?
  • Would you rather reassign that time? Why or why not?

What do you think?

3 Questions to Ask Your Sales Team

The social selling backlash has begun. You might sense it or be experiencing it. But you won’t read much about it online. I’m reading a lot of self-appointed experts whining, “You’re doing social selling wrong, dummy!” It’s as if the market is changing. Experiencing. Maturing.

The social selling backlash has begun. You might sense it or be experiencing it. But you won’t read much about it online. I’m reading a lot of self-appointed experts whining, “You’re doing social selling wrong, dummy!” It’s as if the market is changing. Experiencing. Maturing.

Rest assured: For most sales and marketing leaders the backlash against social selling is becoming tangible. Personal. Reps are pushing back.

This in mind, here are three questions you should be asking sellers in every pipeline meeting.

  1. Why do you invest time on LinkedIn? (at all)
  2. How do you invest that time?
  3. Would you rather reassign that time? Why or why not?

Yes, these are basic questions. But that’s the point: You want raw, un-filtered answers — insights on how your team’s productivity is being hindered or helped by current social selling practices. These questions can be asked on a private basis or in a group. Both strategies can yield productive results.

Is This Your Sales Team?

Social selling has, for many, been a bust. It’s a time-wasting venture in farming (marketing) conducted by those we’ve hired to hunt (sales).

We’ve wisely invested in tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator. However, many organizations are subscribed to a dangerous practice: ordering reps to abandon their hunting instincts — instead, focusing on planting seeds. Marketing.

For example:

  • Sharing valuable content and articles and hoping for engagement
  • Sending self-centered, templated email scripts via LinkedIn InMail
  • Re-posting press releases on LinkedIn blogs and updates

The result:

“Management is forcing me to waste time posting updates on social,” say many sellers. Instead, they want to be on the phone — dismissing social entirely.

This attitude is often based on experience. They tried it; social didn’t move the needle.

But did your reps go to battle with the best weaponry? With an effective, repeatable communications methodology? Or did they just push content out to customers and go back to their day?

1. ‘Why Do You Invest Time on LinkedIn? (Or Not)’

Asking your reps why they do (or do not) invest time on LinkedIn can be a real eye-opener. Especially when your organization mandates participation. If you’re invested in Sales Navigator reps must be using it — frequently and effectively.

You want that ROI. Sales Navigator is expensive.

But getting to effectiveness isn’t easy. I know, because my clients struggle with earning sellers participation in something they often:

  • don’t believe in (the status quo rep)
  • know won’t help them (they’ve tried and failed)
  • are afraid of (they don’t want to be a spammer or loudmouth)

If reps are comfortable with the status quo do they truly need social selling? The answer may surprise you. In some cases buyers are:

  • not active on LinkedIn
  • not contained in the LinkedIn profile database (at all!)
  • disguising their purchase authority (to hide from over-aggressive sellers)

LinkedIn may not be a fit.

Validate Failure and Move On

You cannot argue with experience. Experience drives our behavior. Humans do more of what rewards them, less of what doesn’t. Especially good sales reps!

If your reps have tried and failed with tools like LinkedIn, validate that failure and investigate why they failed. Nine times out of 10 it’s lack of an effective “hunting” communications technique — and over-focusing on “farming” activities.

A Lie That Keeps You From Success (Part 1 of 3)

“It is easier for the world to accept a simple lie than a complex truth.” The words of 19th centrury historian, Alexis de Tocqueville are even truer today. But not only in the realm of politics. What’s keeping you or your sales team from generating appointments and leads with social selling? Bold, eye-grabbing fibs told by technology vendors and sales trainers whose livelihood depend on adoption of their false inventions. All based on a social media revolution that does not exist.

“It is easier for the world to accept a simple lie than a complex truth.” The words of 19th centrury historian, Alexis de Tocqueville are even truer today. But not only in the realm of politics.

What’s keeping you or your sales team from generating appointments and leads with social selling? Bold, eye-grabbing fibs told by technology vendors and sales trainers whose livelihood depend on adoption of their false inventions. All based on a social media revolution that does not exist.

Get on board, the train is leaving without you! We’ve reinvented sales prospecting and you’re missing out!

But here’s what the gurus (cleverly) don’t tell you: Prospecting best practices remain the same. What works rarely changes. With social selling:

  • your cold calling tactics should evolve a bit—not reinvent themselves
  • LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, blogs and YouTube don’t replace cold calling—they advance it

Cold calling is alive and thriving. In fact, effective cold call tactics can feed your social selling strategy. Sellers have the chance to improve cold calling and social selling thanks to new tools.

“I often wonder … if the advocates to the ‘death of cold calling’ movement have mixed us a martini using battery acid instead of vermouth and somehow managed to make it pleasing to the palate,” says Kraig Kleeman in a lucid stream of thought on the Association for Talent Development’s LinkedIn group.

5 Signs Your Social Selling Strategy Is a Ticking Bomb
“The (cold calling is dead) argument appears delicious and intoxicating, but somehow its outcome creates a harmfully poisonous effect,” says Kleeman.

He is right. The tsunami of false claims about cold calling being dead can cause you to believe it is a factual reality—and act accordingly. Therein lies the danger.

Believing cold calling is less effective might cause you to rush into social selling and:

  1. Use LinkedIn as a replacement to cold calling—and be banned for using connection requests
  2. Fail to spark conversations with buyers via LinkedIn updates due to misguided tips
  3. Ask for appointments in “first touch” InMail/emails to prospects (big mistake!)
  4. Waste time trying to spark conversations in LinkedIn Groups because of ineffective scripts
  5. Teach ineffective methods to your entire team by hiring a misguided social selling trainer!

Let Social Filter: Trust Your Instincts
What works in cold calling works in social selling. Period. Don’t let any guru tell you otherwise.

An effective cold call produces raw insight on where the buyer is in the decision-making process. If they’re in it at all! It doesn’t set an appointment. It doesn’t ask for a meeting. It is discovery-focused. You’re filtering prospects and placing them in “buckets.”

An effective cold call is brief, blunt and basic. It facilitates to both sides: “Might there be a larger conversation to be had here? Why, when and how?” Done!

The buyer is in control and sets the meeting, demo or call date. Your job is to find the pain—uncover (or confirm) the reason why this prospect might want to talk to you.

Next, your job is to start a journey toward the buyer discovering (for themselves) why they want to talk more. It’s a process, a discipline. That’s why cold calling works so well!

This is the most effective way to approach social selling. First, have a system. Second, focus on the buyer so much they ask you for the next contact—or ask you to stop.

Let social media filter leads for you.

Don’t Do What You’ve Been Told
This may sound crazy, but it’s the best advice I can give. Stop using social media and LinkedIn to:

  • Make initial contact with prospects via LinkedIn connections
  • Send emails/InMails that ask for appointments—overlooking cold call best practices
  • Post updates on LinkedIn without a way to provoke buyers to contact you
  • Comment in LinkedIn groups without a means to spark curiosity in you (get response)
  • Message prospects on LinkedIn using a common group as a reason to speak

If you’re doing any of these, don’t worry. It’s not your fault. Otherwise good people who are looking to ride a wave have given you bad information. Unfortunately, they’re using fear and unbridled enthusiasm as weapons. Just say no.

Boldly Stand-up for the Facts
Kleeman wisely reminds us how the degree of sales productivity can be judged by observing. Take a look at what is going on around you. Notice who is adopting practices based on speculation versus the adoption of fact.

Take a look at the output each group is achieving. (How much money they’re making!)

In other words, are your sales peers being praised as “social selling leaders” simply for “being on” social media? Or are they being financially rewarded based on the facts—how much business they’re winning?

The Best of Both Worlds
Throwing out the old and implementing a very unproven new is hogwash. It’s a lazy strategy based on hot air. Tools like LinkedIn are providing a better way to identify and warm-up cold prospects … and finding “ready to buy” leads. Tons of value there. But …

“Try telling a broker of refurbished airplane parts that raw list cold calling is not a vital activity for revenue capture … try telling a manufacturer of plumbing, HVAC, and home improvement products that cold calling aimed at resellers and end users is ineffective,” says Kleeman.

“You just might need a degree in martial arts or unfettered access to the US military’s drone missile fleet to defend yourself,” he jokes.

Cold calling is alive, thriving and (surprise!) feeding winning social selling strategies. Today is your chance to improve cold calling and social selling thanks to new tools.

Forget about reinventing sales prospecting! Make sure your team has a prospecting strategy that exploits what already works using new social tools.

Collaborating With Sales for Sales

I presented the Bottoms-Up Marketing webinar a couple weeks ago, and following the event found the same question had been submitted by a number of attendees. The question? How does a marketer get sales to follow up with leads? I came away feeling I had done a poor job of helping the audience to understand, it’s not

I presented the Bottoms-Up Marketing webinar a couple weeks ago, and following the event found the same question had been submitted by a number of attendees. The question? How does a marketer get sales to follow up with leads? I came away feeling I had done a poor job of helping the audience to understand, it’s not, “how do you get sales to do what you want?” it’s “how do you give sales something they want to work with?”

The premise of bottom-up marketing is that we marketers are only half the equation. Yes, our skills and expertise are critical to the campaign design and architecting process. But for the sales funnel requiring a closer, we must turn to the experience of our sales and CSR teams to understand the traditional process our business has used to convert leads to customers.

When a marketer asks the question, “How do I make sales do their job?” I immediately know this is an organization where marketing and closers are firmly pitted against one another and conversations and collaboration are a thing of the past—if they ever were. It’s a terrible question and says much about how you see yourself and your department in the sales funnel. If this is you, prepare yourself for a chewing out.

Resolution of discourse comes only where there is conversation and compromise.

Identifying prospects and warming leads without the input of the very people who close those leads is like writing a script without considering the audience. Oh sure, you can do it, but how many people from your audience will buy a ticket to your next event if you write only for yourself?

We marketers know better than to act as an audience (focus group) of one. Our job is to develop content for our mass audience. The people within our business with the best understanding of our audience is the closing team. Our closers, be that sales, CSRs, or another department, has a front-row seat to what our customers need, want, and require, and you would do well to pay attention.

Stop wondering how you can manipulate your sales team and start involving them.

At the very beginning—when you are brainstorming your next campaign—start at the bottom of the sales funnel by meeting with your closers to get their insight on crafting a digitized version of their warming process. You will not be able to duplicate all of their functions—and as they are people who bring unique personalities to the closing process, you shouldn’t try—but ask your sales team about resources and processes and contribute where you can. Move the easy rocks—use nurture emails to provide instantaneous responses for form completions while setting the stage for a sales call, provide links to videos, enroll them in a demo—do the rote work that capitalizes on your automated-campaign processes.

Our closers excel in so many areas we marketers guess, struggle, test and analyze—all in a never-ending effort to learn more about:

  • Finding prospects
  • Distilling prospects to leads
  • Determining which leads are qualified leads
  • Nurturing leads through the sales funnel
  • Converting leads to customers

Take the short cut. Your closers already have a great deal of this insight and are usually willing to impart at least some of it to you.

Look at it from their point of view: If you were in sales and the marketing department was delivering you qualified/hot leads, wouldn’t you rather process those than start anew with a cold call? Of course you would. So do they.

So how do you make the closers do their job and close the sales you give them? Invite them to participate—from the bottom up.

How to Create a LinkedIn Social Selling Strategy

What is your LinkedIn social selling strategy? If you don’t have one—or your sales team isn’t generating leads on LinkedIn—you’re not alone. In fact, most dealers and reps are mimicking the mistakes of marketers. They’re relying on attraction and influence tactics. Instead, trust your selling instincts to an effective LinkedIn social selling strategy.

What is your LinkedIn social selling strategy? If you don’t have one—or your sales team isn’t generating leads on LinkedIn—you’re not alone. In fact, most dealers and reps are mimicking the mistakes of marketers.

They’re relying on attraction and influence tactics. Instead, trust your selling instincts to an effective LinkedIn social selling strategy.

Avoid what we already know doesn’t work: influencing. Help your reps start provoking prospects. The key to unlocking more appointments is compelling prospects to share pains and ambitions sellers can work with—not hoping to influence them into action.

Why Your Sellers Are Failing
A sales rep or dealer’s LinkedIn profile can be a lead generation magnet. Likewise, groups, direct messages and InMail can be too. So why are sellers experiencing such poor results?

LinkedIn experts keep pushing techniques that FAIL. Not because they’re bad people. Because their ideas are simple to execute. Too simple.

“I think it is so unprofessional when people just keep regurgitating or recycling articles that they wrote in the past or sharing links over and over to try to gain interest,” says Mike Reed. Mike is a front line rep for a client of mine who’s asked to not be named.

This is why most sellers fail. They’re going to modern-day battle with pitchforks being sold by self-appointed experts. Many of which have never sold anything!

“Next thing I know is that seller or subject is now being seen as credible (by their superiors) just because they are constantly in regurgitating information,” laments Reed.

And the beat goes on. Monkey see, monkey do—we fail more.

What You REALLY Don’t Have Time For
I know many sellers say, “I don’t have time to invest in a LinkedIn social selling strategy.” My clients tell me this daily. Plus, most don’t know what to do with it—and how to go about it.

The result is reps doing as little as possible of what is as easy as possible.

What you REALLY don’t have time for is techniques that are easy to do—that fail!

  • Promoting content in updates and in Groups
  • Adding rich media to your profile
  • Being seen as an expert in Groups

Fail, fail, fail.

Dump Attraction and Influence as Goals
The first step to setting your LinkedIn social selling strategy is to disregard success metrics coming from today’s LinkedIn gurus. Your sellers must reach beyond grabbing attention of buyers or trying to influence them. They must reach beyond:

  • teaching connections something new—so reputation rises
  • counting number of views and comments on posts/updates
  • applying a personal view to company-supplied content when posting

After all, how can “improved reputation” a meaningful outcome for a rep?

Today’s top social sellers know—they cannot afford to live like marketers. They don’t get paid to broadcast on social media and hope for attention and engagement.

Sellers get paid when we engage in ways that move us down the sales funnel—closer to a closed deal.

That’s why your goal must be direct provocation of prospects that connects to a lead capture and nurturing process.

Start Asking These Questions
Need a LinkedIn social selling strategy that empowers reps with the right tools? We’ve got to start asking better questions of experts, consultants and sales trainers.

Questions like HOW, exactly, does:

  • promoting content shorten selling cycles?
  • adding rich media to a profile create leads?
  • being seen as an expert lead to more appointments being set?

Your team isn’t failing because they’re slow or stupid with LinkedIn prospecting. Nor are you a laggard for not having a LinkedIn social selling strategy. If you’re still reading you’re ready to take action on my call to action.

Make sure your dealers and reps don’t mimic B-to-B marketers. Trust your selling instincts. Let them guide your LinkedIn prospecting strategy.

Help your reps start provoking prospects to take action and arm them with content that scratches customers itches—in ways that generate more appointments for sellers. Let me know how it’s going or if you have questions in comments!

Automated Marketing: Drip vs. Nurture

Yes, Virginia, there is a difference. Earlier this week, I was interviewed by a reporter doing an article on nurture campaigns and was surprised that she did not differentiate between drip and nurture marketing. In fact, I know many seasoned marketers who also do not follow separate protocols for these two disparate approaches to marketing. So, while you may well disagree with me, here’s how I see it and how we develop campaigns for our clients

Yes, Virginia, there is a difference.

Earlier this week, I was interviewed by a reporter doing an article on nurture campaigns and, as I had been in so many conversations before, was surprised that she did not differentiate between drip and nurture marketing. In fact, I know many seasoned marketers who also do not follow separate protocols for these two disparate approaches to marketing. So, while you may well disagree with me, here’s how I see it and how we develop campaigns for our clients.

Blast
Blast campaigns are not automated, though you might well schedule a blast to deploy automatically. A blast email is a single event—think of your weekend sale, your newly released demo, or your new YouTube video. You’ll send out a single email making this announcement. Let’s suppose, however, that you have a podcast series and each episode posts early Monday morning. Now, we’re talking automation.

Drip
Drip marketing is designed to keep you top of mind when your recipient is ready to enter or reenter the sales funnel—gentle reminders. These emails or direct mails are of a similar design and usually based upon a branded template or theme. The message is general and is sent to a general list. Of course, personalization and segmentation will ensure that your message is targeted and better received even when using a general list, but the message is sent on a predetermined schedule. We often refer to this as the passive path.

Think of the drip-irrigation system, from which this campaign style acquired its moniker. The water drips at a consistent rate regardless of whether or not the plant is thirsty. Drip, drip, drip. Your campaign should do the same.

In order to determine the frequency of the drip, or touch, you will need to test or survey your audience. If you are a nationwide pet food supplier, you might find that twice a week is the right pace. If you’re selling enterprise software, perhaps it’s more like once every two weeks. The span of time in between drips does not change the definition or purpose. You are regularly pinging your constituents with a cue describing an existing relationship and providing information that, in the long run, will contribute to their buying decision.

Eventually your recipient will receive a message from you—either at exactly the right time or of the ideal offer—and they will engage—click to watch, download, or take a test drive. Now it’s time to get your nurture campaign involved.

Nurture
Unlike the drip campaign, the nurture campaign fires off at will each time your recipient engages. When you send a drip event offering a preview of your new video and the recipient clicks to view, your nurture campaign should automatically deploy a message thanking them for viewing the video and offering up a link to something that nudges them to the next step in the purchasing process. Perhaps this is a white paper or a demo. It might even be a meeting with a sales person.

To build your nurture steps, give consideration to your current sales process: You acquire a lead, qualify the lead, nurture the lead by providing additional information as needed, and at some point close the sale. It’s critical to sit with your sales team and discuss their current process for closing sales. Along with management and your creativity, you should be able to architect a campaign that is a digital (or, if direct mail, a physical) representation of the sales team’s approach. Here’s a rough sketch of what that might look like:

  1. Acquire a lead
  2. Welcome the lead – for your first touch, consider a blast email that simply proves deliverability. If the email successfully makes it to the inbox and/or is opened, clicked, or not deleted, shuttle the opened and non-deleted emails to your drip segment (until such as time as they too engage and become a member of your nurture segment) and the clickers to your nurture segment.
  3. Qualify the lead – this might be an email that simply provides links to your social-media accounts, a YouTube video, a resource download, or high-value areas of your website.
  4. Auto-respond appropriately to the lead – With each specific type of engagement, automatically send a prepared message (called an auto-responder) that acknowledges the engagement, thanks them for the engagement, and offers an accelerated engagement (the next logical step in the sales process). For example, if they watched a video, now might be the time to offer them a white paper on the same subject. For someone shopping for dog food, you might offer them first a video on the benefits of this brand, if they watch the video, the next auto-responder might be a coupon on that brand, if they do not redeem the coupon, the next auto-responder might be a coupon with a higher-value discount and more urgency (shop until midnight tonight and get free shipping). If they still pass on the coupon, consider a video on another brand.
  5. Rinse and repeat. For each engagement, respond appropriately, and offer an accelerated engagement acting as a nudge in the right direction – your shopping cart or offline purchase.

If you’re using a CRM, each event can and should contribute or deduct from your lead score. For instance, if a lead unsubscribes, you can deduct from the lead score and if they open the email, follow you socially, watch the video, download the resource, or visit your website, you can add to your lead score.

We call the nurture campaign the active path because your recipients are actively engaged.

Automated and manual monitoring of your engagement in blast, drip, and nurture events is important. It ensures that you do not continue to email messages that are missing the mark and enables you to move drip recipients into the nurturing path at the appropriate time.

Recipients in the nurturing path that show no signs of life should be kicked back to the drip campaign and those in the drip campaign who are without a pulse should be retired so as not to adversely affect your sender reputation.

4 Tips to Get in the Mobile Mindset

We’ve talked about SMS, mobile websites and mobile email. But, as you may know, those are just tools to get your job of marketing your business done. Yes, building these into your strategy are the core foundations of mobile success, but mobile is more than technology … Mobile is about your customer. Now, I’m not here to shout out stats, because I’ve provided those before. And, frankly, you’re here … so you know adding mobile to your business is critical. Your customers are mobile … therefore, your business needs to be.

We’ve talked about SMS, mobile websites and mobile email. But, as you may know, those are just tools to get your job of marketing your business done.

Yes, building these into your strategy are the core foundations of mobile success, but mobile is more than technology …

Mobile is about your customer.

Now, I’m not here to shout out stats, because I’ve provided those before. And, frankly, you’re here … so you know adding mobile to your business is critical.

Your customers are mobile … therefore, your business needs to be.

Now, before you go and plan your strategy and determine the appropriate tactics to reach your goals, you need to put yourself in the mobile mindset.

I recently attended Mobile Marketer‘s Mobile FirstLook event in New York in which many brands, such as Coca-Cola, Sephora, MillerCoors, Nissan and JetBlue discussed their strategies.

I noticed that all of these individuals work within their entire organization to help them think differently about the mobile opportunity.

Making sure you have the mobile mindset and your organization is on board and you’re more likely to succeed.

Here are four tips I learned from the top brands on getting in the mobile mindset:

1. Think about your mobile opportunity across your organization.

Mobile isn’t just about marketing. Can mobile enable your sales team to sell more effectively? Can mobile optimize tasks to save time? Can mobile save you money by cutting down on transaction fees?

Before you think SMS, QR Codes or apps, think “How can mobile add value to all of the other parts of my organization?”

2. Stop making it complicated.

Believe me, I know it’s super complex and overwhelming to keep up with the latest and greatest technologies.

Coca-Cola focuses on six aspects of its mobile programs. Those are the six that work for THEIR business. They may not be the same for your business, but you can’t worry about ALL the possibilities of mobile. Focus on the handful of things that will most impact your business.

3. Work with the right partners. Ones you can trust.

Luckily, we don’t have to do all of this alone. In fact, if you try you’re more likely to get frustrated and give up. Aligning yourself with the right strategic partners and technology partners is important.

Again, every business is different, so you need to make sure that the workflow and process of your partners matches the style of your business. You most likely want to enjoy working with them, too. Make sure personalities mesh well.

Finally, I don’t care how big your company is. Mobile is no longer a “nice to have.” No matter the size of your business, you can find someone who knows more than you do and who is able to offer services.

4. Stop waiting.

This was probably the most powerful statement of all. So simple, but it needed to be said.

With technology advancing so fast, some businesses find themselves waiting for the next great thing in order to start. Guess what? When you do that … you never start.

Listen, nobody is going to do it for you … it’s on you to dive in and get the process started.

If you’re dilly-dallying and finding excuses to wait just a little bit longer … quit complaining and start taking action.

Yes, you’re going to make mistakes, and that’s fine. But what you learn from those mistakes will be an important part of your growth.

Starting now is the only way you’re going to learn what works for YOUR business.