Have you ever looked at your connections on LinkedIn and realized that you actually didn’t know many of them? In Hank Nothhaft Jr.’s article, Debunking the Myth of Network Size in Sales, Nothhaft talks about quality over quantity when it comes to connections. He writes, “…the value of your connections is orders of magnitude more strategic that the number of connections you can make.” He offers some suggestions on changing your approach:
- Reinvest Your Discovery Time. In the past, your connections were people you actually knew and trusted you. People who would want to do business with you. How can we make it like this in the social age? “It comes down to authenticity and fragmentation in most cases. Deep relationships are based on an understanding of more than one facet of a person. A sales prospect might be the CMO of a software company, but they’re also a mother of four children, a nonprofit board member, and a marathon runner. How can you authentically engage a person like that based on a cursory glance at their LinkedIn profile?”
- Combating Fragmentation. If you’re willing to put more into these connections to make them actual relationships, it will go a long way. “…when I had to put myself out there to make a real connection, converse and shake hands, stay in touch, and work much harder to establish relationships. I was much more considerate of whom I invested my time in, with whom I might be associated, and I valued those relationships a great deal. In the age of click-to-connect networking, people don’t value these relationships nearly as much.”
- The Great Opportunity for Salespeople. Building deep relationships with people results in benefitting long term. You’ll likely earn repeated business. Foundations of trust and respect don’t erode easily. “Salespeople that can build these relationships have an unprecedented opportunity today.”
In Jeff Hoffman’s article, Hoffman talks about learning a lesson that has stuck with him. He writes, “…it’s critical in small and growing companies to ensure that every activity taking place at your company is focused on achieving a specific, targeted goal.”
You should be able to walk up to any employee, ask them what they are currently doing and how that helps the company achieve its goal. The first step to reaching this level is to define specific goals that are measurable. Set annual goals, then break them up into quarterly goals. Post them everywhere. Hang them, create some kind of thermometer to measure progress. “Make sure the goals are communicated to everyone…Employees are more motivated and more fulfilled when they can see that they are gradually approaching your goals.”
Now take each quarterly goal and write the steps needed to achieve the goal. “Linking the daily workload of your employees to those numbers posted on the wall helps make employees feel productive and valued.”
In Deb Calvert’s article, she gets in your face a little. She writes that she often hears reasons as to why people can’t actively listen to others. She writes, “I’m not prepared to endorse the myth that we can’t listen. I’m willing to give others a mulligan for an occasional listening lapse, but a pattern of poor listening and a series of “I just can’t listen” excuse is unforgivable.”
Have you been using excuses to avoid really listening to people? Have you heard excuses? Calvert argues that everyone can listen. People are just choosing not to, which is selfish. “It’s also self-limiting – do you have any idea how much you’re missing out on when you don’t listen?”
She then talks about a listening disability, as opposed to an actual disability, and gives these examples. Try to imagine listening to others if:
- Your mind produces a chorus of voices that constantly whisper, hum and buzz.
- You have a tic disorder that causes your body to release energy in repetitive movements.
- You have extreme anxiety disorders that cause you to feel there are real and imminent dangers lurking around every corner.
Calvert’s son experiences these things, and classroom learning is so hard for him. Managing social relationships is challenging. “My son alternately views listening to others as a necessity and a luxury.”
“We can’t make excuses that diminish others’ reality. Saying “I can’t listen” is lazy and untrue for most of us. It would be like me saying “I can’t walk up the stairs” when, in fact, I just don’t want to exert myself.”
Listening is so important. Listening matters. If someone wouldn’t say that you’re a good listener, work on listening until this is something people would think of when you’re mentioned.
According to Sean Burke’s article, Burke asked some of the greatest salespeople how they spend their time. Some stats:
- Sales reps with social media aptitude were 6x more likely to exceed quota
- Salespeople who incorporate social selling strategies into their sales process outperform their peers
- Time spent on social selling activities is time well spent because social media has proven itself to be an effective tool throughout all stages in the sales process, not just in prospecting.
On average, when working, these people spent most time social selling and then selling, then work time. See the full article for individual time allotments for work, family and sleep. If you're a working mom in sales - check out our blog post on work-life balance.
Find Sean: LinkedIn
In Elinor Stutz’s article, Stutz gives five things to do in order to have an amazing meeting. Are you doing these things? If not, start doing them. If you already do these things, think about how you can improve them.
- We know that research is a huge part of everything in business, and don’t take it lightly. One tip is to use keywords.
- Re-read information and notes beforehand in case your memory isn’t perfect.
- While researching is a huge part of preparing, there are other things you can do. Maybe a reference page or a few graphics?
- Who is the audience? Make sure you have questions prepared that will make them think.
- Ask for questions, leave them with a powerful last sentence that is a call to action.