A few years ago I read a book called Stop Telling, Start Selling ($14.11 from Amazon). It changed how I view customer focused selling. That was before the emergence of social media (e.g. – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn). I have noticed what works for Scientifically Speaking, and my opinion of selling has evolved. I want people talking about me to build a robust inbound sales strategy.
Cold calling (and email) works, and I have generated deals searching the internets for leads. However, I have seen referrals work better for me. An inbound sales strategy makes people want to call me. Referrals are less work for me, and that is critical for a small business like mine. An inbound sales strategy is not passive. It is very active, and it does take work.
- Referrals – This is the Holy Grail of selling! Every business wants customers telling potential customers about them. Consumers are 92% more likely to trust their peers over advertising when it comes to purchasing decisions. When I have a great program, my clients automatically get on their laptop / cellphone and tell their peers. I recently hosted a series of technology training events in Houston, and my client emailed five of his coworkers to tell him about the success.
- Content – Content is the king of an inbound sales strategy. Infographics, blogs, LinkedIn articles and posts are great examples. Junk mail, robo-calls and unsolicited emails are not effective content. I had a client tell a group of his top clients, “I know Eric knows what he is talking about because he just wrote a blog post on it.” Instant credibility! Robust and educational content announces to the world you are a subject matter expert.
- Customer – Leave your customers alone! If they didn’t sign up for your newsletter, don’t add them to your mailing list. I don’t know any professionals hoping they get more emails! If you know your customer, you know what they want. It’s easier to send mass emails, but it is not as personal. I send personalized messages to my customers on their birthdays and job anniversaries. When I invest in the relationship I have with my clients, I get more referrals (see point number 1 above).
- Consistency – An inbound sales strategy is consistent. Posting on LinkedIn once per year, or sending a tweet one time per quarter is not going to generate leads. There are more than 500 million tweets per day. Will yours be seen? Post on LinkedIn at least once per day to insure people see you are active. A financial advisor told me his regular posts on LinkedIn lead to $3.5 million per year in NEW BUSINESS!
- Relationship – Effective sales professionals build a relationship. Nordstrom shoppers are #Nordy4Life. My wife loves going to the store because it gives her a chance to buy more. The clothes cost more, but she constantly tells me why I need to buy my suits there. Nordys have a relationship Nordstrom! My top clients are connected with me on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook. I know the names of their spouse and children. We talk about more than just financial services and technology. We talk like friends who respect each other.
One of my largest deals came as the result of me giving something away (presentation to engineers). When I give things away – blogs, social media, infographics – I am selling. Cold calls don’t work for me. Begging for business doesn’t work for me. I build better mousetraps, and the mice come to me.
What works for you? I’d love to learn what makes customers call you.
Scientifically Speaking, of course…