Target Your Market. This is a critical step and you should reread this post if you haven’t taken this step yet.This is Step 2 for sales people who need to take their destiny into their own hands by taking responsibility for filling their pipeline. Step 1 was
Step 2 – Start Building Your Online Presence
In a worst case scenario, your company is doing little to establish itself as a thought leader or even an expert in your target market. That’s OK. Those of you who have been successful in selling know the kind of influence a qualified sales person can have on a buyer.
Step 2 is to begin to build your own online presence as someone your potential customers want to consult with before they make a purchase.
I know there are lots of networking sites that sales people can belong to, but unless your target market is other sales people, you should start with LinkedIn. I’ve heard (but never seen it in print) that LinkedIn claims to have executives from every fortune 500 company as members. True or not, I don’t think there’s another networking site that is more widely accepted by the business community than LinkedIn.
Most of you probably have a LinkedIn profile already. If you don’t, that’s your assignment for this week. For those of you that do, here are a few next steps you should take:
Expand your network. We’ll be using LinkedIn in some of the future steps and it’s critical that your network is as wide as possible. (Keep it real though. Connecting simply for the sake of building your number of connections will diminish the value of LinkedIn.) Here are some sources for connections:
Current customers – Link to everyone you can think of within your current customer base. Especially those customers who are within your target market.
Colleagues - Link to as many people within your company as you can.
Prospects – This one you have to sort of feel, but if you have a prospect who is a big LinkedIn advocate, you should send an invitation to connect when you think the timing is right.
Vendors – Sales people don’t work as often with vendors as marketers do, but if there are vendors, e.g. sales trainers, that you’ve worked with they can be another good source for network connections.
Friends – Don’t forget your friends. If you still keep in touch with childhood friends or college buddies, by all means add them. They can widen your network significantly if they work in other industries.
LinkedIn suggestions - In the upper right hand corner of your LinkedIn homepage, LinkedIn will offer suggestions for people you may know. I look at these almost every time I log in as LinkedIn does a great job of reminding me who I know - and forgot about.
Let LinkedIn search your Outlook files - LinkedIn can also search your Outlook files for additional connections. Chances are good that it will suggest a few great connections that you hadn't thought of.
Join a group – Do a search for groups that your target market might belong to. Or, as you expand your network, look at their profiles to see what groups they belong to.
Start a group – If you can’t find a group to join, start a group and invite your contacts to join. Remember, I’m talking about groups that are of interest to your target market. (Specifically, the one you defined in Step 1) While it’s fun to join groups that other sales people belong to, these won’t be useful to you as you try to build your opportunities.
Build expert status. Once you start a group or join an existing group, build expert status by answering questions from group members. People who ask questions can rate the answers. If they rate your response as “best” that will show up in your profile for others to see.
That’s enough on LinkedIn for this week. Just like in Step 1 where you defined your target market, building your LinkedIn profile is a critical step to take. We will revist LinkedIn again in future steps.
Next Step – Figure out where your market hangs out. In the meantime, get that LinkedIn profile started and join The Sales and Marketing Connection Group on LinkedIn.