As a salesperson, I am a little bit of a control freak when it comes to lead generation. I just don't want to put all of my income in somebody else's hands, or wait for something to happen.
And isn't that what we all love about sales, the ability to take our outcomes into our own hands?
You Can't Live On Inbound Leads Alone
There are those who get a lot of their leads from inbound. But you just can't live on inbound alone.
For one, the leads that you're going to get are not all going to be decision makers. You need to be able to sell through that influencer or end user, in order to get to your decision maker. Which, means that you're going to need to be able to sell consultatively really well, and have your need for approval under control.
Unfortunately, the majority of sales people aren't very strong at consultative sellers. According to over 350 million data points on sales people from the Objective Management Group, the average score for sales people in consultative selling is 44%, which means that the average sales person possesses less than half of the necessary attributes to be a consultative seller. Only 22% actually are strong in this competency. Even the top 10% of sales people worldwide only score an average of 65%.
The core of this skill is the ability to listen and ask questions with ease, so this is something all sales people need to improve on. If you're a sales person who's watching this recap, you're not alone. You also aren't destined to remain that way. Again, this is all in your hands.
Secondly, unless you're a sales person who is out there on social creating and curating content, you're always going to be dependent on marketing to fill your calendar and pipeline. You have no control. That means that you might actually have to ... pick up the phone. I know, can you believe it, in this day and age? But, it's true.
The Power of LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a powerful platform to put you in touch with your B2B buyer. Yet most examples I see are how not to use it. We've all seen these things happen. Here are three of my biggest pet peeves.
- Don't request to connect with the standard LinkedIn connection request message. Personalize it. Give the person a reason to take interest in why you're requesting to connect.
- Don't connect and then send a PDF of your services, or ask if they have 15 minutes to talk about your services, or ask how they're using your types of services. It's not about trying to sell them on the first interaction.
- This is my biggest pet peeve; people who spam conversations and updates with links to things that are just all about them. Not actually adding any value to the conversation, but instead putting a link to the latest thing that they're doing, or this that they're saying, or this that they wrote, or what someone said about them. It can't be all about you.
Some things to do on LinkedIn:
- Do ask those who've been on your LinkedIn profile how they found you, or what brought them back.
- Reach out to your second degree connections and ask how they know the common connection you have.
- Add insightful, invaluable comments to updates that contribute to conversations.
- Use LinkedIn for prospecting research. Find something that you have in common with that person you're about to call.
Focusing in on Referrals
Lastly, and it should be first really, let's talk about referrals. It still baffles me that when sales people tell me that the few referrals that they do get almost always close and do so faster, yet they aren't proactively using that in their prospecting strategy. Bottom line, referrals are still the best way for you to grow sales. If you're proactive about it, it could be a game changer.
Now, I've been doing inbound for over a decade, and guess what? Last year, 79% of Unbound Growth clients came from referral. Only 11% came from inbound. Yes, it's like having interest in the bank, but that's not enough to grow a book of business.
What You Can Do Now to Get More Referrals
First, have a regular cadence in frequency that you're staying in touch with your network. If you're that person that nobody ever really hears from you until you want something, nobody's going to really want to hear from you.
Second, what happens during and after the referral is made is just as important as actually getting the referral. When you get a referral from someone, understand that, that person who's referring you is putting their trust and reputation on the line for you. So, treat that referral like royalty. Otherwise, you may find yourself burning all of your bridges, and find yourself alone with nowhere to go.
Last, after your referral is made, keep the person who referred you in the loop. Let them know what happened one way or the other. Thank them, not just in words but, in actions. Refer them. Send a thank you card, or a thank you gift that's personalized or handwritten. Gratitude is something that's rare these days, and will go a long way.
Take these with you as you start developing your prospecting discipline. Block out time in your calendar to do them, and use any means ethically necessary to reach the people that you can help. You have to make it all about them though, it can't be all about you.