The Challenges of a Rainmaker… #1

Business Development for Services Deliverers :

Rainmaker Challenge#1:  Getting clients or prospects to respond to your e-mails.

The issue surfaces as something like …
“I invite clients to have lunch and I don’t hear back from them.
I guess this means they really aren’t interested in getting together.”

Do you really think that’s true? Do your clients and prospects not want to talk to you?
You do offer value added services that improve revenues or cut costs don’t you?
Or do the services reduce risks, improve client satisfaction or improve productivity?
Maybe they just make the client compliant in some way?
Why would they not want to see you?
Wouldn’t you see someone who could do that for you?

Now ask yourself this question.

Do you have unanswered e-mails in your inbox? (I know I do!) People are very very busy;
Their inboxes are full of e-mails that range from urgent/important to annoying /unimportant.
Given that reality, returning your e-mail may just not be as high a priority for them as getting a response to that e-mail is to you.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to get more responses to your invitations:

  1.  Ask again.
    One or two non-responses do not a rejection make.
  2.  Make a call instead of e-mailing
    (and leave a really good voice mail if you don’t speak to them ).
  3.  Try at a different time of day.
    Their schedule may be less frantic on Friday afternoon than on Monday morning
    After hours may be a better time than the middle of the day.
    Early better for them than late
  4. Make your invitation VERY specific
    Please don’t write something like “Let’s have lunch soon,”.
    Much better to ask “Are you available for lunch on Monday, January 10, or Wednesday, January 12?”
    Or give them a window of time — the morning of the 20th or the afternoon of the 25th — for a phone call.
    If they’re not available on the dates you suggest, ask them specifically to counter with dates or times they are available.
  5. Consider inviting them to something other than lunch.
    Lots of people tend to eat lunch at their desk. Suggest breakfast.
    How about dropping by their office for 15 minutes and bringing along their favorite Starbucks order?
    Maybe an early evening phone or skype meeting ?
    Connecting at a conference you both plan to attend?Try also taking a look at another Rainmaker blog
    Sales Tips: Stalking or merely persistance?
    What to do when your prospects goes to radio silence          

Rainmaking: Do you want to be a great Consultant?

Do you want to be a great Consultant?

We think that great consultants have better conversations with their clients than competitors.
This is in addition to the usual banter that you need to have to re-establish rapport.

The great consultants we know are good communicators.
Consulting is founded on communicating with clients, colleagues, competitors and partners.

If you really want to up your promotability and success rate as a consultant, we think you need to find ways to improve the quality of conversations you have with clients.

We think it best you learn how to have great client conversations ..and we think there are three types of those conversations.  As with any generalisations it comes with a “there may be more types” warning but let’s run with the idea of three types:

  •  Conversations that genuinely seek mutual gain
  • Productive sales conversations
  • Ongoing Conversations

Conversations that Genuinely Seek Mutual Gain

Any consultant can listen to a client’s situation description and offer up a potential service solution.  It’s not hard, given that most clients pre-qualify consultants before they talk to them.
Most clients know ahead of time if you can help them with their predefined issue.
The result: Consultant talks to client, hears familiar problem, offers a predictable solution.
This approach to a sales opportunity may work in some cases.
Danger comes when one consultant doesn’t suggest the obvious solution to the client’s self-diagnosed problem.
Usually that consultant has asked more questions, delved more deeply, and resisted the urge to “solve” the problem immediately.
That consultant withholds judgment, gets more facts, and identifies the client’s need
—as opposed to just agreeing with what the client wants.

Our suggestion is to improve these kind of conversations, before you try to sell anything, invest time and energy in a diagnostic conversation to build trust, establish your credibility.  Genuinely make sure the client’s project would be mutually beneficial to you and the client.  If it doesn’t meet the mutually beneficial test then be prepared to recommend something your firm doesn’t do.  Your credibility will soar and your business will too… eventually (not in this case though)

Productive Sales Conversations:

Genuinely Seeking Mutual Gain conversations set the stage for Productive Sales Conversations in three ways.

  1. They help you write a more compelling sales proposal that has greater clarity.
    • You won’t have to rely on the typical boilerplate;
    • You’ll have detailed information and can to write a better project plan.

2. You’ll make fewer assumptions and have more certainty on how you will deliver the project.

Assumption-free sales presentations will inspire confidence in your prospect and demonstrate competence.

3. Your client will experience what it’s like to work with you.
You answer the questions about the personal chemistry between you and the client’s team, the rigor of your work style, the depth of your expertise.
The client draws conclusions on those questions and forms the basis of their decision making.

We suggest that your sales conversations, though, must follow our rule: Be INTERESTED then BE INTERESTING

Continuing Conversations:

How do you stay in-mind when not working with clients?
What you do when you’re not working on a project with a prospect can define the ongoing relationship.
However it’s a challenge to keep past relationships current when you are not actively engaged.
Most consultants know exactly what they should do to maintain contact with past clients, but something holds them back.
Pick up the phone and call your client. Why don’t you send that email?
Ensure that it’s not a self-serving sales call. Make it an honest attempt to help a valued client.
Ask your clients about how they like to stay in touch before you finish projects.
Usually they want to hear from you, especially if you’ve done a good job for them.
Just be sure that what you have to offer is useful—a new way to think about an old problem.
Maybe it’s a tip or a new trend that could change how the client does business, for example.
The point of keeping in touch isn’t to go for the client’s wallet each time you meet.
Bring ideas without the expectation of gain.
You want to stay in mind, build your relationship, and demonstrate your commitment.
Your client will remember that when it comes time to hire a consultant again.

To thrive, you need to master the three types of conversations.

Business Development Training: How to get your Team involved # 6

How to get your team involved in Business Development #6

Most of us would accept that any services focused practice would generate more business
if everyone on the team had both the skill and motivation to proactively seek additional business opportunities.

However we would find many attempts to engage them in the process fall on deaf ears.

There are lots of reasons for this.

Common reasons are….

  • because they can’t relate to what’s required
    • (I’m not very good at this)
  • because this isn’t what they signed up for
    • (I’m a surveyor/ engineer/lawyer/accountant and not a salesperson)
  • It’s too far removed from what their everyday duties are
    • (I’m too busy / Do you want me to stop?)
  • because they can’t see what’s in it for them
    • (Someone else does this don’t they?)
  • It represents a perceived change and many people find changes difficult

(We’d cover these and other topics in our Business Development Training for Services Deliverers  )

You may want to try this.

We call it a QUESTION SHOWER

It’s  especially good to do around October-November time.

Select from your existing client list

  1. Those clients you don’t frequently talk with
  2. Those your staff do regularly talk with.

These two lists may have considerable overlap so de-duplication may be good..

Create a four column list that contains

  • the client’s company name
  • the name of the appropriate contact person in the client
  • the normal contact from your firm
  • the preferred telephone number to reach them.

Then organise a Team Question Shower…

The idea is to have everyone on your team phoning clients and asking them the following type of questions.  (You need to come up with your own questions, these are our general ideas)

“Mr. Jones?  Hello this is Jonathan over at FineRain, Monsoon and Drizzle”
(remember to substitute your company name)  ;-}

“Katherine (your team member Mr. Jones usually deals with) has asked me to call you.”

“We are trying to ensure we maximise the benefits to you from our services in 2013.”

“I’d like to ask you a few questions that should tell us if we should take a closer look together.
Is that OK? ” (He says yes)

This is where you ask relevant but quite high level questions pertinent to your business.
However do not make them too  overtly loooking for opportunities with this client.
This may make the two people on the call uncomfortable and you don’t want that!

  1. “Are you planning any significant investment in equipment or capital in 2013?”
  2. “Is there a potential that you may be acquiring another business in 2013?”
  3. “Do you think that the business maybe adding a major product line in 2013”
  4. “Do you think that the business maybe increasing activity in a particular area?”
  5. “Are you thinking of selling part of the business or otherwise downsizing?”
  6. “Are there business initiatives that may effect your team in a major way in 2013?”

If Mr. Jones answers with signs of opportunity to any of these questions Jonathan could continue …

“Can you give me an idea of (e.g.) the business you may acquire … revenue or size? ”
He does and Jonathan makes some notes

Now closing the call and saying what will happen next.

” Mr. Jones, I appreciate your time.
I’m going to give this information to Katherine and she’ll review your file with it in mind.
If she feels you two should talk further, she or I will contact you in a day or so and and time to meet can be set up. If not, I’ll phone you back and tell you everything looks OK.”

Why is this a good process?

From the client’s perspective,it is

  •  a demonstration of your interest in their welfare
  •  additionally a high quality communication or “touch” between your firm and the client.

 

From the staff person’s perspective,  

  • it’s easy to explain that this process provides a very real potential benefit to the client.
  • they are asking questions and helping, not “selling.”

 

For your firm

  • it  delivers good client service
  • helps identify staff having an interest in acquiring new skills
  • directly contributes to the firm’s success
  • identifies opportunities for project,
  • planning and consulting work
  • becomes a high probability source of additional revenue.

It’s also a group activity and everybody is involved…

That makes it easy to reward staff for their participation.

Why not have prizes for?  

  • Highest numbers of clients actually spoken to
  • Best Voicemail Message script
  • Anyone who discovers more than 5 potential opportunities from clients gets a Dinner for 2 Voucher.

 

What’s a good way to try this??

Write out your Questions and create a template of some “talking points,”
Do a little role playing to get the team comfortable with the idea of calling clients.
If still in doubt, try a couple of test calls.

As someone much wiser than me said,  if you’re going to try cross-country running, start with a real small country.

One final note:
We’ve never heard of a client who pushed back or otherwise became upset about being contacted like this.

Good Rainmaking Rob

Communication Skills: Be INTERESTED then Be INTERESTING

“Be Interested THEN be Interesting” is a mantra of ours.

We think it’s especially true when you meet someone new for the first time, whether that’s a new prospect, a new colleague, someone else’s customer or a new contact on your network.

However we know that we can all fall into bad habits and still feel that we are being effective.

After all, how difficult is it to have a conversation with a potential client, new partner, or colleague?

It is however amazing how many times, in our work lives, we can easily and successfully sink our own initiatives by making every wrong move as we communicate.

We thought that it might be a little fun to list a few of the ones we’ve seen, done, personally experienced, and both given and recieved.

Here’s our top 5 Communication Blunders!

1. Talk constantly about yourself.

Everyone loves to talk about themselves.
Make sure that you let them know your entire life history, all of your personal troubles, and how you know everything there is to know about everything.
Particular favourite of ours is to drone on and on about successful children.
After all, who wouldn’t be interested in both you and them?

2. Talk technical terms to non-technical people.

Forget about sounding understandable, you really must focus on sounding intelligent.
Trust me, your audience will be thoroughly impressed with your depth of knowledge even if they have no idea what you just said.
Overload them with jargon and technicalities if at all possible.

3. Link everything they say back to your own situations.

Take whatever they are communicating to you and make sure they understand how it is the exact same thing that happened to you in the past and relate that experience to them.
Make sure they remember that when it happened to you, it was ten times worse or you did ten times better than they did.

4. Immediately TELL them what they should do.

It is always effective to jump straight to problem solving.
Especially when they have not finished telling you all of the circumstances of the situation.
That way, you can be sure and show them how smart you are by not having to understand the whole situation before you know the solution.
They are bound to be impressed with your psychic capabilities!

5. Multi-task during the conversation.

Nothing is more effective to let someone know how important they are than to interrupt the conversation to multi-task.
Make sure you finish that email –they won’t notice anyway.
Keep your eyes occasionally glancing towards your blackberry and keep it switched on too!
Stop the conversation dead to see who just called or texted you.
Better still pretend to be listening to them whilst trying to get a look at the message on your phone.
That’ll work a treat.

When you master these steps, you will be very successful at keeping your conversations short and to the point.

People will stop walking up to you at networking events .

They will not drop by your desk for support, and they will finally leave you alone.

You’ll certainly have more time for personal reflection on how to communicate better.

 

Win Loss Analysis#2: Measures, Communications and Who runs it?

In order for a B2B business to thrive, it’s really important for them to understand

  1. The decision-making criteria of their clients.
  2. The decision making unit and how it works
  3. The client’s buying and decision making processes

What’s a simple and cost-effective way to do that?

You can find out how clients make decisions with a Win-Loss Analysis Programme .
Using that understanding our clients have delivered specific, actionable, and measurable improvements in products , processes and people.

Question 1 for Win-Loss Analysis:   What are you going to measure?

We all know that “What we measure is what we manage”.
It’s therefore critical that you are set up to measure the right things in the first place.
It’s best to involve people from the sales, pre-sales, ops, technical, and client-facing areas.
In short anyone you feel has an important role to play in your sales cycle.
Determine which information and elements in your sales cycle need to be better understood.
Tailor quantitative and qualitative questions to measure that specific information.
You will benefit from everyone’s knowledge and expertise.
You begin to get buy-in, co-creating the measures and driving improvements.
If we answer Question 1 well, it will set up your programme for success.

Question 2: How should we communicate the Win-Loss Analysis Programme  Internally?

Decide how many sales cycles you intend to review.

  • How many each month
  • How many each quarter
  • How many in total for the  year.

This decision should be based on size of opportunity, cost of making a sale, industry focus, or any other relevant criteria to your business.
Communicate this criteria to the entire sales force.
Help them to understand the purpose behind the activity and the role they need to play.

 Question 3: How should we communicate the Win-Loss Analysis Programme  Externally?

We suggest that the very first meeting with a new prospect is the best time for the sales team to position your programme.
Give a simple statement to your sales force explaining to the client that:
“As an organisation we strive to continuously improve and streamline the way we work with our clients. One mechanism we use to achieve this is called a Win/Loss Analysis which happens at the end of the sales cycle.   It usually takes about an hour, it’s run by an independent company. It helps us get a better understanding of how well we engaged with you through this process. Would you be comfortable providing us with some of your time at the end of this sales cycle to assist us in improving what we do?”

Some clients, for reasons of privacy or personal ambivalence, will decline to participate.
However if positioned appropriately, the vast majority of prospective clients are more than happy to provide their time and often extremely candid feedback

Question 4: Who should run Your Win-Loss Analysis Programme?

It can be either run by you or run by a independent organisation.

Each approach has its own pros and cons.

What are the Pros of “You run it”?

  •  Cost are hidden in that it becomes another job for people to do
  •  It’s can be easier to change focus , manage and aggregate the findings and insights from the reviews
  • The sales team already has an existing relationship with the client

Cons of a “You run it” Approach

  •  The sales team already has an existing relationship with the client
  • It can be hard to be dispassionate in delivering negative feedback
  • It can be awkward for the prospective client to talk to you which may dilute the feedback they provide

Pros of an Independent company

  •  The client is more comfortable providing honest, candid feedback
  • They are often more willing to share negative insights
  • It’s easier for an independent to deliver difficult or challenging feedback to you
  • They provide you with Win / Loss support and best practices during the development and execution phase

Cons of an Independent company

  •  Costs are over and above existing staff costs
  • The company  may need time to understand the specifics of your particular sector niche
  • It requires an additional discovery phase with you prior to execution

Running a Win-Loss Analysis Programme successfully really tends to comes down to your organisation’s maturity.
Are the people in your company willing to try to understand what you do well and how you can be better?

If you would like more information on Rainmaker’s Win-Loss Programme then email us at info@rainmaker-coaching.co.uk

Sales Mentoring: Can you learn anything from Lost deals?

“I’m sorry but we’ve decided to go with another supplier.
Thank you so much for all your hard work.”

After a long and complex sales cycle , hearing this from a prospective client is a killer blow.

Most sales people when confronted with a lost deal try to work out what went wrong.
However they don’t usually want  “Help” from the Leadership team.
Most sales people learn to bounce back quickly.
The best way to do that is not to take on any blame yourself.
We all have the key reasons ready as to why we lost so that we can move on and quickly.

(We cover this and other topics on our Sales Mentoring Service )

You may hear …

  •  It was lost on price
    • (and so nothing to do with me)
  •  The client had a pre-existing bias towards their current supplier
    •  (and so there was nothing we could do)
  •  I couldn’t get any of our executives to visit the prospect
    • (Vague enough to blame all and yet blame no-one)

Sales people often genuinely struggle to understand where we went wrong.
For their own sanity they do need to move on to the next deal.

It is rare that two sales cycles are the same.
Therefore the reasons we win or lose a specific opportunity can be difficult to find.
How do you measure the fact that a key decision maker already had a negative perception of your solution?
Did one of your main competitors outflanked you with its sales strategies?
For sales people it’s just easier to quickly move on to the next opportunity.

Our experience of Win-Loss Analysis has told us that moving on quickly is a big mistake.
It’s easily summarised by this quotation
“If you always do what you’ve always done,
then you’ll always get, what you’ve always got”

Analysing Sales Wins and Losses

From the Sales View

Many sales organisations continue to repeat their mistakes in deal after deal.
They somehow hope for a different result. Why to they do this?

People really want to avoid awkward conversations and conflict.
Many will do anything just to risk an awkward conversation and offending someone.
The sales person who has just lost a deal is feeling pretty miserable anyway.
Many sales people think it’s better that we avoid the conversation completely.

What about the the client side?

Usually clients have got to know us really well during their buying cycle.
They are genuine people too and have no desire to hurt our feelings.
They often provide half-hearted excuses, sensing that we don’t really want to know.
We think clients do this to protect our feelings.

What can we really learn from these experiences?

Total Quality Management (TQM) tells us that everything is a process.
We take the sting out of the analysis by looking at the process first.
Then at the skills of the people operating the process.
Then resources they have to hand.
This way we are constantly learning from each sales cycle, eliminating errors, and work out what works.
We gradually improve and refine our end-to-end sales process.

What if each and every lost sale helped us identify one thing we could do better?
What if we communicate that one thing to our whole sales force?
What if every sale we win helps us to differentiate ourselves or gives a nugget of competitive insight?

Is Win-Loss Analysis really that simple?
The short answer NO it’s not .
It can expose some less than great things about your sales processes.
It can lead to some difficult conversations.
It requires a commitment from the Leadership team to not turn it into a witch-hunt.
If it ever does watch out for passive resistance on a massive scale.

Rick Marcet author of the recently published book Win Loss Reviews explains it can deliver benefits like:
“For those B2B sales organisations prepared to undertake a little research and ready to acknowledge the flaws in their sales process…
the tangible deliverables from a well-executed Win Loss Analysis programme can include:

  • Improved personal and company-wide win ratios
  • Quicker close rates
    • Through understanding the factors delaying sales cycles in the past
  • The ability to establish clear win/loss benchmarks
    • Then sharing these across the organisation
  • Dramatic improvement in competitive win rates
    • Through understanding losses against key competitors
  • A culture of continual improvement
  • A more client-centric sales model
  • A mechanism to track sales effectiveness

 

When you begin to uncover successful sales strategies or key differentiators in your sales approach, which you may not have been aware of , then it gets interesting. The opportunity to highlight what you learn to your entire sales force is immensely valuable. Add in the specific competitive insights that the programme will add on topics like your pricing, positioning, sales strategy, and deal crafting… Now you begin to realise the potential returns that Win-Loss Analysis programme can provide to a B2B sales organisation.

In the end, the decision is based on a simple cost-benefit analysis.

What does it cost us to lose a deal?

  • How much margin on the initial sale?
  • How much do we lose over the life of a customer?
  • Add the cost of sales people time
  • Any time / cost of pre-sales consulting?
  • What cost to bid and generate a professional proposal?
  • How much to do our due diligence?

Then ask…

Do we believe we’ll win more business if we adopt lessons from the programme?
How many deals will we need to win to pay for it?
Is it really likely that our win rate will improve that much?
What if we improve the win rate but only in a small way?
How much more margin will we make ?

Compare that with the cost of the Rainmaker Coaching team doing this for us?

What kind of ROI does that give us?                Can we say it is worth it?

If YES…    email info@rainmaker-coaching.co.uk with your arithmetic or call us.

Business Development Training: Consultants how can you be cross-sold into more projects?

If you work as a professional service deliverer in a law firm , a consultancy or IT firm then at sometime you may have been “on the bench” or not being utilised as fully as either you or the company would like.

In order to do some rainmaking on your behalf the people inside your company do need to:

  • Know you
  • Know what you do and what you can do for their clients
  • Trust that you will treat their clients well
  • Feel that there maybe something in it for them

So how about we come up with a plan to get you off the bench and on a client site?

(We cover this topic and others in our Business Development Training Workshop )

Step1: Identify 5 people who could get you the kind of project you desire.
How do you choose the right people?
Your criteria for choosing them is:
• Who’s their client
• What’s their focus
• How good at rainmaking or selling are they?

Step 2: Develop a personal relationship with these people 

Step 3: Educate them about who you are and what you do and can do for clients

Step 4 : Make sure they know that you do what you do very well.
Share your stories of success and how delighted your clients are.
Build up a library of STAR stories. S=Situation, T= Task , A=Action you took, R= The Results you got for your clients and you.
The STAR format will force you tell stories … That’s what rainmaker’s need . Indirect ways of selling…

Step 5: Make sure they know that you have an expectation of them and their attempts to sell you.

Have you found other ways of getting off the bench proactively? Let us know what they are .

Business Development Training Tips : Does Hunting in twos make sense?

DOES A LAUREL AND HARDY ACT HELP IN Business Development or RAINMAKING?

A number of the rainmakers I interviewed during my research talked about hunting for business in twos.
I was curious to find out why they felt this worked so well.

Here’s what they had to say:

(We cover this and other topics in our Business Development Training Workshops )

They pointed out that the RAINMAKER has to have the trust of the client.
One of the things that the RAINMAKER must never feel they are doing is selling overtly.
This this will diminish the level of trust that the client has in them.
The Account’s Rainmaker must maintain an air of being on the client’s side and impartiality.
Having a ‘Laurel’ to their ‘Hardy’, means any overt selling is done by Laurel not Hardy.

Sometimes the roles can be split between the services deliverer / pre-sales consultant and salesperson.
However what I would advise is to AGREE who is playing what role first and stick to those roles.
Second, I would use something like a meeting planner Simple Rainmaker meeting Planner
This will help you plan who asks what questions and give a structure to your joint call.

Another option is to pair-up two consultants, where one is the rainmaker, the other a salesperson for one account.
Then for another account their roles are reversed.

This way the RAINMAKER’S advisor status is not compromised and business continues to flow their way

Why not take 2 people, with clear roles, to your next rainmaking opportunity

Let us know how you get on. . .

If you want our help in any of this then email info@rainmaker-coaching.co.uk

Rainmaker Coaching Tips: Can clients be friends?

Can Clients be Friends and Friends be Clients?

This question seems to be a tricky one for people in the area of Rainmaking.

David Maister says no because professional people need distance and they view a sale as a transaction. http://davidmaister.com/articles/1/80/index.html

In “The psychology of sales call reluctance”  George W. Dudley describes one particular reluctance to sell as “Separationist”.
These people have a reluctance to sell to their friends or ask them for a referral because they fear their friends would be offended or feel exploited.
See our summary of the more common ones we’ve found… Business Development Reluctance beliefs services people
W
e cover this topic and other in our Business Development Coaching and  Business Development Training Workshops

And yet one of my first interviews with a well-known Rainmaker in the City of London contained what was for me a moving view.
He said “I treat every new prospect I meet as though I could wind up going on holiday with them” . Puzzled I asked for more.
He went on to say “I’m going on holiday with our families in a few weeks with a person I first met as a prospective client.
He’s been a client for the last twenty years” .

The reason I felt so moved was that I tried to imagine the openesss, honesty, integrity, caring that went in to nuture that kind of business relationship.

I began to understand just why clients wanted to be dealt with by this Rainmaker.

So I’m of the belief that friends can be clients without sacrificing the friendship.
I also think clients can become friends.
Some of my friends started out as clients.

Some of the reasons I think that works is that we are so close to rapport and have so much common ground that it’s easy to become friends.
When my friends who are clients talk about their work, it helps me understand the world in which my clients live.
If I talk about my business with them they know it well and they get it completely.
They can and do give me honest feedback about our approach , offerings , how we deliver and I find it useful to get honest, informed feedback.

I also think work is more fun when you work with friends.
Let’s face it, there’s nothing like having a friend in your corner, coaching you and advocating on your behalf, when it comes to getting hired by their firm.
And I’d like to think that my friends who are also clients reap similar benefits from the dual nature of our relationship as well.

Is there a male / female spilt ?
Are females more comfortable with Friends-Clients-Friends and male colleagues less comfortable?

What do you think? email me on info@rainmaker-coaching.co.uk

 

Sales and Rainmaking tips: More ideas on using Linkedin to sell more

Tip 1: Learn what’s happening in your prospect companies
People join, people leave, companies make important announcements – any change can present a good reason to get in touch and offer to help.
LinkedIn makes discovering these changes easy. You can follow any company that has a LinkedIn page.
That way you’ll see anything that changes directly in your updates.
It’s an easy way to stay up to date and spot new opportunities.

Tip 2: Add it to your Pre-Meeting Preparation Routine
Got a meeting to go to? About to pick up the phone to a prospect?
1. Check your prospect’s profile for changes and status updates.
2. See who else they’ve recently connected to. Could be a competitor?

Tip 3: Make your profile Effective 
If clients are interested, they will often look at your profile.
Ensure it’s complete and delivers a professional impression of both you and your company.  Include current links to your company site
Have a few high quality recommendations – especially from existing happy customers
This will give visitors a better idea of what you’re like as a person. People still buy from people.
Always have a good quality photo of you smiling.

Tip 4: Once a week Look and look back. 
On Linkedin you can see who’s looked at your profile by clicking on the “Who’s viewed your profile?” link and see a list of them.
The free account limits how many you can see and paid accounts give you the whole list.
This can work for you in two ways:

1. If someone looked at your profile reach out with a connection request
2. If you look at other people’s profiles, a certain proportion will always look back (see 1 above)

Even when you get anonymous visitors described as “Procurement Professional from the XYZ ” you can still click on them.
LinkedIn will then give you a list which will include the actual visitor.
It then takes just minutes to quickly visit each profile to show you’ve looked back.

Our Suggested Action plan on LinkedIn

1. Complete your profile to 100% and add a good quality professional picture

2. Use the description attached to your current employer to deliver a basic sales pitch for the company.

3. Solicit previous customers for recommendations – focus on quality over quantity.
Aim for those customers who have clout in the industries you focus on.
Where possible, make it easy for them and guide them on the areas you’d like recommendations on.

4. Follow companies on your prospect list so you get regular updates
Pay particular attention to joiners, leavers and company announcements.

5. Connect to as many people as you can – contacts breed contacts.
Make use of LinkedIn’s ‘people you may know’ feature.
Always send a contact request within 24 hours of meeting anyone new.

6. Connect LinkedIn to your company website.

7. Check your contacts’ contacts for other people you can connect to – do this religiously for all new connections.

Do you have other ideas to spread on how Linkedin helps?