Are the targeted executives you are trying to get the attention of using social media to shop, or are they really looking for prospects themselves? Perhaps both, with some education and networking mixed in; I don’t have any market research to state a firm conclusion. However; I do believe that most executives are tuned-into station WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) just like the rest of us, and they are seeking to promote their company and causes too. That’s why I find it interesting that so many meeting requests contain the following leading sentences:
· “Alan, I was looking at your profile and thought you’d be interested in our solutions.” (Followed by a laundry list of their products or services, and a request for a meeting or demo).
· “Alan, based on your background I thought this information would be of great interest.” (Again, followed by the laundry list and request).
· “Alan, your profile came to my attention. First, a little about my company.” (Yes, followed by the meeting or demo request).
We all understand that social media, particularly LinkedIn, can be effective for finding the persona’s that match your target market. You can search profiles based on job titles, location and several other factors. Once you find a targeted persona it makes sense that you would want to make contact and try to start a dialogue. It’s at this point that “social media networking for sales” strategies face a fork in the road.
The Path Heading Left
This strategy is based on numbers and speed. If I send 100 messages with the “I thought this would be of interest” phrase I’ll get X number of responses, that will result in Y number of meetings, that will result in Z number of sales. Just work the math quickly and the probabilities will take care of everything. Yes, even a blind squirrel will find a nut every now and then. In my opinion, hoping that the profile I’m getting ready to approach is actually in the “search” mode because they are actively feeling “pain” from a problem that my solution will fix is … well, as they say “hope is not a strategy.”
The Path Heading Right
This strategy is based on human nature, and the fact that most people don’t like to be sold – but they don’t mind buying. The initial communication might read something like this:
“Alan, you have an interesting background and I’d be honored to learn more. In the spirit of networking for mutual benefit I’d like to propose a 20 minute phone call. In the first 10 minutes let me know what you’d like most for me to know about you and your solutions. And in the last 10 minutes I’ll do the same for you.”
Sounds a bit like asking for an elevator pitch doesn’t it? No demonstration request. No request to disclose “what keeps you up at night” or “what projects are you currently budgeted for” as if they were required to answer lead qualification questions from someone who is still a stranger at this point. In fact, there is no assumption that they currently need my solution or help at this time. But I have acknowledged a professional respect for their background and time, while offering them a mini opportunity to pitch me, if they feel my background is worthy.
Will this make your lead generation process take longer? Yes, probably. After all, it takes time to build trust-based relationships. Will you get more meetings by taking this approach? I can’t say because I don’t know you or your company. But I do know that social networking for business works best when it’s a two-way street.