Archive for the ‘Socially Facilitated Selling’ Category

2nd

First, remember the folks in NY/NJ. Donate to the ARC here.

All right. I’m going to let out a big secret. Ya’ ready?

Physiognomy

What do you see?

That’s it!

The incredible thing for a sales person, really anyone, in the era of Social Tech is that people are sharing a close-up picture of their face in their Social Profiles. Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter – they all feature a headshot. Look beyond the surface. It’s stunning, amazing, and helpful if you know what to look for.

I can’t believe I just shared one of my best secrets.

That’s all I’m gunna say.

Happy to answer questions and share more insights if prompted. Better yet: Come to one of my Boot Camps. That alone is worth the price of admission.

Cheers.

26th

OK, I haven’t used that line yet and I’ve been blogging for 7 years. Hey, everyone else uses it on me!…

Btw, “LinkedIn currently has more than 175 million members, with 50 million of those members joining the service in just the past year alone. To put that growth in perspective, in 2009, LinkedIn had just 32 million people.” – Mashable

I also read recently that the Social Web has reduced the classic “Six Degrees of Separation” to 4 (Can’t find the reference off-hand.)

My Linkedin Endorsements as of 10/26/12

My Linkedin Endorsements as of 10/26/12

  1. Credibility is a powerful under-current, perhaps even currency, of the new Social business model. Ratings are becoming critically important. Endorsements are yet another example of Rating systems.
  2. Clearly, Linkedin is trying to ramp-up the new Skills feature. It’s a great marketing strategy for Linkedin in terms of increasing the utility of the system. But IMHO it’s gumming up the system with a lot of notifications.
  3. It’s an interesting opportunity to see the alignment between how peers actually see you versus how you see yourself.
  4. As with anything that comes from the crowd, it needs to be managed. Some endorsements might not be optimal for a variety of reasons. Some might be specifically sought after, as with Recommendations. I recommend that it merits attention like anything else, but not hyper-focus.
  5. It’s yet another interesting and competitive data-point to the profile viewer, although must be taken in context and with a grain of salt.
  6. It’s yet another reason to make connections with, and nurture, your network on a persistent basis, just as with off-line activities time immemorial. The more Connections, especially strategic ones, the more potential Endorsements.
  7. Thank-you’s for Endorsements seem appropriate. As always, it’s an opportunity to engage with your network, though it’s a lot harder to say “Thanks for the Endorsement” than it is to simply click the Endorsement button. So with a large network and lots of Endorsements, that becomes problematic.
  8. As far as the ubiquitous quid-pro-qua concept, that’s something to consider as well. I’d be curious what others have to say on that one.

In fact, I’d be curious what others have to say on the whole thing. Please Comment. Thanks in advance.

(Side note: I’d be curious to know if insurance companies and agencies are updating their internal Social Tech policies to accommodate this new feature.)

This is a really good article on the feature. Good Comments there as well.

26th

“What’s the #1 obstacle you face in your sales efforts?” I asked the Mississippi-based agent.

LICOA College Workshop

LICOA College Workshop

“Paperwork. Without a doubt. Filling out application forms after I bring a new client on board. It’s incredibly time-consuming. On one particular product for Mutual of Omaha the application is 32 pages long…”

I went on to ask, “What hinders you the most from using Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, etc.?”

“I’m not sure how to use it. I don’t know what I can and cannot do on Social Networks. The insurance companies I represent either have not issued any guidelines at all or have conflicting ones with each other. But I’ve got over 500 friends on Facebook. I see it as a huge untapped opportunity for me to get the word out about what I’m doing to help people…”

This conversation was with an agent that appeared to be in her 30′s, very energetic, sincere, and taking her vocation as an insurance agent very seriously. Man, given the right tools, guidelines and coaching, this person could easily double her sales using Social Tech. However, the issue of paper forms needs to be dealt with. Perhaps another facilitator here at the College can help – Mindfulware.

More on that later. Gotta run to the session I’m facilitating on using Social Tech for Insurance Sales and Marketing…

18th

ICMG, an insurance industry association I’ve been involved in since 2004 (thanks to John Kertis), asked me to write up a little something about Linkedin that might be helpful to the membership, and by extension, the organization. (These Comments also seem to be relevant to any industry association, Linkedin Group, and/or professional.)

Fall 2011 on Clairhaven

Fall 2011 on Clairhaven

Frequently I’ve heard and seen the following Comments about Linkedin and Social Technologies….

“I don’t really know that much about it. I’m accepting connection requests, but that’s about it. Who has the time for all that anyway…”

“I’ve joined a couple industry groups, but to be candid, I’m not really participating. I’m barely keeping up with regular email, let alone social networking…”

“I’ve got a profile in there, but I can’t remember my password…”

“I really don’t get the whole Social Networking thing. When I need to speak with someone, I just pick up the phone and call them. If they’re interested, they’ll call me back…”

“I doubt people ever search for me online. Why would they do that, anyway?”

“Social networking is for people that sell to individuals, not businesses. Insurance AGENTS should be using that stuff, but not me. I sell to company executives and they don’t use Linkedin and all that…”

“It’s impossible to keep up with all that Social stuff. As soon as I’ve got something at least somewhat figured out, they go and change it on me…”

“My company blocks access to Social sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Linkedin is open, but people frown on it when you update your profile or status. People think you’re looking for a new job…”

“Look Mike, I can see why YOU want everyone to use all these Social things because you’re in that business. But… I’m a deal-maker… OR I run an insurance agency… OR I’m selling services to insurance marketing executives… OR I work in the Senior market… OR I recruit, train, and support 1000s of agents…. I don’t have time for Social Networking. Plus the people I work with aren’t using it or even asking about it. So it’s a waste of time for me. I’ve got a job to do and numbers to hit…”

On the surface, these are all legit Comments, no doubt about it. However, we all know the common euphemisms that apply to Comments such as these. I won’t take the time to restate the common and standard responses, such as “Well, if ‘everyone else’ is jumping off a cliff, does that make it right?” Instead, let me point out some statistics and other data-points that might lead the reader to decide to take a different path, more forward-looking and though-leader’ish.

A few data-points about Social Networks in general:

65% of Adult Americans that use the Internet use Social Networks
http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Social-Networking-Sites.aspx

93% of Americans believe that a company should have a presence on social media sites and 85 percent believe that these companies should use these services to interact with consumers.
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/study_social_media_presence.php

The top age group, by volume, that uses Social, is 35-44; second is 45-54.
http://derekshowerman.com/2011/07/07/age-demographics-for-social-media-usage/

Retirees age 65 and older are the fastest-growing group of social networking site users.
http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/planning-to-retire/2011/08/30/retirees-fastest-growing-users-of-social-networks

Social network use among Internet users 50 years old and older has nearly doubled to 42% over the past year.
http://mashable.com/2011/04/06/baby-boomers-digital-media/

A few data-points about Linkedin in general:

In June 2011, LinkedIn had 33.9 million unique visitors, up 63 percent from a year earlier. (1)
As of March 2011 the service had 44 million users in the US and 56 million outside. (1)
LinkedIn members are on pace to do more than four billion searches on LinkedIn in 2011. (2)
The average American has 634 ties in their overall network and technology users have bigger overall networks. (3)
(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linkedin
(2) http://blog.linkedin.com/
(3) http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Technology-and-social-networks/Part-3/SNS-users.aspx

Lastly, a few data-points about the ICMG Group on Linkedin specifically:

Just like the Annual Meeting itself, it’s a big network and growing, but also includes non-members who are participants in the industry.

ICMG Linkedin Group has 450+ Members and growing daily.

Going further, many of the Group Members have over 500 Connections on Linkedin themselves. Most have at least 150+ Connections. If a study were done, it would not be surprising to find that the average ICMG’er on Linkedin is connected to over 100 insurance industry professionals and colleagues – and all these numbers are in growth mode right now.

The Group activity is meaningful.

Up significantly in 2011, Group Discussions have been used for announcements like new insurance products and distribution partners/channels, links to relevant articles on topics like health insurance and PPACA, and Q&A on different challenges and solutions native to our business and industry.

So as an industry participant, “What’s in it for me?” you may ask.

Think about it. If you post something in the ICMG Linkedin Group, 450 people in your industry have the chance of seeing it. If you post something INTERESTING in the ICMG Linkedin Group and 10 people make a Comment, add 10×100 or 1000 MORE potential industry views of your Announcement, Comment or Question. And what is the cost? Time.

What about research? Need a warm introduction to a potential strategic partner? Need to do some research on someone before starting a relationship? Looking for a service provider in your network? By connecting with industry colleagues and participating within industry discussions, can you see how both sides of this coin can be satisfied?

Others:

  1. Never make a cold call again.
  2. Never start a strategic relationship without great information about the prospect or the company.
  3. Always go into meetings prepared with current information on the topic and the people.
  4. Communicate with your target audience in a relevant manner for free.
  5. Constantly increase your IQ on a variety of topics.
  6. Shorten your sales cycles.
  7. Draw your clients into your information stream, increase exit barriers and competitive advantage, and cross-sell new products and solutions.
  8. Understand the inherent accountability to peak performance and trust that Social Networks build and reinforce.
  9. The list goes on and on and on…

Are these helpful pieces of information that might change your mind about the environment? If so, you might then ask, “OK, Mike. I see what you’re saying here. What should I do to take advantage of all this opportunity?”

First, get in there and update your profile – completely. Manage your property. If you want to see a good example of all the parts and pieces, arrangement, keywords, applications, and so forth, feel free to browse my profile. I’ve done a LOT of research – every single element is done for a specific reason. Use me. Pay attention to the details – they each have a purpose. Above all, make sure your profile is connected to your professional email address. The general concept in play is “Online Reputation Management.” Nuf said.

Daily Activities
5 Minutes: Update your status with something useful. Reply to any Comments as quickly as possible.
10 Minutes: Scan your network’s status updates. (Here’s the thing: Build the Shares newsfeed section into a powerful part of your river of information.)
As you scan, by all means, Like and Comment on other Shares, as appropriate, remembering that your network will then see the updates that you Comment on and Like. Try not to read-only, instead add value with insights and promotion of content.
5-10 Minutes: Open and scan the Group email blasts as they come in. At least look at the subject and author.

No time to add 20-30 minutes a day to your schedule? Look for something to cut.

Weekly
5 minutes: Look at the network Recommendations on the Home page Network updates. Float your mouse over unfamiliar names that have recommended influential people in your network or vice-versa. Are these potential business partners?
10-30 minutes: Try to make a few Comments in a few Groups to add value and build influence.
If you haven’t already, look at the member list and send Connection requests to people you know. Send warm introduction requests to people you want to know.

No time to add 15-30 minutes, perhaps an hour a week to your schedule? Use down time in between things – JUST NOT WHEN YOU ARE DRIVING, PLEASE.

Monthly
10 Minutes: Update your profile with any material changes to your job, interests, awards, etc.
30-60 minutes: Make/Ask for 3-4 Recommendations for/from current clients wrt projects, etc.

No time to add a half-hour to an hour a month to your schedule? Make time – get up earlier or do it while eating breakfast. (Do you really need to watch one more game/show/movie with undivided attention?)

Two final comments:

All boat rise with the tide.
Don’t get left behind.

Good luck. Happy to help. Please Comment and Share. I wanna know. Thanks.

16th

First, let me just say that it’s very irritating that Linkedin has a policy on its Company Pages that you can only administer a company page if you use an email address that uses an extension of the company name – so no Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc. extensions, like me. Why? Not sure, but it’s pretty stupid considering how companies are starting to pursue different email strategies like corporate Gmail….

Promoting a company, brand or organization on Linkedin has three primary components:

I. Company activities
II.
Employee Activities, especially leaders and stakeholders
III. Clients, Partners, and Fan Activities

I. The question becomes, “What are the specific things that can and should be done by the company to promote the company and recruit top talent?” No doubt, specific strategies will vary by company size, industry, business goals, etc.. A strategic assessment that connects the business objective with the Social Technology tool is a prudent next step. Let us therefore limit the discussion to the B2B context (assuming

Houghton College Men's Soccer

Almost a perfect shot!

that B2C is more focused on Facebook marketing and not Linkedin), and further refine to mid-market companies. Let’s further say that the actual person running the company Linkedin page is in Marketing and is following a tightly organized Content Calendar, looking to drive sales and business development opportunities.

The Company activities on Linkedin focus around the Company Page. The Company Page has many outbound promotional opportunities, most of which are under-utilized by the vast majority of companies. So if you don’t know about this stuff, don’t feel bad. Circa the Fall of 2011, the following list will likely serve as a checklist of engagement points, the tactical elements, the allowable functions. HOW to use these tools – what to say, when to say it, what to ask, how to respond, etc., etc. – this is where the art of viral marketing, crowdsourcing, rating, and many of the Social Technologies concepts come into play. I’m begging you: DON’T WING IT. Think “driving a high-end Harley with little or no motorcycle training” – good chance you’ll wind up in the hospital – or worse, right?

The Top 10 Elements:

0.   Put up your Logo!

  1. Follow us – gaining Followers on Linkedin is the door-opener to connectivity within the Linkedin ecosystem
  2. Careers Tab – every time you add a new Job, you get picked up on several Linkedin feeds, most notably your Followers
  3. Overview Tab – remember that you are serving multiple audiences here
  4. Products and/or Services Tab – outstanding place to focus your efforts. Recommendations here can be a huge opportunity and significant marketing events. See HubSpot’s Linkedin Company Page, click the Products Tab, and note the Recommendations.
  5. Share an Update – again, like Job postings, these will appear on Follower newsfeeds
  6. In the News – great widget to add richness to the profile to further leverage media mentions
  7. Recent Tweets – probably one of the most useful functions on the page, this can lead to follows on Twitter as well, potential retweets, click-throughs to your site, etc. Course you need to know how to leverage Twitter, as well.
  8. Recent Blog Posts – Absolutely! HubSpot’s Linkedin Company Page is a good example of both Twitter and Blog integration. Scroll about half-way down. Multi-channel marketing.
  9. Like and Comment on Status Updates- encourage employees and fans to engage in the company Updates (#5) so that the Updates have a chance to spread virally to the corresponding networks of Linkedin Connections and beyond.
  10. Slideshare and Video – add video to both the Career and Products/Services Tabs

Some more activities the Company can do:

Employee recognition – run an employee of the quarter contest, preferably with as much employee ownership as possible so it’s a big deal, then announce in Status Updates, have the employee list that under employee awards, figure out a way to loop-in the related clients, etc. etc. etc. Always tie recognition to the clients served.

Relay current client Recommendations that are given to employees and the company. Client engagement is the whole point. So if there are major touch points like Recommendations of Products and Services and/or employees, broadcast those very generally, right? And should we return the favor? Absolutely. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

What do you think? What else have you seen? Please Comment below. Don’t just take – ya gotta give, too.

Next week: II. Employee Activities, especially leaders and stakeholders

Following week: III. Clients, Partners, and Fan Activities

Is this helpful? Need help with a strategy for the What, When, Where, How, Who? Please comment, share, and/or reach out to WebWisedom.

Thanks…

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