I want to talk to…

In the UK there are 689,890 companies[1], 190,978 of them meet the EU definition of an SME and so, theoretically, they could be my target market, bearing in mind my company name.

In reality the vast majority of them I will not be able to help. This is why you will rarely hear the word “anyone” uttered when I’m networking or asking clients for referrals. Why is it, therefore, that so many business owners believe they can sell their services to anyone?

The problem with anyone is that it is simply too wide a scope and what happens is that you end up with no-one being referred to you.

A chiropractor said to me, at a networking event recently, I can help anyone with a spine. Whilst this may be true, it doesn’t help me help them. I’m not going to mention them to everyone I know with a spine.

I need, and so will all your clients and connections, a little more to go on. Have you seen the latest eHarmony advert where they show a man on a couch with a camel? The advert goes on to say they were matched because of two matching criteria, but eHarmony uses more to ensure a good match.

You should use the same approach when asking for referrals. After all if 438 couples get married every day after being matched on eHarmony, they must be getting something right.

Whilst I am not suggesting you have 29 levels of compatibility with your clients, you must make it easier for people to refer you. Give them more information: industry sector, geography, company size, job title and, most definitely, reasons why.

The good thing about getting this pinned down is it also helps you work out what marketing to do, but I’ll talk about that next time!

 

[1] LinkedIn; as of 13/1/15

Tracking isn’t just for rednecks

  • A broken twig
  • fresh footprints
  • Frightened birds
  • Canddi return trigger!?!

All are signs a tracker will use when hunting their prey.  Knowing where their prey is through tracking is key for the hunter if they want to eat tonight.

The same goes for the your business (with the last one on the list only really for businesses).  Knowing who is looking at you and your online presence can really help you to grow your business.

Let’s split this into two: you and your business.

Who’s looking at you?

As the owner or director of the business, you are a figurehead for the business.  People will look at you as an indicator of what the business is all about. There’s a few places people will go to in order to look at you:

LinkedIn

Both your personal and company profiles are likely to be looked at.  Are you happy they portray you well?  The good thing about LinkedIn is that you know who is looking at you and when they looked.  This means you can return the favour and then make a decision about what to do next.  Are they a potential client, a possible supplier or simply someone who could be a useful person to network with.

Twitter

To an extent, this depends on whether you tweet as you or as the business, but they’re still going to look. Keep it consistent and interesting. Most of all make sure you’re interacting.

Who’s looking at your business?

There are many tools you can use to check out your website’s performance, starting with good old Google.

Google Analytics

An oldy but a goody.  At the most basic level, you can see how many unique views you get, where they came from, how many pages are being looked at and what pages are liked/disliked (check out the bounce rate).  At the other end of the scale, you can see whether viewers are following the path you expect them to, what they are spending and what your demographics look like.

Check out Audience/technology/network as well.  You can see the names of some of the companies checking you out!

Canddi

No, I haven’t mis-spelt it, there are 2 d’s.  There are a number of more advance web analytics tools out there, including Trovus, Lead Forensics and IDFingerprint.  My favourite at the moment is Canddi.  Not only have they agreed to a free trial for all my clients, they won’t tie you in for a long-term contract and you can set it up to tell you when people return to your website.  Would you like the next conversation you have with a prospect to be timely and absolutely relevant?

I could go on forever about the various tools you can use to track who’s watching you online, but let’s save the 1984 bit for another time.   The simple truth of the matter is that keeping an eye on who is looking at you means you get a chance to interact with them, you know what they are interested in and you can have both a highly relevant conversation and one at the right time.

I wonder if your competition are doing the same thing?

 

 

 

Key social media tips

There are nearly 12 million people in the UK on LinkedIn, 37 million Facebook Pages worldwide and nearly 40 million UK Twitter accounts. To be noticed amongst all these and to develop quality sales opportunities, here are a few tips that either I know to work or are tips that I have been given by people I trust who use them everyday. I hope they prove useful for you.

Social media is about helping people, it is not simply about broadcasting your sales messages.

  • There is a clue in the name in what you have to do to be successful – be socialable.
  • Build relationships so you know what interests your connections and what they are looking for in business terms
  • Provide useful and interesting material that shows you know what you are talking about
  • Be consistent so that you maintain the relationship and maintain your position in their minds for when someone needs your services.

Don’t sell – help

  • We have media recording devices at home in order to avoid most of the adverts. Your connections on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook will simply disconnect to avoid your adverts.
  • If you help people by making useful connections for them, they will return the favour – think Givers Gain.
  • Provide evidence on how you’ve helped others so your connections start to trust you.

Automate and outsource sensibly

  • Social media tools such as hootsuite or tweetdeck are useful but they cannot build relationships for you. Use them for scheduling some activity but remember that you have to interact to build relationships
  • There are lots of companies that will do your social media for you but they will never know your business as well as you do. Outsourcing does not mean letting go!
  • Use tools such as Tweriod to find out when your followers are online. Be active when your connections are active so that there is a greater chance they will see you.

Volume is only sometimes useful

  • 50 connections with good relationships on LinkedIn is better than 1,000 people who you know nothing about.
  • You won’t generate interested followers simply by following 1,000’s of others. They will only follow you if you can be useful to them.

Personal and business are different

  • Don’t set up a business using a personal profile on Facebook. There is a good chance they will find it and then simply delete it as it breaks their terms of service.
  • Personal profiles are about you. Talk about you and do it in the first person.
  • Business profiles/pages are about your business so use appropriate language and images.

 

I hope these prove useful for you and I will endeavour to update this when I find other useful snippets.

 

LinkedIn – a real problem solver

Ever been dealing with a company when things just don’t seem to be moving forward?

You find yourself constantly talking to call centres or customer services, but to no avail, as you are always talking to someone different and they don’t have a full understanding of your situation, so there is no big picture thinking. LinkedIn may be able to help.  Let me explain:

I’ve blogged recently about my house being burgled and how the loss of my technology seriously impacted my work for a week or so, and so you may already be aware of the fun and games I’ve had recently. There was an added complication that they stole my car keys and my car during the burglary and my car insurance company have been less than helpful.

I’m not going to name names but suffice to say things were going neither smoothly or quickly and I was rapidly approaching the end of my tether. Finally I thought it was about time to go around the call centre so I used the world’s biggest business social media tool: LinkedIn.

I found one of the UK’s senior directors and simply made them aware of what I had been experiencing. That was less than a week ago and now everything has been resolved.

It isn’t quite the case of “who you know”, but LinkedIn makes it the next best thing.

Networking – quality or quantity?

There are many approaches to networking  and plenty of articles written about it.  A google search whilst writing this blog identified 341,000,000 in 0.33 seconds – that should keep you busy for a little while.

Broadly speaking there are two camps when it comes to, particularly, online networking: collecting as many people as possible or, know the people you network with.  I fall firmly into the latter.

Right now I have 388 connections on LinkedIn.  Fifteen minutes ago I had 445.  Although I spend a good amount of time trying to maintain the relationships I have developed I looked through my connections and found that I had 57 in there where I couldn’t remember what they did or why I was connected to them.  If I cannot remember what they do, what is the chance that I am going to introduce them to other people I meet?

What does this mean to me?  I have roughly 15% more time to maintain the relationships I have built up on LinkedIn, further improving the quality of them

What does it mean to the 57? Absolutely nothing at a guess, as they don’t seem to be worried about maintaining the relationship either or they would have been in contact recently and I would know what they did.

What’s my point?  Simple, invest your time in developing your network and ensuring it is mutually beneficial.  If there is “dead wood” in your connections, a little light pruning is a good thing

Where do I find…..?

Where do I find….. is a common question on LinkedIn.  Along with “How do I….”, it’s almost as common on social media sites such as LinkedIn as “X ways to convince you to buy my services”.

These are the questions I initially look for, whether in Group discussions or Answers as they are often the easiest ones to answer in a way that really helps the asker.

The answer I nearly always give  is quite easy:

Use your usual search engine, or LinkedIn, to find a number of potential suppliers.  Ask them the question and then base your choice of solution provider (assuming you are actually looking to invest in a solution to your problem) on the following factors:

  • Did you gel with the person(s) who responded?
  • Did their answer actually make sense and show they understood your question?
  • Does the evidence they provide, of previous successful solutions, generate confidence in your mind?

If the answer to each is yes, I think you have found your supplier.  If not, move on

Selling an Elephant

You all know I am an avid LinkedIn networker and there are times when I spend too much time on there but there are reasons for that: I’m building my network and building SME Needs as a business.  There is one thing, however, that I never do when on there: sell.

Don’t get me wrong, I would love to be working for a few more LinkedIn users but I know that will come in time.  What I do is help people by commenting, providing advice and introducing people to each other, in the knowledge that they will want to help me sometime in the future. If you received an InMail from me as someone you’d never heard of before, would you consider buying from me based on this message:

Dear You,

I found you on LinkedIn and reckon there are lots of synergies.  I’m really good at what I do and would love to sell to you

Yours…..

No, I wouldn’t either but that is exactly what  happened the other day; I received just such an InMail.

When will people learn?

 

 

How to find a credible LinkedIn© (and other social media) trainer

If you wanted to find a LinkedIn© expert to develop your expertise how would you do it? Ask your friends? Do a quick Google search (and find over 25 million LinkedIn© trainers)? Or search LinkedIn?

Ok, you have lots of options but how do you find a good one? With LinkedIn© it is easy …

  • Review their profile; does it look good, better than the others?
  • Does their personal profile have recommendations from people and how many?
  • Do they have a company profile or company page?
  • Do they have a full company page with video, banners and recommendations on LinkedIn?
  • Do their recommendations read well? From people like you?
  • Does their web page look and feel good to you?
  • Do they know their subject? Does it have the right numbers on it for total users and accurate statistics?
  • Do they only do the platform you want to learn about?
  • Do they offer to do LinkedIn© for you? How? How can they know the people you know?
  • Does their course content cover what you need? Does it sound sensible to you? For example if many say half a day and someone says an hour ask why.
  • Do they want to look good or make you look good?

Then talk to them, yes old fashioned I know, but talk to them, are they human, do they come across well and could you work with them?

It’s amazing how many “social media experts” follow each other to see what they do on LinkedIn© and Twitter, if they are an expert why follow each other? Is it to get material they can use or simply to keep an eye on the competition?

If you want an expert on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter I will happily introduce you to some good people.

Fear Of Flying With Social Media

When Orville Wright made the first controlled, powered aircraft flight over 120 feet in 12 seconds, at a speed of little more than 6 miles per hour on the 17th December 1903, there were naysayers aplenty who grunted that, as an idea, it would never get off the ground! Similar luddite sentiments have always been expressed whenever change threatens to disrupt the entrenched attitudes of the fearful, distrustful and narrow minded! Read more

Fit your offering to your customers’ needs

I was recently asked:

How do I let people know I want to work for them, on a consultancy basis, without directly telling them?  I don’t want to appear desperate

My answer was short and sweet.

Do you know what issues they currently need a solution to?  If you can demonstrate how you have solved other similar needs, they are far more likely to talk to you about your services. If your solutions have been in the same, or similar, industries then there is even more likelihood that they will talk to you.

What happens if you’re moving into a different industry or wanting to work for people you have never dealt with before?  Would the problems they experience not be similar?

Businesses have problems with, broadly speaking:

  • Money
  • People
  • Technology
  • Products

For Money, you can read revenue generation (sales) or, in the case of most public sector organisations, budget management.  For all organisations it is making sure that the money coming in matches or exceeds the money going out.  If you have experience, and stories, that relate to helping this money flow, tell people about them and the benefits realised by your customers.

For People, you need to include all the different stakeholders there can be in an organisation.  The two most obvious are customers and staff, but don’t forget suppliers, shareholders, taxpayers and maybe even the neighbours. Again what benefits have your previous customers derived from your work and how could they be applied to your target organisation(s)?

Technology can cover a wonderful set of issues. They start from the desktop (sometimes the issue is between the keyboard and the chair so does that come under People?) and extend to the various devices.  There is then the software used and the equipment needed to do their jobs. With the exception of people who simply dig holes (and other similar jobs) there isn’t much out there that doesn’t need some sort of technology, whether state of the art or quite old. How aligned is your technology with your business needs?

Finally the Product.  This starts with identifying the right products for your marketplace and extends the “simple” flow of product through the supply chain to the customer via ensuring the retail display works effectively.

Look at what you have been doing for your recent clients and think how that could help others.  I think you will be surprised at how similar a lot of industries are.

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