Author: Ankur Srivastava

Swarmsales Now Allows You To Monetize Your Linkedin Network.

Swarmsales Now Allows You To Monetize Your Linkedin Network.

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What if I told you the era of Return on Relationships is finally here? Every day we help freelance enterprise sales professionals realize the ability they possess in being able to unlock their own network and increase their own net worth.

However, until recently, we were working to identify these relationships manually. How? By asking sales professionals to input their own data and to identify which accounts they would like to engage the companies on Swarmsales in to.

Well, that changed yesterday. And it moved the needle drastically in our ability to predict, intelligently, which one of your Linkedin relationships is highly monetizable.

“This is what I always imagined Linkedin’s Sales Navigator to do.”

 

Here is how it works:

  1. Sign up for Swarmsales as a sales professional.
  2. Simply go into your Linkedin Account and extract your archive file (takes 24 hours to get it via email from Linkedin.)
  3. Upload the .zip file into Swarmsales
  4. Our AI algorithms will process your data and allow you to select the most relevant connections, work history, and endorsements.
  5. Companies start matching you and inviting you to submit opportunities.
  6. Start getting paid!

This entire process will take you less than 5 mins to complete. (Please note you must have your archive file prior to initiating this process).

We recently showed to various sales leaders and investors this feature; and as a result, they commented: “WHOA, this is what I always imagined Linkedin’s Sales Navigator to be” said John Faxio, Sales Professional on Swarmsales. “Now I know what my network is worth!” said Karl Woolfenden.

This feature will be widely available in all Swarmsales Sales Professionals profiles by end of June 2018.

Want to see it action? Check it out below.

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Social Selling: How To Nail It Without LinkedIn

Social Selling: How To Nail It Without LinkedIn

Taking a look at headlines from just recent years past — Death Of A Salesman: The Rise Of Social Selling, Why Your Business Desperately Needs Social Selling Champions, etc. — it’s easy to see that the concept of social selling has taken off. There’s no shortage of discussion about this issue across the Internet and plenty of general guides to help neophytes get started.

Where many such guides fall short, however, is in ignoring how to shift techniques across social media platforms outside of the oft-praised LinkedIn. A large part of social selling is identifying which social networks prospects are using in order to target them where they spend the most time.

If potential customers are spending the majority of their time away from LinkedIn, that’s where reps should shift their focus. This article will provide a more in-depth look into social selling outside of LinkedIn and how to tailor an approach to achieve greater impact.

Social Selling: On LinkedIn and Beyond

A straightforward definition of what social selling is can be found via Forbes:

“Social selling is a way for sales teams to use social media to connect with prospects and provide them with value. Consider it similar to lead nurturing in the sense that your goal is to engage buyers on an on-going, long-term basis.”

While not a replacement for other avenues of sales, it does add another tool to a sales rep’s bag of tricks — if used properly. The winning formula, according to many sources, consists of four main elements:

1. Identifying “target prospects” and their main social media platforms.

2. Building a professional profile and establishing a personal brand.

3. Creating original content and valuable insights.

4. Engaging with the audience and building strong relationships.
These are simple enough steps to follow, but they are also very general. In cases where how-to articles do go into further detail, they’re focused on LinkedIn, as the platform has developed quite the connection with social selling and positioned itself as the go-to network for such activities.

And for good reason. The lack of “chatter and politics” present on other sites plays a large role in LinkedIn’s dominant position, according to Forbes, as does their incorporation of metrics like their Social Selling Index (SSI).

What of the other social networks, though? If prospects are using Instagram, Facebook or Twitter as their primary sites, is it possible to find social selling success there as well? It is, but success requires building upon the general rules to accommodate the platform in question.

How-To: Changing Methodologies

Optimizing profiles, adapting behavior and more go into honing social selling techniques for specific social media platforms.

Facebook

On Facebook, it’s important to remember that users are generally browsing the platform with a casual mindset. Therefore, content posted to Facebook should make an attempt to capitalize on that mindset.

Sales professionals should take care not to inundate followers with too much. When they do post, they should include visual content that will resonate with their audience but be easy to digest: tips and tricks, short news pieces, etc. Lengthy treatises and straight-ahead pitches should be avoided.

When setting up their profile, sales professionals should set up a Facebook business page and put the focus on their personal brand. Using a visual motif that reflects the brand is a must, as is using the motif to maintain consistency throughout the profile.

Facebook’s recent push to compete in the Live Broadcasting economy is a huge leap ahead for sales professionals wanting to stand out as their own brand. Starting every Friday morning with a quick live feed about wins and losses of the week is one way to leverage this feature to build a consistent audience and create authenticity.

Twitter

Only 19 percent of Twitter users hop on the platform to network, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. They may not be hopping on with networking as the goal, but they are reading the posts of the accounts they follow and that’s exactly what you want. When targeting prospects on Twitter, the focus should be on doing more with less. Twitter offers less “real estate” than other platforms so maximizing every character is a must.

When it comes to organizing their profiles, sales pros should use commonplace social media best practices like using a professional headshot for their profile photo, including a captivating title (with a value proposition), having a brief (but engaging) positioning statement and including hashtags that potential buyers might be interested in following. Salespeople should also consider linking to their LinkedIn accounts and company Twitter handle, if applicable.

When it comes to behavior on Twitter, sales professionals should take care to stay authentic. They should avoid posting in a “spammy” manner that signals they are only on the platform to generate leads. On the flip side, though, they should also avoid long periods of inactivity or posting content and following up with minimal engagement.

Instead, sales professionals should post consistently (minimum once a day) and mix things up with links to articles, retweets, favorites and the like. They should make generous use of so-called “rich media,” the kind that includes images, and participate in chats with other users to gain a natural following.

Twitter has become a central hub for social issues and while these can be dicey topics, they can also provide huge wins for sales professionals. Discover the social issues your company supports through its charitable work and use the hashtags associated with those topics. Proudly displaying your support and your company’s support for charitable organizations humanizes you both. Social media is based on sharing real life, remember. So this is a great way to do just that.

Instagram

On Instagram, the focus on strong visuals should be taken to an even greater level. A sales pro’s bio and all posts should emphasize captivating video in order to maximize follower interest. Like Twitter, pros should make their profiles here succinct. On Instagram, though, it is also important to set profiles up for sales by including links to relevant outside pages (company page, store links, etc.).

Sales professionals should post regularly, using hashtags and calls-to-action to motivate followers. They should also focus on making connections using Instagram’s direct messaging feature. This allows for the vaunted one-on-one relationship with prospects that social selling is all about.

Instagram is a fun, light-hearted platform. Take advantage of this tone by going live on your way to a meeting and sharing the reason for why you are nervous or share the excitement immediately after a big close. Again, humanizing any brand is the fastest way to gain followers that become evangelists.

Recap

Sales professionals should keep these main points in mind when branching out into other networks for social selling:

The approach should fit the platform.

Facebook offers live broadcasting now.

Twitter is a great place to share your organization’s charitable work.

Instagram is the best place for multiple and frequent live broadcasts that bring your audience on the ride with you.

The Top 12 Things Your Sales and Marketing Teams Should Collaborate On

The Top 12 Things Your Sales and Marketing Teams Should Collaborate On

Sales and marketing collaboration, or alignment as the popular buzz has phrased it, will be a crucial component of B2B sales success in 2018. The “why” of the matter is something that has been well discussed in outlets such as Forbes:

“Gone are the days of marketing bringing in leads with clever headlines and unverified promises and then throwing them over the wall to sales.”

But what specifics should leaders focus their teams alignment efforts on for increased efficacy? This article address a few of the ways in which sales and marketing teams can come together for the greater good.

1. Creating a “Smarketing” Culture

Sales and marketing collaboration can’t occur if the teams don’t share the company’s values and vision. Cooperation begins when both teams understand what they accountable for, the other team’s perspective, and the overall brand mission. The first step is getting sales and marketing in the same room to hash out these pertinent details and create a consistent culture of ownership and teamwork.

2. Lead Generation

In supporting one another’s efforts, sales and marketing teams can increase quality lead generation. Working together, they can define the parameters for a good lead and determine the point at which leads should be handed off from marketing to sales. Beyond that, teams can refine their system by having sales communicate which leads became customers and what techniques worked in securing them.

3. Lead Conversion

After generating leads, sales and marketing can continue collaborating to convert those leads to sales. Two-way feedback between sales/marketing on successes and failures is key in this area, as is external feedback from customers, prospects and leads about what is effective. Examples of key questions to ask include:

What prevents some sales qualified leads from converting into real sales opportunities?

What causes certain marketing qualified leads to break off the negotiation process?

What specific factors caused a lead to close on a deal?

4. Sales Calls

For marketing efforts to have an impact, marketers have to understand the audience they are targeting. With sales professionals on the calls, marketing teams can often miss out on important buyer’s journey data. No marketers want to sit in on sales calls, but the sales professionals can use their CRM to track the valuable data and share it with marketing.

5. Sales Content Creation

Sales teams need content to help sell their message. Sales professionals can work with marketing to explain the types of presentations and data that push a sale along the funnel. Marketing teams also must know the right questions to ask their sales teams to be sure that marketing is providing what’s most impactful in a sales meeting.

6. Developing Buyer Personas

Buyer personas are a great way to form a picture of the ideal customer. The data revealed in each  buyer persona then allows teams to create targeted ads/pitches and increase acquisition. Through collaboration, sales and marketing can bring their expertise together in crafting said profiles — sales brings the frontline experience from interacting with customers, while marketing supplies overarching industry insights.

7. Formulating KPIs

Not all KPIs need to remain the domain of a single team. Sales and marketing can collaborate to create crossover performance indicators that are important to both realms. Lead generation, conversion rates, cost per lead, social media engagement and the like matter to both sales and marketing. Having them brainstorm similar areas of assessment can bring the teams together.

8. Analysis

Moving beyond KPIs, both teams can come together to perform analysis on metrics as well. Working in tandem, they can get a better picture of what’s working while looking at lead gen data, marketing campaigns, webpage visits-to-lead ratios, and other valuable data produced in each department.

9. Optimizing the Sales Funnel

Sales and marketing teams can cooperate to fine-tune the old-school sales funnel you might be operating on with a better working revenue cycle. This can improve the visibility of leads (among other things) and give managers a clearer picture of how making changes in the customer acquisition process will influence revenue generation.

10. Showing Off the Team

Sales teams function as frontline representatives of the company. Sometimes, though, they can use some assistance putting their best foot forward, which is where the marketing collaboration comes into play.

Marketing can help promote the personalities on the sales team, with content marketing strategies designed to showcase their talent. Ghostwritten blog posts and articles are a good place to start, and with some coordination, sales/marketing pros can find other directions to help boost their visibility.

11. Creating FAQs & Glossaries

Sales and marketing teams can also work together to create quality content for a company website in the form of FAQs and glossaries of terms. Sales professionals answer countless questions throughout the course of their duties. By recording a list of the most common ones and supplying them to marketing, content creators on the team will have a robust selection of relevant material to work with.

12. Coordinating Training

Developing the teams’ skills can have direct positive impacts on ROI. By collaborating on the development and undertaking of training programs, sales and marketing can come together in a way that benefits their overall effectiveness. Have them work together on sharing best practices and learning about the processes they use to carry out their separate duties.

10 Steps to Setting the Perfect Agenda for Sales Training Courses

10 Steps to Setting the Perfect Agenda for Sales Training Courses

A good number of B2B sales pros aren’t born with all the skills they need to succeed — they’re trained. The art of selling is a nuanced one, so training courses aimed at sharpening the skills of reps must emphasize quality to ensure maximum efficacy. If a training course isn’t engaging, attendees are much less likely to absorb the lessons therein, and if the course agenda is poor, the lessons taught will confer little in the way of real-world value. This article will cover a few tips for crafting courses that will provide superior value when training sales teams.

1. Go in With the Right Mindset

Though the knowledge learned in the training course should be complete and “self-contained” in a manner that provides initial value to attendees, it should also build upon previous training and fit into subsequent training attendees might receive. Sales training is a continuous process. Therefore, the training should link together in a way that is related and links to the goal of training better sales professionals.

2. Know the Audience

Part of creating courses that can relate to one another, as well as ensuring the information contained within is useful to attendees, is knowing who they are in a broad sense. Are the courses for complete beginners? Intermediates who already have specific skills? It’s important to consider the audience to make sure each training course is effective and suitable for achieving the end goals.

Consider who the audience is in a personal sense as well. Some sales professionals will learn better from visual tools. Others will learn best from having an opportunity to repeat what they’ve heard during the session. There are many survey tools trainers can send out before a training session. These surveys will help you discover each attendee’s personal learning style. With that in hand, customize the training courses for the audience.

3. Consider the End Goal(s)

Knowing the goals of a training course is critical for planning an agenda with useful content. The materials that go into a course should be geared toward accomplishing an objective that goes deeper than simply improving sales skills. For instance, when preparing training courses for a company’s sales team, how will learning those skills improve the chances of achieving certain organizational objectives? When creating courses for freelance sales, consider how the lessons will benefit the sales professionals as they set out on their own.

4. Keep Customers in Mind

Very few sales skills work in a bubble. Much of what training courses teach to sales professionals will later be applied when interacting with customers, so it’s important to keep those customers in mind when designing any training course. Emerging trends that might shift the buyer-seller relationship, such as increased consumer knowledge, fluctuating budgets within a particular industry, or a general change in attitudes as millennials flood the workforce, will impact what approaches should be taught to maximize real-world effectiveness.

5. Focus on Valuable Content

In addition to being relevant from the standpoint of the relationship between sales professionals and prospects, training course content should be current and reflect a changing sales landscape. Emphasizing old school techniques — attempting to conceal the truth from buyers or using coercion to lead them into making a deal — should be avoided, as (mentioned above) prospects are more savvy and the business of sales is changing in a way that necessitates shifting strategies for success.

6. Show How It Works

Showing how specific techniques work when applied in the real world can help make sales training that much more effective. Sharing statistics, figures and success stories can keep attendees engaged, instilling confidence that the material is worthwhile, and assuring them that they’ll be able to apply what they learn.

7. Craft the Course for Your Audience

Sales training, for the most part, is geared toward newer sales professionals. The methods and principles for training your learners are different than those aimed at other newer groups. Experienced sales professionals are usually more self-directed and more goal-oriented. They also have a wealth of prior knowledge and experience that may color their perceptions, and are more likely to lose interest if they can’t see what’s “in it for them” when it comes to a training course. Maintaining engagement with experienced sales pros and connecting effectively requires keeping these facts in mind when crafting a sales course. In addition, it might be prudent to keep a few tips on connecting within reach, incorporating them into the training when applicable.

8. Set Objectives

In addition to the overall end goals which every course should incorporate, there should be individual objectives for the specific skills taught. These will ensure that attendees have learned what they were supposed to learn. These objectives are like a roadmap, and should be reflected when crafting training course content and assessments.

9. Incorporate Training Materials and Opportunities

While adding details to the agenda, look for opportunities to incorporate well-designed training materials to bolster the course. Handouts, worksheets, graphics and more fall into this realm. When crafted correctly, training materials can improve course engagement and ensure attendees feel as if they are spending their time usefully — a critical factor to training success.

10. Weave in Feedback

Training is for the benefit of sales professionals, so incorporating their perspective will go a long way in tailoring a course agenda to suit their needs. When possible, survey sales teams to gain insights on where their skills shine and where they may be lacking. Using that information, it’s easier to customize an agenda in a way that touches heavily upon more critical points while avoiding specific topics that require less attention.

What Behavioral Neuroscience Can Teach Us About Sales

What Behavioral Neuroscience Can Teach Us About Sales

Back in 2014, Inc. proclaimed that “sales is now science,” courtesy of their article on the topic, The Neuroscience Of Selling:

“Neuroscience allows scientists to study how the brains of the buyer and seller are acting and reacting during actual sales situations. This provides a level of detail that simply wasn’t available using the blunt instruments of the past.”

Studying the brain, the promise went, would open the door to new insights that could help B2B sales reps hone their craft — how to reduce stress, understanding the mental processes that drive a prospect to go through with a deal, etc. This article will delve into some of the lessons learned through neuroscience over the years and how they are applicable to the landscape of selling.

Insights Into Loss Aversion

On the topic of why potential customers often behave the way they do, neuroscience has revealed some information about loss aversion. Humans are naturally inclined to fear loss more than they appreciate gains, which can sometimes hamper the deal making process. Scientific American illustrates this nicely with a fictional scenario:

“Imagine this scenario: a friend offers to flip a coin and give you $20 if it lands on heads. If it lands on tails, you give her $20. Would you take that gamble? For most of us, the amount you could possibly win would need to be at least twice as large as the amount you could lose before you would accept the risk.”

Understanding all the ins and outs of loss aversion is an ongoing investigation in the world of neuroscience, but simply knowing of its existence and how it influences human behavior is of benefit to sales pros, as they can adjust their tactics to compensate.

Understanding Irrational Objections

Somewhat related to loss aversion are irrational objections that buyers might put forth, often born of something known as the status quo bias. As put by Psychology Today, “many of us [humans] tend to resist change and prefer the current state of affairs.” This extends to decision making, as many people tend to stick with a decision, even when presented with a more desirable alternative.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Physiology, Development & Neuroscience, when studying the biological basis for delusions, noted that “when there is a mismatch between expectations and outcomes, this mismatch (or mistake) is noticed, and, in order to learn effectively, expectations for the future are revised accordingly.”

Few individuals enjoy making mistakes, and it’s partly because of this that individuals will hang on to the status quo or previous decisions so fervently. Understanding this human tendency allows sales reps to employ techniques to circumvent it, such as using empathy to relate to prospect’s and creating reassurance that to the likelihood of swaying their viewpoint.

Improving Conversational Intelligence

The idea of conversational intelligence made the Inc. list of the five biggest trends for 2016. The overarching concept, that “conversations actually rewire our DNA and brain chemistry,” plays an integral part in shaping a message to achieve maximum impact. For sales reps, understanding the neuroscience behind how to deliver a message can affect how often and how successfully they can connect with potential buyers.

A conversation, it turns out, is more than words. Tone of voice and body language have a greater impact on how a message is received than the message itself. By learning to focus on both delivery and content, reps can increase their efficacy when entering situations where face-to-face communication is a must.

Beyond the seller/buyer relationship, understanding how cues during discussions can impact the physiology of participants in said discussion is a key to more capable leadership. On sales teams, where collaboration and communication are often necessary to meet goals, using conversational techniques to “activate trust” can elevate an entire group to their full selling potential.

Conquering Stress

Sales can be a stressful line of work. Thanks in part to neuroscience, the chemical genesis of and countermeasures to that stress are now better understood. As reported in the New York Times, exercise has the potential to block the chemicals that the body releases in response to consistent stress. Even minor changes to a daily routine that promote more physical activity can have a positive effect in this regard — standing instead of sitting, taking the stairs as opposed to the elevator — the list goes on.

What’s more, with continued exercise, an individual’s total tolerance for stress goes up. Stamina in the gym, it seems, can translate to increased mental stamina to perform on the job. Making use of this coping mechanism can help elevate salespeople to an increased level of performance — one they may have been cut off from due to their previous inability to cope.

Rewiring the Brain for Success

Again, finding the connections between neurochemistry and emotional states has led to the confirmation of a common sense proposition: Joy beats fear when it comes to motivation. The chemicals released when the brain is in a happy state promote productivity, while those associated with fear can stifle any inclination to get the job done. In the sales context, the application is obvious. To cultivate sales teams with greater efficacy, creating a positive environment and eschewing “old-school” techniques like motivation through intimidation is paramount.

The Only 10 Slides You Need In Your Sales Deck

The Only 10 Slides You Need In Your Sales Deck

Like cards in a tabletop board game, the slides a rep has in their deck can sometimes spell the difference between success and failure in a B2B sales deal. The sales deck is an integral part of many a presentation, providing background and bolstering a rep’s case to their prospective client.

How many slides is optimal, though, and what kinds of maximize success? There’s no need to reinvent the wheel completely here, as Guy Kawasaki has already put together a well-respected presentation formula to use as a framework:

“It’s quite simple: a pitch should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points. This rule is applicable for any presentation to reach agreement: for example, raising capital, making a sale, forming a partnership, etc.”

That framework will require some tweaking to reach its optimal potential for a sales presentation, however, as a great sales pitch must also take into account factors like weaving a narrative, among other concerns. This article will delve into getting the most out of those ten essential slides, along with the odd example to help better illustrate the point.

Slide One: The Title

This initial slide is as straightforward as they come. It should contain pertinent details like the company name, contact info, presentation topic, etc. This presentation from Uber provides some insight on creating a title slide that’s clean and to the point.

Slide Two: The Shift

There’s a good portion of sales advice that advocates steering clear of talking about the product/service in question straight out the gate. Wise words, but much of this advice also recommends presenting clients with a “problem” at the onset of a presentation, which may have some unintended consequences:

“When you assert that your prospects have a problem, you put them on the defensive. They may be unaware of the problem, or uncomfortable admitting they suffer from it.”

Instead (according to Andy Raskin), reps would be better served highlighting a “big, relevant change in the world.” This, he argues, creates both stakes and urgency, nudging prospects to get on board with what a rep is selling. As examples, Raskin shows off two slides from a Zuora deck, which plainly states the change taking place in their industry, then allows the client’s mind to fill in the blanks.

Slide Three: Create The Divide

Continuing with the Zuora example, the next slide should show that there will be “winners and losers.” This, Raskin states, will help combat loss aversion in prospective clients by displaying how those who adapt to change (in this case, a product or service) will be better off than those who eschew it.

Slide Four: Adding Details

Once prospects are on board with the idea of “winners and losers,” the next step is to show them what awaits those who select the winning option. Many a sales pro refer to this as the “promised land,” and the picture painted of this mythic landscape should be both attractive and unattainable through standard methods. It simultaneously lays the groundwork for the introduction of the sales rep’s product/service and supplies a prospect with an idea of what a company does beyond simply supplying said product/service.

Slide Five: Make The Client The Hero

To build on the power of the sales narrative and grant a sense of agency/control to the prospect, reps can use this slide to setup a “plot” where the client is the hero who calls upon the aid of a supporting character (the salesperson/the company they represent) to save the day. Again, this slide should be just vague enough that the prospective customer connects the dots on their own.

Slide Six: Enter The Solution

Now it’s time to show off the product/service. Thanks to all the groundwork of the previous slides, reps can now position what they’re selling as a kind of “golden ticket” that will grant entry to the aforementioned promised land. This is the time to go into some depth, talk up the tangible benefits, and explain the ever-important question of “how” the product/service is key to success. DocSend shows how it can be done in a single slide with a comprehensive overview comprised of three simple steps.

Slide Seven: Supporting Evidence

Claims without evidence are hard for most rational people to swallow. To bolster their promises, reps should include a bevy of facts and figures showing that what they’re selling performs as advertised. Streamline provides a strong example in this area, chock full of statistics and studies to make their case.

Slide Eight: Humanize The Solution

Since numbers can sometimes be dry, adding a human element to the proposed solution is often helpful. Real-world examples, testimonials and strong narratives work well here, as they shift focus to the individuals that the product/service has already aided.

Slide Nine: Hype The Team

To further build on the humanizing elements laid out above, talking about the team that provides the product/service in question, in glowing detail, is also helpful. This slide puts faces to what might otherwise be an anonymous factor and provides a chance for a sales rep to affirm their organization’s competency.

Slide Ten: Call To Action & Next Steps

To close, reps should reiterate that ever-important contact information and include a call to action that motivates the prospect confirm the next move (a follow-up meeting, the sale, etc.). This should be a kind of “we’re here for you” slide that reassures the client and leads them further down the sales pipeline.