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Thursday
Apr102014

This week in social selling 04.10.14

Social media is transforming sales and business development processes -- and I'm trying to keep up. I thought it might be helpful to share the things I'm learning from each week with other professionals in sales, marketing, and business development. Here is this week's roundup -- please let me know how I can make it better. 

* Lori Ruff shares an important process: how to back up your LinkedIn connections to a file you can save elsewhere. 

* Paul Castain shares some thoughts on the cold call. Interesting that we can't even define a cold call the same way. To me, a cold call is truly cold -- a new prospect that you've had no prior communication with. Others define it differently. 

* Top 10 SM shares ten secrets to generating social media leads online, including the rule of 10:4:1 for sharing content via social channels: 

10 posts that link to a third-party article.
4 posts that link to one of your company’s blog posts.
1 post that links to your landing or home page with an offer and registration form.
Myth 4: Successful people are the first ones to jump in with an answer.
Truth: Very successful people are powerful listeners.
As the saying goes, the people who talk the most don't always have the most to say. Powerful listeners get to the real story. They find the signal in the sound. They listen to what is not being said.
(We) visited many individual stores. Although big retail chains buy nationally or regionally, sometimes local store managers can buy some products on their own.
“We literally had to go store by store, region by region,” says CEO Pandhi, whose company is based in San Diego. Finally, in about a year, Arctic Zero made it to a Whole Foods’ freezer case. After their first Whole Foods win, Pandhi and other Arctic Zero executives got the dessert into about 250 stores.
Sometimes the ground floor is the best place to start the process. 

* Daniel Newman shares a stat from Forrester: Companies don't engage salespeople until they are 70-90% of the way into the buying cycle. By then, they've done lots of research online. So when you do begin talking with a new prospect, add value by sharing information companies can't find easily on their own.  
... millennials trust user-generated content (UGC) just as much as professional reviews. UGC is also 20% more influential when it comes to purchasing and 35% more memorable than other types of media.
In other words, to build trust, it's critical that your creating and sharing good content online. If you're invisible online, you much less likely to be trusted. Mashable has more interesting data on Millenials and user-generated content in this infographic:

 

 That's a wrap. If you're having a tough week, take a minute and read this article on Lacey Holsworth, the eight-year-old cancer patient who stole the heart of Michigan State Spartan basketball player Adreain Payne, the team, and, eventually, the entire university. She passed away this week after a long fight, and her story sure puts work and career issues in the proper perspective. 

 Image: Freep.com

Thursday
Apr032014

This week in social selling 04.03.14

Social media is transforming sales and business development processes -- and I'm trying to keep up. I thought it might be helpful to share the things I'm learning from each week with other professionals in sales, marketing, and business development. Here is this week's roundup -- please let me know how I can make it better. 


* From Slideshare, 18 Sales Experts Share Their Best Tip for Maximizing Productivity, including how to stand out by not using social media at all:

"If you truly want to thank someone, then thank them. Take 20 seconds and write a hand-written note ..."

This works. I'm not good about doing it all the time, unfortunately. But it works. #oldschool

James Altucher shares his ultimate cheat sheet to sell anything. I don't always agree with James, but I read all I can by him because he always makes me think by challenging old assumptions.Like everything James writes, he comes at selling from an unconventional -- and compelling -- angle. 

* Bernie Borges shares 15 ways to become a LinkedIn power user, which offers good insight including the following:
... understand that the best results on LinkedIn don’t come from being aggressive. I’ve observed too many people who treat LinkedIn like a singles bar, hitting on people who represent prospects.
[...]
Rather, be helpful, thoughtful and a resource to people in your network. When sharing content, use the 4-1-1 rule. Share 4 pieces of content you curate from sources like Pulse. Share 1 piece of content from someone in your network giving them credit for the original content. Share 1 piece of content that you produced.
* Connie Chang Wang, LinkedIn's senior social media manager, shares Lessons Learned at Social Media Marketing World 2014, including: be human, add value, sell later, and help people. All key tenants for social selling. 

* Social insights: Neal Schaffer offers some quick tips on building your professional brand -- differenetiate yourself, share your unique perspective and highlight your strengths to help cut through the noise -- and more: 

* Kevin Lee provides 7 key stats to know about sharing on LinkedIn, including the fact that each status update you post on LinkedIn only reaches 20% of your network

* Greg Genter writes that successful social selling requires being a center of influence, and shares ideas on how to achieve more influence and engagement online.
 
*At Social Media World, Michael Hyatt gave a prepsentation entitled "7 Rules for Writing Blog Posts that Get Read and Shared," but his deck posted on SlideShare has a ton of great tips. Here's the 7 rules, but check out the slides for much more:


That's a wrap for this week. In closing, I'd like to compliment the Dallas Fort Worth airport for keeping the legacy of Muzak alive. You don't hear much true Muzak anymore, and the nostalgia was nice, like I was in a dentist office in 1983.   

Thursday
Feb202014

LinkedIn opens content platform to all users; what are the key benefits for bloggers?

LinkedIn continues its march to become a content hub, opening its LinkedIn Influencer program to all users:

LinkedIn Corp is attempting to become more like Facebook Inc by encouraging all members to generate a steady stream of shareable articles, a perk once available only to well-known business personalities.

The move, which the company hopes will generate more interest in the site, comes two weeks after LinkedIn disclosed that page views slipped for the second consecutive quarter.
The professional networking site said on Wednesday it will algorithmically distribute career-related articles written by any users on its "Influencer program," a blogging platform previously available only to businesspeople who were invited to contribute, including well-known names like former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and billionaire Richard Branson.

By opening the program to everybody, LinkedIn hopes its users will generate a steady stream of shareable content, providing a white-collar twist on how Facebook supplies its users a continuous stream of pictures or links from their friends.

LinkedIn Corp is attempting to become more like Facebook Inc by encouraging all members to generate a steady stream of shareable articles, a perk once available only to well-known business personalities.

The move, which the company hopes will generate more interest in the site, comes two weeks after LinkedIn disclosed that page views slipped for the second consecutive quarter.
The professional networking site said on Wednesday it will algorithmically distribute career-related articles written by any users on its "Influencer program," a blogging platform previously available only to businesspeople who were invited to contribute, including well-known names like former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and billionaire Richard Branson.

The LinkedIn Influencer program has been a huge hit since since its inception in October 2011, when the company brought on a well-stocked list of business superstars to contribute original content to the site:

The average Influencer post receives almost 30k views. (Some receive over a million views, with the top post receiving almost 2mm views.) The audience is extremely diverse: 22% of Influencer followers are entry-level professionals while 49% are director-level and above.

That diversity of readers is a direct result of the diversity of the Influencers. The average business/career media site has an editorial slant: Entrepreneur.com and Inc.com provide great news and information for small business owners and startups; career advice for young professionals, not so much. TechCrunch provides info on new Internet products and breaking tech news; broader social issues, not so much.

Those are big numbers. And obviously, when "average" people post they aren't going to draw page views like Gary Vaynerchuk or Bill Gates. 

So the question becomes, will it be worth it to post there, versus your "regular" blog, or alternate sites that offer enhanced visiblity like Medium?

LinkedIn spells out the benefits to posting on their platform, but the answer is murky:

With Influencers now broadened to many more writers, LinkedIn will use algorithms to identify articles that gain traction with readers and distribute those more broadly, Roslansky said.

So, if your content is good and people share and like it, LinkedIn will distribute it beyond your immediate network. 

There's upside to that. And I'm sure we're going to see a lot of bad, hard-sell stuff ("Seven reasons to buy our product -- and one amazing benefit you won't believe!!!") but as with any social network, the masses will help the cream rise to the top. 

For most of us, blogging isn't about amassing huge audiences -- we're not out to drive revenue via millions of pageviews. We're out to provide value to a much smaller and highly-relevant audience. I believe this new LinkedIn product will help greatly with that.

Monday
Feb172014

Mitch Joel on the failed state of branding, and what the shift means for partnerships

Mitch Joel writes a compelling piece about the failed state of branding:

Brands are going to have to face the music. It's a ruse that has (probably) been going on longer than anyone cares to admit, but it's something that has showed itself - front and center - in the past few months. What we're seeing is something we may have known all along (but were reticent to admit). People just don't care or think that much about brands. The entire engine of advertising is built on that truism. If people loved brands, there would be no need to advertise, right? Advertising is simply a financial engine that allows brands to pay to have access to an audience. This got very murky a little over a decade ago, when the Internet and social media collided. Suddenly, because all of the things that people think, like, share and create was made public, brands figured that they could suddenly engage and connect with anyone who makes mention of their favorite bubbly sugar water. It turns out that even if millions of people are liking a brand anywhere public, it doesn't really mean that they care all that much about it, does it?

Brands aren't dead, or dying. What's dying is a model that allows you to posiiton a brand however you like and not worry about delivering the experience on the back end. What's dying is the way we used to "communicate" with potential customers, which really wasn't communication at all. It was highly-polished shouting.

As marketers we should welcome this change. And if you work in partnerships, we have to think eeven more carefully about the companies we partner with. The companies you work for and with say plenty about who you are and what you stand for, and the evidence is out there for people to see.

If you partner with companies that don't deliver on their brand promise, then you don't deliver on yours, either. 

Choose carefully. Hold each other accountable. And be glad that companies delivering authentic experiences will be the winners in this new model. 

Tuesday
Feb112014

How To Make Business Introductions Without Being A Jerk

"No," she said. "And I don't appreciate the interruption."

I wasn't at the bar. I was at work, trying to add value by introducing two people to each other. One had asked for the introduction. The other didn't appreciate the intrusion at all.  

I like to do business introductions. It's fun when you can pair people together and watch them help each other. But I learned a lesson that day: you're not adding value if someone doesn't want to be introduced. 

Now I have a simple rule when someone asks for an introduction. I have to get the introducee's permission first before I introduce the ... introducer
Everyone wins that way. I don't annoy a valuable connection when they're not interested in the other person's agenda. The person asking for the intro really has to hone in on and tightly articulate the value they want to offer, because I'm going to use their brief pitch as part of my permission request. And lastly, I never look like a jerk when I ask permission first. (And I always can use help not looking Iike a jerk.) 

Sometimes, the person asking for the introduction gets annoyed when I tell them my rule. "Can't you just make the intro, please?!?" Not often, though. Usually the rare person that gets upset doesn't really have a lot of value to add. Which makes sense -- they know they're probably not going to get through the gate.
My favorite intro to do is when neither party asks. That's when I really feel like I can add value -- when I see two people who I think can genuinely help each other. That's the best intro to make of all.

Of course, that requires the double opt-in. Both parties have to agree to being introduced. So I guess I have two rules for introductions, not one. One for the single intro and one for the double-intro. 
But really, it's simply about common courtesy. And not looking like a jerk. I learned the hard way.