Tag Archives: salespeople

9 Behaviors of Great Salespeople

30 Oct

People aren’t born to be great salespeople – it is a learned trait nurtured over many years. Chances are your organization has great, good and bad salespeople. Because sales managers are often dealing with the bad apples, they aren’t investing enough time in coaching the good salespeople to be even better. If you are the sales leader in your company, you must either hire the best salespeople from the beginning or carve out more time for developing employees before they leave.

Beyond their bottom-line performance, what does a great salesperson look like?

  1. They are a consultative salesperson. Gone are the days of talking about all the great features of your product and pushing until the prospect (regrettably) agrees to buy.
  2. They do everything asked of them and more in their first year with a company. Year one is an important period for learning and that requires extra effort from the new salesperson. They are also comfortable with the fact that their sales activities are under increased scrutiny as they get out of the gate.
  3. Real salespeople know their product and services. They always have a crisp elevator pitch and value proposition prepared along with 10 questions. Their messaging sounds natural but is practiced and often memorized so they are always prepared; even this weekend when they bump into a prospect at the grocery store.
  4. They are authentic – and memorable. They don’t change their personality in front of prospects and clients which ultimately creates real connections. They also say “please”, “thank you” and “I’m sorry”.
  5. Great salespeople really listen. They are curious and ask a lot of open-ended questions. If the prospect or client is talking, the salesperson is probably winning.
  6. They sell solutions. Most prospects don’t really care about your product or service. They have a challenge in front of them and it can potentially be solved with your product or service.
  7. Winners are consistent. They take days off and have a balanced life, but they always hit their activity numbers, follow up, dot the i’s and cross their t’s.
  8. Closers drive towards YES or NO. A great salesperson must be aggressive and is conscious of time management. This means they understand how to target and qualify prospects. They aren’t here to please prospects, but to close deals (or move on).
  9. They continually learn. It doesn’t matter where they start, the best are always improving regardless of age or experience. They actually read the sales books given to them and challenge the entire company to better understand the prospects and customers.

Of course, being the best translates to hitting their sales and gross margin numbers. Your bad salespeople are regularly stuck between 1-2 times gross margin. Your good salespeople are hovering between 2-3X. The great ones are at 4X and beyond. Investing more time in your better salespeople is easy math. Is it time to cut the cord on your lowest performer? The answer is YES if it’s affecting the time you can spend with the rest of the team.

It’s time to grow faster~ Drew

drew@blueoctopusllc.com

blueoctopusllc.com

4 Tips to Become More Memorable

10 Oct

In sales, we must be memorable. How do we do that in 2019?

The other day as I was digging out some old boxes and organizing my storage, I ran across an unopened box of 1987 Topps baseball cards. I decided that I was going to open a few packs…

As I opened the first one, a wave of nostalgia kicked in, carrying with it a rush of childhood memories surrounding collecting baseball cards. The feel of the waxy paper that held the cards, the gum stain on the last card in the pack, the players that I cherished from that season and the old piece of gum itself. I even had to try the gum – but wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else!

The human mind cements an incredible amount of memories attached to a smell. If you grew up playing tennis, open a fresh can of balls and it will likely induce some nostalgia from the old days on the courts. The smell of chlorine may cause you to recall positive memories at the swimming pool. Freshly baked chocolate-chip cookies might take you back to your childhood when mom pulled them out of the oven.

These memories are powerful and even emotional. The positive emotion is what cements it as memorable. But you might sell something that your prospects can’t even touch (much less smell) … how do you become memorable enough so that they will think of YOU when it’s time to buy?

1. It starts with being UNIQUE. If your product or service doesn’t have an attribute that separates it from anything else in the world or is easily replicated, the only differentiator is price. And if lowering the price is your method of landing the next client, you’ve already lost. What is your unique differentiator? Are you clearly articulating to the prospect its advantages and benefits? This is an absolute must.

On the same note, make sure YOU are memorable alongside your company’s product or service. Are you differentiating yourself and highlighting your strengths?

 2. You LISTEN well and ask purposeful questions. Your next prospect doesn’t really care about your offering. They are concerned about their problem or challenge ahead. On an appointment, I strive to understand the prospect’s three biggest priorities at the moment. If I don’t have a solution to those priorities, it’s probably not the right time to be closing.

3. You are CONSISTENT. The last time you were in front of the prospect, it was the wrong time – but the very next month, your solution may be relevant. Are you keeping in touch until the moment is right? This is one of the simple keys to developing my last point – trust.

4. You establish TRUST. They might like the fact that you were present but didn’t push. Or maybe you helped them in a different way with a referral or pointed them in the direction of a solution that you personally don’t sell. Maybe their communication style is short and sweet, so you mimic them by also quickly getting to the point. Trust is many things, but it comes down to them having absolute confidence in YOU.

On a recent appointment, I brought the prospect a cup of Starbucks coffee. I chuckled to myself as they peeled off the lid and took a deep breath, taking in the aroma that led them back to some unknown memory. Unless you are selling scratch and sniff stickers, you aren’t going to sway the prospect with a childhood memory. Being memorable comes through the hard work of listening, consistency, trust and clearly communicating what makes you unique. 

It’s time to grow faster~ DREW

drew@blueoctopusllc.com

blueoctopusllc.com

The Effect that Good and Bad Apples have on your Sales Team

18 Sep

A “great” salesperson isn’t just a performer – he/she is a team player who is able to help co-workers due to their experience from past challenges and successes. A “bad” salesperson isn’t only a poor individual performer, they are a bad employee even as they attempt to sell for the organization.

I often talk about the importance of hiring strong salespeople, but today I’m sharing a true story about the positive impact of a great salesperson – and another example of the ramifications of keeping a bad salesperson.

The Good Apple

A few years ago, I was consulting with a company and running their monthly sales meeting. Other than their monthly meeting and separate one-on-ones with their leadership, I had little contact with the salespeople outside of those two hours a month. My job was to run a great meeting and motivate the salespeople while keeping them on track.

What the meeting was lacking was a veteran salesperson. I asked ownership why their top three performers weren’t required to attend the meeting and convinced them that we needed to have the best of the three present at the next three sales meetings.

We quickly determined that Julie was their best all-around salesperson. She knew which suspects made great prospects… she knew how to balance the workload and pressure of hitting her goals… and Julie knew how to close.

Because I wasn’t a full-time salesperson in the company, Julie was better equipped to share real examples with the greener group of 8 salespeople. I asked Julie to attend three meetings and basically, made her a one-person panel.

  1. At the first meeting, I asked her 10 questions about lead generation and the activities she focused on in order to always have enough prospects in her sales pipeline.
  2. In the second meeting, I focused my 10 questions on targeting and qualifying. Which suspects and prospects deserved her time?
  3. In the third meeting, it was all about the close. How did she hit her record numbers over the past year? Exactly what was her sales process all the way to close? She knew the questions that I was going to ask ahead of time and never failed to show up prepared with great examples and stories.

WWJD?

By the end of that third meeting, I saw the sales team’s eyes light up. For the next few months it was WWJD – What Would Julie Do? We talked about how she built up her base of clients over the last four years. We discussed her obstacles and how she overcame them. The effect she had on that group as a significant sales performer was immeasurable. By the end of that year, the company had surpassed their 16% projections – mainly because of the newer group of salespeople getting out of the gate faster than expected. I give most of the credit to Julie.

The Bad Apple

This past year, I had a 6-month project working with a software company. Before I started the engagement, we gave a sales assessment to the entire team of 11 salespeople. 4 of them were clearly wired for sales. 6 of them seemed coachable and had the potential to become top performers. One was an obvious misfit for the sales role.

Thomas was the sore thumb. He had been there for two years and hit his goals just once out of all eight quarters. I joined him on a sales call and caught him out-right lying to a prospect. As I dug in, I realized that there were two tough customers the company worked with – both clients had been landed by Thomas. In my second month, a project manager shared with me that there had recently been an issue with a client that had been promised a delivery date that wasn’t humanly possible. Guess who was behind that promise? Thomas.

Thomas showed up to half of the internal meetings late. He blew me off as someone that couldn’t help him with his sales process. He had a likeable personality and supposedly a huge rolodex when he was hired, but he wasn’t a good salesperson.

The year prior, half of the salespeople hadn’t hit their numbers. It didn’t seem to be a problem with their software, operations or delivery. The problem seemed to rest squarely on the sales team’s lack of activities. And Thomas had the least phone calls, least appointments and fewest proposals the prior quarter.

Harvard Review recently did a study (https://bit.ly/2FrduBJ) and found that “employees are 37% more likely to commit misconduct if they encounter a co-worker with a history of misconduct. This result implies that misconduct has a social multiplier of 1.59 — meaning that, on average, each case of misconduct results in an additional 0.59 cases of misconduct through peer effects.”

I convinced management to cut ties with Thomas. Without his negative presence, I’m confident that most of this team will hit their 3rd and 4th quarter numbers if they commit to the activities. For those underperforming, their chances probably doubled the day he walked out the door.

The bad apple exists in most companies. If he/she sits in the sales team, they are costing you real money. Good apples pay dividends – not just in terms of their individual production, but the amazing effect that they can have on the rest of the team.

It’s time to grow faster~ Drew

drew@blueoctopusllc.com

blueoctopusllc.com

4 Questions to Take out of your Backpack

28 Aug

Your kids have probably loaded up on pencils, notebooks and a few new clothes in preparation for another year. Summer vacations in Minnesota are aplenty and it always seems to be the slowest time of the year (quickly followed by the busiest). As fall arrives, this is an important time to refocus and examine past and present business and personal goals. As we shift to a more hectic time of year, set aside an hour to do a little self-reflection.

The August stock market has soured as the United States, Europe and China’s economies have decelerated in 2019. The Federal Reserve cut rates, job growth has slowed, China and the U.S. haggle over trade agreements and Brexit drags on – there is a lot of uncertainty and undoubtedly, lack of confidence in the year ahead.

Economic highs and lows are a part of running any business. Don’t miss the opportunity to gain market share if the downturn occurs. As your competition restricts, they will under-perform and provide you a chance to gain new customers. Are you ready to seize the day?  

September is upon us! This month can be critical for you setting the right tone as the end of the year nears. Below are a few questions for you to consider as you approach the last four months of the year.

1. How did the last 8 months go? Have you taken time to objectively reflect on the successes of the first half of the year both personally and professionally? If not, take a moment to note how the big deals were closed, how goals were accomplished and why you missed the mark on others.

2. Are you ready for the last 4 months? Your sales projections for September through December were probably made almost a year ago and may likely seem a little out of touch right now. It’s time to fine tune them. If the general business climate is slower, do you have sales methods to overcome it? What is your big hairy audacious goal for this year? Which goal needs to be put aside for the moment – so you have the time to ensure that you surpass your gross margin goals?

3. What else do you need? Do you have the support and resources around you to hit your numbers? Who can help? Have you reached out to them? People make the world go round and often we fail to simply ask for support and guidance.

4. Are you happy? We probably don’t ask ourselves this question often enough. Do you have the right position and work environment – or is that something you need to work on before 2020 is upon us? Do you have the best team around you? Whether you are the manager or not, you have an influence on your team and culture.

This 2/3’s turn of 2019 must be a time for questions and reflection as you charge forward. If you are behind, it’s still possible to catch up. If you are asleep at the wheel, a good year can turn south quickly. And if you are on track, examine what you accomplished and how it can be repeated or even improved upon.

Good luck accomplishing your remaining 2019 goals!

It’s time to grow faster~ Drew

drew@blueoctopusllc.com

blueoctopusllc.com

The Game of Tones

21 Aug

Woot woot! John Snow and Winter are no longer coming – and the final episodes of G.o.T. are finally behind us. I never watched the show for the sake of time, but it’s 67 episodes are on my list of things to do when I retire!

Today’s topic is about your voice. If you are in sales or leadership, it’s vital that you understand the importance of your tone and pitch in communication – certainly in the workplace, but it comes in handy outside of work as well.

When I had the opportunity to be on the radio this past spring, I did a self-examination and put my voice under the microscope – specifically for the radio program, but also as an ongoing examination of “What do I really sound like?” and I went through the list below on the 8 areas in which you can improve upon your communication.

  1. Volume. Identify if you are a quiet, medium or loud talker. You don’t hear yourself the way others hear you (hence, record it!) so you are probably going to have to ask others for feedback if you are unaware. Adjust your volume to the appropriate level for any given situation.

2. Tone. In speaking, as opposed to music, higher or stronger intonation is created by using more volume. More volume – or loudness, in the musical sense – does not raise the tone to a higher pitch. Sometimes the most effective method is lowering your voice. The psychology says that people key into those words because of the change and take your calmer sounds more seriously.

3. Pitch. Your pitch can refer to intonation, but it can also refer to the overall level of brightness in tone that a speaker consistently maintains. According to the BBC World Report on NPR, British speakers generally speak with a higher pitch than American speakers. Of course, everyone is different, but there is some general truth to this.

The higher the pitch, the louder one’s voice will sound. To the extent that pitch is like intonation, there is the potential for misunderstandings when we consider pragmatic language. There is also the potential for simply not being understood at all by using intonation and stress patterns in both words and phrases that are foreign and unfamiliar to native speakers.

4. Speed. The number of words communicated over one minute has everything to do with the setting and audience.

  • In a speech, you slow down…
  • On the radio, you exaggerate your annunciation of words at a steady pace (but don’t pause for more than 1 second!)…
  • Over the phone, you also focus on pronunciation but should pause occasionally throughout the conversation…
  • In person, pronunciation isn’t as important as your pace and pauses…
  • One on one with your best friend, you probably talk twice as fast as normal…
  • And of course, around your grandparents, your speed slows down…

See a theme here? You are probably talking too fast and your listener is missing a lot of your message.

5. Confidence. You must be aware of the fine line between confident and cocky. If you are boasting, it should start with a self-deprecating comment. Whatever you do, don’t use a booming voice when you are across the table from someone or you’re likelier to sound cocky versus confident. Confidence is important in creating conviction behind your statements. You want the audience to believe you so convey confidence in your words. Too many hesitations, “um’s” and “ah’s” as well as licking your lips may cause the listener to doubt you.

6. Listening. An underrated component in understanding your own voice is being a better listener. Are you aware of the volume, tone and pitch of others? Do you consciously listen for it over the phone? If you can hear it in others, you can start to hear yourself better (at least when you record it and play it back to yourself). If you show a genuine interest in their words, you are more likely to receive the same level of interest from the other side.

7. Authenticity. I’m a HUGE believer in authenticity, as many of you know. This isn’t about faking it, it’s about training yourself to communicate better. It’s not about changing your personality, it’s about raising the volume of your mousy voice or slowing down your motor mouth. We all have a natural style with some bad habits – similar to learning how to use “bigger” words or spell correctly, we all need to work on the sounds that come out of our mouths.

8. Non-verbals. Your audible words along with non-verbals all play into communication style. Make sure your physical positioning is in sync with your voice, so you’re easily understood. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Are you pursing, biting or licking your lips?
  • Are you maintaining a balanced level of eye contact with your audience?
  • Is your body in line with the listener(s)?
  • Are your hand movements in sync with your message?
  • Are you crossing your arms and looking disagreeable?
  • Is your body language relaxed and approachable?

Here is a link that will give you more non-verbal suggestions: https://bit.ly/2x2rESK

Practice makes perfect.

The key to really getting others to listen to you is your own curiosity. Analyze yourself and others’ communication styles. When talking with others, use their first name and ask questions. NOW they are interested in what you have to say.

Practicing these habits rewires your brain and soon the changes won’t have to be conscious (21 days creates a new habit!). As you record yourself on video, you are going to see other habits to be aware of as well. I’ve managed and coached salespeople for years and I’m adamant that they should record their presentations quarterly in order to watch and hear themselves and hone their craft.

Since it’s impossible to make a living without communicating with other humans, make the most of it. We all want to be understood. Never stop working on helping others understand you clearly by refining your communication skills.

It’s time to grow faster~ Drew

drew@blueoctopusllc.com

blueoctopusllc.com

Blogs Written at a 5th Grade Reading Level are Better?

9 Apr

start

Surprisingly, blogs (or any of your marketing materials) that are written at lower grade reading levels typically get the most attention. I’m failing. My last three blogs were written at 8th, 9th and 9th grade reading levels. This article is written at an 8th grade level. I’m striving for a 7th grade reading level.

The Wall Street Journal is written at an 8th grade level. My local paper, the Star Tribune (and probably most newspapers), is written at a 5th grade level. Hemingway wrote at a 4th grade reading level and Leo Tolstoy wrote at a 7th grade level. The Affordable Care Act is written at a college reading level! 

4 reasons why I think blogs written at lower levels succeed:

1. Your entire audience can’t read at a 7th grade reading level. 

There’s a book called What Makes a Book Readable that cites:

  • 1/3 of adults read at a 2nd-6th grade reading level
  • 1/3 of adults read at a 7th-12th grade reading level
  • 1/3 of adults read at college levels

If you write at a lower level, everyone obviously has a better chance at being able to understand it.

222

2. Even the smart people need new material dumbed down a bit.

Learning Solutions magazine says that we forget 50% of what we learn within an hour. The more complicated, the more likely we are to forget. Humans require immediate comprehension of the material to increase our chances of retaining the information; when reading an article, we are often reading about topics that we don’t know a lot about.

3333. We want it quick and fast. 

In the internet age, things get skimmed, not read. The most popular blogs are one of two types: Lists and How-to’s. The most attention any of my 100+ blogs have ever received was a recent post I did on the Top 50 Largest LinkedIn Groups (Largest Groups on LinkedIn). Lists are simple – and how-to’s tend to be quick lessons that can immediately be applied. It has been found that on screens, we read faster and consequently, understand less.

44444. Reading has changed.

With the younger generation clamoring to YouTube and Facebook for “news” and information – and communicating through short texts and emojis, the demographics have shifted to suit our shorter attention spans. As a writer or blogger, you should embrace this change versus fighting it. If you want to write the next Moby Dick, go for it! But recognize that half of your audience CANNOT comprehend it (granted, it is probably much better material than your average blog).

What is the ideal grade level for your writing? 

The answer is dependent upon your audience, but my overall point of this blog is that it is probably a few grades lower than what you think. A few suggestions for “improving” your score include keeping your paragraphs and sentences short, avoiding complicated and unnecessary words and breaking up your content. And a few pictures and bulleted lists go a long way in keeping the reader’s attention.

There is a measurement called the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Reading Formula to determine the level of any piece of writing. It was first published in 1948 and it relies on the structure of the English language taking sentence and word length into consideration in order to determine readability.

How to figure out the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level:

  • If you are a user of Microsoft Word, go to the Review option at the top of the screen and Check Document.
  • This will give corrections (like spelling, as you probably know) and other refinements; after running through those, the Readability Statistics window will pop up.
  • Listed are the word counts and averages as well as the readability score which shows the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level of your document. This will pop up after you run through the suggested corrections and refinements.
  • If you aren’t a Word user, you can also go to this site to measure the documents readability: https://readable.com/
  • Here is another site for editing lengthy and complex sentences: http://www.hemingwayapp.com/
  • Lastly, there are a few other formulas if you’d like to try them out: the Gunning-Fog Score, the Coleman-Liau Index and the Dale-Chall Formula.

finish

Now, my title is a bit deceiving… I don’t think 5th grade level blogs are “better”. But if our end goal is to garner attention and educate, we need to be thinking of our audience and cater to them. I personally need to do a better job of making it easier to read my material. It’s not about dumbing it down but rather making your point clearer and more concise.

It’s time to grow faster~ Drew Schmitz

drew@blueoctopusllc.com

blueoctopusllc.com

 

Adios Data.com … Hello 2.0 CRM’s

26 Mar

goodbye

In 2010, Salesforce purchased Jigsaw and renamed it Data.com… On May 4th, 2019, they will be calling it quits.

As a recruiter and salesperson, it has been a tool for many years providing phone numbers, email addresses and titles of prospects. Like Wikipedia and LinkedIn, Data.com was good at getting other people to contribute just-in-time information and share it through their platform. That was a novel idea many years ago when we were still collecting business cards and putting them into our Rolodex (or Outlook if you were tech savvy). The mass amount of DATA (primarily free of charge) was wonderful and we dreamed that the site would only benefit from the Salesforce acquisition.

T-Rex_1_grande Salesforce couldn’t make it really work (or didn’t want to make it work) and now Data.com, a once powerful place to acquire and manage CRM records, is a dinosaur. The primary reason for shutting their curtains is that it was full of a bunch of junk – inaccurate records in terms of titles, phone numbers and email addresses. Today, their data is more inaccurate than ever.

So where do we go from here?

There are many options to gravitate to in 2019 and within the universe of CRM’s, they are all a little different from one another. Most of them are going to cost you some money… and I’m going to let the companies battle a little bit before understanding who will be the quality, long term players. They are going to grow (CRM software grew faster than any other software segment in 2018) and gobble one another up – and I don’t see it sorting itself out quickly.

What is a CRM in 2019? The definition is changing every day. A CRM (customer relationship manager) was created to move us past an Excel spreadsheet to organize and manage all of our interactions with customers and prospects. Today, a CRM is certainly focused on doing that, but it is becoming more interactive pulling records from sources outside of your organization.

Recently, SelectHub provided a 2019 snapshot by looking at a sample set of 254 companies (CRM Survey):

  • Outlook is the CRM tool for 29% of these companies
  • Excel is 22% (what?!)
  • Gmail is 14%
  • Salesforce is a mere 6%
  • Mailchimp has 5% of the market
  • The remaining 24% includes HubSpot (3%), Microsoft (2%) & Oracle (2%)

How accurate is this sample set? Admittedly, the list is made up of primarily companies under 1000 employees (84%) and a majority of those are under 500 employees. For small businesses, I’ll assume this is a pretty good snapshot. 

smh260% of these companies are using Outlook, Excel and Gmail as a CRM! It definitely surprised me that Salesforce has captured a mere 6% of the CRM market. It’s no wonder that Salesforce is hiring salespeople like crazy as they are probably drooling over the market potential. I’m reminded of Coca-Cola in this instance… In 2011, Coca-Cola had over 40% of the carbonated beverage worldwide market. At the time, 55 billion beverages were consumed world-wide per day (excluding water) and Coca-Cola sold “only” 1.7 billion beverages per day. With only 3.1% of the beverage market, they have incredible potential!

Here is another take on who owns the market: CRM market share? Salesforce cites that they have 19.6% market share (Oracle, SAP, Microsoft & Adobe making up the next 20%). This article also says that Salesforce is fudging their numbers a bit – part of this is because it’s difficult to completely define WHAT-IS-A-CRM. Even if this is accurate, the top 5 still own less than 40% of the market.

With the removal of Data.com, Salesforce is going to push their product called the Lightning Data Engine. They have a head start because Lightning has partnered with many players (via their AppExchange which has over 5,000 “solutions”) and they’ve become an aggregator of your CRM options which include:

  • Dun & Bradstreet Optimizer as well as D&B Hoovers
  • Equifax (Business Connect)
  • ZoomInfo
  • Bombora
  • HG Data & HG Insights
  • Datafox Orchestrate (Oracle)
  • Clearbit
  • MCH Strategic Data
  • Compass
  • InsideView
  • Owler
  • Business Watch
  • Aberdeen
  • Relationships promised to come include Thomson Reuters and others

Salesforce’s product isn’t great, but they are winning. Their partnerships may be the driver that moves them from good to great. Another reason they are a decent choice for a CRM is because they have been around for 20 years. This doesn’t mean Salesforce is better – but they have become a name brand. This has driven them way beyond expectations to a net worth today of $122 Billion. Also, Salesforce has a reputation of taking good care of their employees – you can’t underestimate the power of a company with a great culture.

Is LinkedIn going to be a player in this universe? Microsoft will claim they already are with their CRM Dynamics 365. I’m disappointed in the results so far but since Microsoft owns LinkedIn, I would imagine that they have a gold mine if they can figure it out as quickly.

boxing

8 Bullets on 13 Players:

  1. Based on history, I’m concerned that Microsoft isn’t moving fast enough.
  2. It feels like Salesforce is trying to think for us by driving its users towards any old CRM tool.
  3. Does Oracle or SAP even care about being a solid CRM for the small business community? Is Adobe going to be a major player?
  4. Is Google’s Copper CRM (formerly ProsperWorks) making a dent in the market?
  5. What about the unified CRM’s like Pega, BPM Online and SugarCRM?
  6. HubSpot, Zoho and Mailchimp have garnered significant growth over the last five years. Are they going to take us to the next level? I think they can push everyone to innovate.
  7. I’ve heard good things about Intelligent CRM by Avtex – which so far hasn’t partnered with Salesforce’s AppExchange.
  8. There are many others that aren’t even on my radar (yet)…

dandelion

I’m disappointed that Data.com didn’t survive… I wish they’d continued with a shared platform and just made it better. The fact that it was free made it pretty cool too. I’m not investing in any of the above at the moment, but I’m curious to see how this plays out and what innovations are to come.

I’m not the expert on this topic. I’m just another user of the products that is trying to understand how it is shifting. Per usual, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

It’s time to grow faster~ Drew

drew@blueoctopusllc.com

blueoctopusllc.com

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/adios-datacom-hello-20-crms-drew-schmitz/

 

 

Get a Job on LinkedIn

20 Feb

job seeking

This post is the 4th in a series in which I’m covering LinkedIn in detail. The past two entries focused on selling and recruiting on LinkedIn. Recommendations and groups are the final two topics soon to follow this article.

You don’t have to read my first three posts to understand this entry, but I’d highly recommend you go back to the recruiting topic (Recruiting on LI blog). If you are going to use LinkedIn to find your next job, you should understand how recruiters, HR professionals and hiring managers may be using it.

As a job seeker, it’s crucial that you have a great profile – below I’ve highlighted seven areas on which to focus.

#1 – Your Photo. I believe people can go overboard regarding the importance of your picture on LinkedIn, but this IS the first thing people see. Make sure it’s not a lame selfie – but a good head shot. Absolutely do not use LinkedIn without including a picture of yourself.  It personalizes and warms up interactions. And when there isn’t a photo, I usually assume that the person doesn’t actively use LinkedIn.

#2 – Headline. Besides your photo, this is the first thing people see even if they don’t click into your profile. A headline is limited to only 120 characters, so make it clear – state what you do and/or what you are looking for. If you aren’t working, it’s a must to put “Actively Seeking Employment” on this line. Even better, “Actively Seeking Employment as a SaaS Salesperson” is the type of descriptive headline you might want to use. What do you want people to know about you? Mine personally states that I’m a Sales Recruiter, Sales Coach, Consultant, Author and Speaker. That’s clear, concise and covers all the things that I do as an entrepreneur. Be sure to take advantage of this line.

Editing these sections is done by clicking on the pencil on the upper right-hand side of your profile page. The intro section includes your photo, headline, name, current position, education, location, industry, contact info, summary and media attachments. It’s not mandatory, but consider attaching a video, documents and/or samples of your work. 

#3 – Summary. This section is at the top when someone clicks to view your profile. You can be fairly descriptive about yourself as it allows for 2,000 characters. The summary should be about YOU because it gives people a chance to learn about your talents and what “makes you tick”. I think it’s important to not only illustrate what you offer and are looking for, but also show a little bit about your personality. This is your opportunity to share more than what a one-dimensional resume describes about you.

After your summary, be sure to fill out Experience and Skills & Endorsements. Experience is your work history – I suggest you copy and paste EXACTLY what is on your resume. Selecting your skills are easy and important; but in my opinion, getting endorsements of your skills from others is a silly feature so don’t bother asking for them.

#4 – Keywords. Don’t underestimate the importance of these. By optimizing your keywords, you will turn up higher in search results. These are the words others will enter into the search box when recruiting qualified candidates. I would suggest repeating industry key words in your areas of expertise so that you will be easily found in advanced searches.

#5 – Recommendations. Much different than the triviality of skill endorsements is the importance of getting recommendations. I can’t stress enough their importance! I care more about what other people say about you than what you tell me about yourself. Clients and people that you’ve reported to are the best recommendations – but colleagues as well as others you’ve worked with on projects can also write one for you. Don’t be shy – ask for them! Then ask again… if they say yes the first two times, then pester them a third time until they actually write one for you.

What is the best way to get a recommendation? Give them to other people on LinkedIn that have impressed you over your career – and then ask for one in return. You should get 3-5 recommendations as a job seeker… but you know a lot of people so why not get 10+? People are heavily influenced by these so don’t wait until they ask for your references after interviews – put them out there for the world to see!

#6 – Job Alerts. These are a confidential way to advertise that you are looking. Through job alerts, you can let others know you are open to opportunities with specific companies – and only those companies will be aware of your interest.

  • Click on Me in the upper right then Settings & Privacy; under Privacy, select Job seeking preferences.
  • Next, search for the companies that you’re interested in on the LinkedIn homepage.
  • On the Company Page, click the Jobs tab.
  • Click Create Job Alert to setup alerts for when the company posts jobs that match your skills.
  • Once you create these, you can also let recruiters know that you’ve have job alerts for their company by switching the toggle to On.

Ongoing, you can view and manage your list of company alerts for by clicking Manage job alerts on the Jobs page. Here you can also manage your specific job alerts from the section – At companies you’ve saved job alerts for.

Obviously, LinkedIn has its own job postings that you can easily navigate by clicking on Jobs at the very top. You are going to need to be proactive with your network and connections, as this feature (and job boards in general) won’t necessarily get you hired.

After all that work, you now have a great profile!

#7 – Introductions. The best thing that LinkedIn can do for a job seeker is help you find the specific name of the person to contact. You can find the hiring managers, leadership and HR contacts and reach out to them directly.

You probably aren’t connected to that person, so find out who is and get an introduction. They don’t have to be hiring – but they will likely be flattered if you tell them that you want to work for them. This may get you in the ideal situation in which you are the only person interviewing for an opening not even posted.

Use LinkedIn to its fullest potential because it is so much more than a black & white resume! If your search isn’t confidential, don’t be hesitant to tell everyone you know well that you are on the hunt – and the more specific you can be, the better. 

Good luck chasing your dream job!

It’s time to grow faster~ Drew

drew@blueoctopusllc.com

blueoctopusllc.com

Selling with LinkedIn

7 Feb

Lion-Panthera-Leo

In last week’s blog, I introduced this 7-part blog on LinkedIn  (https://bit.ly/2Gcmsnh). This is the second in the series (Recruitment, Job Seeking, Groups & Recommendations to follow).

I think the number one use for LinkedIn is for selling you – and your product or service. Below are six ways in which it helps you sell.

#1 – You can search and find the right prospects by name and title. Not only can you find people within companies you are targeting, but you will also see the connections that you have in common (hint, hint – maybe you can get an introduction). If someone works in a white-collar business, they are likely to be found on LinkedIn, so this is a great place to mine information.

#2 – It also allows you to learn a little more about that person. It’s incredible how much information we can gather about someone through LinkedIn before even speaking to them. I’d suggest using a plug-in tool called Crystal. It gives you a detailed summary of the personality of the individual (it gives you 10 free profile views per month and a paid account provides unlimited views). It’s amazingly insightful, using an algorithm for the way a person communicates on the LinkedIn platform. Crystal is a simple tool that is just another way of making this social media site even more effective.

Inversely, when people are buying from you, they probably go to your LinkedIn to gather information about you (just as often or more often than visiting your company website). In 2019, your prospects and customers are more informed than ever prior to meeting you. It isn’t just about your company and products/service – they are becoming more knowledgeable about you personally… so building a great profile is key (especially your Headline & Summary).

#3 – Like Facebook, it’s great for staying connected with people. It’s your 2019 Rolodex – and this Rolodex updates itself for you.

#4 – Networking. It’s ideal for ongoing networking before and after you’ve met someone in person. And it’s also cool that you already know what they look like when you are meeting someone at a busy coffee shop for the first time!

#5 – InMails. LinkedIn has a variety of pricing plans which offer you a certain number of “InMails” (messaging within LinkedIn) for reaching people that aren’t first degree contacts. I don’t think paying for it is a must – but if you do consider a paid plan, I think InMails are the best part of paying for an upgraded subscription.

#6 – LinkedIn Open Networkers. Last week, I talked about being a cat or dog on LinkedIn… but, you actually want to be a LION! LIONs (Linked. In. Open. Networkers.) are willing to connect with anyone. If you are a salesperson, why wouldn’t you want to make a connection with as many people as possible? It may be an employee of a company you are trying to sell into – or it may be a person that lives in another city that is willing to grab dinner with you when you are in town (I once had drinks with a LION connection in Stockholm). As a salesperson, why not open more doors – at the very least, those specific to your industry?

The key to being a LION is basically the “6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game… LinkedIn shows your 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree connections: You know George Smith who knows Amy Larson (a 2nd degree) and she knows Margaret Thatcher (3rd degree). The trouble with searches is that you can’t see profiles unless they are 1st, 2nd or 3rd degree connections (and in many cases, it doesn’t even show 3rd degrees). If you want to find more people, you need to be connected to more people. So, advertise yourself as a LinkedIn Open Networker or LION on your headline. I have over 14,000 connections and I receive 5-10 invitations a day from other LIONs – the overall effectiveness is exponential.

You can search for LIONs (see “People filters” for different categories) and send them invitations. They will always accept your invite and not put you at risk. Typically, if someone receives your invitation and they don’t know you, they can click “I Don’t Know” this person… and that’s a red flag. If you receive some of these flags (the number is an undisclosed LinkedIn mystery) – they can suspend or shut down your profile.

If you aren’t doing so already, use LinkedIn to aid your selling efforts. As a salesperson, it’s a must. 

It’s time to grow faster~ Drew

drew@blueoctopusllc.com

blueoctopusllc.com

 

 

 

 

Are You a Dog or Cat on LinkedIn?

29 Jan

doggiest

From a simplified perspective, there are essentially two ways to use LinkedIn: Like a cat or like a dog…

Dog: You want to meet and connect with EVERYONE even if you don’t know them well (that’s me!). If you are meeting new people on a weekly basis, this method might make sense for you as a place to collect your connections; if you are a recruiter or a salesperson, I highly recommend being a dog.

Cat: You are more careful about your connections on LinkedIn. This is your core group of trusted colleagues and you don’t want to overload your contact list. You cats out there will probably be annoyed with my recommendations to join a lot of groups and connect with as many people as you can. You’ve kept this program simple and therefore a little more manageable.

Even though I’m a dog, I can appreciate the cat strategy. My personal LinkedIn is overloaded with connections and given its limitations, it can be difficult at times to sort through and remember my interaction with all my 1st degrees.

In 2003, LinkedIn went into business and then in 2016, Microsoft purchased it (for $26 Billion). It was ahead of its time – to compare, Facebook was launched in 2004 and Twitter in 2006. If the Rolodex wasn’t a thing of the past in 2003, it certainly got thrown out once LinkedIn came around.

Sixteen years later, LinkedIn is somewhat of a name brand in social media for business. It’s still very practical but not as user-friendly as I’d like it to be. Even with the best $120 monthly subscription, the ability to export specific information (like location) is poor and you are probably going to find a few aspects of the interface clunky.

That said, whether you are a dog or a cat, LinkedIn is the go-to web site for professional networking and that probably isn’t going to change any time soon. Since their basic membership is free, at the very least, have a profile on it and understand a few basic methods of using this social media tool.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to break down LinkedIn in further detail to highlight its strengths:

  • Selling
  • Hiring
  • Job Seeking
  • Groups
  • Recommendations.

In this upcoming blog series, I am not going to give much detail about building your profile. It has been written many times so instead, my focus will be on the list above. However, just to recap the basics: use a good profile picture, build some detail under your work history and create a profile highlighting your personality and strengths. Make sure it is well written!

Have you identified yourself as a Cat or Dog? Whatever your animal, let’s make the most of LinkedIn! I look forward to diving into more detail in the coming weeks.

It’s time to grow faster

~ Drew

drew@blueoctopusllc.com