73% of executives prefer to work with sales professionals referred by someone they know (Source)
84% of B2B decision-makers start the buying process with a referral (Source)
Referral leads convert 30% better than B2B leads generated from other marketing channels (Source)
Leads from referral marketing typically convert much better – so, don’t be shy, leverage those contacts and charm that network.
Referrals are a two-way street, so make sure you refer people you know at meetings – it looks really helpful to the client. (And the hidden benefit is that those you refer will most likely reciprocate – or suffer bad karma for a few months.)
At the close of every meeting always ask ‘do you know anyone else who would benefit from my offering?’ Similarly, when responding to polite rejections by email from a prospect don’t miss the chance to ask if there is anyone else they know that you may be able to help?
There can be a tendency to go for quantity over quality when researching prospects. It’s a suicidal tendency that’s almost guaranteed to kill off your sales team’s chance of success.
Sure, they’ll be busy – but so is a fly banging its head repeatedly against that same window pane.
What they need to be is productive.
Try to go beyond the size and revenue of companies when developing a pursuit strategy. Instead consider things like their attitudes and culture.
What verticals or sectors are most likely to convert?
Are they large multinationals, SMEs, government departments or charities?
Do they invest time and money in development?
Do they use consultants or prefer to keep things in-house?
Will they invest in long-term value or are they short-term priced?
Have they recently invested in a similar solution?
Exactly who is it you need to reach:
Which department or departments?
Are they C-graders, department heads or line managers?
Do you need to reach influencers as well as decision makers?
The closer fit to your offering each prospect is the greater their conversion rate will be.
And the window for successful sales will be open.
Log in to LinkedIn
LinkedIn InMail can be incredibly effective as a prospecting tool – if it’s done right.
Less is more – ensure you are contacting the decision-makers and spend time trying to understand them (see Gain a deeper understanding above.)
Avoid being over-long – aim for little more than 100 words (that’s three perfectly-formed sentences)
Forget the big pitch – focus on a problem you may be able to help with
Delete those hyperlinks – your goal is to establish contact not provide encyclopaedic knowledge of whatever your marketing team has posted
Make it personal – mention mutual contacts or mention some news about their company you have researched
Include a call to action – suggest the next steps, usually as a question
Lead on LinkedIn
By offering valuable information instead of pitch after pitch for your business, you invite responses, warm up potential prospects, give yourself a reason to open discussions and come to be seen as a trustworthy source.
Better still, get your marketing team to ghostwrite these for you and focus on the results rather than the research.
Take advantage of face value
Blogging, Twitter, LinkedIn, email, telephone, Skype video calls and even good, old-fashioned snail mail.
They all have their place – but nothing can beat the power of face-to-face.
If you can put in a visit, do so. It helps develop rapport and shows you’re willing to go the extra mile (or maybe even 2-300 miles!).
After all, prospects buy products and services they like. But they tend to choose the ones offered by people they like.