Timesaver Tip #11

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11.  Take the sales conversation offline. LinkedIn is the best way to find people who can be good clients and good sources of referrals – your buyers and decision-makers. Look them up with searches by their job title, industry, and company size. You’ll get a search results list of people who meet your specific criteria.

One of my clients gives workshops for salespeople. He wants to talk to Sales Vice Presidents and Sales Managers about presenting workshops for their sales team. I showed him how to use LinkedIn to find Sales Vice Presidents in specific industries he works in and in his New York ZIP code.

He searched and then scanned the search results list to find people he was already connected with. For example, he looked for people who are his first- or second-level connections. Then he looked at their profiles to find out more about them. He found several things he has in common with them. For example, he went to the same school with someone on the list, worked for the same company with someone else, and has similar interests with someone else. The first step is to build trust and a relationship. LinkedIn profiles give you clues to start to build trust in a relationship.

My client then contacted them by phone or sent them a LinkedIn message. He knew someone on the list, though they haven’t been in touch for some time. He refreshed their memory in the message about where they met.  He introduced himself with his 30-second elevator speech and mentioned something they have in common that he learned from reading their profile. A LinkedIn message or InMail is not the place to give someone your sales pitch. It’s the place to start a relationship.

He invited them to meet in person to have a cup of coffee. In many businesses, people are not likely to work with you or bring your company in until they’ve met you in person. And they’re less likely to refer people to you if they haven’t met you in person.

After your meeting, send a LinkedIn message saying it was good to meet, and briefly mention three points that came up in your meeting. Perhaps one is a suggestion of how to approach the business challenge that you discussed at the meeting — something for him or her to think about.

In the early stages, it’s all about building trust and a relationship, and letting people know how you can help them achieve their goals and solve their business challenges. Remember . . .  People buy from people they know, like and trust. You do that when you take the sales conversation off-line.

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