The old ways of selling have changed. Sales used to be about cold calling. It used to be about samples and then trying to get meetings with people.
Times have changed. Now sale is about leveraging people’s social networks and engagement, which means connecting with people. It’s also about education.
According to Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange, the average person spends two hours a day on the internet. IBM’s Global CEO Study found that CEOs believe social media utilization for customer engagement will increase by 256% over five years to become the second-most popular way to engage customers after face-to-face communication.
“I don’t know someone who can help me, but I know what I want.”
If this is the case with a customer, they’re going to ask the people they know. If they’re more extroverted, they will probably go to their networks. If they’re more introverted, then they will jump online and do a Google search.
The benefit of being referred in your networks means you have a good reputation. If you’ve got a good reputation, then you’ve got good positioning.
The problem with someone doing a Google search is that they don’t know you, so you will be competing against others who have experience with search engine optimization or Google AdWords. What it also means is that you will be like toothpaste on a supermarket shelf, looking the same as everybody else. You will compete on price, and that’s a very difficult space in which to sell.
If you are well networked, then your referrals will come to the fore and that can be more effective for your positioning.
“I know someone who can help me and I know what I want”
If this is the case, the customer is going to pick up the phone and call you or email you because they already know who you are. The challenge for direct contact is that you have to be front of mind.
“I don’t know who can help me and I don’t know what I want.”
In this case, your job is to educate. You have to make sure you’re putting content out there so people understand what you do and realize that they have a particular problem. If someone has a problem, they’re not going to know unless you keep educating them. You want them read your content and think, “There, that’s exactly what I’m after.”
“I don’t know someone who can help me and I don’t know what I want.”
In this case, your job is awareness. Your job is to make sure your social profile is clear about how you help people, but it doesn’t stop there. You also must write content like blog posts, videos and articles to help people become aware of the type of work you do.
Awareness is also about offline activities like speaking, PR, and in some cases cold calling. Your potential client might not need your help right now, but down the track they may realize there’s a problem they need solving.
So the challenge is that we need to work on all quadrants of the Connection Matrix. Yes, those who already know you are easier to help, but remember that someone out there is trying to find you, even if they don’t know it yet.