How do I contribute value online?
It’s a question I consider all the time.
For so many years, I connected with prospects and customers like every sales professional. I focused on outbound calls and emails, and it worked. Until it didn’t anymore.
How effective are unscheduled phone calls today? Are voice mails getting returned? Or heard? Consider less than 24% of sales emails are even opened (TOPO). I see this play out every week. Too many salespeople, spinning their wheels, spending valuable time on low yield activities (salespeople spend just one-third of their day actually talking to prospects). This is one of the big reasons nearly 50% of salespeople don’t close forecasted deals, the lowest level in 10 years. This emerging generation of buyers might be looking for information from you, but they aren’t picking up the phone or pouring over the web links and infographics in email messages.
That means a shift for a lot of salespeople. According to Hubspot, 65% of salespeople who use social selling fill their pipeline, compared to 47% of reps who do not. Making the shift comes down to simply deciding if you want to be an elite sales performer into the future.
Share Your Knowledge
Instead of hammering people with follow-up calls and shaming emails, give them something that’s actually valuable. If you covet the trusted advisor role, you can start making the case for credibility prior to ever making a sales call.
How are you publicly sharing your expertise?
Everyone has a platform to share what they care about with the world. We are living through the ultimate leveling of the playing field. You can compete with anyone, anywhere, based on the strength of your reputation and relationships. Increasingly, you can influence them online. Where? Wherever your customers are paying attention. It’s not about “blogging”; it’s about building connections and community by being helpful. Even if you’re just retweeting someone else’s content, you’re showing that you care, you’re interested and you want to pay it forward. That simple act of participation is an act of generosity. To get there, you have to get connected.
Sharing what I care about online has completely transformed my business and my life. Writing is hard, but it’s made sales a whole lot easier. It also doesn’t matter all that much to me who reads my work. We learned a long time ago that any decent blog post related to business performance can be leveraged into the decision cycle. While most people might not care about the work we did at Culver’s or Lowe’s, any restaurant or retail organization interested in growth and customer experience is going to pay close attention to that kind of content.
A couple years ago I was working with Vanguard, and the head of institutional sales, Gerald Burke, stepped onto the stage to introduce me to the sales organization for my keynote presentation.
I was blown away. He told his team of producers that “Ryan’s one of us. He’s from Ohio. His parents were school teachers.” He went on and on. I was in the wings, wondering where he found out all of this background about me, and then I realized: the blog. Reading the blog created a stronger, more personal connection with Gerry that translated into a more intimate introduction for the audience.
I experience moments like this all the time. When you share and connect, people feel like they know you prior to ever meeting you. It’s a gift to meet a client for the first time when they already respect and value your ideas and your contribution.
Don’t Expect Too Much Too Soon
The real secret is that I’m often writing for myself. Turns out, there are a lot of other people navigating the same challenges I am around business performance, sales, leadership and personal growth. If I can address my most significant challenges, it means I can usually help someone else. Doing that consistently and improving over time might just mean that people start to pay a little attention to the work.
The sharing philosophy has helped me stay more connected to clients, colleagues, family and friends. The notion of community and importance of connection wasn’t something I ever even considered as a potential benefit of blogging when I started nine years ago, but it’s been an absolute game-changer for my business. It’s also helped me grow personally.
When you share your expertise, without the expectation of getting anything in return, you affect people’s perception of who you are, and the impact you can make on their business.
That’s valuable. And I don’t miss leaving voicemails at all.
Ryan Estis is a Keynote Speaker & Management Consultant blogging about business performance.