October/November 2018

Telesales isn’t working anymore – get selling on LinkedIn

‘Digital’ has changed the way we communicate. The past 15 years have seen a complete turnaround in how we distribute our message to our target audience.

Telesales used to be a stalwart option of a channel to sell but picking up the ‘phone is now perceived negatively by many of us. (When was the last time you received a welcome cold call? PPI, boilers, accidents come quickly to mind…). A common misconception is that turning to LinkedIn might be the answer to replace your cold calls: “Let’s connect with as many people as possible – that way we will have access to their contact details and we can hit them on the ‘phone”

Sounding all too familiar?

Nigel Cliffe

Let me explain. It’s not just the medium that’s changed, but the concept of ‘selling’ has changed too. It is no longer acceptable to be so direct in a message. People do not want to be ‘sold’ to. When we want something, we’ll ask for it, thanks.

Much of the journey to find a solution to a question we have, or a product we need, will be completed online. What do we do when we are looking for something? We ‘Google’ it! (Other search engines are available!). It is therefore incredibly important that we have a credible presence online, both for our business and for our personal brand. Have you tried ‘googling’ yourself recently? Have you asked where to find your product or services? The results might prove interesting – or disappointing…

Any considered purchase I make these days is supported by an online search. A hotel, a holiday, furniture, a car. But search is also used by business buyers just the same. Where can I find warehouse space, an office stationery supplier, key man supplier insurance?

Many roads will lead to a website, for sure. But guess what – people are increasingly using LinkedIn as a search engine to find credible individuals who represent trustworthy brands that they might like to do business with. In fact, 70%+ of that fact-finding journey may well begin without them even knowing the enquiry has started.

Enter, stage left, LinkedIn. But – LinkedIn is also not a place to sell!

So, we have a problem. Or at least a problem to an old rational that selling is done this way. The answer to this conundrum is about the nature of selling itself. I believe it is more about engagement. Those steeped in the role of selling will recognise the term ‘sales funnel’. The notion that we are on a list and that multiple touch points will force us down the funnel. I don’t think I can be sold to anymore. In fact, I find it a turn-off. You can’t sell me something I don’t want or need. Pushed at me at the wrong time and I might even consider it brand-damaging.

What you can do, however, is engage with me. You can gently build your reputational value in my peripheral digital vision. You can offer me useful advice, give me examples of great service and support. You can demonstrate being a nice and giving person you are. You can create multiple touch points over a period of time through which your reputation and brands build gradually. If you do this correctly, on the day that I need your services or product, I will come to you!

The chances of me making a random ‘phone call and hitting the sweet spot are infinitesimally small. Hundreds if not thousands to one. And how much time does this take? How many people will I annoy in the process? Would it not be better time spent, crafting content that provides useful information, nurturing my target audience?

Most businesses I work with tell me that to be successful they only need a handful of new client wins in any year. Hands go up in a room to illustrate one, two, five or ten new customers. It is very rarely over twelve. (one a month…)

So, what about an approach to engage with a much more targeted audience that you know does require your services? Next time you hear ‘Let’s get selling on LinkedIn’ suggest that ‘Engagement’ might be the answer you need.

Nigel Cliffe
Value Exchange Ltd