As buyers evolve and change, it becomes more important to focus on Buyer Anthropology. That is to say, you need to be a student of buyer trends and influences.
What’s the biggest change in human behavior recently? Broadly, we can confidently say the internet. With a more narrow focus, we can pinpoint social media. If you’re truly a student of buyer trends, social media should be your focus.
Not sure whether your social media skills are keeping pace? Then download the LinkedIn Reality Checkup. It provides objective criteria for reviewing and evaluating your LinkedIn presence.
Are you in social media denial? As buyers are evolving, we’ve seen a strange breed of sales professionals actually devolving. These individuals deny that customers use social media to do research on potential purchases. Whether due to ignorance or stubbornness, they are slowly eliminating themselves.
True Story: I recently had the opportunity to interview a regional VP of sales for a Fortune 100 company. After the interview I found him on LinkedIn and sent a personalized invite. I was surprised (and in a way not) to find he had a LinkedIn network of 5 connections. Further, he has a division of 120+ sales reps in his immediate organization. That alone should account for at least 120 connections.
Moral of the True Story: People are looking for you online whether you know it or not.Those people might be customers, prospects, business acquaintances or potential employers.
How are buyers changing?
In 2011, the Sales Executive Council reported the average B2B buyer engaged vendors once they were 57% of the way through their buying cycle. In 2012 the trend was 62%. In 2013 it was 65%. SBI is predicting 69% by 2014. This means reps will have just a 30% window to work with buyers. Unless you engage buyers early while they are still doing their own research.
How do you engage buyers early?
To engage buyers early you have to meet them where they are. This seems obvious, right? But if it’s obvious, why are so many sales professionals missing the mark? This brings us back to the problem of denial. Struggling reps are in denial about buyers using social media. Do you recall the last time you made a major purchase? How much online research did you do? How far did you get before engaging a sales rep? You can be sure that your customers are doing the same.
Leverage the power of LinkedIn
There is no doubt that LinkedIn dominates the B2B space for social media. However, simply being on LinkedIn is not enough. You need to hone your LinkedIn profile and network intentionally. Understand that this is your online brand. Buyers will judge you by the content both in qualitative and quantitative measures. If you’re unsure how your LinkedIn presence stacks up, that’s okay. We’re here to help. Download the LinkedIn Reality Checkup and evaluate yours today.
For those playing catch-up on LinkedIn, here are a few recommendations. Create a world-class LinkedIn personal brand using these tips:
- Optimize your profile
- Professional Photo. The key word here: professional. Remember, this isn’t a Facebook photo. You want people to feel confident about doing business with you.
- Accurate employment history with current and past positions. People are on your page to learn about you. So tell them. Make yourself shine, all the while being honest.
- Write with the viewer in mind. Make your information accessible to outsiders. If someone is doing research, make it easy for them. Provide useful information at an accessible level. It’ll improve your chances.
- Grow your network organically
- Personalize invites. Treat this interaction the same way you would in person. Be friendly, engaging, and inviting. Put the same emphasis on a digital first impression as a face-to-face one.
- Make inviting others habitual. Who do you remember and identify with most in a new setting? The person you met first, often the one who invited you. The same is true for LinkedIn. If you invite a potential opportunity, they’ll have you in mind from the start.
- Join groups
- If you want to be well known in your industry, you need a strong presence. This means joining relevant industry groups. Not only this, but you need to be active within the groups. Present yourself as a resource of knowledge.
- Furthermore, you could even start your own group.
- Offer unsolicited endorsements. Endorsements help build the credibility of your profile. If someone vouches for your knowledge, others are more likely to believe it. A great way to receive more endorsements is to endorse others. They will likely appreciate the gesture, and reciprocate the action.
- Earn the right to request the endorsements. Do not just send a mass email to your contacts requesting endorsements. Target these messages to people you have worked with / for. Inquire about them, reiterate the value you added, and tactfully request an endorsement.
To recap: Buyer Anthropology – The study of buyer behavior, such as trends, culture, and actions. Staying up on buyer trends is paramount to being a successful sales rep. Buyer Anthropology is a fancy way of saying this, but it yields the same result. Buyers are online. They are researching on social media. Most of all, they are leveraging LinkedIn. Are you?
Download the LinkedIn Reality Check to make sure you’re progressing as you should be.