23 Nov LinkedIn Musts for Pre-Call Planning
In this day of technology, there is no excuse for “Cold Calling”. No, I am not suggesting that you stop initiating new contacts. Online resources, such as LinkedIn bring a whole new level of “intelligence” to pre-call planning. Reading between the lines on individual profiles provides valuable insights for what and how to prepare for any new interaction. Consider the following information prior to any new customer interaction.
- Recommendations to Others – Considering what your customer admires about other people will tell you volumes about what is important to them. Use this information to plan what you will prepare and emphasize on your sales calls. For instance, if the customer uses words such as “reliable” and “dependable” when recommending another person, then make sure you stress your reliability and dependability. This will also tell you the types of information that the customer values. If they tend to mainly recommend those who are technically proficient, then you may even consider team selling with your technical staff if that is not your strong suit.
- Recommendations from Others – Read between the lines of the recommendations to discern the behavioral preferences of the customer. For instance, if his recommendations state that he is “meticulous, pays close attention to detail and follows through on commitments”, chances are he has analytical behavioral tendencies. You will need to use a systematic approach and be ready to prove your points. If, on the other hand, a recommendation would read more like, “Mary is a natural leader who always takes charge and gets results”, it is likely that Mary is strong in D (director) behavioral traits.
- Photo – I wish everyone posted a photo! They speak volumes! If you are a keen reader of people, you can recognize behavioral tendencies from dress, background of the photo, facial expression, and even if they have no photo posted at all! The obviously silly photos with dramatic smiles are easy. Be prepared and flexible in your interaction with these Expressive types. They think multi-laterally, so you’ll need to do a good job of guiding the conversation. If they are the buttoned-down business type, you will first need to determine if you are working with a Director or an Analytical, as they tend to look similar in dress. These are the most different in terms of approach and how they are influenced. Stress results and innovation with a Director. With Analyticals, stress quality and the process you will use to acheive results. Both Expressive and Steady (Amiable) types tend to post more personal information and tend to let you know about trips they have been on than the other two styles.
- Look at the “How You’re Connected” area of the profile. This will show you your second and third level contacts that may know something about your new customer. Or, look at the company profile to see you have any second or third level contacts to tap into for sales intelligence.
- Groups – Scan the groups that the contact belongs to. Do you belong to similar groups? It may be worth joining certain groups if you find that a population of your desired contacts are members. Pay attention to the discussions.
- Specialties – Look at the specialties that the contact lists about himself. How can you support his expertise? What gaps may this customer reveal that you can supply? What common interests do you share? Also, be congizant of discussions to avoid!
- Discussions – What discussions has this person posted or responded to? This may provide obvious or subtle clues about his needs. If the discussions are regarding something outside of your area of expertise, but you know of a resource that you can share to help this contact, you have just added value that could differentiate you from others.
- Books – The types of books that the customer reads provides insights about their interests and current mindshare. Read a excerpt. If it is a business oriented book, is there something specific that the contact is looking for? You can also glean information about behavioral style by paying attention to the types of books a person reads.