Sales doesn’t have to be gimmicky

I remember last year I heard about a new business development strategy that leverages the power of your LinkedIn connections to a whole new level. The concept is pretty simple:

  1. Invite your target audience. Starting with 50 people a day to over 500 in a week. Keep track of them in a spreadsheet.
  2. At the same time, create a LinkedIn group and fill it in with relevant content so that it doesn’t look like a ghost town when you invite the people in step 1 in about 10 days’ time.
  3. Invite the 500 people you reached out previously to join your LinkedIn group.
  4. Create engagement within the group by commenting on your posts (these can be 100% curated or a mix of your original and curated content) or reaching out to few of the members personally and asking them to comment.
  5. Keep doing step 1 but focus on connecting with 50 people each week for at least a couple of months.
  6. Repeat step 3.
  7. Now reach out to your connections who’re also members of this group one by one. It could be 20 or 30 people every day. The spreadsheet will help you with the tracking. Your call to action is just ‘getting to know them’ via a quick call.
  8. Follow-up if they don’t respond. Follow-up if they do for more detailed calls.
  9. Repeat until you make the sale.

Okay, I’ll be honest. It’s not that simple and straightforward but you get the idea. But it’s gimmicky because I’m literally setting a trap for my prospects by way of an ‘authority group.’ The whole purpose is to reach out for a personal connect and get on a call with the prospects. Make the sale eventually, of course. It’s damn predictive and people hate it.

Using the group aspect as a sales funnel might be a genius of an idea but it’s still a funnel. And why would I try to have my prospects in a funnel when I don’t myself want to be in someone else’s funnel? Something’s just not right. Could there be a better way? I think so. But it’s the hard way, must less manipulative and doesn’t rely on you trying so hard on being an authority figure. (Yes, I know people trust an ‘authority figure’ more than the non-authoritative sales person.)

It’s called building relationships. Which in today’s world could mean reaching out to the minimum viable audience of those 10/20/50 people who will get what you’re offering. You don’t if they’re going to buy from you or not but definitely can tell them that you made the product or service just for them or perhaps see them making the most of what you have to offer.

Believe me, we’ve got more ways to get connected to our prospects than we’ve ever had. And despite all the options, the simpler approach still works the best. Think about it — a cold call is ‘cold.’ Both you and the prospect know about it. Putting them in a funnel or even sending them a couple of emails/messages wouldn’t really warm them up. In fact, no connection is ever ‘warm’ unless they choose to respond back and engage.

At the end of the day, it’s a chance for you to connect with a prospect and understand their challenges while figuring out if you or your service offerings can help them solve it. If yes, great! You’ve got the business and build a relationship. If not, that’s great too! You’ve now developed a relationship that you can keep nurturing and help them down the lane through some of your other connections.

That’s what building relationships is all about. And thankfully, you don’t have to create a funnel for that.

By Sunil Nair

Nurturing leaders of tomorrow.

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