Social Capital and Networking
When people think of sales, words like “manipulative”, “pushy”, “dishonest” and “aggressive” can come to mind. These are all words with negative connotations, and reportedly make women nervous about selling their brand/company or themselves.
While women only hold 30% of sales jobs, selling is innately suited to women. You might be wondering why. Sales require building trust and relationships, which women are instinctively better at than men. Social Selling is revolutionizing modern sales. In November’s Accelerator for Women in Entrepreneurship series, Gail Mercer-Mackay, president of her own successful marketing consultation firm Mercer-Mackay Solutions Inc. taught our attendees many easy ways to build their natural skills to create a solid platform for selling themselves, their brand and their business, using social platforms and tactics such as Twitter, YouTube, blogging and most importantly LinkedIn.
The session began with an exercise called “Freefall” where attendees were asked to let everyone know why they were attending the session, The three most common answers to this question were, a desire to grow their business, build their networking skills and overcome personal challenges. With these in mind, Gail continued the session by laying out the steps to selling:
1. People buy from people – Establish your personal brand and digital footprint
2. Connect to add value – Sales is about service
3. Identify your target market – No, you don’t want to sell to everybody
4. Build your ideal client list – What is the best way to reach them?
5. The Close
Gail explained, you must have a clear idea of who you and your brand are as well as how you’d like to be perceived by others before attempting a sale whether this is selling yourself, or your product or service to a potential client.
Preparing a personal brand statement is a valuable activity that can help provide clarity and direction towards your goals.
Gail suggested picking 5 words that best describe how you want to be perceived. To help the sessions guests create their own, Gail shared her personal brand statement for reference. Note the highlighted words in her example: “In my professional life, I want to be known as a leader in the world of digital storytelling who educates, inspires and encourages others to become their best self through the use of online storytelling techniques. When others work with me they can expect the highest quality products and services from someone who cares about their success.”
Building a digital footprint and being visible online is integral to establishing trust, credibility and being a successful entrepreneur. A good place to start is by taking some time to re-vamp your LinkedIn profile.
Tips for a strong LinkedIn profile:
1. Have a professional-looking picture
2. The banner – should represent your personal brand in pictures
3. Your headline should – tell your story in 15 words – include searchable words
4. Your summary should– tell your story in 200 words
5. Include Examples of social proof including– articles, video, awards etc…
6. Post and share daily
7. Blog on a cadence
If you are going to grow your business, you need to connect with people. Spend less time planning and be thoughtful about what you are going to do. You need to connect to add value. When considering the first steps of making a personal connection via social media (LinkedIn), consider these four steps of social etiquette:
You must give if you want to receive and always be thoughtful about who you want to connect with and why. You might find it easy to identify whom you’d like to connect and network with online to help grow your business, but are you sure they are a strong fit within your target market? Gail guided the session’s attendees to narrow in on their target markets by facilitating an exercise that would help them determine their company’s value.
Consider the following when creating your value proposition:
- Who you are?
- What you do?
- Who you do it for?
- What do those people want or need?
- How do they change/transform as a result of what you give them?
To build your ideal client list, Gail offered a customer profile chart to help everyone get started. This chart helps to form the basic profile information that will drive content and messaging for the ideal customer. (See client list chart exercise here.)
When meeting with a prospective client or networking potential, always use open-ended questions. The more your prospective client talks, the more likely they will give you their business. Don’t talk too much simply probe!
Leave questions open-ended and use your innate listening skills to read how the client is feeling. When closing a sale, go for the assumptive close.If you speak after you ask the question, you will almost always lose or delay the deal.
Once again, this session was very successful with an excellent turn out and great networking.
A big thank you to Gail Mercer-Mackay for generously sharing her expertise and ideas with the group.
Next up in the Women’s Entrepreneur Accelerator series is “Leadership Presence and Confidence” facilitated by the Accelerator for Women in Entrepreneurship’s strategic Lead and Executive Director of Haltech, Shann McGrail.