If there was a LinkedIn war for dominance who would win? I believe that the greatest of the “Cold Call Sellers,” the most “Old School” and yes the die-hard Phone Jockeys are the ones with the greatest edge. We are the ones who have the most to gain from staking a claim in the rich land that LinkedIn has created in cyberspace.
I propose that LinkedIn is actually the current ultimate source of unstoppable leverage for cold call selling. This leverage comes from LinkedIn’s unique, revolutionary method of organizing and presenting your most rabidly raving fans’ boldest recommendations. We will also discuss the power of the small, free step of connection when building relationship to your prospects, and also the power of your LinkedIn profile as your most important marketing document (and most definitely NOT merely an online resume!). But our main focus will be unleashing LinkedIn’s power to build instant, overwhelming credibility to enhance our cold call selling success.
LinkedIn Recommendations as an Irresistible Sales Asset
How do LinkedIn recommendations improve telephone selling? Once we’ve broken through the resistance we always meet, connected with our prospect, and succeeded at opening up a new conversation, we must immediately face and overcome the great challenge of building trust and credibility. In overcoming this hurdle, LinkedIn changes the game like no other instrument a cold call seller has ever had at his or her disposal. We’ve always attempted to marshal the power of testimonials and recommendations in order to help us overcome this barrier. But any other form of recommendation cannot hold the same power for credibility that LinkedIn recommendations enjoy.
At LinkedIn you can follow the trail of connection instantly. When anyone posts a recommendation there, they know that they can be contacted for verification. The ease of this means of checking naturally results in the fact that most people never check. Thus, the reader experiences a type of immediate credibility that is truly new in the world of normal, everyday business.
The exact same testimonial published at your company website holds NO such ease of verification. Until now, no written testimonial held the instant emotional force of complete, easy verifiability. In some ways, LinkedIn’s power of recommendation is exactly what Ronald Reagan used to push for as he and Mikhail Gorbachev negotiated over nuclear arms issues. Reagan used to hammer away, “Trust, but verify,” in every meeting. This exact capacity – trust with verification – is precisely what your prospects enjoy when learning about you at LinkedIn.
So what must you do in order to tap into this incredible source of leverage? And, how does this flow back into your tactical telephone work?
Recommendations for Beginning Recruiters
Let’s take the hardest case of all: you’re just getting started as a recruiter and have no clients or candidates who even know you, let alone can rave about you. LinkedIn gives you incredible power to get started even here. First, think back over the things you’ve done in your life that would count as successes by any definition you care to employ. I’m not kidding. Old blue ribbons from art class in elementary school may be too much of a stretch, but your high school debate club instructor is as appropriate to validate your business abilities as you need to come. And hey, one of the most credible sources of reference in the business world is any athletic endeavor in which you excelled. If you were on a varsity team, and if your coach is on LinkedIn – or willing to join on your behalf – then you have a fantastic recommendation waiting for nothing more than your well-executed request.
One of the great powers of all social media is that it gives you a basis to reconnect. If you look at my profile, you’ll find a perfect example. One of the recommendations I enjoy and am most proud of is from my first boss in life, a fellow named Norman Hallett. Previous to my time as a commodity broker, I’d been self-employed. I have been self-employed ever since. So, Norman is actually the only “real” boss I’ve ever had — and he taught me so much! But when I joined LinkedIn, he and I had not spoken in 22 years.
You can imagine that finding him after all these years and winning a glowing recommendation from him was a profoundly emotional moment for me as a new LinkedIn user. Customers top the list of desired recommenders, but the very next group is your former bosses. Actually, they may be the favored group of “customers” considering the fact that your bosses likely paid you more money for your work than any other group of people. The key is the conversion of paid-for effort into profitable, dramatic return-on-investment and pleasurable benefits that are fun to recall and a delight to share with others. Every value you’ve ever created is the basis of a potentially powerful recommendation.
I hope I’ve persuaded you that even the newest player to the field can get started. But if you’ve been a successful recruiter for any period of time at all, then investment into your profile and most importantly your raving, worshipful fan testimonials is the most powerful marketing step you can make here in 2011.
Discovering Your Own Greatest Values
How well do you think you can define and communicate what you actually do, and why someone would be a fool to NOT use your services? I hope you’re not still using those ancient, boring, “Our 57-step search process is the most thorough…blah, blah, blah” statements of value! If you’re like me, identifying my greatest values and most compelling sales arguments is one of the most difficult parts of your selling practice. Funny thing is, guess who often has no difficulty identifying your most powerful benefits? Your delighted and satisfied customers are able to identify these values and are often thrilled to do so.
The difficulty is one of perspective. When thinking about your work, your mind can’t escape going through the comprehensive list of all the steps and actions you take. Often it’s the tasks you hate that you think about the most. But, those who benefit from your work have a totally different point of view. They just see and feel the magic. It is virtually impossible for you to step into their shoes and fully feel the power of what you do for them. The only way to even discover this is to ask. But if you’re just in a conversation and ask, they may stutter and stumble. It takes time and effort to express it. Even to think about it takes time; not much, but some.
LinkedIn provides the needed context like no other medium. Simply connect with your customer and then shoot them a recommendation request. Go to their profile you’ll see the link offering this action. LinkedIn fills in a simple, basic message for you. Typically, I recommend against using the default message. The smallest effort in personalizing your message makes such a tremendous difference. Better yet, you really should SPEAK ON THE PHONE.
What is needed is a warm, personal connection. You are asking for a favor. Do not be boring. Do not be assumptive. If you are, your recommendations will have no spark or fire to them. No, what you want is to have a conversation in which you ask for your customer’s help, and then, only if they are true “raving fans”. Remember, this is no small tactical maneuver, quickly done and then over. This is a strategic investment of the highest order.
You are requesting the thought and effort to express your greatest values boldly, in public, and as a permanent record. Imagine how much this really means. I propose that no other effort offers the same return. Approach this with respect and, yes, love, even if you don’t call it that. Ask kindly without expectation, only desire. Always be ready to let someone say no, too. You only want recommendations from those who will feel happy to have written them, and even happier to be called upon to stand as a witness to your glories and amazing powers.
How does this translate back to the telephone work you do all day every day?
You will surely want and need to connect with your prospects at LinkedIn. This brings an additional and positive dynamic to your call. Understand that the more ways by which you connect with your prospects, the better. This must be emphasized. One of the great principles of cold call selling is the dynamic of permission-based interaction. At first, you’re interrupting and have no permission to do so. The sooner you get permission the better. And, the simpler, smaller, and less costly any choice to be connected is, the better.
When you speak to a new prospect, and then that person decides to connect to you on LinkedIn, this is a virtually pain free and absolutely cost free step. This new element to your cold call is so perfectly constructed we should have figured out some such equivalent decades prior to the Internet. Actually, if you’re old school enough, you might remember lead cards we published in magazines. When someone filled out a lead card, they were giving us permission to contact them. It isn’t the same, but it holds some of the same force.
A LinkedIn connection, though, is the perfect form of permission to win, even in a very first cold call contact. This is worth much meditation on your part as you envision your evolving practice.
Your Profile as Your Mightiest Marketing Tool
Once connected — or even if you’re not connected — you will surely want to recommend that everyone you speak to go read about your magical powers and amazing prowess at making money and building success for your customers.
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5 Ways to Hire Like It’s 2021
Which brings us to our last point. For all the power of your recommendations (and nothing else matters so much) you do still have to think carefully about your profile itself. Let me tell you what it is NOT:
Your LinkedIn profile is NOT merely a boring online resume.
Now let me tell you what it is, or actually what you must make it to be:
THE MOST POWERFUL MARKETING DOCUMENT YOU’RE ABLE TO CREATE.
Here, you really can think about it exactly as if it were going to be a simple, old-fashioned, typewritten document. LinkedIn is becoming more visual, bit by bit. Soon, we will surely hire graphic designers and artists and people with visual design backgrounds to help us improve our profiles, and wisely so. But, the technology base is not quite there yet. So for now, you really can think of your profile mostly in terms of the written word.
By the way, you don’t have to become a great writer. You do, however, need to build your business sense. What is it that impresses prospects? What values will drive their decision to work with you? Solid business claims of verifiable value; these are the hallmark of your profile. It is an advertisement. This means that you must never forget your target market and their values for a moment. Here, the more you invest in to your recommendations, the more they will help you and guide you toward crafting the mightiest, most powerful message you can with the rest of the profile itself.
One small design element I’m happy to clue you in on is this. The sections of your profile can easily be moved. Most users don’t realize this yet. As you might imagine, I strongly recommend moving your recommendations as high up and close to the top of your profile as you can. Your recommendations are far more important than your own statements of your background or job history, etc. You really do want them front and center, and LinkedIn makes that very easy to do…but not obviously so.
LinkedIn Black Belts
Before we conclude our LinkedIn exploration, let me say a word about all the many powers and directions that LinkedIn mastery will take you. There are scores of powers to be won. The best way to think about this is as if you were going to learn a martial art — or any art form, for that matter. If you decide to take up oil painting, you won’t likely be competing with Rubens or Da Vinci in a matter of days or weeks. In Taekwondo you will not master a perfect roundhouse kick overnight. So also with LinkedIn and all social media investments. You want to find the smallest steps you can, and work to master those as well as you can, and then move forward gently.
And on that note, I must say a word about all the powers of LinkedIn that we’re NOT discussing in this article. If you search for it, you’ll find a seemingly infinite set of guides out there all offering to teach you how to extract maximum value from this amazing technology. My focus, as you’ve noticed is a bit different. I want to help you capitalize on LinkedIn’s powers while you improve your telephone performance and enhance your ability to hit your objective goals. The most important value to go get, right now, is the power of credibility that will immediately transform your cold call selling success.
If you’ll execute the steps we’ve discussed, you’ll rapidly discover your own new strength in each and every call you make. I can honestly testify that for me, the ability to confidently direct prospects’ attention to my profile was nothing short of a stunning new ability. The truth is that my clients and I have fought dragons together, and we’ve lived to tell the story. Now, LinkedIn empowers us to share in the telling like never before. My prospects don’t have to connect with me in order to see these testimonials, but closing on that connection is a wonderful, easy, resistance-free action they can take. That too makes me bolder, on the one hand, but more comfortable in my selling steps on the other. I don’t know that my profile is the best marketing document I’ve ever created for my practice, but I can easily attest that it is, by far, the most successful such marketing instrument I’ve ever invested into.
My strongest counsel to you is simply this: put the power of your most raving fans’ witness to work for you at LinkedIn as soon as you can. If you have a few recommendations already, go get a few more. If you have none, get some right now. You will immediately empower your telephone work more in this way than by any other single step you’ll take.
Next week we’ll bring you another installment of the Die-Hard Phone Jockey’s Guide series. Stay tuned!