social selling

90% of Top Salespeople are Social Selling. Are You?

social selling

It’s a fact: 90% of top salespeople are using social selling tools to close deals.

What is social selling?

Social selling is a trendy way to describe using social media as a sales channel. Rather than connecting at events, seminars are in person meetings, you are now able to find customers and prospects on social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

The whole goal is to build and expand your relationships with clients, and to be accessible on their preferred channels. You can’t have a conversation if you’re not in the room.

And at the end of the day, the final victory is to win opportunities and grow your revenue.

Koka Sexton
Senior Social Marketing Manager, LinkedIn
World’s foremost expert on social selling

We know social selling is important, but where do you start? Here are three actionable ways for you to step up your sales game using social networking.

1. Update your profiles to meet your client expectations

A great profile demonstrates:

  1. Who you are
  2. What you have done
  3. What you can do

Read your own profile objectively and ask, “Why should I care?”Demonstrate the value you offer so every customer will care.

  • Speak your customer’s language. Review your existing customer and prospect profiles to find challenges they face and vocabulary they use.
  • Customize your LinkedIn URL. Embed that link in your email signature and put it on your business card.
  • Update your headshot. Smile, wear professional attire, have a non-distracting background and make sure it’s just you. No cropped out images from group shots.


Michael de Groot
Social Selling Expert

     Related: How do I improve my LinkedIn posts?      

 2. Join 50 LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn Groups are not just a place to follow who YOU like, but they are a resource for you to connect with prospects and distant connections.

Here’s the secret most people don’t know. When you are in the same group as someone, you can message them for FREE! No premium account required.

And you can join up to 50 groups on LinkedIn, so take advantage and connect with groups where your clients are members. Aim for:

  • 5 within the industry
  • 10 within your territory
  • 35 with the right buyer persona

Make sure the groups you join have lots of members (over 5000) and are wide enough in interest so you can broaden your potential reach and connect with more people.

Gary Kissell
Social Selling Coach

3. Don’t go in cold.

With a stat like that, you’ll need to stand out to get anyone’s attention. The best way is to show you care about your client’s interests, concerns and the success of their business.

Top sales people always go into client meetings having done their research, and now you can make use of a bounty of online information as part of your pre-call routine.

On LinkedIn:

Learn about work history, experience, skills, causes and passions. See which connections you have in common and then follow any links to external sites and learn more about their business online.

On Twitter:

Investigate their profile, past tweets, photos shared, likes and dislikes, connections and the lists they’ve created. That will show what they deem valuable.

On Facebook:

You don’t have to be too invasive with your search. Skim through their public profile to learn about their hobbies and general interests that will give you a good feel for their personality. Check to see which events or locations they’ve checked into recently as well as the friends you have in common. Any connections could be helpful insights or common ground to start your conversation.

 

Ridgeline Manufacturing

hidden costs

12 Hidden Costs Of Running Your Small Business

hidden costs

You’ve made a business plan, hired staff, bought inventory and made sales. Everything’s going great…until the unexpected costs show up.

Avoid the surprises by planning for the eventuality of these 12 hidden costs.

1. Employee Perks

“Whether you have 5 or 500 people on your staff, there are several employee expenses that must be taken into account when running a small business. You’ve probably already factored in the big things such as salaries, payroll taxes, benefits, and retirement plans. What you may not realize is that there are many more smaller expenses that quickly add up, such as:

  • Paid vacation time, sick leave and maternity leave
  • Certifications, classes, conferences and training
  • Office perks like ergonomic seating or Friday afternoon pizza parties
  • Employee turnover costs including hiring and training new employees” – Hiveage

2. Turnover

“Failing to invest properly in your employees, providing a living wage, a clean environment, office perks and other benefits can lead to high employee turnover. Furthermore, it costs about one-fifth of a worker’s salary to replace that person when they leave.  In some industries that cost is even higher. 

Provide perks. It’s more cost-effective to retain good employees than recruit new ones. These perks don’t have to be pricey; benefits such as flexible schedules, telecommuting and casual dress codes can do a lot to boost retention.

It’s also a good idea to negotiate annually with your health insurance provider so you can better budget for premium costs and other fees.” – Wasp Buzz

3. Administrative Costs

“Unless you are running your business out of your home, you need to consider where it will be located. Most people anticipate a rent or mortgage when they choose to buy or rent office space, but once you have that space you still have utilities (gas, a/c, electric, water, internet, phone services, etc.) to plan for.

“If you plan on having any humans work in your office, that also means you need to buy toilet tissue, soap, paper towels, plates, cup, refrigerator, desk, chairs, file cabinets, etc. Another expense to keep in mind is the cost of technology your business will need. That means computers, phones, printers, papers, scanners, fax machines, software for your computers, hardware to store the information, website development and maintenance, and IT consulting (whether in house or out sourced).” – Branding Beat

4. Phone and Internet Bills

These may be within a predictable range if you’re a one-person business, but once you add employees the costs can skyrocket. Make sure you negotiate group plans and data sharing, or unlimited data where available.

“But having to pay hundreds per month for a full-service cell phone, with the e-mail, text, and web browsing services you need to keep in touch with your clients out of the office can really add up. In the private employer market, many companies pick up the tab for things like cell phones. But entrepreneurs are on their own.

“Tip: look into your cell phone provider’s service plans. It’s worth an hour to go over every line item with your carrier, and knock that cost down as much as possible. Even so, a good smart phone can cost up to $200, along with $100 or so in monthly charges for all the bells and whistles.” – Main Street

     Read Related: 3 biggest financial challenges facing small businesses

5. Legal Fees

“You never know what’s going to happen. Small businesses are the biggest victims of frivolous lawsuits, according to the NFIB. Bogus and legitimate lawsuits cost small business owners in many ways:

  • Settlement costs. While the NFIB reports that settlements are often less than $5,000, they total $35.6 billion annually for small businesses in the U.S.
  • Higher insurance costs. After being victimized by bogus lawsuits, liability coverage premiums likely increase.
  • Lost opportunity. The time and attention that owners devote to lawsuits means time and attention not spent on running their businesses.” – Small Business Trends

6. Professional Services

“Legal and accounting fees can run into thousands of dollars annually, but these specialists can save you money and time. Legal professionals can untangle red tape. Accounting specialists can translate tax codes, help maintain accurate payment and inventory records, and find grants to help fund your endeavors. 

Negotiate with these professionals to keep fees manageable. You need the CPA or lawyer to do the heavy lifting that merits higher fees, but other tasks can easily be done (and billed to) their less-expensive support staff.  Some professionals and university programs may also offer pro-bono or discounted rates for advice or other services; it never hurts to ask.” – Wasp Buzz

7. Industry & Association Fees

“When starting up as a small business, it really helps to be connected. A great way to do this is by linking up with a trade association specific to your chosen industry. Keep in mind, however, that membership to these associations can be costly (upwards of hundreds of dollars for annual fees for membership), so try to be as selective as possible. Hopefully you will join one with loads of potential clients and try to keep the cost down by asking other members other good groups to join.” – Branding Beat

8. Equipment Repairs & Replacements

“Things break, and if you still need the equipment, you’ll have to repair or replace them. The cost of repairs can be pricey, with sole proprietors (Schedule C filers) paying more than $16.7 billion in 2012. Annual maintenance costs to keep equipment in good running condition should be an ongoing expense to avoid the higher costs of repairs or buying new equipment to replace the old.” – Small Business Trends

9. Utilities

Heating and electricity costs seem straightforward to some businesses, but they can also be unpredictable. If you’re in manufacturing, for example, or have electricity-heavy requirements in-office, like computer equipment, you’re utility bill could jump up.

“Paying for utilities could cost a significant amount of money for business owners, especially those who are looking to open a large scale operation with multiple employees. Large facilities not only require more lighting, but also more heat and air conditioning costs, which could really be especially costly for operations in extreme weather zones.” – B Plans

10. Online Payment Processors

“Did you know that some payment processors are in the habit of hiding certain fees? If your customers use premium/reward cards or your company doesn’t meet minimum monthly transactions, you could be shelling out more in payment fees than you bargained for.…

  • Some processors charge higher rates, up to 3.9%, for the premium cards that your customers prefer. Say your customer wants to use their frequent flyer or corporate card; you may get hit with a different rate vs. the originally advertised 1.9%.
  • Some processors don’t disclose what their monthly minimum process requirement or fees are. These fees can typically run $20-$35 per month if you don’t meet the minimum transaction volume. That means you’ll be penalized if you don’t meet a volume target.
  • Some processors charge a monthly statement fee, whether or not you are mailed a paper statement.
  • Finally, if you opt to cancel once you recover from the sticker shock of that first bill, you can be hit with a huge cancellation fee because you signed a multi-year agreement to get that “great deal.”” – PayPal

11. Growth Opportunities

“Most, if not all, business owners dream of growing their business empire. Often, this takes strategic expansion plans, but sometimes a growth opportunity may present itself unannounced. In order to capitalize on these opportunities, it is not uncommon for your business to require a sudden influx of capital. While I don’t advise you to account for this in your budget, it is important to be aware of ways in which you could secure business financing in case an opportunity presents itself.” – Under 30 CEO

12. Time

Time may not be a direct cost, but it’s an opportunity cost and the adage is true…time is money!

“Eric Allen [co-founder of consulting company Admit Advantage] agrees that time is a casualty of starting a business, and it can do more than eat up the hours you’d rather be doing cool work stuff. It can also spill into your personal life.

“”Opportunity cost is the cost that you’re giving up while choosing to do something else. I learned the concept in business school, but I didn’t realize it would include disappointed children, angry wives and annoyed business partners,” Allen says. “There is a significant physical and emotional cost of starting a business. It’s hard. That’s why most people fail.”” – Business Insider

 

What Is Fintech And Why Does It Matter?

what-is-fintech

The term “fintech” seems to be everywhere lately. Is this just a buzzword or is it buzzworthy? Let’s look at the details.

What is fintech?

Fintech is the shortened term for “financial technology.” It refers to companies that find ways to make financial services more efficient, intelligent and user-friendly by adopting and incorporating innovative technology and applications.

These can include different types of payment services, financial services, peer-to-peer transactions, alternative lending platforms and new crypto-currencies. And while some of these companies and new systems, like Bitcoin for example, have been seemingly quite volatile and downright confusing, there are an increasing number that have a much broader appeal to consumers and businesses alike.

Startups are the most common fintech company, as they can reinvent the wheel and start from the ground up for financial applications and processes – which are often complex and extremely resource heavy to change in legacy companies. These new fintech companies can also challenge the traditional system and create disruption in the market by offering new software and service that customers will expect from all competitors.

One example becoming more common is mobile payments. In some markets in fact, using your smartphone to pay for items is an everyday occurrence. And mobile banking has become more secure, safe and reliable – with apps providing instant access to the majority of your everyday banking needs. As consumers become more familiar and comfortable with such services, services such as Apple Pay are starting to gain real momentum and will force retailers, consumers and the financial industry to adapt.

Some high profile fintech companies getting a lot of buzz include:

  • Sofi: This fintech firm started by offering student loan assistance, then building upon that relationship to enter personal finance including mortgages and personal loans. By taking employment history and other factors into account, they’ve been able to offer solutions that weren’t typically available, especially to the younger consumer demographic.
  • OurCrowd: This Jerusalem-based company is considered a leader in equity crowdfunding for accredited investors. Managed by a team of investment pros who fund startups, they have put up $170 million from 1,500 investors.
  • Square: A simple device that turns your smartphone or tablet into a cash register. Swipe a customer card, accept payment, email receipts and get reports right to your laptop.

How will fintech companies change the market?

Although fintech companies are a hot trend, they are not forecast to wipe out traditional banking. Rather, they’ll be seen as a complement to the system, providing an ‘assist’ to bankers’ normal activities and practices while providing more options for customers in terms of available day-to-day technology.

The Economist reports that Silicon Valley fintech firms received $4 billion in funding in 2013, then an increase to $12 billion in 2014.  With such an influx in venture capital (VC) and other dollars, there’s no question this industry is set for success, and not just a flash in the pan trend.

That same report shows three key ways that fintech will change the market:

1. Cutting costs and improving quality of financial services: Without the same regulators, legacy IT systems that are complex and outdated, and brick-and-mortar branches as the old-school banking institutions, there are immediate cost savings possible in this industry. Fintech firms, in conjunction with alternative lenders, can often offer better deals to both borrowers and lenders.

2. Risk assessment: These new companies are clever – by capturing information from social media sites and online reviews to assess a small business’ performance. They also use machine learning to improve underwriting, and sites like Kickstarter are using crowdsourcing to help fund the fintech companies. By relying on algorithms and an innovative new generation of consumers, the industry can offer a fresh suite of services and limit their own risk.

3. Diversifying and stabilizing the credit landscape: By being geographically widespread and avoiding the heavy overhead of bricks-and-mortar locations like many traditional institutions, fintech firms can potentially limit their liability. They match borrowers with lenders and act as the platform or middleman to get the deal done. The lender assumes the risk so the fintech firm can grow their business and offerings. Other more established lenders can take advantage of fintech in order to access the best people, the best practices and make better decisions by not being limited to geography.

Should my business partner with a fintech firm? 

If you value the face-to-face relationships in business, you may not get that with a fintech firm for your financing needs. They are fast growing, looking for new business and may not offer traditional in-person service. That’s not to say this is the case with every fintech firm, but keep this in mind when investigating options for your business dealings.

And if you’re looking to develop a business partnership with a firm that has a rich history and experience in the market, and not just one with a rich VC funding, this may not be the place for you. There is nothing wrong with startups, VC funded companies and growth. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Entrepreneurs, business owners and innovators in fintech firms are forward thinking and help advance the entire industry, and should be well respected.

But businesses will no doubt come and go, be swallowed up by competition and perform the classic startup “pivot.” As with any business decision, due diligence is the best practice when deciding on which partners are best for your company.

 

Recent Fundings – October 2016