The world’s top sales pros are uncovering hotter leads, winning bigger deals and earning more revenue than their peers – all because of awesome new sales tactics. So what is their secret? The key is adjusting your playbook the right way — and adding three key sales techniques.
According to Jonathan Lister, Vice President of Sales with LinkedIn Sales Solutions and Country Manager of the Canadian division, social selling has become the new norm – at least, for those top sales pros. And they’re using these techniques to beat their competition.
Lister also revealed the old-school sales tactics you need to swipe left from your playbook immediately while presenting at a “State of Sales” workshop at the LinkedIn Toronto headquarters. His information is based on hard facts, as discovered through LinkedIn’s “Global State of Sales Survey” that researched exactly why top sales reps were performing so well. So there’s no doubt that following this advice could produce major rewards.
Curious what isn’t working? Take a look at part one of our story, then keep reading to learn the three tactics you need to add to your playbook today.
1. Target the full buying committee
Remember those six to eight decision-makers from part one? Those are the exact people you need to target. Thanks to online networking, you now have immediate access to social websites filled with valuable data on all of these people – most notably across the three main networks; LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
Lister explained how your prospects are checking in every day on these networks, learning new skills, and connecting with colleagues. In many cases, they are also raising their hands to ask for help when they have a business issue. “The top sales pros are learning exactly what their prospects are doing online.”
The key is to target the full buying committee on social media by connecting with each of those people individually – first on LinkedIn and Twitter, as these are the more common networks for business relationships. Connect with them on LinkedIn, join the same groups as them, follow them on Twitter, and even add them to one of your Twitter lists, which will show you’re taking a more active interest and value their profile. Get to know what they’re posting and what they value. When you eventually reach out with your ‘ask,’ the information you’ve gathered will better prepare you to customize your pitch.
2. Understand before you ask
It’s critical to learn how certain activities and social news can signal a potential sales opportunity. Understanding this timing is a modern top sales skill.
Lister highlighted five social selling signals, but pointed to one that is the most powerful for top sales pros. “Job changes are one of the most powerful signals of intent,” noting that most job changes are publicly highlighted on networks like LinkedIn. Being aware of these updates and acting on them can get you a step ahead of your competition. “When someone changes jobs, maybe they want to take products they used at their old jobs or find new ones,” he explained. That’s a perfect opportunity to connect and highlight what you can offer.
Similarly, when people make new connections or connect with new groups on LinkedIn, that may signal they’re working on a project or building a team. Content shares and social comments also tell more personal commentary on what someone is interested in. Social comments, in particular, are very powerful indicators of buyer’s intent.
Lister went on to explain how new social selling tools like sales filters and lead bots can be a major benefit when making those connections and learning about sales prospects. “A lead bot will go out and find leads at scale, like the LinkedIn Sales Navigator. It can deliver leads along with a contact’s profile.” And that information can be invaluable since it’s often accurate and up-to-date. Goodbye dirty lead lists.
3. Engage from first contact to final contract
How do you engage with people across multiple accounts and conversations? With so much digital noise, it’s important to cut through that clutter.
First, find prospects from mutually trusted connections. In LinkedIn, that means connecting with people from shared groups and connections. Finding those connections via the Sales Navigator TeamLink feature can also show you how to break the ice with mutually shared connections on your sales team.
Connecting can then include something as simple as a follow request or an introductory message on the platform – called an InMail. Lister explained how every top sales pro cited ‘trust’ as incredibly important in their sales process. “If you can find that at scale, then the open rates can be incredibly high,” speaking about InMail. “But for most sales pros, that’s where it will stop. They’ll make the connection, send a message and get them to open. Then stop. But it’s not good enough. You need them to give you more information and connect meaningfully to create an ongoing relationship and dialogue.”
Top modern sales pros will make those connection paths and then create a “feedback loop.” In Sales Navigator, that can also include using their new PointDrive tool that lets you send a sales package URL that tells you if the prospect opened and consumed any follow-up info. Using the tool allows Lister and his sales teams more insight into their customer’s actions. “Now I have a way to communicate with my prospect, what they’re reading, what’s important to them and how to communication follow up further.”
Whether you have these tools or not, the important part is continuing the conversation with the prospect, answering their questions, solving problems and building a trusting relationship. If you can do that online even before talking in person, you’re well on your way to winning more opportunities and becoming a top sales pro.
Mount Laurel, New Jersey – Liquid Capital is pleased to announce Michael Sokoloff as its latest franchisee. With an engineering degree from the University of Pennsylvania and 17 years in the software sales industry, Mr. Sokoloff is now poised to make an impact in the alternative financing field. His new venture will provide innovative financial solutions to small and mid-sized businesses in New Jersey and parts of Pennsylvania.
Leveraging Liquid Capital’s industry-leading direct lending platform, Mr. Sokoloff is offering businesses in all sectors the full complement of financial solutions, including accounts receivable factoring, asset-based lending, purchase order financing, equipment leasing and working capital advances.
“By offering factoring and other alternative funding solutions, my aim is to help smaller businesses access the liquidity they need to grow—particularly when traditional financing isn’t practical,” says Mr. Sokoloff. “Unlike with traditional loans, the nature of the factoring relationship is also very personal. That means clients can work with me directly to resolve the full range of their financing needs rather than dealing with an impersonal call center.”
Liquid Capital is looking forward to building its relationship with Mr. Sokoloff as they work together to help other businesses succeed.
About Liquid Capital
Liquid Capital is a full-service working capital and trade finance network and has been in operations since 1999. The Liquid Capital network has the largest geographic footprint of alternative funding professionals, with over 80 independently owned businesses across North America, offering clients a customized and flexible approach with local decision makers. We offer a complete range of solutions for all industries and provide immediate financing upon approval with no long-term contracts or hidden fees. At Liquid Capital, we help you grow your business.
To learn more about Liquid Capital Business Funding, contact
The state of sales has completely evolved. Old sales strategies no longer work, and any salesperson using traditional tactics likely can’t compete with the modern sales leaders who’ve adopted new methods. Exactly what sales tactics aren’t working anymore, and what should we replace them with?
Jonathan Lister knows a thing or two about social selling. As Vice President of Sales with LinkedIn Sales Solutions and Country Manger of the Canadian division, he recently addressed a workshop audience to explain this shifting trend in sales. Technology has obviously brought forward new ways of engaging with brands, while customers are also interacting differently with their company contacts – resulting in conventional sales teams losing deals.
What can sales teams do to catch up?
As expected, Lister points to the pivotal role of social media for part of the answer. But there is more to the story, as LinkedIn analyzed the results of their “Global State of Sales Survey” and found out exactly why top sales reps were performing so well.
What isn’t working:
These three traditional sales tactics are no longer working. Here’s why you should stop doing them right now to improve your sales playbook.
1. Call high up the ladder
You’ve likely learned that it’s important to talk to a C-suite contact and build a relationship with the top person in a company. Not anymore.
Lister explained that most sales people have to make contact with six to eight decision-makers per deal. Further, 58% decisions are made outside the C-suite.
“If you’re just talking to the C-suite, you’re eliminating at least five people from that sales cycle,” Lister explained. Nowadays, the C-suite isn’t as influential in the sales process. They’re letting their teams take a more active role in the decision-making, and if you’re only focusing on the top dogs, you’re putting too much attention into the wrong relationship building.
2. Lead with great questions
The discovery process, including probing with thoughtful questions, has always been an important sales tactic. Many sales pros have been taught to reach out to a prospect and make a compelling statement to capture their interest.
The problem is that buyers and decision-makers have also been sharpening their skills, including how to recognize sales tactics and then avoid them altogether. So if you’re calling to ask someone to move services or buy a new product, chances are that this savvy prospect will have a rebuttal ready.
“Most buyers think that sales reps aren’t credible anyway,” Lister explains. And simply asking probing questions may only reinforce the idea that sales reps aren’t in touch with the way to connect with prospects.
3. Touch 7 times
Sales pros know that one touch point isn’t enough. That’s where the seven touch point rule stepped in – the theory being that you’ll need at least seven points of contact to close a deal. But that could waste time, resources and shift focus to the wrong part of the sale.
If sales pros are reaching out to their prospects just to get the touch points in, they’re wasting their time. “Reaching out without something meaningful to say is detrimental to the sales cycle,” cautions Lister, who added that a genuine point of contact has been a key component of relationship building with top sales pros.
Unfortunately, the focus for many sales teams has been about hitting the seven touch points — no matter how beneficial those activities were in pushing the sales opportunity to the next level.
What is working:
The good news – the traditional strategy can now be replaced by a set of more modern set of sales tactics.
Every company needs healthy cash flow. And if you buy and sell inventory on account, then you’ll need to know how long it takes to turn that inventory into cash.
That’s the cash conversion cycle, and it’s key to making sure you’re on top of your company’s working capital.
What is the Cash Conversion Cycle?
The cash conversion cycle (CCC) tells you how many days it takes for your company to turn your inventory purchases into cash. You acquire inventory from a supplier, store that inventory, sell it to a customer on account, pay your suppliers and collect on your invoices — getting paid and putting cash back into the company.
The CCC is an important financial indicator of your company’s cash flow. It shows your ability to maintain highly liquid assets and is a metric that lenders and other finance providers will use to assess your potential risk level.
The formula follows your cash through these various stages:
- Inventory Purchase, Transport and Storage
- Accounts Payable and Payments to Suppliers
- Sales, Accounts Receivable and Collections
How to calculate the Cash Conversion Cycle
There are three numbers you’ll need to complete the basic CCC formula, all of which you can derive from your financial statements.
CCC = DIO – DPO + DSO
Let’s look at each component a little more closely.
- DIO: Days Inventory Outstanding.
- This is the number of days on average that your company turns your inventory into sales. The smaller this number, the better.
- DPO: Days Payable Outstanding.
- This is the number of days it takes you to pay your accounts payable. The higher this number, the longer you can hold onto cash, so a longer DPO is better.
- DSO: Days Sales Outstanding.
- This is the number of days you’ll need to collect on the sales of that inventory after the sale has been made. Again, the lower the number, the better.
So the CCC is equal to the number of days it takes to sell your inventory, plus the number of days you need to collect on your sales, minus the days it takes you to pay your vendors.
Keisha runs an industrial supply company. Keisha always pays her supplier within 30 days. She keeps enough inventory on hand to satisfy 60 days of sales and is good at managing this. It will take 52 days on average for her customers to pay their invoices. This would be her CCC formula:
CCC = 60 days – 30 days + 52 days
CCC = 82 days
Keisha’s CCC is 82 days, meaning that she will need on average 82 days of working capital to convert purchased inventory into cash.
The above is a simplified example, and to get accurate results you must calculate and track your DIO, DPO and DSO on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis, along with the dollar values for inventory and sales.
What CCC teaches you & how to make adjustments
The CCC will give you an indication of your cash liquidity position — and it can point your attention to what is helping or hindering your cash flow. Depending on the results, you may determine immediate areas that can be improved.
The longer the CCC, the more working capital you’ll need to manage your operations. And that can be an overwhelming challenge for many businesses. Generally speaking, companies want to shorten their CCC.
To shorten the CCC, you may be able to manage inventory levels better, get longer supplier payment terms, improve your collection process or adjust the payment terms you give your customers. However, this may not always be practical or something you’re wanting to change for a number of reasons.
Instead, you can use financing such as Accounts Receivable Financing — also known as factoring — to lower the CCC by turning accounts receivable into cash faster. This is where our company has been able to help businesses increase their cash flow. Using factoring you can effectively lower your DSO, which means you will get paid on your sales faster and have quicker access to working capital. That cash can be reinvested into your company faster than if you had to wait on all invoices to be paid out according to the usual payment terms.
Or you could get extended payment terms from suppliers to reduce the DPO portion of the formula or use financing tools such as Purchase Order Financing to help you make up the gap where suppliers are not providing adequate or any terms. By extending the number of days you have to pay your accounts payable, you can keep cash in the company and effectively increase your working capital.
However, the CCC alone cannot be a complete indication of liquidity. You’ll need to look at calculating other liquidity metrics like the current ratio and quick ratio to paint a complete picture. You may already have these calculations in place, but if you haven’t yet calculated your cash conversion cycle, it’s time to start crunching the numbers and tracking changes over time to manage your business better.
This is the first part of our cash conversion cycle series. We’ll be writing about practical ways to reduce your DSO and DIO, stretch your DPO and how service providers can use the CCC when ‘inventory’ doesn’t apply to their business.
Originally published September 26, 2016.
In the years following the 2008 financial crisis, Juan Pablo “JP” Mondragon saw first-hand the difficulties businesses faced obtaining capital. He asked himself, “How can I provide small and mid-sized companies that are truly committed and have potential access to the funds they need to grow?” The answer was the creation of Liquid Capital Resources in 2012. Since then it has been providing capital to companies from a variety of industries in Central Texas and beyond. Liquid Capital Resources has been recognized as an accessible alternative funding source for businesses.
“Raising capital can be a full-time job and it takes a while to get what your business needs. We wanted to offer choices, simplify the process, and I think we found a good formula.”
Liquid Capital Resources works closely with businesses to determine the best solution for them, not only from a cost perspective, but also considering many factors that can be crucial to a company’s success in the short and long run.
“For some of our clients our solutions aren’t always the best permanent funding source, but we can be the springboard that gets them to their next phase. We can help them transition to bank lending, self-funding, going public, or whatever is their best path.”
Describe the defining moment you knew your business would be successful?
During the first year it was difficult to get the right clients; those deals where the risk/reward ratio made sense. “As with most new companies, at the beginning we wanted to grab any opportunity that we came across. However, we are in the risk assessment business and we had to stay true to our principles, which unfortunately meant turning away some deals that at first appeared attainable.” Today, Liquid Capital Resources is on a positive trajectory. To sustain its growth, it relies on referrals from trusted sources. The true success of Liquid Capital Resources comes from seeing its clients prosper and reach new heights, breaking barriers, all while maintaining basic business disciplines.
“I realized we were onto something really good when one of our first clients, who had previously admitted he was about to give up and sell his business, managed to keep his company and actually doubled the sales within a few months. Every client has a story, and we love to be part of that.”
Although most of its clients do not have access to bank lending or other traditional funding sources, for some companies Liquid Capital Resources was able to supplement an existing financing facility. In fact, there are cases in which traditional lending may seem more affordable but would limit the expansion of a business. JP adds “These are the cases in which we thrive, companies that have a solid business model, healthy profit margins, strong customers, and although they may not be highly profitable yet, there certainly is potential.”
What sets your business apart from your competitors?
- A simple, quick and affordable approval process. “We don’t have the high up-front fees that others charge.”
- Rapid funding process
- Clear pricing, no hidden fees
- No long-term commitments, plain English contracts
- Direct interaction with the funding source and the decision maker
What, if anything, has changed since your business was founded?
We have added several programs to help existing clients and to assist a wider range of companies.
“Although we started with a receivable financing product (called Factoring), we now offer eight different funding options for businesses. One of our first clients required capital to fulfill a Purchase Order; we got her suppliers paid so that she could deliver on the PO. Another client whose business is highly seasonal needed capital beyond its bank’s line of credit during the peak season; we got him a supplemental financing facility. A client that was expanding overseas and had a line of credit from a bank came to us for export financing. We funded a retail company that needed some quick cash to face an unexpected situation. The list of clients we have helped is long and we strive to stay creative with our funding solutions.”
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