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According to Hubspot, 78% of people watch online videos every week, and 55% view online videos every day. You can make the most of your video consumption by creating a list of talks that can inspire your sales success. Two years ago, I shared a list of my favorite TED talks for sellers. Today, let’s look at this updated list.

The Puzzle of Motivation by Daniel Pink

You’ve heard me mention Dan Pink before. He’s among my favorite authors. So it’s no surprise his TED talk ranks among my favorites, too. In his talk, he explores “The Puzzle of Motivation.” He makes a case for rethinking how we should run our businesses and reward our teams. The solution he offers is unexpected. If you’re a sales leader, you won’t want to miss this.

The puzzle of motivation | Dan Pink - YouTube


How to Break Bad Management Practices Before They Reach the Next Generation by Elizabeth Lyle.

Elizabeth Lyle implores us to step out of our comfort zones and empower middle managers to climb the corporate ladder– while also challenging the way things have always been done. Her approach will require both the managers and C-level leaders to take risks and engineer learning and practice into day-to-day activities. When we work together, everyone, including the business, wins.

Don’t Fail Fast, Fail Mindfully by Leticia Gasca

Risk taking leads to success. Of course, we always celebrate bold entrepreneurs who are successful, but what happens to those who fail? Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a modern seller, far too often, we bury our failure stories out of shame or humiliation. When we do that, we and miss out on a valuable opportunity for growth. Sharing our failure can make us stronger.

Know Your Worth and Ask for It by Casey Brown

Sellers are wired to get the best prices for the products and services we sell. But what about you? Are you being paid what you’re worth… or what your boss thinks you’re worth? Probably the latter. But we can take the time to learn how to shape their thinking. Pricing consultant Casey Brown shares helpful stories and learnings that can help you better communicate your value and get paid for your excellence. While it’s aimed at women, the advice here is applicable to anyone. Fun note: this talk was originally given right in my hometown, Columbus.

Want to Help Someone? Shut Up and Listen by Enersto Sirolli

We’re all guilty of this. We hear a prospect or client’s problem and immediately offer a solution. But is it the right solution? In a similar vein, Ernesto Sirolli shares the story of well-intentioned aid workers who hear of a problem they think they can fix, and then go to work. This, he suggests, is naïve. In his funny and impassioned talk, he proposes that the first step is to listen to the people you’re trying to help, and tap into their own entrepreneurial spirit. His advice on what works applies to modern sellers.

Looking for more sales inspiration? Read my article on growth mindset and high value growth opportunities.

 

Read Five Must-Watch TED Talks for Sales Professionals in 2019 at Amy Franko.

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Time, motivation, discipline, and energy. If you’re a regular reader, you know I’ve written about these before. They are the “non-renewables.” With so many demands on our days, some specific approaches can help us to better decide where the resources get allocated.

Modern selling lists are one strategy for helping you focus on your most important activities– and elevate your productivity. These are more than typical “to do” lists. Several of can be used in collaboration with your CRM, and can give you that extra boost of focus. It’s all part of the skillset A Modern Seller is Holistic.

Here are a few lists to get you started. I share more in my book, The Modern Seller.

  1. Daily Priority. The One Thing authors Gary Keller and Jay Papasan share the strategy of investing the first part of your day working on your top priority, the one that will move you forward in a significant way. Can you look at your day, and know the one or two priority activities that are “must accomplish” for your sales day? The days when I do this, I’m measurably more productive because I’ve chosen to focus my energies and make meaningful progress on a smaller number of items.
  2. Top 25 Prospects. This is a list of company-level prospects that are considered your top tier. While your CRM might maintain all your prospects, this view helps keep your priority prospects top of mind. Within each of those company-level prospects, list out the key buying roles and individuals that you need to reach. Consider categorizing further by the strength of the relationship and other centers of influence. This will give you a visual into the progress you need to make within each prospect.
  3. Daily Prospecting. As a companion to your Top 25 Prospects, this is a list of your daily prospects you need to reach. This list should be created the evening before, so it’s ready to go for your prospecting block. It also helps to segment the list in ways that will help you create momentum. For example, you may segment by industry, at company-level or by prospecting method. I gain the most momentum by sticking to a single prospecting method in a block — for example, one block of time is dedicated only to phone calls.
  4. Centers of Influence. This is a list of the well-connected individuals and leaders in your network that you need to establish relationships with to collaborate, idea share, conduct research or learn from. They’re the people you’re introduced to through others. This list is critical to extending your reach and your opportunities. For example, my board service peers and my university alumni are Centers of Influence.
  5. Trigger events. Trigger events are those point-in-time events happening in the industry or at your customers that can provide just the opening you need to get in the door. I highly recommend Selling to Big Companies by Jill Konrath for more on this topic. Like ideas, trigger events can be easily lost and forgotten. But they can be a top source of urgent needs happening at a current client or prospect. When you see a trigger event, capture it, and then determine if it’s worth following up on. If it is, it can make its way to your prospecting or follow-up lists.

How else can a modern seller be holistic? Watch this short video below. And learn how to get my book, The Modern Seller.

Amy Franko: The Modern Seller is Holistic - Vimeo

Read Stay in Focus and Elevate Your Productivity with Modern Selling Lists at Amy Franko.

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I’ve mentioned before that I love podcasts. But I’m also a voracious reader, and always have been. At any given time, I’m likely reading two or more books. They are a staple in my pursuit of lifelong learning and professional development.

And I’m not alone. Statistics show that top business leaders read a book a week. They know…. you are what you read.

So, as a sales professional or sales leader, what books are on your bookshelf?

As I consider my own library, there are dozens upon dozens of titles in it you’d recognize. Some that you wouldn’t. Out of all my books, a handful jump out as having made the biggest impact on me as an entrepreneur, sales professional and sales leader.

These are the seven books I recommend for sales professionals and sales leaders. If you’ve heard me deliver a sales keynote or leadership keynote (or read my book The Modern Seller), you’ve probably heard me mention one or more of these books. Not all are technically sales books, but all deliver content that helped inspire me to not only sell more, but to change the way I approach sales as a modern seller.

Selling to Big Companies by Jill Konrath

Selling to Big Companies by Jill Konrath is one of the first books I got when I branched out into consulting, because selling to big companies was exactly what I needed to do. While I had sold before in my sales positions at tech giants IBM and Lenovo, I had not sold as a small business. And I needed to learn how to better get the attention of large enterprises who would buy my training services.

Selling to Big Companies provides sure-fire strategies to crack into big accounts, shrink your sales cycle and close more business. It also provides an Account Entry Toolkit for ideas on how to apply this process to your own unique business.

This book was written in 2006, and I still reference it regularly. The sales tips I found most helpful were the messaging strategies for getting decision makers to return calls and emails. Jill helps you cut the fluff from your voice mail and email messages, and edit them down to the exact words to use to break through. She helps you become more confident by learning to back your message with substance—of what you can do and what ideas you have. Selling to Big Companies helped me open doors and hone my message.

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel Pink

Daniel Pink is one of my favorite authors. In fact, I have every book he’s ever written. As indicated by the title, When is about timing. More specifically, it’s about the scientific secrets of perfect timing. It’s not a sales book, but every sales professional should read this.

If we were to apply Daniel’s concepts to sales, it is about understanding the timing around decision making, and what motivates people to make certain decisions at certain times. When helped me round out my thinking around simple things like when to schedule meetings, when to send or review proposals, when to deliver certain types of news and when to hold meetings. He even shares tips for timing around your energy (ex. most of us peak in the morning), which can help you make better decisions on what tasks to take on when.

The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the 10 Commitments That Drive Sales by Anthony Iannarino

Let’s face it. Closing gets a bad rap among sales leaders and sales professionals. It’s long been considered the most difficult part of the sales process.

In The Lost Art of Closing, Anthony Iannarino proves that the final commitment can actually be one of the easiest parts of the sales process—if you’ve set it up properly with other commitments that have to happen long before the close. The key is to lead customers through a series of necessary steps designed to prevent a purchase stall.

When we think of closing as linear approach, tacked on to end of sales process, it can set us up for failure. Anthony takes a different approach. He challenges us to think about different types of commitments that our clients and decision makers need to make internally and with us—and how to earn those commitments. This is an approach I’ve taken in my career, so a lot of what Anthony included in his book validates what came naturally to me.

He also gives suggestive language for helping you apply the concepts. You make the language your own, but he has sample scripts and sample language you can use readily.

One other important concept in The Lost Art of Closing: Anthony suggests the investment you charge for your product or services is one of your competitive advantages. It’s a wedge you drive between you and your competitors, because you provide greater value. If you hide the fact that you cost more, you are hiding that you are in fact better than you competitors. Often, closing comes down to price wars. If a prospect or client asks you to come down in price, take the opposite approach. When your fees are higher, own that. Your higher fees can be a competitive advantage for you.

Million Dollar Consulting: The Professional’s Guide to Growing a Practice by Alan Weiss

In Million Dollar Consulting, Alan Weiss provides his time-tested model on creating a flourishing consulting business, while incorporating and focusing on the many dynamic changes in solo and boutique consulting, coaching, and entrepreneurship.

If you are a consultant or have a consulting arm to your business, then this is a worthwhile read. One concept that Alan talks about fairly early on in the book is that you are selling outcomes– and outcomes are what’s valuable to the prospect’s or client’s business. Not necessarily the deliverable or the skill. If I’m a consultant, I’m selling myself as much as I’m selling an outcome.

This is an idea that I also expand upon in my own book, The Modern Seller. To be successful, we must be recognized as a differentiator and seen as a competitive advantage for our client. That all comes to the you the PERSON as much as to what you are selling. Million Dollar Consulting reinforces the idea that as a modern seller, you are an important part of the sales equation.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed.

If this book sounds familiar, it’s because I reference it in The Modern Seller. What I love about The Power of Habit is how it’s organized into how you create habits as a person, as an organization, and as a movement.

A concept I come back to frequently is what he calls “the habit loop.” Charles describes how our brain formulates habits. When we can become aware of the habit loop, and know which habits are productive for us and those aren’t, we can insert new routines into the habit. The right routine creates the right outcome. To be successful sellers, we need to learn to develop the right routines.

While this book contains a lot of research, it’s very readable. He shares interesting stories about applications of habits. If we can understand our habits, we can create better outcomes.

How to be a Power Connector: The 5+50+100 Rule for Turning Your Business Network into Profit by Judy Robinette

Other people have the answers, deals, money, access, power, and influence you need to get what you want in this world. To achieve any goal, you need other people to help you do it.

In How to Be a Power Connector, Judy Robinette teaches you to create a personal “power grid” of influence to spark professional and personal success. This is another book I reference in The Modern Seller.

What I like about this book is that she delivers specific, actionable strategies. Also important is the idea of understanding your own network. Have you built a network of powerful people in terms of being able to accomplish your own significant goals? Judy tells us to create our top 5, key 50 and vital 100 connections.

Other intriguing and helpful concepts in this book are the “power connector mindset” and “mental barriers to power connecting.” The book busts some of the myths that stop us from having courage to build bigger relationships. And as sellers we know, the challenge is to turn connectivity into valuable relationships — and then into sales results.

DISCOVER Questions Get You Connected (For Professional Seller)s by Deborah Calvert

A frequent resource of mine, DISCOVER Questions sits on my desk, complete with bookmarked pages and notes in the margins.

This book by my friend and fellow Women Sales Pros colleague Deb Calvert, is written for any seller in any industry, B2B and B2C, inside or outside, so long as that seller believes in connecting with buyers in meaningful ways. The book is divided into three parts, so it is accessible and relevant to sellers at every level of experience.

DISCOVER is an acronym for different types of questions. It lays out a strategy for which type of questions to use get to a better outcome in various situations. As a seller this means that instead of you coming in to a pitch with all the answers, you come in with better questions.

Many other fellow members of the Women Sales Pros are authors as well. I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to the insightful ideas and strategies that they’ve all shared. For the full list of sales books by Women Sales Pros, visit the WSP “Learn from Leaders” page.

Bonus Book
Sales Secrets from the Top 1% by Brandon Bornancin

Here’s an eighth book as a bonus. It’s brand new, and by fellow Central Ohio sales leader Brandon Bornancin. I’m one of the “1 percent” who shares secrets in the book to help you learn from the best and generate more revenue today. Be sure to check it out.

If you haven’t already read The Modern Seller, here’s an offer for you. Download a free chapter now, and learn how The Modern Seller is Social.

Read The 7 Sales Books Every Sales Professional Needs to Own at Amy Franko.

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If you’re in a professional services field like accounting, you’re most likely expected to wear two hats. Of course you need to be an expert at your business. But for your firm (and your own career) to grow and prosper, you also need to be an expert business developer.

Selling your expertise has always been more complex than selling a tangible product because prospects can’t see it, touch it, or demo it. Add to that new business development challenges brought on by the new sales economy– like commoditization, falling utilization rates, less loyalty in your client base, pressure to deliver faster ROI, and talent drains.

Those challenges call for new skillsets.

In a new article for the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ CPA Now, I unwrap the five key skills behind the skills for building a better book of business as a modern business developer.

Read it here.

And for a deeper dive on the social skillset, download a free chapter from my book, The Modern Seller.

Read Modern Business Development Skills for CPAs at Amy Franko.

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Prospecting. Cold calling. Interrupting. However you describe it, most sales professionals don’t love it. In fact, they’ll usually find a way to avoid it. When we avoid it, we don’t feel the pain right away – the pain shows up a quarter or two later, when our pipeline is empty.

In professional services, this is felt even more. It’s harder than ever to break through the noise and make the right connections. (Why? Read my past articles on trends caused by the new sales economy.)

But there are some tactics you can undertake to accelerate your sales pipeline with strategic prospecting.

In my new guest blog post on the CloserIQ blog, I deliver four strategies for accelerating your sales results over the next 90 days. You’ll learn how can you uncover opportunities with your loyal clients, and also open the door with new prospects.

Read it now.

Looking for more strategic selling tips? Watch this short video on how you can leverage the “ambassador factor” to become a successful, modern seller.

Amy Franko: The Modern Seller is an Ambassador - Vimeo

Read Accelerate Your Sales Results Over the Next 90 Days with These Prospecting Strategies at Amy Franko.

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I’ve said it before: I’m a big believer in life-long learning. With a very on-the-go lifestyle, I’ve come to enjoy and depend on podcasts as part of my own professional development toolkit.

As I launched The Modern Seller, I’ve also been able to “give back” to the podcast community as a guest on some of the top sales podcasts and leadership podcasts.It’s a role I’ve enjoyed, as I’ve had the opportunity to chat with other industry thought leaders and share some of the sales strategies I’ve learned and developed that can help others accelerate their sales results.

For today’s post, I’m sharing a roundup of seven of my top recent sales podcast appearances. For a library of all my podcast appearances, visit the podcast resource page. I also encourage you to subscribe to these podcasts, as they publish regularly with a variety of exciting guests and informative topics.

In The Arena with Anthony Iannarino
The Top 5 Sales Skills of Modern Sellers

Anthony Iannarino is a fellow speaker, author and sales leader who also happens to be located right here in the Columbus Region, like Amy. His sales podcast, In the Arena, is constantly ranked among the best in the business.Amy joined Anthony on an episode to share the top five sales skills of modern sellers. Learn how the quality of your relationships will dictate the quality of your sales results and how to become a trusted advisor to your clients.

Top takeaway: An ambassador is a bridge – a person who brings things and people together. An ambassador is an owner – a person invested in their company and their results. An ambassador is a value creator – a person who works to serve others and enable their success.

Listen to the episode here.

Podcast page.

Selling with Social with Mario M. Martinez
Achieve Modern Sales Success

Vengreso’s Selling with Social sales podcast provides actionable insights for modern sellers.

Mario M. Martinez Jr is the CEO and Founder of Vengreso and the host of Selling with Social. He spent 82 consecutive quarters in B2B Sales and Leadership roles growing hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue annually.

Amy joined Mario on an episode to share insights on how the modern sales environment is changing constantly. And why, if you’re going to be successful in it, you’ve got to be growing and adapting so you can navigate the changes successfully.

Top takeaway: To succeed as a modern seller, you’ve got to learn how to address what your prospects are truly concerned about – and the timing related to that concern. For example, every buyer you speak with will be concerned about return on investment relating to the purchase of your product or service.

Listen to the episode here.

Podcast page.

The Sell Out Show with Dianna Geairin and Shawn Karol Sandy
5 Skills Modern Sellers Need

If you are a #BootsOnTheGround #PhoneInTheHand salesperson, this show is for YOU!

Amy Franko appeared on the SellOut Show with hosts Dianna Geairn and Shawn Karol Sandy. With its fast fun pace and tangible, actionable advice, this show’s goal is to get you to a “solid six” in sales. When Amy joined them on the show, they delved into the five skills every modern seller needs.

Top takeaway: Why being “holistic” is an important trait of a modern seller and how an energy routine can help build motivation and discipline.

Listen to the conversation here.

Podcast page. 

Conversations with Phil Gerbyshak

Phil Gerbyshak is a speaker, sales expert, corporate sales trainer and small business coach.He trains his clients on the power of connection

Amy had the opportunity to chat with Phil on a recent episode of his show, Conversations with Phil and they discussed Amy’s book, The Modern Seller.

Top takeaway: Being a modern seller allows us to be more focused on the right sales activities, the right clients and the right growth make us more efficient and more effective.

Listen to the conversation here.

Podcast page.

Same Side Selling Podcast with Ian Altman
Modern Sales and Marketing Techniques for Modern Sellers

If you’re a sales professional or sales leader who’s also a fan of podcasts, chances are you are familiar with Ian Altman. Ian, a renowned keynote speaker, business expert, and bestselling author, hosts a podcast called Same Side Selling where he tackles sales and business topics, as well as offers insight from industry leaders with proven success. More than 150 episodes are posted in his archive.

Amy had the opportunity to chat with Ian on a recent episode about Modern Sales and Marketing Techniques.

Top takeaway: How a “transactional mindset” can hurt businesses and why outcomes are far more important than individual deals.

Listen to the episode here.

Podcast page.

ATD Sales Enablement Podcast
Shaping the Sales Career Path

Amy has been a long-time member of the Association for Talent Development, a past ATD annual conference speaker, and a frequent contributor to the group’s publications. Recently she was pleased to join ATD in a new venue—an ATD Sales Enablement Channel podcast.

On the episode, Jenna Cronin, Community of Practice Manager for Sales Enablement at ATD, and Amy delved into the importance of shaping the sales career path and building a strong, productive sales culture.

Top takeaway: Who should care the most about sales career development and what are some of the inflection points (or changes a company goes through) that should cause leadership to address career paths.

Listen to the episode here.

Rooted in Revenue with Susan Finch
The Why and the How: Which Comes First to Move the Sale Along

The Rooted in Revenue sales podcast program tackles many revenue subjects, all based on revenue generating marketing, events and sales activities with expert hosts and guests.Co-host Susan Finch has been helping people solve marketing problems and build their online reputations and value for decades. Rooted in Revenue is a venue for snack-sized tips that can be easily implemented.

In this episode, Susan welcomes back Amy, as a follow up to the book launch episode for The Modern Seller. Update on her book. Her blog post titled, “What Distinguishes a Standout Seller?” led to this interview.

Top takeaway: There is not one answer, but Amy helps you determine the questions to have ready in order to guide the meeting, the presentation and ultimately – THE SALE.

Listen to the episode here.

Podcast page.

Read Podcast Roundup: Top Sales Podcast Appearances at Amy Franko.

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As sales professionals and leaders, we’re most likely driven, Type A personalities. So when a win gets delayed, it can be particularly frustrating. In this short video on the blog, I share three strategies you can use to help regain your sales momentum.

Did Your Win Get Delayed? 3 Strategies to Gain Momentum. - Vimeo

Strategy 1: Stay ahead of things during the sales process by getting the right intelligence.

Strategy 2: Keep momentum by scheduling a follow-up meeting or call.

Strategy 3: Stay in touch by sending relevant resources.

For more sales strategies, download a free chapter of my book, The Modern Seller.

Read Did Your Win Get Delayed? Three Strategies to Regain Sales Momentum. at Amy Franko.

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What are the people you know saying about your company and you?

Nearly every client I’ve had the opportunity to work with has come from a referral of some kind, whether it’s from another client, or from within my larger professional network. Nielson* research shows that:

  • 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know.
  • People are 4X more likely to buy when referred by a friend.
  • 84% of consumers say they either completely or somewhat trust recommendations about products and services from family, colleagues, and friends.

These recommendations are the information source ranked highest for trustworthiness.

The most successful sales pros and  business developers view their network with the same level of importance as they do their best clients and prospects. A network is something that’s intentionally cultivated over time and that work becomes part of our everyday habits.

3 strategies to generate more #sales leads with strategic network referrals, via @amyfranko. #ModernSeller

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3 Strategies to Establish a Referral Network Plan and Drive Sales

In last week’s blog, I looked at the importance of a peer referral network. This article outlines several strategies to help you create a plan for increasing the number and quality of your referrals. As you’re reading, choose the strategies that will work best for you, or challenge yourself to incorporate a new strategy into your existing referral plans.

1. Leverage LinkedIn

LinkedIn has about 500 million users, and it remains the top platform to build your network and elevate your business development efforts. Any network referral partner you work with or client referring business to you will expect you to have a current LinkedIn profile that shows consistent engagement. A prospect considering doing business with you will first research you on LinkedIn. The items that are most important to keep up to date include:

  • Professional Headline
  • Summary
  • Professional profile photo
  • Thought leadership media: regular posting with short blogs, longer-form articles, and white papers
  • Video: Videos are a growing trend in social engagement, and LinkedIn allows you to add video to your profile and updates.

A few other tips to keep in mind to help maximize your professional presence on LinkedIn:

  •  Create your unique profile URL.
  • Customize your requests to connect; you’ll increase your chances of your invitation being accepted and remembered. Be sure to connect as a first-degree connection with anyone you’re considering as a network referral partner.
  • Connect with former colleagues who have retired or transitioned to working for a client. They can become a strong referral source. When you’re connected to them via LinkedIn, it expands your access to other potential prospects and centers of influence.
  • Download your contacts quarterly and review them. For directions on how to do that, view this article. Once you complete the steps you’ll receive an email with a link to download your list of connections.

2. Create a Loyal Client Network

Chances are, you have hundreds (or thousands) of contacts in your LinkedIn network, many of which are current and past clients. But not all clients are referral candidates.

Loyal B2B customers spend 10 times more than new ones, and 84 percent of B2B decision makers start the buying process with a referral. Your loyal customers will be more likely to refer you, because they know and trust your reputation. (More on loyal clients here.)

To get started with this step, identify your top five most loyal clients that may become ideal referral sources for you. You’ll want to determine who within the client has the potential to be your advocate, to help you open some doors. It’s also important have your business development goals in mind, and some research completed on who these client advocates are connected to, and how they can best help you.

One of the most effective ways I have built my book of business is to host a quarterly forum that includes my top clients. I host them over lunch, and moderate conversations on a topic important to them. It’s a non-selling environment that allows them to network with and learn from one another. This creates a high-value referral environment. My clients will often recommend others who may be a fit for the forum, or they’ll initiate conversations that lead to new business development.

3. Create a Peer Network

Creating a peer network is another strong strategy for building your referral base. These are like-minded professionals who service the same client types, but offer complimentary/non-competitive services.

To create a strong peer network, identify 5-10 potential peers that could be an ideal fit. The companion video gives you the five traits to look for in an ideal network partner. Below are some steps you can take to build your peer network:

  •  As you would with your client advocates, you’ll want to keep your business development goals in mind, and do some research on your potential peer network partners.
  • Set an initial meeting with these potential network partners, face-to-face if possible. With this type of meeting you can update one another on key offerings, as well as the types of clients that are an ideal fit for each of you.
  • Assuming there’s a strong fit, you now have an opportunity to cross reference each other’s clients and centers of influence for potential matches.
  • Commit to making introductions for each other on a regular basis, and create a cadence for regular follow-up with one another.
  • To take this a step further, you might even create a technology-based community to share best practices (such as a private LinkedIn group), or an in-person community where you come together quarterly to strategize on business development.

Taking a network approach like this casts a wider, but still targeted, net for building your referral base. It will also create more momentum for you around lead generation.

For more strategies on driving sales by building your social capital, download A Modern Seller is Social, a free chapter from my book, The Modern Seller.

Read Generate More Sales Leads with Strategic Network Referrals at Amy Franko.

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As seller build their sales and prospecting process, there’s one strategy I frequently see them forget: leveraging their peer referral network to help create new opportunities, new leads, and new business.

In this article, I’ll define a peer referral network, and help you to identify who makes an ideal network partner.

A peer referral network is a cultivated group of like-minded professionals with complementary areas of expertise, who are actively engaged in helping one another market and grow their books of business. And modern sellers are always cultivating this integral group of strategic relationships as a platform to grow their sales.

Those sales professionals and sales leaders who have the most success with a referral network take a consistent approach to it. They treat their network with the same level of service as they would their best clients and top prospects– they treat network development as a high-priority activity. Because of this, their referral network becomes their greatest source of sales opportunities and leads.

How do sellers identify and then create a peer referral network? Here are five traits of those who make ideal network partners, along with a few strategies you can put into practice. @amyfranko #ModernSeller #sales #salestips

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How do you identify and then create your peer referral network? Here are five traits of those who make ideal network partners, along with a few strategies you can put into practice.

1) They are in complimentary lines of business.

First, they’re in the right line of business. Our network partners should serve the same client types as your organization, but offer complementary and non-competitive services.

Consider the professional service providers that complement your line of work. For example, if you work for an accounting firm, peer network partners might be attorneys, bankers, marketing firms, real estate firms, and insurance brokers. This could look different for you, depending on the industries you serve.

An action step you can take is to review your current connections across all of your platforms. Then create a brainstorm list of 30-50 potential network partners, noting their industry. You’ll ultimately narrow this list down, to about 10-20 people, or a number that fits your specific goals.

2) They provide outstanding client service.

Second, our network partners need to have a reputation for providing outstanding client experience. They’re likely well known in their industry and community.

When it comes time to reciprocate and make a referral, it’s important to be confident in that partner. Trust in the experience is non-negotiable, because it also reflects on your reputation. Any referral partner should be known for the same commitment as you and your business. Chemistry helps, too. Do you like this person and enjoy interacting with them? If so, the people you refer to them likely will too.

3) They are well connected.

Members of your peer referral network should be well-connected centers of influence.

When you open your network to your referral partners, make sure they can introduce you to new and different connections that are also the right connections. The right network partner is usually a Center of Influence, meaning they have higher-level connections in their industry and community. They’re viewed as a leader.

A partnership will likely not be as effective if the other person has a weak network, connections that are too low level, or if there’s significant overlap between your networks. You can use these criteria to prioritize your initial brainstorm list. Who’s well-known for client experience? Who will you enjoy working with? Who are centers of influence? These questions will help you narrow your list, and see where there could be some gaps to fill.

4) They align with your business and sales goals.

A network partner understands your business and aligns with your sales goals.

They need to know what you do, the value you create for your clients, and what differentiates you from the competition. They also need to understand who makes an ideal client for you.
Part of your role becomes educating your referral network, so they can effectively translate your value. In this way, you set them up for success.

There are two action steps that can help with this. The first is to create a summary of your ideal client, and your business development goals. You’ll want to share that with your identified network partners, and they’ll want to do the same for you. The second action that I take with my network partners in any referral situation, is to provide a summary introduction email. This is something short, with key points, that can easily be forwarded to a potential referral.

5) They are dedicated to your partnership.

And finally, the network partner must be actively engaged in the success of the partnership.

A successful peer network relationship requires active engagement. It helps for each of you to set your goals and expectations upfront, and even in writing. It also helps to have a set cadence to connect. For most referral networks, I recommend bi-monthly. When I’ve added this structure to my partnerships, we’re all more engaged and accountable. We create more connections and referrals for one another. Over time, your peer network relationships will evolve. You might find that goals have changed, and the level of engagement may need to change also. Part of this process is continually cultivating relationships and adding to your network.

A strong referral network is mutually beneficial and strategic.When you have the right network partners, you’ll get more leverage from your business development efforts. The companion article has more strategies to help you cultivate your referral network.

Watch for a future article where I’ll delve into the strategies and tactics for building your referral network. And download my ebook, 36 Tips to Build Lasting Strategic Relationships and this free chapter from The Modern Seller, A Modern Seller is Social, for more information.

Read Modern Sellers Leverage This Type of Strategic Connection to Grow Their Sales at Amy Franko.

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Whether you’re a veteran sales leader or brand new to the profession, chances are good that at one point or another you’ve struggled to break through with a prospect. Or found it difficult to maintain a strategic relationship with a hard-to-connect-to client.

One of the best ways to accelerate your progress, and therefore your sales results, is to focus on creating and communicating value in every interaction.

When you create value, the prospect or client will remember you and want to continue the conversation. This blog post shares three sales strategies you can focus on to create value in every interaction.

One of the best ways to accelerate your progress, and your #sales results, is to focus on creating and communicating value in every interaction. @amyfranko #ModernSeller

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1. Match your value proposition to what’s important to them.

Too many times we have interactions with a prospect – it could be a phone conversation, an email, a meeting, or at a conference – and we don’t know enough about what’s valuable to them. Without that knowledge, it’s tough to match the value you create in a way that’s meaningful. But how do you find this out quickly?

For example, let’s say that you’re at a conference or trade show. Your role there is to develop new relationships, or further a relationship with some defined prospects. You might open the conversation in a general way, with a question like “what sessions have been the most interesting to you?”

How they answer will shed light on what’s relevant to them or their challenges. You can use that to guide the conversation and ask a follow-up question.

The resulting conversation can open the door for you to share what you’re seeing in terms of client or industry challenges, and how your work created value in those situations. Be sure to focus on the results and business benefit of your work, not just the tasks that it takes to get there.

To get started with this, brainstorm your best success stories in advance, and have them in your hip pocket for when the time is right. Think of a current client or two. Make a list of the various tasks you do for them. For as many tasks as you can, list out the business value they delivered, or the challenge they helped the client to solve. It’s the business value and problem solving that create interest and provide the foundation for a sale.

2. Have the best intelligence.

If you know you’ll be meeting a prospect or a new decision-maker at a current client, do some research on them ahead of time. Check their social media feeds or read the latest news articles on their company or industry. Look for “trigger events” such as:

  • Annual reports and investor briefs
  • Board of Director changes
  • Leadership changes
  • Company issues and initiatives
  •  Industry issues

If you discover a trigger event, consider its ramifications– and strategize how you can help solve any challenges or address any opportunities that arise from it. When you’re prepared in advance, that helps you to focus on the conversation. You can better know where to insert more about your expertise in a way that’s valuable.

It’s also important to end on a positive note. Try wrapping up your conversation with an offer of assistance.

Ask something like, “Is there anything I can do to help you right now?” You’d be surprised at what you might learn, and it gives you an opportunity to follow up.

3. Demonstrate your value.

The third strategy is to demonstrate your value in a way that leaves a positive and lasting impression. Every interaction is an opportunity to add value. The ways in which you do that can be based on what you learn in your conversations.

  • For example, you can send along a relevant article or other resource. This doesn’t always have to be professionally related – it can be something that they’re personally interested in.
  • If you promised you would follow up with an item or a call, be sure to follow through. That begins to build trust.
  • You can also send a thank you note. It might seem simple, but it will stand out. Few people send hand-written notes any more.
  • Think about what introductions might make sense. Would your new connection benefit from knowing someone else in your network? If so, build that bridge for them. This includes introductions to others in your organization’s network. We have so many areas of expertise, we can use that to build value for our connections, and also keep competitors out.
  • Finally, set reminders for future contacts. It’s one thing to meet one time and follow-up, but value creation can be more continuous with a follow-up system.

Using these three sales strategies, you’ll be on your way to better create and communicate your value, which will result in more sales, more loyal clients—and increase your own social capital, as well.

For more modern selling strategies, download a free chapter of my book The Modern Seller.

Read Can’t Break Through to a Prospect or Client? Create Value with These 3 Sales Strategies. at Amy Franko.

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