LinkedIn is a great way to network with other business professionals. But it does have some easily corrected problems. Of course, LinkedIn is not the king (or queen) of customer service or listening to customer requests. So they probably won’t do any of this. But they should. 1. Get a decent customer service department. I am a paid subscriber. But it can still take days and often at least a couple of reports of the same problem to even get a response. Even then, LinkedIn rarely fixes the problem. This is unacceptable for even the free service, much less the paid service. 2. Let people invite others they don’t know. If I’m at a regular networking event, I can go up to anyone and introduce myself. They have the freedom to respond or not respond with information. But LinkedIn operates on an absurd principle that you either have to know someone or be introduced to them to invite them. Why? 3. Install a simple text editor. Right now the only emphasis one can give in a comment or discussion is TO CAP IT. This is very old fashioned and not very much fun. Almost everyone now has a simple text editor. LinkedIn should, too. 4. Stop letting group members move discussions to jobs or promotions. This should be the duty of group owners and managers only. At this time, competitors can move any discussions to never-never land, namely, jobs or promotions. There is a notification, but getting a post moved back to discussions is a real pain, especially since most group owners don’t do a very good job of responding to requests. In this cut-throat business environment, why give my competitors the right to silence me (or me the right to silence them)? 5. Require a photo to be on LinkedIn. This would cut down on spammers and frauds on LinkedIn. LinkedIn should also enforce their terms of service regarding photos, namely, no logos or icons. I like to have a picture of the person with whom I’m connecting. 6. Make it easier to respond to members who write you through LinkedIn. Right now it is a real pain. Let someone who receives a LinkedIn message respond by simply hitting “respond” on their e-mail program, rather than having to sign into LinkedIn and use LinkedIn’s inadequate response mechanism. Hint: When you send a message via LinkedIn, always include your real e-mail address. If you are going to ping me, I should be trustworthy enough to be able to write you back directly. 7. Make it easier to contact LinkedIn. Not only is LinkedIn’s customer service worse than that of airlines (that’s pretty bad), but it is incredibly difficult to place a trouble ticket. This should be a “one click.” Instead, customers have to jump through hoops to send an e-mail. For those of us who are paying customers a phone number where we can actually talk to a real person would be a nice touch — so long as that real person has the information, the authority and the willingness to actually solve the problem — something LinkedIn is really abysmal at. 8. Give us something for our money. I haven’t decided whether my money that is going to LinkedIn each month is being well spent or not. I still get the same lousy customer service. I can do a bit of enhanced searching. But not much else. If we’re going to pay, let us get our money’s worth! 9. Stop making me sign in so much! I should be able to sign-in and stay signed in. As it is, every so often I have to re-enter my password. I understand this is for my “security,” but I should be able to sign-in and stay signed in on the same computer. LinkedIn is a great tool for business. But they aren’t very responsive to the needs and desires of their customers. This is the primary attitude at LinkedIn I’d love to see changed immediately. For more business advice, join my LinkedIn Groups, “Getting Employed,” and “Spirituality in Business.” Thanks! John Heckers has over 30 years of successfully helping people with their careers. He has consulted to executives from Fortune 500 companies, five-person companies, and everything in-between. Photo credit: Shutterstock
January 28, 2022
Recently, a long-time colleague, the chief sales officer for a $21M technology company, reached out to catch up and asked for help to get to market in the primary vertical where I focus. He went on to share that his company made an initial go-to-market attempt by assigning a sales rep because of their familiarity with the product. He then admitted a modest return on their investment and a residual lack of knowledge of the industry, few connections, little brand recognition, or sales results. Fast-forwarding to today, he expressed urgency to relaunch with a short game to start generating revenue quickly and a long-term plan to establish themselves in the space.
For everyone who needs to crush a go-to-market with a new brand, a product line extension, or a new vertical, you need speed to market, the right audience, and well-placed efforts to avoid wasting precious time and resources. Here are (5) of the essential steps that I think of as stops along the road to an effective plan to entrench your brand, incite change, and deliver measurable sales results while catering to a new buyer consciousness and decision-by-committee buying process.
We’ll assume of course that the product and business have been vetted with a well-substantiated business plan to address market opportunity, competition, trends, risks, contingencies, buyer profile, pricing model, financials, and infrastructure to produce and support the product, process, and customer.
Stop #1 – Build Mind Shifting Insights
We all think our product is great, but a survey of chief marketing officers found that only 13% believed they could pass an ultimate differentiator test by taking the names and logos off of their commercial content, hand it over to a competitor to present to the customer, and expect that customer to find their way back to buy from them for their specific solution, outcome, or benefit.
A further challenge to profitable, sizeable sales opportunities in the present-day multiple stakeholder buying journey is the 38% of sales cycles that end with the buying group deciding not to decide. Research reveals the following about the modern buying cycle*:
- Average buying group - 11 diverse, cross-functional people
- Average buying cycle - 4-5 months to investigate, gather info, evaluate, issue RFPs, demo, re-demo, and deliberate
- Typical staff hours per buying cycle - 85-90 hours or more
- Frequency of solution purchase attempts that end in choosing not to choose - 38%
Translating this to the back of a napkin assuming a sales executive works on 60 sales opportunities in a year:
- 15 Opportunities/Qtr x 38% = 20 Opportunities/Yr x an Average of 10 Hours = 1 Month/Yr.
The numbers are devastating if we’re losing 4 out of 10 times to the status quo, independent of being commoditized and losing to a competitor. So how do we beat these odds and gain back lost and unproductive time and resources?
- Teach our buyers something new that they wouldn’t have discovered on their own
- Challenge the way they see their business
- Give them a compelling reason to take action and press into change rather than commoditize our product and their decision down to the lowest cost or risk or choose to do nothing
How? We shape our brand, message, targets, tools, and strategy by mining for understanding. Understanding our customer's business, industry, business environment, and the distinguishing value of our product to form the customer’s journey as we offer deep commercial insights, create change, and differentiate ourselves from our competitors.
Stop #2 – Discriminate When Picking Targets
No really, this kind of discrimination is ok. Just as it is hard to strip the complex down to the simple, it is counter-intuitive to throw out a smaller net to catch more fish. Two litmus tests will put us over our target to selectively invest precious resources and time on opportunities with the greatest likelihood to convert.
1. The last two years have shaken up the organizations, industries, and regions that are thriving or surviving. This means a previously good prospect may not be in a position to make decisions or spend today. The imperative is to research and segment to avoid opportunities that are going nowhere. Going back to the data subsequent COVID-19, companies seem to fall into three categories:
- 10% - In a growth mode (i.e. consumer products, video conferencing, PPP, ventilation systems)
- 30% - Business as usual with some cost reduction measures
- 60% - In slow motion, struggling to operate with heavy scrutiny on spending
Do the research. Where does your potential customer base fall? Rather than potentially writing off the 60% and miss meeting your numbers, dig in to uncover the hidden gems that have healthy sectors for their business or are doing a good job of pivoting their strategies to grow with a new market or product.
2. Evaluate companies to find where you can create the greatest demand and generate urgency with your insights about their business. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What is their status quo and behaviors that I want to change?
- What are the incorrect assumptions that they have about their business?
- What don’t they know but should about their business?
- What is the level of pain they are in by staying the same vs. adopting change? Quantify “how much” better will you make their business to substantiate that a new way is their only viable way forward.
If you can’t make a compelling case for yourself, they aren’t a good prospect.
Stop #3 – Nurture A Tribe
In a cultural shift, buyers now link their decision to their perception of your brand and experience as they interact with your company and product. This new consciousness looks for an easier and more enjoyable journey, shared concern for values and causes, access to a tribe to affiliate with other users as they interact with your product and brand, and they expect reciprocal loyalty with escalating rewards for their ongoing participation with your brand.
Stop #4 – Automate Touch Points
Smaller teams and fewer resources necessitate we plan our go-to-market and ongoing support of our community with automated touchpoints in tandem with personal touch. Creating rhythms with campaigns, multi-purposed content, and using a handful of innovative tools to support our communications with automation is essential to supplement personal interactions with our network, social media engagements, speaking events, and conferences.
Stop #5 – Rock Your Social Media
In a few short years, our ability to virtually network in the absence of travel and in-person events, convey volumes of information, and create seismic impact has exploded with social media. Out-of-touch, one-dimensional blog posts, reposting lackluster content produced by an uninformed marketing department, or depending on “thought leadership” as the primary strategy to stand out from competitors has no statistically measurable impact on changing buying behavior. Instead, adding to in-person opportunities with face-to-face video content, articles, and active engagements with your executives and sales leaders who teach new and compelling insights will drive credibility and motivate change. These are essential for relevance, influence, and dominance. Miss the boat and fall behind.
*Research taken from CEB Advisory Group analysis and 2012 CEB Commercial Insights Assessment
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