In the 1970s, I knocked on doors to find my customers and got referred to other customers.
In the 1980s, I made my cold calls using the telephone and got referred to other customers.
In the 1990s, I networked at meetings, mixers and trade shows and got referred to other customers.
In the 2000s, I started using LinkedIn and my blog and got referred to other customers.
The point I'm making here is that the world changes and we need to change to stay relevant. So, here are 10 rules of engagement for your consideration.
1. Know your ideal customer. Who are they? What do they care about? Title? Demographics? Goals? Importance of problems or issues?
2. Know where they hang out. Are they at home surfing Facebook, Twitter, Google+? Are they on LinkedIn at the office? Are they at real life meet-ups? Do they go to trade shows, chamber events, networking meetings?
3. Be remarkable, relevant and findable. My 80-year-old mother has caller ID. She doesn't answer if she doesn't know the number. Using Nos. 1 and 2, we need to be talking about stuff our customers are talking about where they're engaged in the conversation.
4. Understand that what you think doesn't matter. You have opinions. You have a buying process. You have preferences. Great! People who are trying to sell to you need to understand all that about you. However, your ideal customer may not have exactly the same opinions, processes or preferences, so you need to give them what they want, not what you think they want.
5. Google (search). What words will your customer use to find what they want to talk about? (Hint: It's not your company name and it may not be your product.)
6. Focus on conversation. LinkedIn is approaching 200-million members. It offers forums, groups and Q&A. There are many ways to get involved with the conversation with your B2B customer without advertising. Facebook is approaching a billion users with more diverse demographics, while Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and all the other social media platforms fill different needs. Remember Nos. 2 and 4 above. It's not where you are; it's where your customers are.
7. Optimize your profile. When your customer notices your remarkable content, they will wonder who you are and click on your profile. Make it contain what they want to see. Use your answers to No. 1 and information you glean from their conversations to appear relevant.
8. Watch for the opportunity to engage! And when you do, do it gently. Don't spook them. Don't pitch them. You may not even want to mention your company or product.
9. Follow a sales process that mirrors their buying process.
10. Don't give a reason to be eliminated. If your customer searches using words you don't know, you're eliminated. If you're too "sale-sy" in an email or telephone call, you're eliminated.
Today, it's important that what attracts the attention of potential customers be aligned with your process and consistent with the way they buy. n
[Rick Roberge is the author of TheRainMakerMaker blog (therainmakermaker.com) and a sales coach. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.]