The Key to Building Credibility: Why FEXCO’s Gerard Donnan Believes Visibility is a Salesperson’s Best Asset
April 25, 2017
In the financial services industry, credibility is vital. The lack of a professional profile can cost you and your company a sale, making it more important than ever to build your online presence and reputation.
As Head of Sales for Australia / New Zealand for FEXCO Merchant Services, a division of FEXCO, Gerry Donnan understands the importance of building and maintaining a professional brand. FEXCO is a global leader in FinTech and business solutions—and with clients understandably concerned about risk exposure, Donnan’s approach to selling has to be nuanced and truthful.
With over 20 years’ experience of direct sales and countless happy clients, he has mastered this approach. As his relationship manager at LinkedIn, I caught up with him shortly after the Christmas period to discuss the cornerstone of his success.
Conor: Right off the bat, let’s talk about your SSI score. It’s currently at 81, which is very impressive. I’m surprised it didn’t drop over the holidays—mine certainly did.
Gerard: (laughs) I haven’t had a long holiday yet, Conor. Maybe it will drop when I do. I think anything over 80 is strong.
Absolutely, it indicates you’re doing very well. What does your target market look like?
In terms of sales, it’s mostly C-level executives across banking and Tier 1 merchants, but with a go-to-market strategy focusing on large banks. Of course, I’m head of sales, but I also work on marketing to build our brand, and to increase our brand awareness and solution capability set in the market.
With a market like that, establishing credibility is so important. How do you approach that?
As a salesperson, you want to be highly visible. You want to be relevant, and to be positioned as a subject matter expert in your field.
The LinkedIn Sales Navigator tool makes this possible. I’m able to pinpoint the right people that I want to talk to, and even if we’re not connected yet, they see I’m interested. They have a chance to get comfortable over time as they see I’m a regular contributor. If you’re making intelligent points, and building up credibility in the area you’re involved in, your clients know you’re a bona fide source even before they engage with you.
It sounds like a very open and two-sided approach to sales.
It really is. What I’m seeing is that buyers are becoming more and more sophisticated. Just as we’re using LinkedIn to target the right individuals and deliver a better value proposition, they’re assessing us using the same platform. They do a lot of homework on you before they agree to meet you.
That’s really interesting. Do you think you’d have the same success if you weren’t using the tools on LinkedIn?
What I’ve found is, if you’re not using Sales Navigator, that’s almost a negative tick against your organization from a client’s perspective. They’re going to ask questions right away.
Using it allows me to identify a win/win outcome. Of course you’re winning for your own company when you make a sale. But you also want to give the client a win because you’ve got a very tailored value proposition for them with a solution that meets their needs.
You’ve got a lot of experience in this field. What was your sales process like before you began using the tool?
Convoluted. A lot of it was cold calling, or trying to leverage word of mouth and historical contacts from our database—which may or may not be relevant over time. It was very much a hit-or-miss scenario.
Using Sales Navigator enables us to save a lot of time. We can find the right people much more quickly, and learn a little about them before we make our approach. In addition to running my own queries, the tool actually presents me with potential executive leads each day when I log in, based on companies that I’ve shown an interest in. It can be someone that is a shared connection with 20 of my connections, but for whatever reason I’ve never bumped into them yet in business. And they’re often great leads when I finally get to meet them, so that’s a very useful aspect of the tool.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in sales?
I’d say the first thing is to get on LinkedIn and set up a profile. From there, start using the Sales Navigator tool as much as possible, both to maximize your own performance and the performance of the business in terms of generating new revenue.
Sales is a sport that requires contact. Especially when it comes to ecommerce, people are online and engaged, so you’ve got to be engaged as a salesperson. I’m finding a lot of my own industry contacts are just now realizing how important LinkedIn is and are working on building their profiles and getting more active. LinkedIn is a cutting-edge tool, and there’ll always be laggards—but if you don’t adapt, unfortunately you’re going to be left a long way behind. After all, a salesperson is only as useful as the tools he or she has.