The Essential Pre-Appointment Checklist for Social Sellers
Preparing for sales meetings is key to success. Leverage this pre-appointment checklist to improve your social selling skills and set yourself apart from the competition.
November 13, 2014
One of the most important stages in social selling is positioning yourself as a thought leader and subject matter expert that your prospects and customers want or need to hire.
Today’s top social sellers have made a name for themselves by following these three steps:
1) Offering industry insights;
2) Communicating competitive advantages and;
3) Introducing solutions through thoughtful research prior to your meeting.
The question is “how and where do I find the ‘intel’ that I can use to position myself and my company in the 1st meeting”?
Here’s how to find ‘intel’ and become better prepared for sales calls:
☐ Company Research:
☐ LinkedIn Company Page
✓ Look at “How Your Connected” and identify 1st degree connections. Reach out to your connections, and ask for some insights such as X
✓ If you have a 2nd degree connection you can identify who they know and ask for introductions into people that can offer you some company background.
✓ Look at your connection’s posts to determine what matters to them right now. This information can be useful as you prepare your presentation, giving you the opportunityto cater directly to their pain points. (Be sure to check their Twitter, Google+ and Facebook pages as well).
☐ Visit their website
✓ Read any news, blog posts, and press releases to uncover what initiatives are happening presently. This will help you understand what they currently have going on and will help you appear as if you have done your research, should something come up in the meeting.
✓ Read about who they are (“About us” page),clients they work with, and awards they’ve won. Make note of important milestones and be sure to mention highlights in the meetings.
☐ Google the company
✓ Review their annual reports, if available, as this can be a good indication ofthe direction of the company.
☐ People Research
✓ Build out an organizational chart with every person’s name, their title, and if they are a key decision makers in the buying process. For example: The economic buyer, the shopper, the technical buyer, the manager, the end users etc.
✓ If you don’t know each person’s name, use LinkedIn’s Advanced Search feature to look up the title and company then fill in the names.
✓ In addition, you can send an InMail to introduce yourself and/or a personalized request to connect on LinkedIn. For example, you can say, “I am meeting with XXX in your department in a few weeks and I thought it might make sense for us to connect.”
✓ Be sure to stay engaged with them by commenting on their content and sharing relevant content with them. This establishes credibility for you as a salesperson and trust between you and the prospect.
BONUS: If appropriate, when you are there for your meeting, you can mention: “I am connected to Jane Smith from this office on LinkedIn, but I haven’t had the chance to meet her in person yet, if there is time would I be able to pop my head in and say hello?”
✓ Gather information to build rapport with the people who will be in the meeting. Often their names are right in the calendar invitation.
✓ Research their background, hobbies, schools, and content they and their company are sharing on social media. To build rapport you don’t have to like or agree with the content they share on social media, but you should read it and understand their position or thought process.
✓ Follow them personally on Twitter (often you can find that in their LinkedIn contact information box).
☐ Check out their competition and what they are talking about too.
When you understand not just what is happening in their industry but what direct competitors are doing, you position yourself as a trusted advisor, not just a sales person.
BONUS: Through LinkedIn’s Advanced Search you can identify former employees that you are either already connected to or have a common connection(s) with, and they are a great source of discovery. You can ask questions regarding the culture and the decision making process from their perspective.
So now you have some great insight into the business and what matters to them. It makes forming your questions easier and positions you to offer subject matter expertise that is relevant to them. You are now positioned to be the vendor of choice.