I personally love to engage with people on LinkedIn through group discussions and learn from people's real life experiences. For example, I was engaged in a multiple person discussion when the SVP of Commercial Lending for a leading bank on the East Coast shared his situation. He had hired 4 new sales people to generate commercial loan leads for the bank, and divided his newly hired sales team's efforts between sending emails, cold calling, and attending conferences. According to this SVP, he was doing all he could do, yet he was still dealing with an empty pipeline.
Only 4% of buyers have a favorable impression of a salesperson who reaches out cold.
I struck up a LinkedIn discussion with this SVP and we ended up scheduling a time to meet. When I met with him, I listened to his challenges and realized that his team was focused on working through a list instead of connecting individually with each prospect. With the days of successful cold calling long gone, I told him to ditch the phone and cold emails and leverage LinkedIn to find prospects in order to create new business opportunities.
After some further discussion, I advised him to take the following social selling approach in order to revitalize his business.
As a result, this SVP moved from almost zero appointments to 34 warm appointments in 4 months time, which eventually resulted in a $22 million commercial loan pipeline for the bank. The following is the social selling approach we utilized to create this wildly successful loan pipeline for the bank.
1. Create a Customer-Centric Profile: We worked with the SVP to transition his profile into a customer-centric one, with a friendly yet professional photo and a value-centric headline.
2. Publish on LinkedIn Pulse: We helped the SVP regularly publish helpful and informative content to provide value to his network, and showcased him as an expert in the commercial loan field.
3. Engage in LinkedIn Groups: We joined LinkedIn groups on the SVP’s behalf that our target audiences are a part of and engaged in discussions with users.
4. Use LinkedIn Sales Navigator: We helped the SVP utilize Sales Navigator to build a precise and targeted list based on location (zip code), industry, company size, and designation. All prospects and their companies were saved as leads on Sales Navigator.
5. Send Personalized Connect Requests: The SVP added new connections to his network by writing warm and personalized connect request messages to precise target customers. 206 new connections were added in 4 months as a result of outreach to 580+ business owners.
6. Break the ice/have a conversation: Sales people often struggle to strike up a conversation with a prospect who is a total stranger to them. However, with technology, this has become much easier. This SVP used Sales Navigator, Google News, and Inside View to find talking points that demonstrated his genuine interest in a prospect's interests.
7. Engage with Insights: The SVP researched and shared valuable information to initiate a conversation while establishing himself as a knowledgeable industry leader. After all, 74% of buyers choose the seller who first provides insight and value.
8. Local Entrepreneurs Stories in the News: Local entrepreneurs who were covered in national or local news outlets were contacted to develop online relationships.
9. Reaching Out to Your College Network: Fellow alums are more likely to respond to a networking request than strangers because you share a common experience. Using Sales Navigator, the SVP identified prospects who attended the same college and reached out to them with a personalized message.
10. Move the Conversation Offline After Social Engagement: In the B2B world, the #1 driver of sales is offline conversations. Once a conversation moves offline, that is when the value creation happens. Post social engagement, the SVP focused on moving the conversation offline (to a phone call or in-person meeting). This resulted in 34 warm appointments in 4 months’ time.
This specific experience with this bank proves why it is time to stop using cold calls and email as the first point of connect. Instead, focus on making new connections, having relevant online conversations, and moving them offline for a conference call or a coffee meeting. Utilizing this social selling strategy can help your bank create a successful commercial loan pipeline.
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