No candy coating.

Since the Coronavirus Pandemic is forcing most of Canada into isolation, your business-to-business sales have been turned on their head. Perhaps you even saw it coming — we’ve been seeing a change in consumer behaviour since mid-February.

Then Saudi-Russia staged their squabble and our markets were hit by another heavy blow. Right now we’re in for 4–6 months of heavy disruption, and (especially for markets connected to oil) a long battle against a down economy.

For many businesses, this may look like a disaster, but you wouldn’t be where you are now if you weren’t used to creative strategy and reinventing business. You’ve adapted your sales techniques over and over through the years — now you just need to do that a little faster. As of right now, you’re graduating straight from dial-up to 5G. And we hope you’re ready!

Say Goodbye to networking events, coffee meetings, tradeshows and boardrooms — it’s time to change your sales funnel.

Here’s to a New Approach

Let’s rethink how you network.

If you’re anything like the rest of the BD world, your charm comes across best in real life, but you’re going to need to shift to online networking and adapting your methods of communication along with it. Ever charmed someone online before?

It’s Time to Start Using LinkedIn (Properly)

Chances are you have the basics down — your profile is up-to-date, you post an article here or there and you might even congratulate the odd connection on their work anniversary.

You may have once gotten away with such limited use but if this is your new lead generation, it won’t work anymore.

Here’s how we recommend you get the most of LinkedIn:

  • Do one more read over of your profile and make sure it’s eye-catching
    • When it comes to business development, this profile is NOT a resume — it’s a sales brochure. Start rebuilding your profile knowing that this helps prospects to decide if they’ll hire your company — this is where they can see how you’ve served people in the past.
    • Alongside the new format, make sure you’re updating your profile photo, adding a banner image, and a headline (the thing that most people just use to record their job title).
      HINT – Your headline doesn’t have to be a job title! Feel free to change this to showcase how you help clients — e.g. “Purchasing old wellsite equipment”
  • Think of how you can contribute to the conversation (or take them in a new direction)
    • Are there articles you’ve read recently that you could share with your network or could you write something yourself that answers FAQs? It doesn’t need to be long — a summary is often just as valuable as a full article.
    • Can you move your in-person presentations online and host live webinars (Zoom meetings) using LinkedIn as the tool to boost attendance?
  • Expand your network
    • Look for people you would normally find at networking events — are they within a certain geographic radius? Do they work in specific fields?
    • In the advanced search settings, you can search for connections by their job title and apply an additional filter based on whether they are a 2nd or 3rd connection to you.
  • Start conversations with your connections
    • If someone is an existing connection, start on a personal note and ask them for information or advice. In doing so you’re jumping back to “top of mind” and showing them you value their input and perspectives.
    • Other conversation starters include:
      • Bring up a client that your connection might be able to help as well — help them cross sell to your clients
      • Ask them about a mutual connection
      • Comment on one of their updates
    • If they’re a new connection, find common ground on their profile and begin the conversation there. Remember, this is about building your network, not making an immediate sale — so keep it focused on their interests.
  • Join professional groups
    • Find groups that are related to your field, join them and, most importantly, participate in them!

Bonus tip – look at your other social media accounts and see how you can spruce them up! Depending on your brand, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter might be better suited for forging connections with your client base.

Tap into your Current Network

Now, more than ever, it’s important to loop back with your existing network. They’re familiar faces who know the quality of your work and, if you’re lucky, are willing to vouch for you!

If you’ve worked with someone recently or in the past few years, reach out by phone or email, ask how they’re doing and tell them about timely, specific areas you could help them with to get through the current circumstances. Even if you don’t profit from these offers, use it to build the relationship. There’s no better time for a loss-leader than when you’re losing business either way.

It’s also a good time to remind them of the previous value you’ve brought to them. They may not need your product or services now, but they might in a month or two.

This can also unlock the conversation to ask for a referral. They think you’re great, so they may feel they can build their network by sharing you with someone they know. They are your best advocates, so let them build you up and introduce you to their colleagues.

One Piece of the Puzzle

Tapping into your network is only one piece of the puzzle. Read part 2 where were continue to talk about ways to communicate to your clients and explain how to reach new audiences in businesses adjacent to yours.