When I first started in sales, there was zero opportunity to prospect online because the only “online” that existed was at the corner bagel store!
I started in radio sales and obviously part of the job was to find prospective advertisers. Each morning I gathered newspapers and magazines and flipped through the ads highlighting those that matched the demographic of the station. Of course, listening to other radio stations was key as it was important to monitor the others to hear who was spending money on radio commercials. Even while driving we would somehow find a pad and pen to write it down...not a good thing to admit!
Everyone had a big yellow book on their desks, actually called “The Yellow Pages,” which featured thousands of businesses and their phone numbers. We then took to the phones and "dialed for dollars".
Just like today, there were gatekeepers and decision makers who worked late and we crossed our fingers trying to get ahold of them. There were events to attend and business cards to hand out. Our prospect pipeline was managed manually on an excel sheet and before that, handwritten in notebooks and on index cards.
Flash forward to 2017 and of course we all realize the power we have as sales people. The landscape has completely changed and the ability to prospect is limitless. Oh the places we can find out information on our prospective customers. Everything from where they went to school to what they did over the weekend. (Yes, I have stalked a couple on Facebook myself). And, truth be told, they are probably checking us out as well.
Years ago Neilson did a study. It showed that, as buyers, we trust information that we see online (even stranger’s reviews) more than we do traditional advertising messages. What does this mean for you? Make sure that you are professionally branding yourself as the expert in whatever you are selling. Provide lots of social engagement sharing tips and advice on your industry. Highlight your achievements working with various clients and the results you generated for them. Don’t “sell too much” ...it turns people off.
People buy from those they trust. Providing value is a great way to build that trust.
Brand yourself online and be the expert. I promise you those prospects who are checking you out will be mutually interested as well in you!