Strategic supply chain clients buy from Consultative Experts, not brands.
Supply chain buyers want to speak to consultants who will provide them with industry insights and create opportunities for them to streamline and grow their business. That’s why the top performing salespeople in every field have a personal brand instead of relying on the “corporate brand” like the VP of Sales and Operations below:
LinkedIn is the one platform where we can establish our personal brand by providing insight that differentiates us from the competition to establish credibility and trust long before we make the first dial or email draft. But, we can only do this if we think differently about our profile and turn it from a basic resume into an instrument of sales and marketing success. Unfortunately, out of the hundreds of profiles I view each week, 9 out of 10 supply chain sales professional profiles are worthless as sales tools.
Recent studies show that Trust is paramount to ROI but Sales Leaders fail to use their profiles to build trust.
Instead of expanding on the complex needs of his prospects and how he’s offering solutions that improve his clients’ businesses, this VP discusses his sales, marketing and management abilities as if he’s looking for a job rather than a closed deal:
Instead of speaking to the value, this VP of Sales delivered to the pharma, chemical and food and beverage industries, he discusses his ability to close business, build a high run rate and maintain a multi-million dollar pipeline:
As you can see by the picture below, trust in a relationship is the most important factor for buyers who are looking to invest in a particular solution. Trust is paramount to ROI, price and strategic counsel. Trust building needs to be part of each touch point and every interaction a prospect has with sales, starting from the initial awareness. How we communicate our ‘personal business story’ and ‘unique value to prospects’ determines whether a prospect will trust us enough to connect and advance a relationship.
But how can you begin to build trust with prospects when your profile speaks to sales achievements and sales responsibilities instead of your value to prospects? That sends a message to the client that they are only a commodity and not important to us personally. Conversely, our clients are quickly building trust with their prospects as they are using their profile to:
- Demonstrate understanding of the buyers’ specific business issues
- Help the buyer to think differently about what causes the issues or who is impacted
- Clearly articulate relevant information on how to resolve the pain
These are the top 3 items that buyers look for in a sales meeting. Don’t you think that if we communicate the value buyers are looking for in your LinkedIn profile, then you’ll attract more key decision makers who want you to engage?
LinkedIn profiles do not communicate a strong competitive advantage.
For those LinkedIn profiles that are not a cover letter and resume, I find very little competitive advantage. They rely on their years of experience like this VP of Sales:
Years of experience is a basic qualification but not a unique differentiator: everyone discusses breakthrough results and the ROI they’ve delivered. But the profiles lack commercial insights that would explain why they are the only solution for the specific challenges their prospects are facing. This means we need to go beyond mentioning extremely-tired “people, process and technology” that 90% of salespeople and sales leaders seem to repeat ad nauseam.
Instead of talking about generic concepts like people, process and technology, the Schneider sales team showed how there were gaps in the technology offered to mid-market manufacturers and what those gaps meant to the business. Because of the profiles and the content provided, Schneider received inquiries like the one below:
Because the prospect saw the Schneider sales team as Experts, this prospect became a $400k annual revenue opportunity.
LinkedIn profiles do not support Account Based Sales and Marketing, although studies show that ABM brings the highest returns.
- 97% of marketers report that ABM approaches had the highest ROI (Alterra Group)
- 85% of marketers who measure ROI describe ABM as delivering the highest returns than any other marketing approach. (ITSMA)
- 45% more opportunities are gained through taking an ABM-based sales and marketing approach (LinkedIn)
- 60% of firms using ABM for at least 1 year experienced 10%+ growth (Forrester)
- ABM strategies lead to a higher contract and customer lifetime value (Forrester)
Yet, sales and marketing leaders are going for volume by throwing out content and messaging in an attempt to ‘speak to everyone’ with their profiles instead of focusing on the accounts they really want and the specific issues those accounts are facing.
For a supply chain technology company, sales leadership wanted a focus on those companies of the Inc 5000 fastest growth list. On the sales executives profile, we spoke about scaling a supply chain and the issues that many high-growth companies experience while expanding their global footprint. The companies he targeted wanted fast growth, they wanted their supply chain to be able to keep up with the growth, and they wanted their margins to remain profitable while doing so.
What to expect when you have a profile that is a Sales & Marketing tool…
- By changing the profile from a resume to a complete sales and marketing tool, Schneider’s Director of New Business Development rook his social selling index from 30 to 8. He increased connection conversions by 400%. More importantly, prospects were responding to his messages, joining his LinkedIn community and requesting sales conversations. These were not ‘networking calls’ to determine if a value can be provided but ‘sales calls’ to discuss how that value would be implemented and who needs to be engaged in the conversation to move it forward.
- The SVP of Sales and Marketing at RGL Logistics used her profile to drive engagement with P&G leadership that was looking to shift the business to Ryder (a much larger, national competitor.) The profile created discussions around the value P&G gained with RGL and the positive impacts to operations, finance and customers. And, it helped P&G realize how shifting the business would impact on-time, in full performance to customers (a key focus for leadership.) As a result, our client was able to protect and expand the P&G account.