Interview: Why Focus and Rapport Building are Key to Successful Sales

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Forbes considers sales veteran Lori Richardson one of the “top 30 social sales influencers worldwide,” and with 15 years of front line B2B sales experience Lori can back up that title. Lori is a speaker, trainer and writer for Score More Sales, where she uses helps sales professionals with communication strategies for social selling. In my interview, Lori explains how to leverage social media to build the necessary rapport for social selling.

Interview by Heather R Morgan, Copywriter & Consultant at SalesFolk

Lori Richardson

Heather: How did you first get into sales?

Lori: I started out as a teacher and then became a young single mom. My grandmother was my mentor, and I grew up in a family run business; grandma’s store. I thought I could sell things, so I got into tech sales in my early twenties. It was scary because it was straight commission, no salary, but it was the beginning of a very rewarding career in Seattle.

Heather: What is your favorite part about sales?

Lori: My favorite thing about sales is that it can be whatever you make it. It’s very entrepreneurial.  You can’t make excuses or blame other people. You make things happen. If you don’t like the products or services you represent, then you go and find them and sell them instead. The sky’s the limit. It’s a very admirable thing to do—you can have 100 good ideas, but until something sells, the business is not successful. There are a lot of successful entrepreneurs out there who failed because they couldn’t turn their ideas into dollars.

Heather: What’s the hardest part about sales?

Lori: I work with sales people every week, and they tell me the hardest things are dealing with rejection, keeping your attitude up, and finding enough right people to talk to.

Heather: How do you keep on top of changing trends for social?

Lori: [laughs] I don’t. I don’t think anyone can. I focus on a few core things and do them well. Blogging is the core of my social platform. What works well with our business is a combination of Linkedin,Twitter, and Google +.

It’s easy to feel behind with social, and you get too anxious trying to keep up. I don’t have time to spend all day on social media. At Score More Sales, I’m spending my day working with clients. We use Hubspot social inbox to stay on top of everything and manage our time as best we can.

Heather: What’s a sales mistake on social that you see many people making?

Lori: I think people don’t understand that it takes time to build trust. If you thought of your social presence as a trade show booth, you don’t immediately walk up to them and engage them. It takes time. Social platforms are the same way. You can’t just connect on linkedin and immediately try to sell them something. You can’t just take shortcuts. There are differences between hacks and the workarounds between building trust and a relationship. Don’t spend years, but if you connect to someone you don’t know, you need some common reason. If you think they are a prospect, wait some time, and follow up with them.

If you can find something in common with a prospect besides them being a prospect, then focus on that and go after that. Be up-front about who you are, but focus on the common thing (same school, non-profit, etc). Then just leave it. Follow up in a few weeks. Schedule follow up in a few weeks. Don’t be anxious about the whole thing.

Be comfortable and try new things out. A/B test processes and strategies with sales different weeks or months. Measure results. This is the best way to make improvements.

Heather: How did you become such an influencer for social and sales on Forbes?

Lori: I joke that I was a 12 year overnight success. I started blogging 8 or 9 years ago, working at it over time. In the last 4 years I focused on my niche–mid market tech companies—so it’s really only been 4 years of focus of a lot of content creation. Picking a focus helps any entrepreneur ramp up, and people will begin to think of you when they think of that niche.

Heather: What are some tips for sales calls?

Lori: Always have a goal. This guides your call and helps you maintain focus. Don’t try to do much on the call, and be clear on just a few points. Try to think through to the end of the call and visualize how it will go so you will be better prepared to answer questions.

Also, try to make sure you have a mutual understanding before the call, so no one’s time is wasted. Send an agenda if possible. This shows the other person you are organized, are thinking ahead, thinking through, and valuing their time. Always understand what your next action will be, so when you get off the call you set some sort of next action so it’s always in motion.

If you or your company would like to be featured in a Sales4Startups interview, please contact Heather (at) salesfolk.com. You can also get in touch with Heather if your business is looking for help with your copywriting and content marketing. 

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