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How I profile buyers and prepare before a meeting

Posted by Jamie Shanks on Aug 20, 2018 3:53:30 PM

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Approach to Profiling Buyers Before a Meeting

I’m about to walk into a pitch - whether that’s in a live boardroom or virtual call, I need to know the people I’m meeting and the situation I’m walking into.

One of the quickest ways I can prepare for meetings is profiling the LinkedIn accounts of people IN the boardroom, and the BUYING COMMITTEE.

I made a video about this a few days ago:

https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6435503381128708096/

CRITICAL – do not just profile those IN the boardroom. They are typically only a portion of the buying committee. You’ll see how I look for risk later in this blog. My main scouting report is about risk mitigation and time management. Am I on a fishing expedition with a prospective account that has too many obstacles in my way to warrant my time?

Here are three critical elements on a LinkedIn profile (outside of shared connections in common) that I look for:

1. Left Brain vs. Right Brain – this is Strategic vs. Operational thinking, or Gary Vaynerchuck would call Clouds & Dirt. Typically there are two distinctive types of buyers (the rarity are those that share both brain types):

a. Right Brain – typically associated with visualization, imagination, BIG thinking. These are the types of buyers that want to talk value drivers, not widgets and bo-bobs. Stick to aligning all your messages to saving money, making money or mitigating risk! I’m looking for the words people use in their profile to describe themselves. Are they talking about big initiatives and the outcomes of those projects?

b. Left Brain – typically associates with math, logic, sequence. These are the types of buyers that want to see your process and deliverables. They want the software demo. If they don’t see HOW it works, the entire pitch falls apart. Look for people who talk about very detailed certifications, skills, projects on their profile that show a “work IN, not ON” mentality.

2. Tenure (Do they know HOW to buy) –I use a simple proxy for myself of 6 months. This is the timeline where my “Spidey Senses” tingle and the buyer is placed in a yellow or red flag. We all know that titles like CXO or VP of XYZ are important, decision-making titles. And these buyers may go down a path with you with the full expectation that they WANT to buy. But do they know HOW to buy? People new to an organization (the larger the company, the more my flags go up) are full of zest and energy to make the change.

Unfortunately, they lack the internal experience to understand:

a. When are budgets released? Quarterly, or Annually can be pulled cross-functionally?

b. How did the company perform 2 quarters before your buyer arrived, and what did the CFO say about spending on the all-hands before they arrived?

c. Do they have a policy that if there is a spend that overruns in a previous quarter then budgets are cut in future quarters?

d. Does the company have a legal policy never to lock itself into SaaS agreements? Or long-term contracts?

e. Do they only buy in pilots historically?

f. What is the vendor process? Do you need to be an approved vendor (which your champion has no idea the company has an Ariba procurement system)?

There are SOOOOO many questions that I could continue with, and your buyer will most like NOT know the answer to these questions. They WANT to buy, but they don’t know HOW to buy, and you’re going to be the guinea pig!

3. Skills, Certifications, and Projects (are you my detractor or alliance partner?) –

I’ll give you a real-life example. Globally we’ve trained the Microsoft “Demand Response” (Inside Sales) teams. One clue they can look for in an account is searching the LinkedIn profiles in a company for:

a. Microsoft

b. AWS or Google

This is the perfect example of a red flag vs. green flag. Anywhere on a LinkedIn profile that has Microsoft, they can drop into that profile (let’s assume an IT buyer), and review the skills, certifications, and projects that the buyer has experienced. If they’re licensed as a Microsoft Azure Cloud computing expert…, BOOM, we have a champion in the company we can lean on. But what if the VP of Information Security was a past employee of AWS, or has 14 LinkedIn connections to the AWS team, or posted an article about her speaking at the AWS user conference 3 months ago… AHHHH, you have a potential detractor in your midst. You can press that company all you want with features, advantages, and benefits, but you’re probably going nowhere fast! I’m looking for risk, so I don’t spend my time with the wrong accounts.

Jamie Shanks

About the Author

Jamie Shanks is a world-leading Social Selling expert and author of the book, "Social Selling Mastery - Scaling Up Your Sales And Marketing Machine For The Digital Buyer". A true pioneer in the space of digital sales transformation, Jamie Shanks has trained over 10,000's of sales professionals and leader all around the world.