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LinkedIn Could Sell Sales Appointments, So Why Don't They?

Written by Ken Gaebler
Published: 4/7/2015

Sellers are constantly on the hunt for buyers, spending enormous sums to find them. In the future, will there be a better way?

Many of you know that I've written extensively about selling to CIOs.

Future LinkedIn Selling Solutions

In fact, my initial article on how to sell to CIOs, over at the main Walker Sands website, ranks pretty high in the Google search engines for the phrase "selling to CIOs". Give it a try.

That article has been very good to me. Frankly, I'm constantly amazed at how many calls I get from people who are trying to figure out how to sell to CIOs more effectively. Indeed, it's a very big part of our business at Walker Sands, connecting the dots between tech buyers and tech sellers.

If there's one thing I've learned over my years of talking to CIOs and experimenting with how to market to tech decision makers, it's that the CIOs themselves are sick of people calling on them. Indeed, the CIO sales feedback I get from the market is that they are inundated with calls and emails, and that it irks them when people try to sell solutions but have no idea whether the called-on organization needs the solution.

Seriously? In this modern day and age, why are people still cold calling? It's so inefficient. It doesn't make sense to me.

Here are a few things we can do to finally put the nail in the coffin for blind, cold-call selling.

#1 Let's Apply Dating Site Algorithms to Tech Sales

Think about the advanced algorithms used by dating sites. Why aren't we using that kind of technology to match tech buyers and sellers?

In a strong dating site, two parties are only introduced to each other when the algorithm determines that there's a good chance that they could be a match for each other.

Why not gather profile and need data from buyers and match that up with profile and solution data from sellers, and greatly increase the odds that a prospective seller's discussion with a prospective buyer will result in a match made in heaven -- a win-win sale that makes both sides happy?

#2 Let's Use Big Data to Find Great Buyer-Seller Matches

I have no doubt that the massive amounts of data mined by the NSA -- which some say includes every email, every call, every social post, etc. -- could be mined to find 5 Fortune 100 CMOs that would hire my marketing firm Walker Sands for fairly massive marketing projects -- hugely win-win for both sides.

OK, you clearly can't do a Freedom of Information Act request to get all the NSA's data. But could you mine public job posting data and public social media tweets to discern buyer needs? Absolutely.

It would be great if we Marketing and Sales folks could use big data analysis to find the best prospects out there for our goods, as in "Hi, we've never spoken before, but according to our big data analytics program there's a 92.3 percent chance that you need what I'm selling." Wouldn't that be nice?

This is probably still a few lifetimes away, so I'll wrap up my musings on the future of sales with one concept that is much more likely to happen within the next ten years.

#3 Let's Allow Recipients of Sales Calls to Sell Their Time via LinkedIn

If you were a CIO, would you sell your time for $1,000 per hour to an enterprise software sales rep?

If you were willing to do just one call per week, you could make an additional $50,000+ per year.

OK, maybe you split that with your employer, so it's $25,000 to you and $25,000 to offset the IT budget.

Over the last few years, I was active with a nonprofit that sold lunches with CIOs as part of a fundraising auction, and the lunches would typically sell for $1,500 or more. So, it's pretty clear to me that the prospective buyers of CIO time are ready to pay top dollar for a sales appointment.

All we need is a trusted middleman, and I nominate LinkedIn for the job. They can easily code the backend for this, and they've got everything needed to make this work well for all sides involved.

They can be the Match.com of B2B Tech Sales. Ideally, they could use expanded profile data to match buyers and sellers. They could initiate and broker the sale of a phone call. They could monitor the results and algorithmically rank sellers and buyers to improve the process over time.

If you think about it, everything we do in Marketing and Sales is about connecting a buyer to a seller. It is such an amazingly inefficient dance. So much effort, so much expense -- all for so few results.

It's just a matter of time before technology improves marketing and selling efficiencies by a 10X factor. Google got things started, but there is still so much to do. If I had to make a bet on who will get the job done, my money's on LinkedIn.

They are poised to take their social selling solutions from the current crude state to a much more sophisticated level -- it's just a matter of strategy, time, effort and execution.

Based on LinkedIn's market cap of $31 billion (no, I don't own any shares), I'm clearly not the only one with big expectations for big-time sales and marketing innovation from LinkedIn. We're expecting them to create the iTunes or iPhone of the sales, marketing and networking world -- doing something truly breakthrough and transformative. That's what we want, right?

All I can say is: Hurry up, we're waiting.

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