Running a small business can seem like a constant juggling act. One moment you’re meeting with a client, then you switch gears to marketing, then managing finances—and that’s just the predictable part of your day.
But while you may be involved in every facet of your business, you don’t need to be an expert at everything. Knowing the basics of three critical skills—prospecting, recruiting, and marketing—will set you up for success. Here are three ways to master the most important skills for small business owners:
1. Boost Selling Success with Strategic Sales Prospecting
Jeb Blount, CEO of Sales Gravy, doesn’t mince words in his quote about sales prospecting: “The brutal fact is the number one reason for failure in sales is an empty pipe, and, the root cause of an empty pipeline is the failure to prospect.” Without a strategy that calls for consistent prospecting behaviors, sales will eventually falter. There’s no way around it. But what type of prospecting works best?
Abandon Cold Calling and Perform Warm Outreach
Ninety percent of B2B decision makers ignore cold outreach. If you rely on cold outreach to bring in new customers, consider rethinking your strategy and using warm outreach instead.
Turn cold outreach warm by finding commonalities with your prospects. LinkedIn is a useful tool to perform this research as LinkedIn members provide their job titles, organization, skills, education, and other professional attributes. Mutual contacts, similar backgrounds, or shared interests are good examples of common experiences to reference in your outreach. When a sales prospect can identify with you, they are simply more likely to engage, as evidenced in the next section.
Find New Prospects Through Your Network
Prospect are five times more likely to engage with you when you’re introduced via a mutual connection. Fortunately, your LinkedIn network is filled with contacts to leverage for an introduction.
With LinkedIn’s search feature, look for potential prospects you have a connection with by filtering your search for second degree connections.
Once you identify a potential sales prospect, visit their LinkedIn profile to learn more and qualify (or disqualify) them as a sales opportunity. If the opportunity looks promising, don’t hesitate to ask your mutual connection for an introduction.
When looking for potential sales prospects, pay particularly close attention to the networks of satisfied customers, strong partners, and other close-knit connections. The stronger the relationship with the mutual connection, the more likely it is that a) you will get the introduction, and b) the introduction will be a strong endorsement.
Master prospecting with the Learning LinkedIn Sales Navigator course.
2. Scale Operations with Efficient Recruiting
Talented, experienced individuals don’t just show up at your office. In fact, fifty-two percent of small businesses can’t find qualified professionals for their open positions. To ensure you have the right help, when you need it, you need a recruiting plan at the ready to find quality hires, fast.
Turn to Your Employees for Referrals
Recruiting through your employees’ networks expands your talent pool by 10 times and supplies top quality hires. Instead of posting a job listing and hoping to get skilled applicants, turn to your already skilled and experienced employees to find candidates for the role. Employees can be good judges of character and, given their knowledge of your workplace culture, can more easily recognize who will contribute to the company’s success.
Hire Trustworthy Freelancers to Save Time and Money
It takes an average of 27 working days to make a new hire. If you’re looking for immediate help, 27 business days can feel like a lifetime. Hiring a professional freelancer for your immediate projects is a cost-efficient, resource-friendly way to get the job done right the first time. Services like LinkedIn ProFinder allow you to submit projects and receive free proposals from experienced, trustworthy freelancers. With over 170 professional services to outsource on LinkedIn ProFinder, hiring a top, local freelancer for any project is painless.
Master recruiting with a Performance-Based Hiring course.
3. Generate Marketing Results with Insightful Content
Ten years ago, content marketing was a new and revolutionary marketing tactic. But now that eighty-nine percent of B2B companies use content, simply having a blog, a newsletter, or an eBook is no longer enough. Your content strategy, like your core offering, will benefit from differentiation.
Tailor Content for Improved Engagement
One way to differentiate your content is with relevance, which can be achieved through personalization. Emails, for example, have a six times higher transactional rate when they include personalized content. The more you tailor content for your audiences, the better results you will see.
To figure out what interests your audience, take advantage of your website and social media data. In your analytics, see which content pieces resonated with which audiences. For example, your LinkedIn Company Page Analytics allows you to view the demographic data of the people who engaged with each status update. Use this data to segment your audience and cater content to each segment. For instance, a prospect who’s just learning about your brand will likely be interested in much different content than a customer who’s looking to get the most out of your product. Avoid the temptation to over-segment, though – just enough to ensure you can deliver relevant messages to the people who matter most to your business.
Use Relevant Channels to Reach Your Ideal Audience
There’s no right answer as to which channel(s) to use, but you only have so many resources, so don’t spread yourself too thin. It’s better to have a stellar presence on one or two channels than a lackluster presence on all of them.
Start by focusing on the channels where your audience hangs out and where you can best engage them. With over 80% of all social media B2B leads coming from LinkedIn, many B2B marketers focus the lion’s share of their resources there. Regular participation in relevant channels, both in terms of sharing content and engaging with other people’s content, helps to ensure your target audience is familiar with your brand when they’re ready to make a purchase.
Master marketing by learning how to perform relevant content marketing.
Building your own business requires time, tenacity, and a can-do attitude, sure. But it also requires a steady hand at prospecting, recruiting, and marketing. Work smarter by taking advantage of online learning courses to increase your proficiency in these core functions.