Category Archives: data

Developing a value proposition

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It all starts with your value proposition

Whatever you’re selling, and whoever you’re selling it to, it is vital that you have a value proposition to discuss.  So, what is a value proposition, and why is it so flipping important when it comes to sales?

According to the definition on Wikipedia (the hub of all knowledge, apparently)

A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered and acknowledged and a belief from the customer that value will be appealed and experienced. A value proposition can apply to an entire organization, or parts thereof, or customer accounts, or products or services.

In essence, this comes back to that old salesy question “what’s in it for me” – ie what can you offer to that prospect that will, in some way improve their existence.   Understanding what your product/service does, what benefits it can bring is vital in not only encouraging the prospect to want to continue the conversation with you but also in terms of helping to build your belief in that product/service.   After all, if you don’t believe in it, how is the prospect supposed to?

By understanding the benefits your product/service can bring, you’ll not only be in possession of a stronger introduction but also will be more easily able to handle any questions that arise and effectively deal with any objections, without searching around the recesses of your brain for answers.

A value proposition can often boil down to one of two things

  1. Reducing costs
  2. Improving service/efficiency

So, dig deep, ask yourself lots of questions about the product/service you’re selling – boil it down to one simple sentence (often referred to as your “elevator pitch” – practice it until it sounds natural, using your own terminology and references particular to that industry.   And believe in it!

Prospects don’t like change – hence the amount of “we’re happy with our current supplier” objections that we all undoubtedly experience.   Value can help to drive change.   The greater the value you can bring, the lower the resistance to change.

Ask yourself, what value can I bring and how can I most effectively communicate that.  Keep it simple! And keep it valuable!

And, if you feel this advice would be useful to anyone you know, please share and subscribe – we’d love you to keep in touch!

Happy calling

Dan

Dan Smith 
Inspired Business Development
Unit K9 Cradley Enterprise Centre
Maypole Fields
Cradley
Halesowen
B63 2QB
T:01384 566 078
W: www.inspired-bd.com

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Cold calling isn’t dead

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We live in a truly digital age.   Everyone is connected through phones, the internet & social media, both in their own private lives and in business.

This digital connectivity has seeped into every corner of the business world, increasing transparency, improving knowledge and making huge changes to practically every way we work, particularly in terms of sales & marketing.

It has now become a buyers market – if you need a product or service, it’s pretty flipping easy to bang a few keys on your keyboard and instantly you’ve found a plethora of companies – good and bad – ready and willing to help you part with your cash.

From the point of view of those selling their products and services, whole industries have sprung up to help enable this even further, offering social media, seo, email marketing and a number of other highly effective ways to get your companies message out there and help you to generate more business.

It cannot be denied that these methods are all highly effective – I run a Telemarketing business and also plough a lot of time, energy and money into marketing methods that don’t involve the phone.

But, effective as they are, these methods still rely on the one thing that an effective, professional Telemarketing company can provide – human interaction.

The bottom line, is that, in the vast majority of cases, regardless of how you let buyers know about your product or service, everything ends up being a simple matter of a conversation between two people.

Cold calling will never be obsolete, as long as we have phones!

And if you’re looking to source a reliable company to help with making effective sales and marketing calls – we’d love to help.   Give me a call on 0330 20 50 500 and let’s talk!

Happy calling!

Dan

Dan Smith 
Inspired Business Development
Unit K9 Cradley Enterprise Centre
Maypole Fields
Cradley
Halesowen
B63 2QB
T:01384 566 078
W: www.inspired-bd.com

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Using audio books to train yourself in the car

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Let me start by saying I have nothing against radio 2 or indeed against any other radio stations.  Personally I’ve not yet graduated to radio 4 (I’m 40 next year so maybe that’ll happen overnight) but, radio is a wonderful medium and still the only form of broadcast media that you can ingest whilst doing something else.

Essentially, over my working life I’ve spent an awful lot of time sitting in my car.     I spent several years out on the road in Field Sales and would often spend 6 or 7 hours a day tootling around the UK’s vast and often congested road network.    Even now, although I work in an office monday to friday I’m still frequently out on the road, driving to work, taking my son to and from school or meeting with clients and, traditionally, throughout all of this “dead” time I’ve listened to the radio or to music through my ipod.

But, a few months ago I came to realise that I could be using that time in a far better manner, not just to transport myself from point A to point B whilst listening to the Frozen soundtrack (yes, I admit it – and I often sing along).

Initially I started downloading podcasts – there’s thousands out there that cover every subject imaginable, most of which are free.   My personal favourites are The Tim Ferris show , Brendan Burchard’s The Charged Life and Dr Drew Stephens Sales Gravy:Sales Fitness .

And, as of this week, I’ve set up a one months trial of Audible – a subscription based Audio book service run by Amazon – so now I can listen to entire books during my journeys.

It’s worth noting that I have no financial incentives to promote any of these services, I’ve just found them very interesting and extremely useful so thought I’d share my recommendations.

So, the bottom line is that now, rather than driving around listening to disney soundtracks or the sound of middle Britain complaining to Jeremy Vine, I can arrive at my destination more knowledgeable, more motivated and with a vastly improved state of mind – all key ingredients to being a brilliant leader and a highly effective salesperson.

So, don’t waste that time – until they’ve effectively invented teleportation we’ll all be driving or sitting on public transport for a long while just yet – get downloading, get listening and get more brilliant (I realise the phrase more brilliant doesn’t quite work but, so what!)

Happy listening!

Dan

Dan Smith 
Inspired Business Development
Unit K9 Cradley Enterprise Centre
Maypole Fields
Cradley
Halesowen
B63 2QB
T:01384 566 078
W: www.inspired-bd.com

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Linkedin – 5 beginners tips for lead generation

 

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I have had a very tiring day so far, mainly due to being invited along to a networking meeting which meant I had to be up and out of bed at a quarter to six this morning.  It’s currently coming up to 2pm but feels more like 5.

That aside it was a very worthwhile meeting, met some good people, handed out lots of business cards and, as I always do when I meet someone new, connected with them on Linkedin.

During the course of the meeting, one of the regular members mentioned in passing “you can find me on Linkedin” and I heard a couple of other visitors commenting to each other that they don’t use Linkedin.   This always amazes me as, from personal experience I’ve found Linkedin to be THE most useful tool for generating new business enquiries and for developing valuable business relationships.  What’s more, if you don’t pay for premium features it’s completely FREE so why are there still business owners out there who are happy to drag themselves out of bed early in the morning to attend networking meetings but don’t feel they’ll be able to generate new sales enquiries through Linkedin?

The simple answer (I’m guessing) is that they just don’t understand it.   Yes Linkedin can be a complex and perhaps daunting environment for the newbie but, if you follow these 5 simple steps you’ll be well on your way to generating huge amounts of business with very little outlay of time or money.

1 – Complete your profile.   Linkedin even gives you tips on what you need to do but, essentially, the more complete your profile is, the more likely people will find you and the more value you can demonstrate to potential new clients/contacts.   Get a nice, business looking pic, be genuine in your bio and complete as many other aspects as you can regarding your current business, the benefits you can bring to new contacts and your past work history.  You can add and amend as often as you like but, initially, just get that info on there

2 – Join Groups – groups are kind of like mini social media networks, specifically related to certain industries.  In there you’ll find both people in your industry, people that are looking to buy from your industry and people who are looking to sell to your industry.  Use the search facility to find regular groups and join as many as you can.  You can join a maximum of 50 so it really is a case of the more the merrier.   For some inspiration, have a look at what groups people in your industry are members of and JOIN THEM

3 – Post content.   Bear in mind that any content you post should be of a professional nature.  Nothing too risque, nothing too puerile, keep it business related and, more specifically if you can share your industry knowledge and expertise (eg links to blog posts, whitepapers, client testimonials) then all the better.  Don’t overtly sell to people, more use it as a means to demonstrate your knowledge or brilliance in your field

4 – Interact – this is the one aspect that people often miss out on social media, it’s not just about shouting from the rooftops as to how brilliant you are, it’s about sharing, providing knowledge, being willing to help.  It may seem time consuming in the first instance but, believe me, if you can build relationships (and you’re not going to do that by constantly telling people how great you are), you’ll  develop strong, lasting relationships that will, in time result in BUSINESS!!!!!

5 – Use it regularly.   It’s better to spend 15 minutes every day on Linkedin than it is to cram an hour in once a week.  Regular use will keep you exposed, will allow you to comment on posts as they happen, increase your list of connections and continue to build your reputation.  Little and often

and 5.5 – build your connections.  If you meet with someone, speak to them on the phone, send them an email, ask if you can connect.   Same for any connection requests you receive – you don’t have to accept everyone but, in essence the more connections you have, the greater your exposure and the greater your exposure, the more chance you’ve got of converting those connections into what matters – new clients!

So, if you don’t want to drag yourself out of bed at some ungodly hour and would rather do your networking from the comfort of your own desk, follow these simple steps and linkedin joy will be yours for the taking!

I sincerely hope these have been useful tips for you and would love it if you could subscribe to my blog and/or share it with your business connections.

Happy Linkedin(ing)

Dan

Dan Smith 
Inspired Business Development
Unit K9 Cradley Enterprise Centre
Maypole Fields
Cradley
Halesowen
B63 2QB
T:01384 566 078
W: www.inspired-bd.com

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Cold calling and stand up comedy – are they one and the same?

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I’m heavily involved with two worlds that most people would run a mile from given half a chance.  During the day I run a B2B Telemarketing business, making what most would refer to as “cold” calls and, during the evening (or some evenings anyway) I’m a stand up comedian.    I’ve been making cold calls for over 20 years and have been standing on stage, performing to all sorts of weird and wonderful (mostly drunk) audiences since 2001.   Both of those things, when they come up in conversation invariably result in comments such as “oh, you’ve got to have guts to do that”, “you must be a glutton for punishment”  or “I don’t know how you have the confidence to do that”

So, am I brave, stupid, brilliant or a combination of all 3?

Probably a combination of all 3 but, in all honesty if I was just brave and stupid I wouldn’t be very successful at either cold calling or comedy.   Both are learned skills, both require a certain mindset to be able to succeed, both require dedication and a lot of hard work.    I never get nervous making sales and marketing calls because I always ensure I understand the offering, have thoroughly researched the companies I’m calling and truly grasp the benefits that my clients company can bring to any prospects.  I know what I’ve got to say, I know what questions to ask and know how to answer any questions that get thrown at me.

It’s the same with doing stand up.  I’d never dream of getting up on stage unless I’d thoroughly rehearsed my set beforehand, always ensure I deal with any fears that arise before I get up on stage and it’s that level of preparation that gets me to a point where I can stand in front of 100+ people and be engaging, be confident and above all be funny.

Yes there has to be an element of bravery and stupidity to actually want to do these things for a living but I firmly believe that anyone can make effective cold calls and that anyone can get up on stage and make an audience of strangers laugh.    The two disciplines are not a million miles apart.

Happy calling (and making people laugh)

Dan

Happy calling!

Dan

Dan Smith 
Inspired Business Development
Unit K9 Cradley Enterprise Centre
Maypole Fields
Cradley
Halesowen
B63 2QB
T:01384 566 078
W: www.inspired-bd.com

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Linkedin searches – how to hide your profile

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I’m an avid user of Linkedin and, having carried out some Linkedin consultancy work for a client of ours recently I’ve begun to realise how vast and complex the site can be for those that are new to it.   I’m sure many people simply register on Linkedin because they feel it’s the done thing but have no real idea as to what a hugely effective business tool it can be.    Whilst I don’t consider myself to know everything about Linkedin I have a pretty extensive knowledge of it which I’ve built up over the last 4 years yet I’m still learning new things every day.   This week I’ve utilised a feature which I’d not come across before but could prove highly useful for many of you.

Now I’m all for transparency and honesty – particularly on social media but there are occasions where it’s best not to give too much of yourself away and one of those occasions is when viewing profiles on Linkedin.

Whenever you view someones profile, they get a notification that you’ve visited – very useful if you’re looking to expand your connections and make contact with key individuals for whatever reason – not so useful if you’re searching profiles on behalf of a client as it’s you they’ll see and not your client.

You may notice as you go through the list of “who’s viewed your profile”  that some users come up as anonymous – this isn’t the way they’ve set up their linkedin profile, it’s something you can do yourself – and undo- very easily.    So, if you want to be able to search for and view the profiles on linkedin but don’t want to have to deal with the awkward question of why you’re viewing that profile, follow these simple steps

  1. Login into your linkedin account
  2. Hover your mouse over the small profile picture in the top right of the screen
  3. Click on “privacy and settings”
  4. Click on “review” ( you may be asked for your login details and password again at this point)
  5. On the “profile” tab, click on “Select what other see when you’ve viewed their profile”
  6. Select “You will be totally anonymous”
  7. Save changes

Job done!

 

Do remember to go back and change it at a later stage as profile views can be an enormously helpful lead gen tool.

 

And if you need help with sales and marketing calls, email marketing or any aspects of social media, give us a call on 0330 20 50 500.  We’re helpful, experienced and brilliant at what we do!

 

Happy calling!

Dan

Dan Smith 
Inspired Business Development
Unit K9 Cradley Enterprise Centre
Maypole Fields
Cradley
Halesowen
B63 2QB
T:01384 566 078
W: www.inspired-bd.com

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Why I’m pleased I smacked myself in the mouth with a piece of wood

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I fully appreciate that this may be the strangest title for a blog in the history of blogs.  Although I’m sure a brief google search would give an entirely different story.   This does have a motivational slant so it’s not purely a description of a moment worthy of an episode of “You’ve been framed”

Over the course of the summer I’ve been involved in an ongoing project to renovate my garden.  When I say ongoing, this has been “ongoing” every year since I moved into the house over 13 years ago.  So definitely ongoing.    As part of this joyful experience I’ve had to dismantle my old shed which had become somewhat rotten and unstable and, a couple of weeks ago I was doing just that when, attempting to snap a rotten piece of shed, found the piece I was holding broke off somewhat easier than I was anticipating and, rather comically smashed me right in the mouth.

I say comically, and it probably was from the viewpoint of someone watching but, for me, instant pain, instant shock and the realisation that I had blood pouring from an unknown part of my face.     Covering my face with my hands I ran into the house, powered by adrenaline, to examine the potentially face-threatening wounds.

Without going into too much gory detail, for a couple of minutes I couldn’t actually see where I’d caused the damage, all I knew was that it was bleeding, from my mouth and that I could possibly have done serious damage to either my face, my teeth, my mouth or all three.

A few minutes later I began to stop looking like an extra from the Walking Dead and realised, very fortunately that I’d not damaged my teeth, the only injury being a very deep bite mark to the inside of my mouth.

So, why am I glad I smacked myself in the face with a piece of wood?  Because it could have been so much worse.  Yes I’d caused myself an injury but when you compare a bit of internal damage to the inside of my lip versus the potential of knocking my teeth out, I’d a lot to be pleased about, particularly when, after examining the piece of wood, the other side had sharp, rusty nails sticking out of it.

Now many may look at this situation and say “what have you got to be pleased about?”  after all I’ve just injured myself, caused myself a fair amount of pain and now look as if I’ve gone several rounds with Amir Khan.   But this is the entire mindset of positive thinking – something which, to succeed in sales and indeed anything in life, it’s essential to develop and maintain.     A negative mindset would cause you to focus on the bad sides of the situation but, for me, I’m literally over the moon that it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

For more of my ramblings on life, business and cold calling, please subscribe and do RT/Share or I’ll come round your place with a rotten piece of wood.

Dan

Dan Smith 
Inspired Business Development
Unit K9 Cradley Enterprise Centre
Maypole Fields
Cradley
Halesowen
B63 2QB
T:01384 566 078
W: www.inspired-bd.com

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5 reasons you should stand up when making sales calls

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There are many tricks and methods that can be employed for helping you to be more confident when using the phone in a business environment but, for me I find that one of the most effective ways is to prise my butt off my nice comfy office chair and to stand up when I’m making calls.   I’m sure some of you feel incredibly self conscious when on the phone and probably dread the idea of the rest of your team hearing every word you’re saying but it’s not about them it’s about YOU and increasing your chances of success.   Who cares if your colleagues are listening to what you’re saying?  They should be on the phone themselves, not eavesdropping on you – ignore them!

It might be that your manager or team leader wants everyone to be beavering away in their workstation and likes everything to look neat and orderly – trust me, once they see the improvement in your phone manner and the inevitable improvement in your figures, they’ll be encouraging everyone to stand up when they’re on the phone.

So, here’s 5 reasons why you should be standing up when making sales calls

  1. Standing put less pressure on your diaphragm than sitting down – result, your voice will be clearer, the prospect will be more likely to understand what you’re saying, you can convey your brilliant sales pitch more clearly.  Smiles all round
  2. Psychologically you’ll feel more confident as your standing position will make you feel higher than the person you’re talking to – result, you feel more in control of the conversation and will be more able to guide the prospect towards a mutually acceptable position
  3. Your head will be in a more elevated position – if you’re sat, crunched over at your desk, reading through a script or poring over research notes etc, this again will come over in your voice.  Lifting your head, lifting your eyes, lifting your mouth results in a lifting of your voice and a lifting of your spirit.
  4. You’re more likely to adopt a normal pattern of conversation – if you’re stood up you can freely gesticulate (waving your arms about) – yes the prospect can’t see what you’re doing with your arms but freedom of movement mimics a normal face to face conversation – result, more natural speech patterns
  5. You’ll invigorate not only yourself but the rest of your team.  Sales needs energy, sales needs passion, sales needs enthusiasm.  Standing up creates natural energy and a vibrant, moving workforce will be far more likely to succeed.  Get moving, get selling!

I’m sure there’s sciency research out there to back this up, I’m just speaking from my own personal experience (whilst standing up)

So, in the words of Bob Marley, Get up – Stand up (I realise he was talking about rights rather than phone techniques but the sentiment is there!)

And if you need help with any aspect of sales and marketing calling, get in touch with us here at Inspired Business Development.  We’re great at what we do so let’s show you how great we are!

Happy calling! (whilst standing up)

Dan

Dan Smith 
Inspired Business Development
Unit K9 Cradley Enterprise Centre
Maypole Fields
Cradley
Halesowen
B63 2QB
T:01384 566 078
W: www.inspired-bd.com

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Google alerts – using them to source hot new prospects

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Whatever industry you’re selling in, chances are you’ll spending a fair amount of your working time contacting “cold” prospects to hopefully interest them in whatever product or service you’re offering.   This can clearly prove fruitful but can be extremely time consuming.   Regardless of how good a salesperson you are, unless there’s a huge demand for your product/service the likelihood is that you’ll speaking to countless prospects who either have no need for what you’re offering, aren’t in the market for what you’re offering at the moment or, the dreaded phrase of salespeople across the land are “happy with our current supplier” (we all know that means that they’re probably not all that happy but can’t be bothered to put time into researching potential improvements – I’ll cover that in a separate blog).

So, how do find companies that have a need for your offering and just happen to call them at exactly the right time?  Ladies and gentlemen I present the marvellous FREE tool that is Google Alerts

For those not in the know, Google alerts is a (did I mention FREE) tool that Google offers whereby you can set up alerts to receive either emails or notifications into your RSS feed  to inform you of any new mentions of that term across the internet.

The key is ensuring you use relevant search terms – and this, unfortunately is where you’re going to have to use your brain a little bit (exhausting I know).   Grab a piece of paper and a pen and run through as many relevant search terms as you can related to whatever product or service you’re selling.   The list can be as long or as short as  you like and you can always whittle it down later should you find that the alert is not providing you with relevant results.   Main thing at this stage is to think of as many different angles as possible.

To give you some examples – we’re currently working for a company that supplies and installs security systems.  Putting some thought behind why a company may look at investing in a new security system:

  • Because they’re moving into new premises
  • Because they’re closing an old premises
  • Because they’ve recently had a break in
  • Because they’re developing their existing premises
  • Because the former security manager has left
  • Because they’ve changed their line of business and might be stocking higher value items

Are a few examples – this is by no means an exhaustive list but should hopefully get your grey matter fizzing and give you some starting points.

You may wish to try various different terms, possibly even break it down into regions – ie “new premises midlands”/”new premises bristol” – this will further expand the likelihood of google generating relevant results for you.

Once you’ve got your list, go onto google alerts (you’ll have to set up a google account to be able to save the terms) and begin the process of setting up an alert for that term.     Rather than give you a detailed explanation of how to use google alerts, there’s a great guide here – only a small change to note that they’ve changed the result type from “everything” to “automatic” – that will ensure that the alerts cover the whole web rather than, for example news or blogs alone.

Now, as I mentioned you can set it up to email you the results – this is fine but for me I prefer to use the RSS feed – there’s numerous RSS readers out there which I suggest researching, personally I have a chrome plugin called feeder which you can get here but that’s just a personal preference.

As we work on behalf of various different clients I’ve set up folders within feeder so I can separate the various alerts to suit each client – if you’re only selling on behalf of one business that may not be necessary for you but just a thought which you might want to consider to enable you to work more effectively.

So, rather than adopting a scattergun approach, use google alerts to help you identify needs and to call those prospects at exactly the right time!  Bit stalky and a bit ambulance chasey I know but, we’re in the business of creating business, why not use this free, highly effective tool to help you get there!

Happy googling!

 

Dan

Dan Smith 
Inspired Business Development
Unit K9 Cradley Enterprise Centre
Maypole Fields
Cradley
Halesowen
B63 2QB
T:01384 566 078
W: www.inspired-bd.com

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Linkedin – how to find full contact names on searches

Linkedin Logo

We all use linkedin for different reasons but, one of the most common ones is to be able to find the names of relevant contacts within other businesses.   Depending on each individuals privacy settings you may find that linkedin does not display their full name.

Try calling a large company and asking for a “Chris C” in marketing, for example – you instantly undermine your credibility in the sales call.   So, how do you find the full name?

Here’s some tips which, in the majority of cases will work.   If this fails, you may have to just call the company and turn on the charm to get the info you need!

  1. copy and paste that individuals job title into google – if they have relatively unique wording in their job description, their name will usually come up in a google search
  2. If that doesn’t produce anything – try putting the company name after the job description search
  3. Still nothing? add their first name into the search
  4. Now, if google isn’t bringing up what you need you’re going to have to go back into linkedin, click on the contacts profile page in linkedin, go onto the “people also viewed” section on the right and start having a browse of the various profiles in there.    It might take a few different clicks on a few different contacts but if you keep an eye on their “people also viewed” sections there’s a strong likelihood you’ll see the full name of the contact you’re looking for
  5. Still no joy? Depending on that person’s privacy settings/whether they’re members of any groups, you might well see a list of the groups that individual is a member of – have a browse through those, there could be some comments or discussions that person has commented on which will often show their full name
  6. And lastly – recommendations.   Due to the way linkedin encourages mutual recommending amongst it’s members, if an individual has a recommendation from someone, there’s a fair chance that they’ll have reciprocated – along with their full name

As I say, these are by no means a guarantee but they’re methods I personally use on a daily basis to help me find key decision makers so hopefully they’ll be of use to you too!

Happy calling!

Dan

Dan Smith 
Inspired Business Development
Unit K9 Cradley Enterprise Centre
Maypole Fields
Cradley
Halesowen
B63 2QB
T:01384 566 078
W: www.inspired-bd.com

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