Today I spent 30-minutes on the phone with a startup company that's soooo excited about their new offering. In our short time together, they tried to tell me everything it could possibly do.

They even talked fast to cram as much in as possible. I had to slow them down to so I could digest what they were saying – and try to figure out the business value.

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Let me guess. Your company doesn't have any metrics for your value proposition and you're wondering if it's possible to be successful. Absolutely.

1. Go talk to Your Clients

If they don't have exact metrics, perhaps you can suggest a range. You might say, "Gut level – do you think it helped cut costs somewhere between 8 – 10%?" They'll either say, "That's about right," or tell you if it's too high or too low. Either way, you now have some metrics you can use.

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I have a confession to make. I haven't updated my LinkedIn profile* for 18 months. I know. Shame on me. I'm supposed be a leader on things like that, but I'm human too.

If you looked at my profile, you'd probably think it's fine. It doesn't read like a boring resume or make me look like a hungry, job-hunting sales vulture. It doesn't sound like a self-serving company brochure.

It's customer focused, showcases my expertise and establishes my credibility. It's my professional presence online. Even LinkedIn says it's well done. 

But here's the truth. My LinkedIn profile doesn't reflect changes I've made in the past year and a half. Worse yet, it's no longer meeting my objectives.

(FYI: It still says that I have a new book coming out in May, 2014 when it's already a bestseller. I didn't change anything because I want you to see what's wrong with it.)

Time to get some help! So I called in Wayne Breitbarth, author of The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success to scour through it with a fine-tooth comb. He recommended the following 5 actions to help me leverage LinkedIn more effectively. Some really surprised me!

Before we dig in, here's a quick look at the top section of my profile:

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Every time I do a Sales Acceleration workshop with a new client, I go to LinkedIn to check out the profiles of people who will be attending. Invariably, I see Summary sections that read like this: 

  • Big Deal's innovative solutions are blah, blah, blah. Our extensive client list includes these marquis marquee organizations. We specialize in all this stuff. 
  • Quota-busting sales professional with 15 years experience in technology sales. Doggedly persistent, tough negotiator and fearless competitor. 

Yes, that's a bit of hyperbole. But I think you get what I mean. And, my guess is that 85% of you who are reading this have a way-too-similar profile. 

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Two weeks ago I spoke at LinkedIn's SalesConnect Conference in San Francisco. Over 500 sales leaders came to learn more about leveraging LinkedIn to drive revenue.

Mike Derezin, VP of Sales at LinkedIn, shared one statistic that was mind-boggling:

Sales professionals who use social selling are 51% more likely to exceed their quota.

Got your attention yet? I sure hope so. At this point, you're probably asking, "So what exactly is this 'social selling' thing?" According to LinkedIn, the primary components are in the graph below.

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There's no way around it. Email has to be a core part of your prospecting strategy. Decision makers rarely answer the phone and seldom get back to you when you leave a message. But with the overwhelming amount of information flooding inboxes today, every single word in your email to a decision maker has to be carefully thought out.

Most of the salespeople I talk to really struggle with "what to say" in a prospecting email. Below is an example of a typical (bad) prospecting email I regularly receive from salespeople.

I know the guy was trying hard to get business, but all he got from me was a big DELETE. And, truth be told, he doesn't have a clue that he blew it because he worked so darn hard to craft the perfect message.

Check it out, then use my Email Message Evaluator to find out if your prospecting emails are up to the mark.

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We've been told for an eternity that sales is a numbers game. And it's still a popular belief today.

The theory is that all we need to do if we want to be successful in this business is to call, call, call. If we do that, we'll fill our pipeline with a gazillion suspects, who'll turn into X number of prospects, opportunities, and ultimately, customers.

We've been lead to believe that going after all those prospects is essential to our success. But what if it isn't?

I'm serious. What if trying to work all those prospects contaminates our thinking and causes us to behave badly? What if we could generate more sales with fewer prospects?

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Don't miss this FREE, but invaluable session!

With all the data out there, a big challenge for today's sales and marketing teams is knowing what to pay attention to. Our customers and prospects are overwhelmed as well. Yet to be effective, we need to cut through all this "noise" to connect with them. 

In this 1-hour webinar with me & Joe Lucas (smart guy from InsideView), you'll discover how to:

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What's a value proposition – and why is it important? It's a clear statement of the tangible business value that companies get from using your product or service. It's the outcome of using your offering – not what your offering is.

For example, I do training. No one cares about training. But, when I work with my clients, I help them with new client acquisition and faster sales cycles. That's what they get from my training programs – and that's the ONLY reason people hire me.

So, your challenge is to figure out what your outcomes are. Here's a tip. Every value proposition has three components:

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Have you ever heard of trigger events? If not, you're in for a wonderful wakeup call.

A trigger event is a sudden change in a company's priorities. Your prospect may have been happy with the status quo yesterday, but these new circumstances create or deepen business issues that can no longer be ignored. 

Here are some examples of events that can potentially create sales opportunities for you:

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