Why are are so many sales people "doing Sales" the hard way. Studies show most companies are missing the potential benefits of social selling.
According to the The State of Social Selling – 2015 Survey Results, the percentage of sales professionals who find social selling valuable after training increases from 67% to 96%, while use as part of their process triples to 74%.And yet only 22% of companies encourage the use of social selling, and only 11% train their employees. This seems commercially crazy. In Australia, our B2B sales and marketing consultancy, Carpe Diem Consulting, just completed research as part of a project sponsored by Microsoft Australia that revealed “social selling” remains in its infancy. From a sample of 20 IT channel members – ranging from companies with an outbound sales force of one through to a field force of over 300 – only 9% of those surveyed have defined the social sales workflows their sales team is to follow, and are following this up with training, coaching and performance monitoring. This reflects the overseas research.
We found that over 80% of firms researched are happy to leave the use of “social” largely up to the sales team themselves. This lacks controls and KPIs. Why is this when so many other sales disciplines are enforced. We found the following 4 reasons:1. “Social” selling is seen as an alternative to “traditional” selling. It feels optional. This is wrong. It's time to stop talking about “social” versus “traditional” selling, and see it all as just “selling”, albeit in a social world. You need to listen to prospects, research their status, get in front of them, interact with them, and display thought leadership. Social selling enables all this in the most efficient way and without having to directly connect with them before they're ready for you. Now sales people are winning back control of the buyer's journey.
It's now all just "selling, albeit in a social world.
2. The benefits of social selling are not widely appreciated by decision makers Business owners are busy with general management duties, and the weeks go by fast. They have no time to stay up to date with general sales and marketing trends. Add to this that “Sales” in itself can often be seen as a profession without proven methodologies and structure, and it's not surprising the benefits of “selling in a social world” are not widely known or appreciated.
3. The focus on “social platforms” needs to be shifted back to “how to sell better” If you can’t sell before you learn how to use LinkedIn, you still won’t be able to sell after you learn. There's a plethora of consultants offering to train sales people in LinkedIn. This is the wrong focus. The focus needs to be on teaching sales people to sell and then supplementing their skills and workflows with the advantage of platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Hootsuite and more.
4. Sales people don’t have anything to say When it all boils down to it, you’re either “listening” or “saying something” to your market and prospect base on social platforms. Listening on social media is easy. However you need to give your sales people compelling content to give them something of value to say.
If you can't sell before you learn LinkedIn, you won't be able to sell after to learn it.
What to do from here.
Take some action. There are plenty of resources available to help you understand the concept of social selling (beyond just Linkedin). This will give you a better idea as to how to take advantage of it, and give you more confidence to start the conversation around it.
Find material to help you define and structure your approach to social selling. Alternatively, don't reinvent the wheel, call a consultant who specialises in this area and can help you get started with a proven approach that works right off the bat. This will also mean your team get the right training and the right tools to get rolling.
Set real goals around the activity (and this does not mean just followers and fans). You want to be sure you are on track to deliver commercial returns fort the effort - which by the way are not hard to achieve. Click here to read our blog "5 Ways to Sell in a Social World"
And give your sales people something to say. Research by the Corporate Executive Board indicates that it’s not WHAT we sell, but HOW we sell that makes the difference. Publishing via social media is a very efficient way to build reputation and influence in the marketplace. Now more than ever your sales representatives’ personal brands are critical – and they need approved material form your company to get started and maintain the cadence.
The opportunity to leapfrog your competitors to better connect with the marketplace is never been bigger. Act now!
Attend our next Social Selling Seminar. You’ll understand how to to take a proven selling approach and apply it to the new social world. They’re designed to help anyone currently struggling in a complex selling environment, and attended by some of the largest brands in the world. Click here to register.
If you would like to explore social selling further, or see how it relates to you as an IT sales consultant, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.