I would consider myself to be a traditional salesperson. I started my B2B sales career in 1977 and that was selling $500 calculators door-to-door in the Los Angeles area. I was fortunate enough to have signed on with a national company who had a very strong reputation for sales and product training. I learned every aspect of selling that was known to man including the little known, but ninja-deadly, “Japanese Origami Folding Paper” close. Objections? Stalls? Bring ’em on. My presentation wasn’t the only thing that was committed to memory.
Fast forward to today and I’m now a proponent of social selling while most of my contemporaries still seem to be stuck back in 1977 along with their shoebox tickler files. My question is … why? Why have they not moved forward and taken the steps necessary to leverage today’s selling tools and to increase their revenues in the process?
I know why. Seasoned veterans hate change! If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. “I’m too busy selling to learn something new!” The good news is that even old dogs can learn new tricks when … the new tricks are really not that much different than the old ones are — and when they’ll lead to more business!.
That’s right! Social selling goes by the same sales rules, employs the same techniques, and this is where traditional salespeople have got it all wrong. All we are doing is adding new tools. Social selling does not replace that which we do now. Rather, it enhances and complements our proven methods of selling. Anybody who tells you differently, or who would suggest that you totally abandon the skills and techniques which you have already honed, is doing you a great disservice!
And, what if things “still work fine”? What’s wrong with making them work better? Since I know that you like lining your pockets, isn’t social selling at least worth taking a look?
Your buyers have changed!
If you lack the incentive to consider change, how about this? Your buyer behaviors have changed and, as a result, we have to be willing and able to adjust in order to meet that challenge or we will be left behind. Now, you can choose to ignore these shifts in purchasing patterns and processes but, regardless, they are happening.
Whether you like it or not, your new buyer looks like this:
- They have access to the internet and they know how to use it – Whereas they used to come to you for product education, they are now doing this on their own. In fact, by the time they come to you, the buying process and decision may have already been largely completed. If they are, in fact, coming to you at this point … the good news is that you may have done something right. If not, they probably couldn’t find you. Bummer.
- They are asking for recommendations from friends and acquaintances and they are getting them – While they have always done this, they are now doing it online and with lightning speed. Are you being mentioned in this topic of conversation and, if not, why?
Adapt or die?
Recently I was asked how I got dragged into social selling. My answer was “kicking and screaming.” Still, once I made the decision to at least investigate this topic prior to just dismissing it off hand, this is what I found:
- Social selling is another form of networking – In fact, it’s all about the networking! We meet new people, we strike up a conversation, and we make the determination if we have anything in common. If we do, we begin to build a relationship. We shift our conversations from online to real life (a critical step!!!). I don’t care how “connected” you may think that you are. Social selling expands your circles of influence and does so dramatically!
- Social sales makes me better at relationships – The more that I know about you the better I can be in responding to your needs. Now I can view the plaques in your office from the convenience of my desk.
- Social selling attracts others to me – I’m all for going out and finding new business (creating the deal) but, now new business is finding me. Boo yah!
- In many cases (and in many ways), social selling all but eliminates the traditional cold call – There is a monumental difference between a cold call (you have no idea of whether or not this customer can use your services or who to even ask for) and a warm call that is precipitated by solid business intelligence. Social selling enables this and often will even alert you to these opportunities.
- With social selling, I learn more about what my customers want – Your customers are talking on social media and they are talking about their wants, likes, desires, and their challenges. Unless you have been their best friend since childhood, or their priest, you have never before had access to this information. Well, you do now.
- I can find and target those customers with the highest potential to use my services – I can’t begin to tell you how many times somebody has called me up and asked me … “Do you know Fred (or anyone at ABC Company?” I get it since you have very few options. Maybe you call everybody in your Rolodex or maybe you send everybody an email and you ask each that same question? With social selling, you do a simple search on LinkedIn and your path to connecting with this person will be clearly revealed. Join a group that they are active on and you will soon be breaking digital bread.
- I can provide my customers with unique services that set me apart from my competitors – The conversation has moved away from the pitch and toward education. Remember that your customers are doing their research on the internet. If you are not positioning yourself as a go-to source for this information, you are bypassing a monstrous opportunity to increase your sales.
- My Social CRM beats the hell out of a shoebox! – You absolutely must use some sort of a CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) if you want to reach the heights of your craft. Having a Social CRM (a CRM that includes social networking profiles and activities) is, in my opinion, a must for today’s seller.
Wake up and smell the money!
The very simple fact is that social selling is absolutely no different from how we have been selling for eons and sales success is often influenced by he who has the largest arsenal. Run out of ammo and you could be d.e.a.d., dead (read … “no sale”). Everybody wants and needs an edge. I have always referred to this as “arrows in my quiver” and who doesn’t want more arrows? I want more and so do you! So, what’s holding you back.
- The Not-So-New Principles of Sales
- How Relationships Turn into Revenue
- Catching Important Trigger Events
- Leading Sales Teams in the Social Selling Era