Editor’s Note: Today we are posting Chapter 1 of a 10-chapter book, authored by our CSO, John Golden and Matt McDarby, President of United Sales Resources.
John and Matt have collaborated before and have joined forces with this book to provide expertise to help our readers — particularly Sales Managers who effectively manage salespeople in a social selling era. While there is currently plenty of information about social selling (including a book by co-author John Golden), there is a clear need for more information about how to manage a social sales team.
Without Sales Managers who believe in the benefits of social selling and know how to help and guide their salespeople to adopt social selling techniques, sales teams will not be successful at social selling.
We’re publishing the entire book in installments. Every three weeks or so we will post a chapter of the book — outlining 10 simple rules to:
- Equip Sales Managers to help their sales teams unlock the power of social selling.
- Show Sales Managers how to align their sales teams with the new and evolving buyer behaviors.
- Enable Sales Managers to create a culture and environment in which social selling is not just accommodated, but embraced.
- Teach Sales Managers how to effectively coach and mentor social selling excellence.
The role of Sales Manager is one of the most important in any organization, and yet they these employees are often the most under-supported, under-trained, under-invested in, and especially — misunderstood. As if that’s not enough, they also usually take a disproportionate amount of blame when sales numbers go south. – John Golden
Thanks to the advent of social media and its impact on buyer behavior, it is more critical than ever for Sales Managers to understand how to effectively lead their salespeople in the emerging era of social selling.
We encourage you to comment, ask questions, and offer your own insights. After all 10 chapters are published on the blog, we will make the book available in our Sales Reference Library as a free download.
Chapter 1: The Sales Manager as Greatest Revenue Multiplier
The Pros…and the Cons
As social selling grows in importance, it is becoming more and more obvious even to the most traditional of sales organizations that they risk being left behind if they do not embrace social selling as part of how they engage with prospective buyers.
Less obvious are the profound dangers of enthusiastically engaging in social selling in the wrong way.The professional networks and social platforms that provide the kind of scale and reach (that previous generations of sellers could only dream about) can potentially elevate a sales organization in the eyes of prospective buyers or can devastatingly expose its weaknesses in a very public manner.
Social selling, in other words, is not something that should be left to chance or allowed to grow without structure inside a sales organization. Rather it needs to be actively managed and treated strategically — and it’s the Sales Manager who needs to play the central role in ensuring that social selling activities are understood, adapted, adopted, and executed in the right way.
The Sales Manager who does this can become an organization’s greatest revenue multiplier rather than someone who oversees a sales organization that becomes outdated and ineffective.
Salespeople take their cues from those who lead them. Sales Managers who consistently focus on clarity, coaching, and adding value are the ones who build high-performing and motivated sales teams. Conversely, those Sales Managers who are reactionary, who parachute in at the end of sales cycles, who imperiously elbow the salesperson aside as they try to close deals — these managers are doomed to preside over under-performing teams, demotivated salespeople, and high turnover.
It’s no different with social selling, and there’s a particular challenge:
The effective Sales Manager is the one who will lead and guide the move into social selling, but in most organizations, it is individual salespeople who are the vanguard of this movement. Why is this a challenge?
Social selling by its very nature is visible. Everything a salesperson does online is immediately amplified, so without proper direction and a thoughtful, strategic approach, poor social selling practices can create a backlash against the organization as a whole — a backlash that can’t easily be contained because the organization has no control over the social platforms that enable it.
In this book we are going to focus on how to effectively manage sales teams in the era of social selling, in which diverse sales teams require a combination of new and traditional skills adapted to a new — and in some ways, riskier — environment.
You may still be wondering why is it important to focus on how to manage social selling in particular — isn’t it just a part of sales management in general? The reality is that social selling creates a whole new raft of potential pitfalls that, if not addressed, can quickly and sometimes permanently derail your sales efforts.
The Challenges, Defined
The Sales Manager As Revenue Multiplier
The Online Persona and the Buyer’s First Impression
Your salesperson’s profile on LinkedIn is their online resume. What if they have “interested in new opportunities listed” to connect with recruiters? What message are they sending to your would-be customers? “Hey my current product and company are so good that I am looking for a new job!”
So ask yourself — have you paid any attention to your salespeople’s online personas? Do you even realize what a negative impact they could be having on prospective customer’s perceptions of your organization? Given that perception is often reality, especially early in a sales cycle, how many sales are lost simply because the prospect did not get that all-important positive first impression? It may not be a fair reflection of your organization or its products and services but who ever claimed that Sales was fair?
An Embarrassment of Riches …
Next, consider the unfettered reach social networks provides to salespeople. They no longer have to gather cards at trade shows or troll through company websites trying to figure out who’s who and laboriously build prospecting lists. No, all they have to do is log onto LinkedIn and perform a perfunctory search and, lo and behold, a huge list of “prospects” miraculously appears!
…Can Lead to Bad Behaviors
So what do many eager salespeople do next? They reach for the always popular cut-and-paste prospecting message and start sending the same InMail message to all of them. Yes a generic, general email begging to be deleted! If they are really lucky they may even have mistakenly cut-and-pasted the wrong name or two into some of the emails just to really tick off the recipient!
The result? Another poor impression of your organization and another raft of prospects that will likely never connect with your salesperson and more than likely never do business with you.
Poor Practices Close Doors
But let’s say for the sake of argument that somehow your salespeople avoid these first two mistakes and manage to connect through LinkedIn with someone who fits the profile of your target buyer. How can you be sure that they don’t get so excited by “hooking a live one” that they immediately follow up the connection acceptance with a sales pitch email that communicates, “Hey I don’t care about understanding or validating your business issues — I just want to sell you something.”
The Engaged Non-Seller
And finally, consider the social selling enthusiast, the salesperson who has fully embraced the concept of social selling. Their profile is well written, they are considerate and thoughtful about how they interact with prospects online, and they have bought in 100% to the idea of creating value.
But the next thing they do is break all records for the most connections on LinkedIn, the most shares, the most tweets, the most blog posts, the most, the most, the most — but strangely enough don’t seem to actually sell much. They’ve confused value with volume. They have become a one-person social engagement machine but have lost sight of the “selling” part of the social selling equation.
Bad Social Selling Is Worse Than No Social Selling
Social selling has much potential and is a very necessary part of today’s selling arsenal. If you don’t embrace social selling, your organization will lose business. But doing social selling badly risks much more. This is where the role of the Sales Manager becomes so critical and why it truly is the greatest revenue multiplier in your organization.
More About the Series
Throughout this book we will show how the Sales Manager can become the key agent of “social change” within an organization — aligning Executive Management, Marketing, Customer Support, and Product Development with how buyers want their buying journey to unfold. This has not traditionally been a role for the Sales Manager, but today’s buyer is dictating that traditional tactics no longer work. Roles within organizations need to evolve and adapt to that change. – John Golden and Matthew McDarby
New Sales Manager, New Roles
Furthermore, we will demonstrate how the Sales Manager must become an almost de facto career consultant — overseeing how every individual on their team presents themselves online. This in itself is a new and difficult task given the grey areas that surround social networks and the organization’s influence over personal profiles and personas online. Salespeople need to be counseled about the mutual benefit of combining the needs of the organization with their own personal branding needs when it comes to professional network profiles such as LinkedIn. This takes a level of skill and care.
Metrics Demonstrate the ROI of Social Selling
Given the old adage “that which gets measured, gets managed,” we will outline simple metrics that the Sales Manager can use to measure the effectiveness of his sales team’s social engagement. This focus on measurable activities — with clear goals and objectives attached to them — will not only serve to ensure the success of the individual salesperson but will be invaluable in demonstrating to the inevitable skeptics that social selling is real and can generate solid results when executed properly.
The Action Plan
For Sales Managers, the takeaway from the last page will be an action plan that arranges all of the ideas and concepts within this book into actionable steps that can be immediately implemented. This action plan can be used as the catalyst for unlocking the social selling potential of the sales team and turning it into a buyer-aligned revenue engine. This is where the revenue multiplier effect of the Sales Manager really comes to life.
About the co-authors
John Golden is Chief Strategy Officer at Pipeliner CRM. He is the author of the Amazon best-selling book, Winning the Battle for Sales: Lessons on Closing Every Deal from the World’s Greatest Military Victories. He recently published his second book, Social Upheaval: How to Win at Social Selling. A globally acknowledged thought leader, John has a passion for helping small to medium businesses grow and prosper.