Neal has assigned me a new topic for my monthly article. No longer will I be discussing “Social Media for B2B Sales”. Now it’s just … “Social Sales”. Rolls trippingly off the tongue and I always hated the term “social media” anyway. It’s not really that much different from before but, it is much easier to say!
As someone who has spent his entire professional career in B2B sales (since 1977), there have always been things that I love about the business (money, independence, competition) and things that I don’t (cold calling, not knowing enough about my customer, doors slammed in my face). Regardless, having a “thick skin” has always been a critical mental trait for any successful B2B salesperson and not having that quality is what keeps many from joining the profession and even more from surviving it.
As an adjective, the term “social”, and particularly when applied to sales, encompasses a wide breadth of definitions. Selling has always been social in nature. Relationship Selling is based on social elements. Social also implies, and correctly so, a personal connection that goes beyond internet engagement and encourages us to take our relationships to the status of “IRL” (in real life). Therefore, in the course of our discussions, we will also inject certain living and breathing observations as suggestions that will complement their electronic cousins.
In order to really appreciate social sales, we will discuss our “10 Things to Love” in the context of “10 Things We Hate” about selling …
- I hate making cold calls! I spent the last 5 years of my sales career doing nothing but selling (the other 30 years were in management and ownership). I worked on straight commission (my choice) and never made a single cold call. Instead, I worked my network. This was well before social sales. If I look at that scenario today, with my new network in place and building … it’s mind-boggling! Who likes cold calling anyway? If you say “me”, I will be forced to question either your veracity or your sanity Social has the ability to turn every cold call into, at the very least, a warm call!
- I hate it that I can’t get past the gatekeeper! They may monitor the phone and they probably guard the lobby but, the chances that they are also serving that function with your decision maker’s social networks are between slim and none and slim just left town.
- I can’t stand the fact that I can’t identify the decision maker! Now you have access to your connections as well as your contact’s connections and that is just on LinkedIn! If you work for a company, are you connected with other folks within your company and particularly with your higher management and C level people? I can just about guarantee you that somebody in your company already has a channel to that person that you would like to meet!
- It sure would be nice if I didn’t have to go into every sales call “blind”! Never in the history of sales has so much valuable information about our customer and their company been placed so conveniently at our fingertips. Take advantage of this! If you don’t or won’t, you’ll be eating mac and cheese when you should be eating steak.
- Why is my territory so stinkin’ small!? Well, your territory just got a lot bigger and that is not just geographically. I live in a fairly small town (Boise, ID) and have been here for 31 years. As such, I know a fair amount of people in our business community. However, my circle of connections is just one of thousands of such circles. Being active in social has expanded those 100 fold.
- The customers all look at me like I’m just another sales weasel! (credit to Dilbert) This is probably due to the fact that you are doing nothing different to separate yourself from the rest of the weasels. By leveraging the power of social, and being better prepared with more knowledge about your customer and their company before you even meet … you will be viewed as being substantially above the rest.
- Nobody ever returns my calls or my emails! Perhaps that is because EVERYBODY sends emails and makes phone calls. You are just one of the unwashed thousands who are struggling to get through. I would be interested in knowing how many of your competitors are sending DM’s on Twitter (or replies) and/or private messages on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google+? Answer … none or damn few!
- By the time I read about this opportunity in the newspaper, or even hear about it on the street, it’s already too late! The secret lies in being ahead of the game. You don’t respond to opportunities. You create them. You monitor social streams, perform keyword searches, and you identify areas of need/hurt before they fester to the point which compels your customer to open up and all-out, and very public, search for a cure.
- Why is my sales performance, and my commission check, always so up and down? The easy answer is that it probably looks much like your forecast and, maybe even worse, your funnel. This is typically reflective of the lack of a balanced and consistent prospecting plan. We prospect like hell to find new business, then we work those opportunities like hell to bring them to conclusion, and then we turn around and woops … we had forgotten to prospect during the last two months. Hence … the “roller coaster” forecast. A good social plan (along with a good Social CRM with accurate forecasting) will smooth out those peaks and valleys and provide you with a nice steady climb to increased earnings!
- I just can’t deal with the rejection anymore! OK … maybe only “9 Things”. Rejection is, and always will be, a part of this game. Let it be like water to a duck’s back or choose another profession. However, my experiences with rejection are typically centered around having to deal with the gatekeeper and not knowing who I want/need to speak with to begin with so, please see #2 and #3. Of course, rejection comes in other ways like … being first loser in a competitive opportunity. I hate to lose. If I do, it had better not be because I was too lazy to do the work, the homework, and to take advantage of every opportunity to secure that sale! In which case, having to look in the mirror is never a pleasant experience particularly when it was preventable!
Over the coming months we will be discussing these topics and much much more. Help us all out by please adding to this list. What is that you hated about traditional sales and how have you managed to slay that dragon by using social?