If, like me, you are in B2B sales and are active at all in social sales, you are well aware that there are literally tons of sales-related applications to choose from for today’s social savvy salesperson. All make promises in one way or another to either make you more effective at what you do or, at the very least, to make your job easier. Likely the pitch is … both. Should you be at least investigating some of these offerings? Sure but, please remember that …
The goals of selling have not changed
The fundamentals of selling remain. Most of what worked well for us yesterday continues to be effective today, despite some opinions to the contrary. Let me clarify that. Our customers have changed, and their buying habits have also evolved. We need to do the same but, everything that we know to be the right way to sell still comprises our sales mindset.
We still need to find qualified buyers, build relationships with these people and companies, convert them to customers, and then keep and develop them into even better customers. Therefore, the question becomes, how can we select and deploy the best tools to increase our selling effectiveness and then apply each to achieve our goals without compromising our sales mindset and the focus that accompanies it?
Social sales should be nothing more than applying select tools and strategies to the traditional selling mindset.
Before we go any further, this post has been written primarily for individual B2B salespeople or small sales teams. Enterprise organizations may, in fact, have multiple sales related positions for different parts of the sales process and each of those may/will have different needs.
You need sales skills in order to use sales tools
Let’s start with this … no amount of sales tools will do you any good if you do not have the necessary selling skills to effectively deploy and manage them. This is a given. A professional salesperson will also be keenly aware of the return on investment that each tool will yield. Contrast this with the neophyte who could rise to levels of expectation if “only I had this … to help me”. Giving new tools to the untrained can be likened to providing someone with a gun but, not telling them which end that the hurty thing comes out of.
He who dies with the most tools wins?
So many tools and so little time or is it … too many tools and not enough time? Perhaps it is a little bit of both. Business remains personal and tools, particularly automated personal engagement tools, are not. I would not agree with the premise that more tools = necessarily better results.
In fact, I believe the opposite to be true. Who has the time to use, let alone investigate, dozens or hundreds of potential “life savers” while at the same time remaining focused on the only activity that really counts, selling something? This, in itself, is one of the leading reasons why salespeople either do not embrace social sales, or they abandon those efforts before they can yield tangible results.
The tool chest in my garage is filled with gizmos that I purchased at one time or another and were used once or twice or maybe even never at all. Honestly, if I were to dig through the drawers today, there are probably a number of them that I would not even know what they were let alone how to use them.
The bookmarks bar on my browser represents a similar inventory of selling tools investigated and long since abandoned. They either did not deliver as expected, were something that I failed to master (lost interest), or proved to be a time waster that pulled me away from efforts spent actually selling. Having spent literally years doing this, the sheen has been buffed off of my shiny bauble syndrome. My attitude, in this regard, has evolved.
Choose a few tools and then apply them
Tools that you select must support your sales mindset and enhance, not distract from, that. Still, I must confess that I have concerns about marrying salespeople and (too many) tools. Additionally, many applications that I have seen being promoted as sales tools are, in fact, marketing in nature.
Sure, the lines between sales and marketing have blurred but, salespeople are just not wired the same way that marketing people are nor are they generally compensated in the same manner. If you don’t sell, you starve. It’s as simple as that. If there is a line between the two, where do we mark that and which tools will fall on which side of that line? I’ve spoken of app creep before (too many apps), and this may be another example (apps that don’t belong in sales managing to slither their way into that arena).
I do have tools that I love. Tools can be grouped into five basic categories and sometimes one tool will have the ability to fulfill more than one of these functions. Coincidentally, these segments match the selling process and should be used to support the sales mindset. The same sales process that was handed down to Moses as a second set of tablets …
Prospecting – Sales mindset – Find new and better customers who will refer me to others: This segment includes outbound, inbound, and attraction. Targeting new customers can be accomplished from within the social platforms themselves via their built-in search capabilities or with some select keyword tools such as Socedo.
Leveraging your existing social and real-life networks to discover desirable connections (and to be provided an introduction to same) remains as one of your best sources for new business. Networking always has been and continues to be, your best source for referral business. Now we can take that activity online in addition to in-person engagements. I am also a strong believer in salespeople providing content (theirs, from their company, and other sources) as a means of establishing your expertise as well as attracting new customers.
Relationships – Sales mindset – We need to be constantly learning about our customers and developing these relationships: Certainly, especially with sites like LinkedIn and Facebook cutting off API access to third-party applications (there are some workarounds to this that are available), this means visiting their social profiles to learn more about them. We are looking for commonalities as well as for their areas of interest and influence, and these specifics merely scratch the surface!
Engagement – Sales mindset – You must be staying in touch with customers and prospects and doing so consistently and personally: This includes monitoring the applicable social news feeds, and much of this can be done via lists, circles, and/or a good social dashboard such as Hootsuite. Use your CRM to set recurring reminders to perform these activities with your best customers and prospects.
Enablement and Acceleration – Sales mindset – Move prospects quickly and efficiently through the sales pipeline and to a successful conclusion: These tools are designed to make it easier for salespeople to help people to buy and to accelerate that process. Read Highspot’s “Definitive Guide to Sales Enablement” and you can also download the report. It’s massive!
Management – Sales mindset – Maintain our existing account base as well as manage our contacts including suspects as well as prospects: As a tool, a good CRM or Social CRM would be the logical choice and it will be able to organize your contacts, calendar (including tasks), reminders, and communications (record of emails, etc.). An SCRM may add an additional social layer to these elements.
Certainly, there are some excellent tools out there (too many to mention in this article) that, depending on your markets and your needs, may do a phenomenal job for you. Finding the right one(s) will require a substantial investment of your time and, perhaps, your dollars. Then, of course, there will be the required training and implementation. Hopefully, you will choose wisely the first time and not be required to repeat the process.
In my mind, armed with a few select good tools, combined with really focusing on the social networks themselves, you will find yourself to be lightyears ahead of where you might be trying to manage a plethora of disparate applications but, that’s me. I would love to hear your thoughts on this matter!