Every once in a while I reach out to other social sellers and trainers to learn and share some of the secrets to their success. There are as many different perspectives on social sales as there are opinions, so it is fascinating to understand how others see this dynamic world. I had the pleasure of interviewing Amar Sheth from Sales for Life and uncovered some great insights from his point of view.
[BRYNNE] Q1 “How do you view the similarities and differences of social selling to traditional sales?”
[AMAR] A1 “Social selling is a term we use because it serves a purpose. Given its infancy, it’s a label used to identify the unique properties of social.
However, it is simply another communications channel. Nothing more, nothing less. The fundamental principles of sales still apply to it; such as networking, asking for introductions, referrals, finding information to bring greater relevance to prospect/client interactions, etc.
The mechanics of social may differ – how to approach a prospect, what to say, how to say it, technology, process, etc. – but social selling is inextricably tied to an overall sales process.
Therefore, we wholeheartedly believe and endorse the incorporation of social into every organization’s distinctive sales outlook and process. And given the digital character of today’s modern B2B buyer, the time to ignore social has passed.
How does an organization today contend with the fact that 90% of cold calls are ignored (Harvard Business Review) and that 74% buyers complete more than half of their research online without making a purchase (Forrester)?”
[BRYNNE] “I agree Amar, I do think LinkedIn is a communication tool as well as a research tool, engagement tool and a powerful way to connect with new people that you may never have found with non-social sales efforts. Social Selling has revolutionized the sales world from both the buyers’ journey and the sellers’ perspective. Based on your statistics above, it is clear that each sales person needs to represent well. This can begin with a value-centric profile so when the buyers are completing their research; our content, insights and education is has an impact and becomes a significant part of their decision making process. If we aren’t influencing that 74% who is?”
[BRYNNE] Q2 “Do you think social selling is embraced by most sales professionals?”
[AMAR] A2 “I think the idea sounds great to most sales professionals and theywant to do it but the companies they’re employed with are slow to catch on.
A trend we’ve noticed is that sales professionals were the ones to get on board and drive the social movement first. Company leaders (in sales, marketing and enablement) were slow to catch on.
The reason is obvious and plain as day: sales professionals are struggling. Prospecting is a brutally tough activity. Prospects are not waiting by the phones and answering e-mails. They’re online conducting research, doing due diligence and generally exploring to learn on their own. So as conversations in the marketplace decrease, quotas and targets keep increasing year over year.
Social selling was born from this reality and provided the first major push to capture the attention of sales professionals.
In a recent survey conducted by our organization, we found that over 40% of sales professionals were dabbling in social selling without any assistance from their organization. Only a handful of them reported going through any social selling program. And those that did indicated that the program was basic and didn’t train to overcome their main obstacles: finding and engaging with buyers online.
That’s one side of the story.
Then there are those that woefully ignore and outright refuse to look at the data that illustrates the power of social in the sales process. Yes, unfortunately, this view not only exists but persists.
Although reasons for this are as diverse as companies themselves, the common denominator is fear. Sales professionals have finite time and energy and what we don’t understand, we dismiss far too often.”
[BRYNNE] “Interesting that less than half, 40% of sales are dabbling and only only a few actually have a plan. You and Sales for Life always share some incredible insights based on statistics in the industry. As wonderful as social selling is, it is very easy to get sucked down a rabbit hole. You hit such a key point when you mentioned how important it is that the plan needs to focus on finding and engaging the right buyers and influencers. An area we have seen quite productive is leveraging LinkedIn to identify who your clients and networking partners know, and get warm introductions. Another is searching every company you are targeting, pinpointing your buyers and your shared connections and having conversations with the goal of introductions. Remember, the best networkers give first, find out who they want to meet and make warm introductions for them too!”
[BRYNNE] Q3 “What is the consequence of B2B sales professionals not leveraging social to prospect?”
[AMAR] A3 “This is a great question. Let’s discuss this in several parts.
If the job of sales is to be where buyers are, then being on social is simply a natural expression of this philosophy. One only needs to ask themselves this question to determine whether they need to be on social media: “Are my buyers capable of being online, researching solutions, exploring and doing due diligence?”
If the answer is yes then the choice is now made for you. It’s not about whether we choose to be on social media, the telephone, e-mail, at networking events, conferences or trade shows; our buyers will make this decision.
So the consequences of not being on social media are not being where your buyers are, influencing them, helping to shift priorities and all of those things we try to accomplish in sales.
If you aggregate inaction by large sales teams across organizations, the consequences of not being on social media is amplified. The results are scary.
Think about this: the outgoing CEO of Cisco said in July 2015 that 40% of businesses won’t be around in 10 years for their refusal to become more digital. If you think this is not possible, look at the top 30 companies that comprise the Dow Jones Index today. That list looks much different today than it did 20 years ago and even 10 years ago!
Sales for Life’s CEO, Jamie Shanks recently had a discussion with Mary Shea from Forrester about their latest research report: The B2B Sales Force Digital Reboot. One of the key findings was that over a million B2B salespeople in the US will be obsolete by 2020 if they fail to integrate new selling techniques into their routine!
So this philosophy of self-disruption becomes even more necessary. Culturally, companies must take charge.”
[BRYNNE] “Amar, I love your perspective of how the company executives must take charge, many sales professionals are trying social selling on their own and without corporate buy-in it makes adoption and execution is a huge challenge. Your recognition of the simple sales mindset of “be where buyers are” makes me think that with over 400 million members, LinkedIn would be a great place to start.”
[BRYNNE] Q4 “What is your # 1 piece of advice that you would offer a B2B sales person looking to engage on social?”
[AMAR] A4 “Start small. No need to worry about the fancy tips and strategies.
If you read something every day and share it with your networks and with key prospects, that in itself will help to spark dialog.
Secondly, if you’re up for it, seek education. You can’t begin to know what works all by yourself – and this isn’t a bad thing at all. You’ll need expert advice from people that have done this and measure results consistently.
Start here. Start small.
[BRYNNE] “My 3 big take-aways from my interview with Amar is:
- All B2B sales professionals need to adopt social in their sales process because that is clearly where their buyers are hanging out.
- Organizations need to support their sales teams in order to be most effective. Currently it seems that most sales professionals are winging it everyday, so it is vital that a solid plan of action come from the top.
- Start small – if you try to take on too much too quickly it can get overwhelming. Pick a few key strategies/tactics and work on making them successful and than taking on something new. The first few things I often recommend is:
- Create a value-centric profile so when your buyer visits, they get excited to have a phone call with you.
- Leverage your warm market by identifying who you know that knows who you want to know – and ask for introductions.
- Create advanced searches that target your targeted buyers and each week connect with new people in your network with a note: Your name came up on LinkedIn as someone I should connect with and I wanted to reach out and introduce myself. Let’s connect and explore ways we may be able to help each other.
- Once you connect send: Thank you for connecting with me on LinkedIn, as I mentioned I would like to set up a brief call to explore how we might be able to work together, Click Here to see my calendar and please pick a time that is most convenient for you. I am looking forward to our call.
LinkedIn and Social Selling has so many facets and perspectives, please share your thoughts in comments below.”
With 2016 right around the corner, it’s prime time to start considering new concepts, strategies, and techniques for your sales success. And the hot topic for 2016? Social Selling. If you’re looking for ways to move the needle on sales performance in ’16, REGISTER for our complimentary webinar.
Join us on Monday, December 21st at 1:00 – 2:00pm EST.
Learn how to:
- Develop a value-centric profile that attracts and engages your ideal buyer and get them to want to take your call.
- Leverage your warm market to get more leads from your clients and networking partners.
- Position yourself as a thought leader and subject matter expert through sharing quality content.
Hear first-hand from social selling industry leaders:
- PeopleLinx’s CEO, Kevin O’Nell
- Social Sales Link’s CEO, Brynne Tillman
If you can’t make it, that’s okay! Register anyway and we’ll send you the recording.
Questions about LinkedIn and Social Selling? I invite you to have a conversation. Whether or not we decide to do business together, I am confident our call will be full of insights. Here is a link to my calendarScheduleaCallwithBrynne.com please pick a time that is most convenient for you. I am looking forward to our call.