Expert: Leader, Follower or Copycat?

When it comes to social media, probably 4 in 5 people you meet these days are experts. A quick Internet search reveals there are 310Genius baby million “social media” experts with 166 million grabbing the “social selling” expert moniker. That’s a lot of experts.

The problem, as I see it, is that “social media” is so big, so broad and so misunderstood that it is tough to pinpoint what expert really means. How do you really know if you are talking to one? Are you talking to someone who leads, follows or just copycat’s the work of others?

It takes 10,000 Hours (or close to it) 

Just yesterday I was interviewed for an edition of Top Sales World’s HardTalk podcast series. While talking to Jonathan Farrington about what it means to be an expert, for grins, I had looked up the definition before we got started with the interview. With so much noise being created by self-proclaimed experts, potential customers need a way to determine who’s got the goods and who does not, which might be tough if they aren’t even sure of the questions to ask or what skills to vet.

As defined on Wikipedia, “Experts have a prolonged or intense experience through practice and education in a particular field.”

While some will argue that you don’t need the 10,000 hours of experience that Malcolm Gladwell talks about in Outliers, I happen to believe that demonstrable experience actually matters. Do you think someone with no athletic experience can take up figure skating and within a year be competing in the Olympics? Anything is possible, but I’ve  NEVER heard of it happening.

Gladwell said in his book that “the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours.” If you did nothing else but study, work with clients and practice your craft 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, you could get there in just over a year. Of course, we all know that isn’t realistic at all. More likely, we are talking in the neighborhood of five years at least. Expert status, I believe, takes time, it takes hard work and especially where social media is concerned, you must be constantly learning and adapting.

Tactics and One Trick Ponies

When it gets right down to it, you know you are talking to someone with social media chops when they demonstrate breadth and depth of knowledge of the various platforms and how they fit together. You may be a really good LinkedIn trainer, but that does not make you a social media (or social selling) expert. Someone who understands social media strategy and how it impacts Sales, Marketing and Service will have a clear sense of best practices, and they will also know where the potential for disaster or failure lies. They will be able to show you the strategic work that they’ve done.

Be wary of one proven process or one way of approaching things. What works for one customer won’t necessarily work for another one.  A truly experienced social media player knows that it all begins with strategy and that strategy is crafted after you invest the time to understand the core of a customers business. Tactics come after strategy and not the other way around.

Buyer Beware

At the end of the day, I suppose it is the way of the world. People latch onto hot ideas and hot terms and want to ride the wave without learning how to surf. But trusting your reputation, your sales and your business to “experts” could be dangerous. You may find out that all they are expert in is taking taking your money.

 

Go Beyond Social Selling

At the first of the year, I talked about what I believe lies ahead for the profession of selling. At least in 2014. More of the same dismal sales results we’ve seen for years can be expected IF teams simply do what they’ve always done.

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Optimistically, I’d like to believe that sales leaders will step up to radically change how their sales organizations operate. Having finally accepted that “coffee is for closers” sales tactics have dulled in effectiveness, leaders will expect their sales people to do more than pitch and passively wait for orders to roll in. This is the year that leaders will invest in developing the business skills of their team members and the sales process that they follow. Why? Because buyers expect more.

And yet… revenue success requires so much more than simply making improvements in the Sales department.

We’ve been talking about Buyer 2.0 and Social Selling for so long now that it is becoming a big yawner. For me anyway. In the years since I’ve been evangelizing social for business and the three years since my book The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media was published, I’m surprised at how basic today’s conversations related to social media marketing and social selling remain. If I read one more blog post from an expert telling sellers how to “tune up” their LinkedIn profiles or create a lead search, I might have to hang myself. By now, if you are a seller and it has completely escaped your attention that buyer behavior has changed, or that leveraging social strategies as part of your sales process is not an option, well then, you might as well retire now.

Let’s get beyond today’s social selling conversation.

Buyer expectations are not standing still. The bar is rising – and fast! Buyer 2.0 made it clear that they were circumventing the early stages of what we formerly knew as the traditional sales process. Crappy salesmanship made it inevitable that this would happen. The Internet, social networks, peer reviews, data at our fingertips and word of mouth recommendations have made it possible. Buyer 2.0 wanted to work with a different kind of seller entirely. One who understands their business and functions as an advisor not an order taker. As Jonathan Farrington of Top Sales World puts it, customers and prospects are still marching, but not to your drum.

Buyer 3.0 has expectations that go far beyond what current social selling rhetoric largely focuses on. This buyer expects companies to WOW them with great experiences at every touch point in the process of moving them from prospect to customer. A go/no go decision can happen with the first marketing email they receive, webinar they attend, your cumbersome and complicated phone system, or your over eager sales reps hounding them after they downloaded a white paper. Every interaction – positive and negative – leads to revenue or not. And if you think that once a customer always a customer…think again. Most companies are not taking the idea of creating WOW experience seriously enough.

Revenue goals aren’t achieved by sales alone. That’s the big fat elephant in the room. Sales may carry the quota and the bag, but other functional departments – Marketing, Service, Operations, Accounting – play a big role in a win or a loss. Rather than expecting Sales to shoulder the entire burden, I crazily think that all executives, department heads and employees need some portion of their performance and salary tied to revenue goals. It isn’t enough to assume that people will do the right thing because they earn a paycheck.

Let’s stop talking about the tactical aspects of “social selling” – great profiles, status updates, search lists, sales research – as if that’s all it takes to succeed in today’s competitive business environment. Don’t misunderstand me. These things are important but they are a fraction of the bigger picture.

If you thought that Buyer 2.0 came out of nowhere, watch out. Buyer 3.0 is demanding more, and they know what you fail to recognize…your company isn’t the only game in town!

SocialTech Tuesday: Solving the Social Selling Puzzle

Sales leaders are often quite puzzled when it comes to making social selling work for their sales organization. Who can blame them? Ask 10 people who promote their expertise in social selling, and it is highly likely that you will hear 10 different definitions of the term. Listen closely and many of the pundits are simply telling you that all your people need is to use LinkedIn. Not the entire story!

I have defined “social selling” as the process of using social media to network, prospect, research, engage, collaborate, educate and close all with the purpose of attaining quota and increasing revenue.

Notice that I mention that social selling is a process that incorporates the effective use of the right technology to achieve some very specific sales objectives. It certainly seems pretty straightforward, right? Then why are sales people struggling to make it work for them? For starters…

It Is a Brand New Ball Game Folks

1. Gaining access to prospects is much harder these days. Buyers just tune out your cold calls and broadcast emails. Even a recognized brand name doesn’t guarantee a sales meeting these days.

2. The decision making process in most companies is much more complex. I read somewhere that on average there will be 12-15 people involved in the purchase decision. Sales people need to build relationships with multiple influencers and sometimes it isn’t easy to tell who those key influencers actually are.

3. Getting a meeting at the C-level doesn’t necessarily move your solution to the front of the line. Yes, you should definitely set your sights on securing a meeting with the right decision maker at the highest level that you can, but you are fooling yourself if you think that the gal at the top isn’t going to involve her people in the process.

4. Social networking tools like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and more have entered the mix. Sales people need to understand how social fits the sales process, but they also need to learn the nuances of participating in a social environment where there are unspoken rules and generally accepted best practices when trying to engage someone in the socialsphere. If you don’t know what they are, you will make a misstep that could be costly.

There Are No Short Cuts

Adopting a social selling approach is about change and change just isn’t easy. It also takes time. It takes setting a STRATEGY, ensuring that sales people have the right sales and technology SKILLS and that EXECUTION of the strategy is happening consistently.

On Thursday, July 25 @ 1pm Eastern, join me over at Top Sales World Academy for a FREE educational session about what it really takes to Solve the Social Selling Puzzle. REGISTER HERE!  By the way, there are other educational sessions being conducted by some of the best in the field of sales!

 

 

SocialTech Tuesday: Have You Been SWAM’d?

For important reasons, today’s post is longer than normal, and I hope you will take time to read through to the end. Your comments are also appreciated!

Since today is SocialTech Tuesday, it seems appropriate to jump into a controversy that has ignited a firestorm of angry discussion among LinkedIn members. Many people are incensed over a new LinkedIn policy introduced (very quietly) in January. The policy relates to groups and is called Sitewide Auto Moderation dubbed SWAM.

Though I am a LinkedIn power user and am pretty well versed in the platform, I had no idea that this policy had been introduced. Chances are that as a group member or a group manager/moderator, you didn’t know about it either. In fact, it seems the only way that people found out about the policy change is if they personally became affected by it. I found out about it a few days ago when a colleague of mine was SWAM’d and asked me if I knew anything about what was going on. That’s when I started digging.

In essence here’s what the policy is all about.

In an effort to reduce spam in the discussion area of groups, which I support by the way, LinkedIn made it possible to force an automatic moderation of posts and comments across “all groups” by any member who had been blocked in just one of the groups that they belonged to. The assumption is that if a Group Manager deemed you a spammer in their group, then all your posts and comments were suspect in other groups as well. While I appreciate the spirit and intent of the new policy, I believe it is pretty far reaching and perhaps pushes the boundaries of censorship.

The official policy is this…

“If a group manager blocks you from their group, your posts to other groups are automatically subject to moderator approval. Your postings to other groups are still submitted, but they are now pending until a member of the group’s management team approves it for posting.”

That means that those messages sit in a cue waiting for a group manager or their team of moderators to approve the comments.

Why is this needed?

That’s the million dollar question, and I am wondering what is the REAL why behind this decision? Group managers have always had the ability to block someone in their group that they felt were spamming versus participating in group conversations. Why is Big Brother stepping in? Is there some reason that decisions cannot be left to the individual group managers? Why is LinkedIn arbitrarily deciding that an infraction in one group means the member is an offender in every other group?

Stop Drinking Your Own Kool-Aid

Is this yet another example of how companies become too internally focused when it comes to their decision making? Not only does it seem like the far reaching effects were not considered by asking tougher questions internally, it doesn’t appear that LinkedIn bothered to seek out external feedback either.

Here are other questions that I believe needed to be asked and answered before plowing ahead with this decision:

What is the ramification to the member if we put this policy/technology change into effect? LinkedIn will tell you that if you fall victim to being SWAM’d you only need to approach each Group Manager and ask them to reinstate you. Imagine you belong to 50 groups. Does LinkedIn really think that forcing someone to reach out to each group manager individually will be an easy task? Can you imagine the time it takes? What if those group managers aren’t actively managing their group and never bother to respond? It happens all the time and now the individual is sort of screwed if no one pays attention to their reinstatement request.

How will this affect revenue we earn from premium subscriptions? I will say up front that I do not believe premium members deserve special consideration per se, although you could argue that maybe new features should be rolled out to them first. What I do believe is that somebody should have done a little analysis to see what it means if premium members are being kicked to the curb by Group Managers with no notice, warning or explanation. As of this writing, I can’t give you numbers, but I can say that several hundred people affected have publicly said they reverted back to the “free” version. That lost revenue will start adding up.

Does each group clearly communicate guidelines with respect to what content is appropriate for posting in the “discussion” area? It is very easy to create group rules and remind members to read them. If there are no group guidelines, is it really fair to ban someone who chooses to post self-promotions? How can you be accused of breaking the rules if there are none?

What will be the administrative impact on Group Managers? One Group Manager told me that this new policy has placed an impossible burden on him. His group is quite large – 30,000+ – and overnight he started having upwards of 500 posts DAILY to have to moderate. Manually. The policy was intended to help deal with SPAM. Didn’t anyone ask the question about whether or not these group leaders would have the bandwidth to deal with the outcome of this decision?

Is it possible that Group Managers with an act to grind will use the ability to block people unfairly? In other words, is there a chance that knowing a member could be blocked in all groups, would they use that as an opportunity to retaliate for a perceived infraction, the fact that they didn’t like the individual’s comments, or worse, use it as an opportunity to put their competitors at a disadvantage? In the course of researching the situation, it does appear that there are instances of this happening.

What will this decision mean for the power that participating in groups has represented? Being able to contribute to conversations or start discussions gives a group member the ability to demonstrate their thought leadership and capabilities. Done smartly, that visibility leads to sales opportunities. But if members know that a Group Manager could get pissed off at them, cut them off because they didn’t like what they said or posted, or accidentally clicked on the wrong button, why would anyone waste time participating in groups at all?

Aren’t we obligated to clearly communicate this change to all members? For me, this is the most important question that LinkedIn should have asked. If you believe in the decision, why hide? Why not clearly communicate what you are doing and why and ask for feedback before actually putting it into application. It seems to be common practice for social sites to makes changes without bothering to tell anyone. When it comes to policy though, I think the company should be obligated to make a public statement. As a member of the platform, I’m bound by the terms of use, but if you keep slipping in whammies like this one, how is that really being transparent?

What will be the impact on our Customer Service team? My point above might have mitigated many of the support tickets and complaints being filed. Without having any knowledge of the change or what happened if a group member was blocked, hundreds of support tickets have been filed. That is a heck of a lot of manpower to waste.

I plan to keep watch with respect to this policy, so expect more posts to come.

For now I will close with the following…

After 29 years working in technology, I’ve seen a lot of big players come and go. Arrogance slowly creeps in as people think, we are big, bad and no one can touch us. LinkedIn is not immune to this insidious disease, which may be a small crack today, but a chasm in the not too distant future. Guaranteed, a band of super smart tech nerds are out there somewhere working away in their garage to create the next best thing.

When a social networking company forgets that it is the members that got them where they are now, the fall may be slow but it certainly will be imminent.

SocialTech Tuesday: Another Kind of Handshake

As the co-author of the second book about social selling to hit bookshelves in August 2010, I am delighted to see that a philosophical approach to selling that I began evangelizing as early as 2006 is gathering steam.

At the time that The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media was published individual sales contributors were testing the waters on their own. Their managers, however, snubbed their noses at the idea that using social media as part of selling could help to generate revenue. More sales leaders get it today, but we still have far to go.

Part of the social selling process relies on sales people creating a perception of expert credibility and that’s where content comes in. Largely misunderstood, I want you to think about content in the context of helping the buyer make their decision to buy from you and your company and not someone else.

Recently, I sat down with Jason Wesbecher CEO and Co-Founder of Handshakez to talk about content and a unique platform that he and his team have developed to help sales people use content to close deals. Jason is a seasoned sales leader, so I know that you’ll benefit from his perspective as much as I have.

By the way, on Thursday, June 27 at 12N Eastern, I’m hosting a complimentary webinar with Jason that you need to attend. You’ll want to see for yourself what Handshakez can do for your teams sales results!

BG: Jason, why is content such an important part of the sales process?

JW: So much of the sales process unfolds these days outside the presence of an actual salesperson.  Because of this, it has never been more important to produce and share compelling content that can help provoke your customer to ask a question, start a dialogue… to engage with you.

BG: Isn’t interacting with our prospects and sending information back and forth sort of boring and wasting time? How does Handshakez overcome that challenge?

JW: The challenge with information exchange in today’s B2B environment is that it’s done much in the same way it was 15 years ago – via email.  What’s changed, though, is the sheer amount of email customers receive these days – as much as 600 new emails per week.  That is a tremendous amount of noise that sales reps now need to cut through.  Moreover, unlike 15 years ago, there just isn’t the same social obligation associated with responding to emails today.  Customers will easily delete dozens of external emails per week without thinking twice.

BG: Sales people often spend a lot of time chasing opportunities that really aren’t opportunities. How does your platform help sales people with that?

JW: As a former technology salesperson for 17 years, I can tell you with certainty that the next best thing to a “yes” is a “fast no.”  Quickly disqualifying opportunities is a valuable skill, as it reduces the time and cost of chasing conversations that will likely never come to fruition.  Our platform is focused on fostering engaging and transparent conversations between sales teams and buying teams.  When a salesperson using Handshakez starts to see declining engagement levels during a sales cycle – or worse yet, no engagement at all – it can inform next steps, sales stage and forecastability.

BG: Why did you start the company in the first place?

JW: I have been in enterprise software for 68 quarters and flown 2 million miles, selling to some of the toughest clients in the world.  What I learned is that oftentimes it’s a dance between a sales team that has an immature or undifferentiated product and a buyer who has multiple alternatives and very complex requirements.  In other words, selling is really, really hard and only getting harder. 

BG: We all know that the length of time to close deals has only gotten longer because multiple stakeholders are involved and some have more influence than others. What are some of the benefits of using your platform to address this reality?

JW: For today’s sales professionals to be successful, they must navigate the complex politics of committees staffed with informed and frugal buyers. Successful reps in this environment tend to engage customers rather than manage them.  And they differentiate their sales process as much as their products & services.  The best reps may already do this very well, but they only account for 10-20% of your sales force.  What about the rest? 

BG: Jason, you’ve told me that the buying and selling of B2B products is one of the most opaque and adversarial processes in the world.  Does it really have to be that way?

JW: No, it doesn’t.  I started Handshakez to make the B2B sales process incrementally easier and more enjoyable for all involved by humanizing it and taking it out of email.

BG: Humanizing it. I like that a lot, Jason. I rant quite often about how I think that sales people are using technology as a substitute for great selling skills. What are your top 3 pet peeves about the way people are selling today?

JW: As CEO of a company, I am now both a salesperson and a buyer.  We have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars building out our infrastructure, oftentimes with 3rd party tools and services from vendors.  My 3 pet peeves in working with these vendors have been:

  • Long PowerPoint presentations that emphasize the history and values of the vendor rather than my specific business challenge and how they can help address it.
  • Lack of awareness as to who the buyer actually is.  While I may be CEO, I generally outsource all technology decisions to my partner & CTO.  You would be surprised by how many vendors lack an appreciation for the differences between a buyer and an influencer.
  • Providing me with boilerplate vendor slicks as opposed to 3rd party content (HBR blog entries, industry best practices, etc) that can help influence my thinking.

BG: We definitely share the same pet peeves. As you know, I have strong opinions about why I believe sales people need to change their approach to selling. Why do you think it is important?

JW: Research by CSO insights suggests that only 46% of forecasted deals close.

BG: Ouch, only 46%? That’s a lot of lost revenue sitting out there. What’s the problem?

JW: After the countless hours of training and millions of dollars spent on tools, today’s B2B salesperson still has better odds at a Las Vegas craps table.  The definition of insanity is to repeat the same behaviors while expecting different results.  Handshakez helps sales reps redefine their approach, grow closer to the customer, and differentiate themselves.  We help clients close this forecast gap.

BG: Everybody talks about their ability to deliver ROI, but often they really can’t. What kind of ROI can sales leaders expect to see when their teams use your social selling platform?

JW: We help our customers realize a 10% increase in renewal rates and a 10 hour reduction per week in time each sales rep spends doing manual and administrative tasks within CRM.

BG: That’s what I would call ROI. And just think what could happen if each member of the sales team was spending 10 more hours per week on selling.

BG: Jason, I have enjoyed our conversation today, and I’m looking forward to our webinar on Thursday, June 27 at 12N Eastern.

SocialTech Tuesday: Be a Go-Giver

In a recent sales interview, I was asked to share my number one sales tip. Without hesitation, I said that it was to be a “go-giver”.  That has been a philosophy that has guided me throughout a successful corporate sales career, and as I run my own business today. The moniker itself comes from Bob Burg’s book, The Go-Giver, and at about 100 pages in length, it is a must read for anyone striving to be a superstar seller and knows that giving is the way to get there!

If you stop and think about it, common training and tips shared regarding social selling often focus on helping sales people use the technology to “get something”. Get more people to your profile, get in front of more prospects, get more people connect, get more prospects to notice you, get more leads in the pipeline, get more meetings, get recommendations, get referrals…get, get, get.

Of course, these things are important. After all, we all have something to sell. We teach these things in our trainings also, and we put a big emphasis on the giving. When the sole focus is on the getting and not the giving too, the pendulum swings widely out of balance. Many sellers are neglecting this important aspect of the selling process. Don’t you be one of them!

The funny thing about giving is that when your attitude is more about giving than it is about the getting, you better prepare yourself for the floodgate of opportunities that will come rushing your way.

Here goes, a 23 ways that you can give to others – prospects, influencers, customers. I steered clear of things that might seem too personal and my suggestions are in no particular order.

  1. Referrals
  2. Introductions
  3. A ride to the airport
  4. A book – I’ve given several copies of The Go-Giver to people
  5. Presentations or white papers that aren’t yours
  6. Birthday cards
  7. Share news of their new book launch, wesite, product or service
  8. Complimentary tickets to a ball game, movie or play
  9. Thank you’s
  10. Mention in your blog post and a link back to their website
  11. An invite to a webinar you think they will enjoy
  12. Connect them to speaking opportunities
  13. Recommendation
  14. A compliment
  15. Connection to a press opportunity
  16. Ticket to an industry conference
  17. 15-minutes of your time to help them with something
  18. Invite to be interviewed about their area of expertise
  19. Shout out on Twitter
  20. Ticket to a networking lunch as your guest
  21. Gift card to their favorite anything…restaurant, bookstore, music store
  22. A donation of time or money to a charity they support
  23. Subscription to an inspirational magazine like Success.

These are 23 things that I came up with in the giving category. My point in making this weeks topic about giving is that selling always has been and, I believe, always will be a relationship business. After all, for the foreseeable future at least, people buy from people!

Bring it on. What about you? What is on your giving list?

Mitigate the Risk in Social Media Selling

It stands to reason that sales, the most social of business activities, would make use of social media. Platforms for online collaboration are rapidly changing the way we work, offering new ways to engage with customers, colleagues, and the world at large. Sales reps now have the ability to participate in global conversations about their products, their field, and their expertise. But some companies are so worried about potential mistakes or loss of control that they don’t allow participation. That’s a bad idea.

Choosing not to be present in social networks puts your company and your salespeople at a competitive disadvantage. Instead, acknowledge the risks and mitigate them.

Read the rest of our guest post on the Harvard Business Review blog.

The Gaps Discussion Continued

In my last post I talked about the five gaps that I believe are impeding salespeople from reaching their goals. The most critical to resolve of these gaps requires a change in thinking and mindset. Until that happens, until salespeople and their management come to accept that the way that we need to sell today has changed, they will continue to wonder why they aren’t hitting their goals.

Adapt – If we know that buyers start the sales process without salespeople when they have a business problem to solve (and a variety of sources like GartnerSirius Decisions and others back this up), then salespeople need to have strong, compelling, visible presence on the web but especially LinkedIn if they are B2B. Moreover, they need to be actively sharing real-time, relevant information that adds value for prospects in advance of sales opportunities.

Leverage – Salespeople are not leveraging technology (LinkedIn, InsideView, etc.) before making a call to a prospect or even to reconnect with a client that has done business with them in the past. They are not using real-time data and the social web to look for triggers or events that would indicate a need to solve a business problem. Instead, they are trying to secure that phone call or face-to-face meeting blind with their goal being to present features and benefits. They make phone calls or go into meetings asking questions that they should already know the answer to. They are not demonstrating the traits of a “trusted advisor”, so to today’s buyer they look like any other vendor.

Research – Cold calling. Really? Don’t even get me started. I’m on the receiving end of a lot of it and it is awful. Canned or scripted phone calls and emails fall on deaf ears, but salespeople keep doing it. InsideView says that 92% of the time the phone call and email is ignored if the buyer doesn’t know the person. Why do it when there are better, more effective ways to invest time? An Inc.com post yesterday, laid out a cold calling script that they claim gets results. While better written and classier than most that I’ve seen, I wonder what would happen if the rep actually did a little homework to know more about the business they were calling. Even a well written script that is one-sided and about what you want rather than what your prospect cares about is still not a good approach.

Qualify – Too many salespeople give everyone an equal amount of attention when they should be qualifying who has the greatest potential for business now and in the near term. Just because someone took your call doesn’t mean they are qualified to buy or that they are even the relevant decision maker. Smart salespeople learn to ask the right questions to determine if a real opportunity actually exists and they make sure that they are talking to the real buyer. Someone may have a budget, they may have what appears to be the right title, but finding out who really owns the decision is critical. Time is precious. Spend it wisely.

Engage…or not – Salespeople get really excited when they reach someone and chat a few minutes and that person says, “send me a proposal”. Me, I’m not turning cartwheels. Generally, if that’s the case, it is likely too late in the game and someone else is the front runner. Proposals take a lot of work, so salespeople should know they have a real shot at winning before investing their time. Do you really want to spend all that time only to have your work used to negotiate a better deal with your competitor? Our Sales Opportunity Snapshot training and coaching helps to resolve gaps #4 and #5. It’s basically a process and methodology for asking the right questions to determine whether the opportunity is qualified and/or worth investing time in at all.

Buyer 2.0 has spoken. They are tired of gimmicks and scripted sales pitches. They want relevance. They want you to know their business. They want you to add value.

I’m asking again…are you listening?

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SOCIAL SALES SURVEY – take this quick, 3-minute (I promise) survey to help us understand how salespeople are using social media. You will receive a copy of the results. Click here to complete the survey.

5 Sales Gaps

Sales as a profession is my passion, and as a company we are relentless at leading the evolution of sales. Right now, sales is at a crossroads. Buyer behavior has changed and largely sales teams are not keeping up.

The three big challenges sales execs tell us they are facing are:

  • The need to increase revenue (and certainly keep it from decreasing)
  • The need to improve deal win rates
  • The need to shorten the sales cycle
What’s interesting is that these three items have been a problem for most sales organizations for some time now. I wrote in an earlier post that CRM won’t solve a companies revenue problem, although increasing revenue using a CRM system was a promise made and not kept by many vendors in this space. Technology doesn’t matter much if you continue to use an outdated approach when getting your prospect on the phone or meeting face-to-face.

Currently, there are five gaps in the way that most salespeople are approaching the sales process that I think need to be addressed and fast. They are:

  • Gap #1: Not adapting to changed buyer behavior
  • Gap #2: Not leveraging technology to do their homework in advance of calling/emailing people
  • Gap #3: Still wasting time on cold calling
  • Gap #4: Poor prospecting and not appropriately qualifying opportunities
  • Gap #5: Getting engaged at the wrong point in the sales cycle but continuing to invest time anyway; i.e. submit proposals

These gaps continue to stand in the way of sales management achieving their stated desire to increase revenue, improve sales deal win rates and shrink the sales cycle.

At the recent Sales 2.0 Conference in London, McKinsey presented their findings from research they had done to identify the five winning strategies of top performing sales teams. I was pleased to see that number two on the list was that top salespeople “sell the way that their customer wants to buy”. Well imagine that. I’ve been saying it for years. Thank you, McKinsey!

In my next post, I’ll get into more detail about the gaps and why they are a problem. But for now, I’ll leave you with this famous quote from Einstein…

“Insanity is doing the same things over and over again expecting a different result.”

Are you listening?

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SOCIAL SALES SURVEY – take this quick, 3-minute (I promise) survey to help us understand how salespeople are using social media. You will receive a copy of the results. Click here to complete the survey.

4 Ways to Use Social Media for Sales

Assess – what is the situation currently? Are your salespeople using social media? Is so, what tools? LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube or blogging? How well are they using social media? If you are not using social media why not?

Message – Craft a compelling value statement. Answer these questions:

  1. What are you promising your buyer?
  2. What do you offer them? It doesn’t need to be detailed. Keep it higher level.
  3. How are you different and why should your buyer care?
  4. Why should I spend money with you and not someone else? Everyone says they can help us increase revenue. How do you do it?
  5. Prove it to me. What examples can you give me to support your claims?

Create – Great content is the name of the game. Not sales pitches but value based content that that truly does something worthwhile for your buyer.

Train – If you don’t invest in training your people, there is a high likelihood that nothing will change. Don’t expect them to figure it out on their own.

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SOCIAL SALES SURVEY – take this quick, 3-minute (I promise) survey to help us understand how salespeople are using social media. You will receive a copy of the results. Click here to complete the survey.