Implementing Social Selling

“The correct implementation of Social Selling gets your team appointment inside target prospects. These meetings are net new sales opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise had. This drives an increased number of qualified buyers of your product into the funnel. Your team sells more. Revenue increases.”

On a sales blog that I follow, written by people that do good work, a recent post began with the paragraph noted above. It is just the sort of hype that I am determined to keep calling out. iStock_000017143933MediumNothing promised in those five sentences is a given when implementing a social selling strategy. Let me break down why.

First, no matter how well crafted and implemented your social selling initiative is you still cannot guarantee that your sales team members will book more appointments. 

You can do the due diligence and craft a bang up strategy. You can put the right processes in place to support that strategy. You can deliver training to your sales people and put reinforcement and refresher mechanisms in place. You can create great content for sales people to share. You can redesign social profiles to speak to the prospect from their point of view. And…

None of these activities guarantees you will get net/new meetings. Get you in the running? Yes. Automatically get the appointment? No. It all depends, and always will, on HOW sales people sell themselves. What they say and do when engaging with a prospect… how they go about building the relationship and demonstrate credibility before they ask for the meeting… technology takes you so far. It is the sales approach that makes the difference.

Second, a correctly implemented program does not increase the number of qualified buyers in the sales funnel. This happens IF your sales people know how to qualify opportunities.

In a well thought out social selling program, your sales people learn how to better “target” the ideal buyer. That’s step 1. Next is finding a way to engage them without selling them. That’s step 2. When the time has come that a meeting is agreed upon, qualification then rests on your sales people’s ability to do that well. That’s step 3. At this stage, you need to know that the core questions that determine buying motivation have been asked. Is there some burning initiative inside the company that is driving this opportunity forward? Is there budget already approved for the project? Is the decision process understood? Does your company need to be on the vendor list, and if so, what does that require? These are just some of the questions that determine if a sales opportunity exists and if it should be pursued. Saying yes to watching your demo does not mean a deal is on the table.

Third, your team sells more when net/new meetings are set with targeted prospects?

Are you kidding? If that were true then 50% of sales people would NOT have missed quota in 2013. Since when did getting more meetings mean sales people sell more and revenue increases? In theory, that should happen, but every sales leader out there knows exactly how often sales meetings go nowhere.

When executed upon properly, using social as part of the selling process can certainly increase the number of net/new meetings. Our clients often report an increase of 30%, 40% and sometimes higher. It would be awesome if those percentage increases happened across the board, but social selling aside, it is rare to see improvement with 100% of your sales people as a result of training them. Again, the ultimate success outcome in selling – more meetings, more qualified leads, more closed deals relies on the individual sales skills of your people. Always has, always will.

Here’s a blinding flash of the obvious…  Sales people sell more and revenue increases IF they know how to sell.

There seems to be some collective assumption that sellers today have the sales skills they need. Mix in social media and bam… you have social selling superstars driving revenue numbers through the roof. Even if every single sales person in your sales organization has nicely branded social profiles and are proficient at using the technology correctly, all of it flies out the window if they can’t sell. When did sales management lose sight of this basic principle?

I know highly respected industry leaders in sales who predict that by 2020, 80% of most sales people won’t be needed at all. A few years ago, I laughed at that prediction. Not anymore. I’ve seen enough poor selling and some of the most horrific sales emails to now believe that pretty soon, once and for all, the wheat will be separated from the chaff. Companies will not continue to pay for sales people who can’t perform. The sales people who can will be in hot demand and command top dollar!

As a sales leader, I know the pressure you feel to increase revenue and pipeline. But a nice social profile and a few interactions in a social network won’t do it. Ensuring that every sales person in your sales organization has superb selling skills should be your #1 top priority.

I feel like a broken record, but I’ll keep shouting at the top of my lungs, technology is an ENABLER. That is it! If your sales people can’t sell, they can’t win deals!

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