3 Reasons to Use Video in Selling

Incorporating video into our social selling content mix makes sense on many levels, although I’m the first to admit that I didn’t do much with video until last year. Prior to that I was involved in several Google hangouts that were recorded, which I shared with my network, but I really didn’t get more serious about creating video content that I could use in a more intentional way.

I had my reasons for not making video content creation more of a priority. One of those reasons was most certainly ego. Not a big fan of how I look on video, I used that as an excuse not to get going. Perhaps that true for you too?video camera

Finally, I got over myself.

My colleague and good friend, Doug Lehman (@douglehman on Twitter) has been in the Video Brand Ambassador game longer than most. A very early evangelist and practitioner, Doug has honed his craft and now works with clients to pull together video content that helps salespeople best represent their personal brand and topic expertise.

Watch a series that Doug and I created together called the Sales Accelerators. Sales Accelerators Video Series Watch for more videos coming soon.

Naturally, when thinking about writing this post, I wanted to interview Doug to get his take on the role that video content plays in sales and social selling. But before I turn you loose on part 1 of the interview, here are 3 reasons that Doug shared with me regarding why salespeople need to get involved:

-Use video to educate, demonstrate your credibility and expertise, provide social proof and promote your products and services. When buyers are doing their solutions research, they turn to video for quick, informative answers to their questions.

-Reduce travel costs and other expenses. Unlike back in the day, sales interactions don’t always happen face-to-face, which explains the rapid growth of video technology being used in sales and marketing and incorporated into CRM processes.

-A sales video can be used as follow up after a sales call or meeting. Guaranteed to be more engaging than a static follow-up email.

Bonus reason: Video is great for capturing user-generated content (UGC), referrals and testimonials that build on the social proof that buyers consider during the decision making process.

Now, let’s hear from Doug.

BG: How important is the use of video in selling today?

DL: I think video is important today but will more important tomorrow. Today, buyers and customers do their own research and look for immediate answers. Using video to educate, train and promote your products and service is powerful. Most buyers would rather watch a one to two minute video versus spending time reading a full text column or whitepaper. Video is not a substitute for face-to-face meetings, but it is the next best thing to being there.

Video itself can expedite the sales cycle. We now live in the age of information at your fingertips with buyers and customers researching solutions online and using mobile devices to access quick answers to their questions. Simply put your buyers are influenced by video and sales and marketing needs to be using video to their advantage. The rapid growth of video technology in sales, marketing and CRM is on the rise and demonstrates how important video is to your content strategy. Just look at all the new video technology providers. The simple fact is that your potential customers are using video to evaluate people, products, services and companies. Proactive engagement is paramount.

From a sales point of view, video that is compelling and engaging with the correct call to action will assist increasing revenue and expanding exposure and reach. Video works well with email, which is still a very popular form of communication. Cut through the email noise that customers and prospects receive daily, capture their attention and improve your click-through rates.

Leveraging video can reduce travel costs and other sales expenses. Video helps accelerate the sales cycle on all levels. Educational, explainer videos, product-training videos will provide buyers with more clarity about what you offer, but these videos also demonstrate advanced credibility and social proof about your capabilities. It has direct impact on the buyer’s journey. Leveraging video content for lead generation with educational and explainer videos will allow for customer clarity in answering questions in the buyer’s discovery and evaluation phase. Your customer will be further along in their decision process and closer to making a purchase decision. Video can shorter the sales cycle time for complex and transactional sales.

Video works well in post sales meeting follow up. Leveraging user-generated content, referrals and testimonials can be extremely powerful as buyers look to peers from recommendations. A simple sales video follow up after a call or meeting speaks volumes. It will stand out and personalize the sales process.

From a research point of view, video is a great tool. As salespeople, we can look for trigger points and reasons to engage with buyers. Though we call it social listening, why not perform social watching. Look at your customers videos and SEE what they are talking about in a more personalized format.

Finally, customer advocacy, repeat business, referrals, references and testimonials are powerful for influencing customers. Authentic Video Marketing resonates well with customers at the highest engagement level.

BG: What are the top 3 ways to get started?

DL: Before you get started, your first order of business is establishing your plan. Watch other video examples. Replicate and test out those concepts. Spend some time evaluating what works in the business world. Do your own research by looking at video production agencies. Use YouTube as a training research tool watch videos to get your planning down.

Start with a small video project first and get comfortable. Produce shorter videos with tips and simple calls to action (CTA’s). Rehearse your project and practice before live video shooting commences. If you have someone that is more comfortable on camera, let them do the first video project or start with having your customers do a video testimonial.

Be natural and authentic and let your personality shine through. You want viewers to connect with you, which happens when your video is focused on something that is of value to the buyer. If you just make your video a sales pitch, you’ve wasted an opportunity. User generation content goes a long way too. Encourage your current customers to film a short-clip talking about why they decided to buy from you and what they liked about the process.

Using pictures for slideshows or screen casts are another way to get started. Interview style videos, live streaming and panel video chats like Skype, Google Hangout, Blab or Skype are great video tools to get started. The more experience you have on camera the better. The key to starting video is to start small, build and practice.

Breaking it down…in Lehman’s terms, as Doug would say.

By now, I hope you can see that video is a compelling way for you, as a salesperson, to stand apart from your competitors. Don’t keep waiting. It’s time to get started!

Find part 2, where you’ll learn about common video mistakes, the best platforms to host your videos and how to build your audience, here.

Make sure you connect with Doug. Talk to him about his services. He can help you get over the getting started hurdles. Reach Doug at:

Website
LinkedIn
Twitter
YouTube
Social Selling Video

The Need to Win

Sales people are competitive. I imagine I won’t get much argument on that point. Frankly, I’m not sure that you can succeed in selling  without having a deeply routed desire to win embedded in your DNA. But when is the healthy desire to win deals overshadowed by a twisted, relentless push to win or prove you are right at all costs?Male hand holding gold medal against the dramatic sky

What got me thinking about why some sellers desperately need to win is because of a question posed in one of my LinkedIn groups. The question is “Why is it that so many sales people have so much trouble seeing any view other than their own?”

I actually don’t believe that this question just relates to sales people.Human beings, in general, have difficulty seeing viewpoints other than their own. Through our own experiences, beliefs are formed and are typically hard to change. People may try to convince you of their position, but unless you are open to changing your mind, I just don’t think it happens. If it did, we’d have world peace already!

So let’s think about the question for a moment. Is it that sales people can’t let go of their point of view, like Fido who won’t relinquish his bone at any cost? Or, are there other reasons why sales people are so single minded in their thinking? Here are three possibilities:

1. Sales people are paid to win deals. That’s the job. They are taught to pitch and to try every conceivable tactic they can think of to convince you to see things their way. They are also expected to make X number of calls, conduct X number of meetings and demo’s, etc. There is a lot of chatter about the importance of working with prospects to “solve problems”, but let’s face it, talk is cheap. When it gets right down to it, management expectations, sales compensation and performance measurement are driving behavior. Sales people are rarely incented to focus on doing what’s right. They are rarely incented to take the long view. What sales people are taught is to win – now – if they expect to be paid. It isn’t unusual for a sales person to cut corners if they think it will help them seal the deal.

2. A sales message is constantly beaten into their heads that their company, their product, their service is the most bad ass out there. I can’t tell you how many times I heard the corporate product team (at a former company) tell sales teams that winning against the competition was a no-brainer. Not true, but nonetheless product managers and developers believed that “features” and “a better mouse trap” closed sales. Now that I think about it, a lot of sales people think the same thing. I’ll never forget the sales rep I was mentoring who wanted to demo “pivot tables” to the CIO of a worldwide company, but that’s a story for another day.

3. Over confidence (dare I say arrogance?). Partially this is brought on by point number two. But most sales folks I know believe in their heart of hearts, whether they admit it or not, that they can charm you, influence you, convince you to their way of thinking. I’d be a bazillionaire right now if I was paid every time I heard a sales person say that if “they can just get the meeting, they can close the sale!” They actually believe that no matter the situation, they can close it. I have fallen into this trap myself at various points in my sales career. Now that I’m a little more experienced, I am also a bit more realistic. You just won’t win every time.

Hey, I’m competitive. I do like to win but within the context of wanting to win, it is extremely important to me that I do no harm in the process. Sure, go for the gold, but do it with integrity, caring and respect. A flat out desire to win puts someone else in the losing position. That someone could be your buyer and no one wants to buy from anyone who makes them feel like a loser. Worse, no one wants to be “sold” only to find out that the product or service didn’t deliver as promised.

In the end, I still think that the answer to the question of why sales people have trouble seeing other viewpoints is that they are not paid to do so. Their goal is to win. It is that simple.

I’d love to hear what you think!

Because I Said So

“Luddite: One who fears technology (or new technology, as they seem pleased with how things currently are…why can’t everything just be the same?)” – Urban Dictionary

I’ve never been the person who accepted the status quo. Not at work, not at home. Change is a natural part of the flow of life. I believe that change leads us forward and is something to embrace rather than fight. Go ahead, huff and puff, kick and scream, resist, resist, resist…like it or not, nothing in life or business EVER remains the same.

I have enough sales and business experience under my belt to comfortably say that these are times of extreme disruption. Nothing about selling in today’s wired world – or the future of what business is becoming – looks anything like what we have seen in the past. Rapid advances in social, mobile, cloud and digital technologies keep changing up the playbook.

This new reality scares the daylights out of many so-called sales experts who stubbornly cling to the past as the world collapses around them. These folks believe “knocking on doors”, “pounding the pavement”, “pressing the flesh” and “smiling and dialing” still work. They don’t. This same camp of experts argues that social media – and technology in general – has no place in the sales process. They insist that the growing trends related to buyer behavior, lead generation, inbound marketing and inside sales either is not happening, will not happen or not happen any time soon. Guess what – already happening. They claim that their way, their data, their approach; their vantage point makes their opinion the right one.

My data is better than your data.

Another pointless – mine is bigger than yours  – ego debate rages in the blogosphere started by a few of the “good ole boys” who clearly feel that their turf in the sales profession is being threatened. While screaming at the top of their lungs that social media and cloud computing is a waste of time, they are simultaneously bragging about their LinkedIn and Twitter followers (of which they don’t actually have many), using social channels – like blogs – to argue their case, attack the viewpoints of others and beat their chests like the outdated cavemen that they are. Pardon me, if social doesn’t work, why are YOU using it? And if you have to write an entire blog post to justify the ridiculous logic of an earlier blog post and then use 300 of those words to brag about how amazing you are, I have to wonder why you are so defensive. Shakespeare said it best when he wrote, “Me thinks thou dost protest too much.”

Sales performance and revenue continues to decline or merely remain stagnant. This has been a disappointing trend for some years now. On that point, maybe we can agree. There are numerous reasons why performance issues linger. Ignoring that technology is part of today’s selling equation is certainly one of them, and though I cannot name every other reason why sellers, as a whole have challenges, here are 9 reasons that come to mind for me:

  1. Sales people are not receiving decent training. That includes how to sell, how to think creatively, how to present, how to use social smartly or how to “walk in the shoes” of their prospect.
  2. A lack of consultative, communication and listening skills among sellers.
  3. Focus on short-term revenue goals – better said, selfishly motivated goals focused on what can I get rather than give –  at the expense of longer term gains; i.e. customer experience, loyalty and retention.
  4. A constant search for a quick fix to bigger problems.
  5. Too much administrative burden placed on sellers and too many internal meetings.
  6. Measuring raw activity instead of measuring the type and quality of the activity.
  7. Sales process – if there is one – is not followed consistently.
  8. Stuck in the past refusing to accept that buyer behavior and expectations have changed.
  9. Laziness. Newsflash…sending hundreds of boilerplate emails to people not even qualified to buy from you is not actual selling.

Lest anyone misconstrue my words, let me be perfectly clear. Tools are tools…period. You’ll get no argument from me there. And, I don’t know anyone who has more than five minutes of actual experience and credibility in implementing successful social selling strategies who made the promise that using social media would cure the pervasive problems – many of them people, process and behavior related – that plague sales teams.

Technology has a place in selling even if right now sellers are stumbling around trying to figure it all out. It has a place even if your “expert data” doesn’t match modern day reality. You may not like it or care to acknowledge it, but technology and social networks do play a role in the buyer’s journey. Sick of sales people who show up and throw up, decision makers (and their team members) do their own initial, independent research to determine if they want to engage in a sales conversation with a seller at all. If, as the seller, you are fortunate enough to land the meeting, heaven forbid you show up at that meeting completely unprepared and winging it. These same buyers will unceremoniously show you the door.

Contrary to what you believe, dear expert, I am not threatened in the least that your viewpoint is different than mine. I wonder why you feel the need to hide behind your data even when there is ample – and quite reputable data – that contradicts your point of view. Ah well, you and the other boys can keep your heads buried in the sand while bolstering each other’s egos. In my eyes, you are simply dinosaurs, and we all know what happened to them.

I AM a Customer But You Don’t Know It

I am breaking my rule today. Typically, I keep ineptness anonymous. Today, in good conscience I cannot.

I have continuously railed against the sad state of selling, which bothers me in a big way. Poor messaging. Lack of relevance for the buyer. No understanding of the buyers business. These things gnaw at me and then some.

But I can think of no more serious grievousness  than sending messages to CUSTOMERS that make it clear that YOU have no clue that they ARE a customer.

It isn’t Matt’s fault. Someone may have cued up the email for him. You could argue, however, that he should have double checked who he was emailing.

I have been a Salesforce customer for the past 3 years, but clearly Matt doesn’t know that. If he does, that sure does not come across in his sales pitch.

Matt knows nothing about me. He hasn’t bothered to try and figure out what is important to me. His sales answer is that I “click” on a link to learn more.

He wants a demo appointment. He has no idea that I’m a customer or what is important to me. He just wants to sell something.

Game over.

Sales leaders must get engaged. This type of messaging and “spray and pray” broadcast approach is killing your sales! Schedule 30 minutes with me…I’ll help you understand why.

In the meantime…sorry Matt…a little homework goes a long way!

“Hi Barbara,

My name is Matt (insert last name here) with Saleforce.com — cloud-based marketing automation software powered by Pardot.

We provide over 1,500 companies like yours with software that helps them manage all of their online marketing programs to deliver qualified leads to sales, shorten sales cycles and track campaign ROI. According to Gartner, companies that automate their lead management process experience a 10% or greater lift in revenue within 6-9 months while reducing costs by 33%.  Click here for more information on Pardot’s platform.

Do you have time for a quick conversation or web demo this week or next?  If so, what day/time works for you?

I look forward to talking with you soon!

Thanks,

Matt”

Are Your Choices Moving You Closer to the Revenue Line?

Revenue drives the business engine. Without it, like no gas in the car, everything stops running. So what gets in the way of putting ruthless focus on only those activities that will drive revenue?

Well…

If you sell for someone else, you are at the mercy of management meetings, endless emails, questions from finance about your deal, new products and services to learn, customer issues related to implementing the solution you just sold and on it goes.

If you sell for your own company, you face challenges like paying the bills, handling the marketing, juggling the delivery time of the service you just sold with more sales to be made, managing employees and contractors, fending off salespeople who have the latest whiz bang solution to offer and the list goes on.

The point is that we know revenue needs to be our number one priority each day but “circumstances” often hinder our ability (or we think so anyway) to focus the majority of our time on revenue producing opportunities.

To focus ourselves in the right direction, I think it comes down to making choices moment to moment and sometimes those choices are tough to make. I sort of equate focus with two things. The first is knowing WHAT you need to focus your attention on to begin with and the second is knowing WHEN to say no. No to requests that pull you in the opposite direction of that revenue line.

Perhaps, you cannot control having to attend the weekly sales meeting, but you can control if after you leave that meeting you either pick up the phone and make 25 phone calls to prospects and referral partners, OR you choose to waste time wading around in email hell.

As a business owner, you have to ask yourself if you’ll even have bills to pay if you don’t get busy following up with the prospects that you met at that networking event last week. Either hire someone to take this responsibility off your back – ideal! – or be sure to handle the bills at points that don’t interfere with your number one priority…generating revenue.

With every situation that comes your way, you need to ask…

Does this activity I’m about to spend time on move me closer to the revenue line?

Example: Should I be answering email or responding to the proposal that I said I’d have done today?

The answer is easy…shut down email and go sell something-:)

BTW – there are plenty of people who advocate that you respond to every email that comes your way and promptly to boot. I’m not one of those people! Not all email is equal nor does it all require a response in the next 5 seconds.

If your job is to bring revenue in the door, then I can’t think of anything more important than wisely choosing the activities that help you do just that!

Happy Selling!

P.S. Hear from Joanne Black of No More Cold Calling on the importance of building a referral network that leads to revenue.

Sales Opportunity Through Right Access

Increasing revenue depends on being able to quickly penetrate targeted accounts, get to the right decision maker fast, shrink sales cycles and close business more quickly. The question many sales managers are grappling with is how? And in the urgent rush to move leads into the sales opportunity pipeline, I see a tendency to look to the past and default to “what used to work” when times were better.

What got you here, won’t get you there.

Marshall Goldsmith’s book of the same name, clearly illustrates the pitfalls of thinking that whatever strategies worked in achieving past successes will still work now and into the future. In most cases (maybe in all cases), they don’t.

A case in point…

I know of a very large, highly successful company who sells B2B services to their clients. They sell to the business owner or CEO of mid-sized organizations and their services are designed to improve business performance. Like many companies, revenue has been stagnant or slightly declining, which led to senior management determining that something needed to be done. Their solution? Insist that their salespeople hits the streets to “knock on doors” on a weekly basis. These reps are required to visit at least 25 companies, which is followed by completing a form detailing exactly where they went and who they talked too.

Now I don’t know about you, but I think this is about as lame as it gets. What business owner or CEO is sitting around waiting for a stranger to barge into their office with something to sell?

Doesn’t it strike you as ironic that a company selling business performance improvement solutions is using a 1970’s approach to reaching new prospects?

You might be wondering, as I did, who actually believes this will lead to qualified leads and the right kinds of clients for this company. The answer is that senior management does. These folks are the people who started the company, and in its inception, they used tactics like knocking on doors and cold calling to build the business. Because it worked then, they still believe it works now.

Activity should never be confused with effectiveness.

It isn’t the number of doors that you knock on or the number of people that you talk to that leads to the creation of new sales opportunities. What leads to new opportunities is targeting the right type of client for your business and getting an audience with the person who can make the buying decision. Walking into a business office and talking to the receptionist (because I’m pretty sure the CEO isn’t going to take a meeting with a stranger) is activity and not necessarily an effective sales approach if your goal is to move lead to close fairly quickly.

There are 4 ways to gain access.

In an excellent sales book called “Selling to the C-Suite“, authors Bistritz and Read talk about the 4 ways to gain access into an organization and the decision maker you want to reach. They are:

  1. Overt – cold calling and knocking on doors falls here.
  2. Sponsor – someone credible in the company sponsors you in the door.
  3. Referral – a trusted 3rd party makes an introduction for you.
  4. Gatekeeper – you connect with the administrative assistant and hope that building a relationship with her or him will lead to that desired appointment.
“84% of executives say they will take a meeting with someone who has been sponsored into the company.”

Clearly, finding ways to be “sponsored” is the way to go. And, as it turns out, 44% also said that they’d meet with someone who had been referred to them by a trusted, credible source. Why then do so many salespeople remain fixated on using approach #1 and #4 to gain access? I believe the answer is that it is easier and creates a false impression that they are “doing something”, instead of focusing their attention on doing the right something.

Seriously, would you rather close a deal in 60-days or 6-months or more?

In the end, shrinking the sales cycle and closing business more quickly won’t happen with a perceived “quick fix”. Achieving this goal requires a little more leg work on the front-end, and the effort is well worth it!

 

The Price of Sales Admission to the C-Suite

It’s common in the world of sales to talk about “calling high” in the organization. The idea being that getting to the higher levels means access to bigger budgets, as the execs at the top have the view from the top so to speak. At lower levels of the organization, budgets are smaller and competition can be tight for those dollars. But at the executive level, budgets can be moved around and combined for the right types of opportunities.

This is the new world of social sales where it should be much easier to get to the right decision makers at the right time. So I find it curious that most sales reps still tend to start their sales activities at the lower levels of the company versus getting to the relevant senior executive. I wondered why and decided to ask members of my favorite LinkedIn group – Sales Playbook – this question, “What are the top reasons that most sales people can’t seem to get a foot in the door to the C-Suite?” Reasons like fear, feeling “less than” and inexperience showed up. I happen to like how fellow Sales Playbook member @JerryVoltero summed it up. He said…

1. Lack of preparation to know who the true decision maker is that they should be talking to.

2. They do a lousy job of building rapport with the gatekeeper and don’t give them a strong enough argument for them to be the one who gets to come in and utilize some of that exec’s valuable time. Remember the gatekeeper’s job is to not waste the exec’s time.

3. If you are using a bottom up approach to get there, you have to get your champion to advocate with both the exec and the gatekeeper to get that proverbial foot in the door.

4. And once you get there, you better know what to ask them to figure out whether or not what you are selling will solve the business problem he/she has. Preparation is the key for sure.

And to Jerry’s point #4, preparation is not only key, it is critical! You may have a great product, perhaps even the best in your field, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore preparation. You may have the best product or service, but if you enter the sales process at the wrong time OR you don’t have the buy-in from the relevant senior executive, you have a big problem.

In today’s world of instantaneous access to information there is no excuse for lack of planning. Authors Nicholas Read and Stephen Bistritz remind us that…

“If you don’ take the time to stay current on your customers and prospects, the information won’t pop into your head by itself.” –Selling to the C-Suite.

I think that about sums it up!

Don’t Get Booted from the C-Suite

Anyone who knows me also knows that I am NOT a fan of cold calling. Perhaps it had its place in sales history, but I wonder. Was it ever truly successful? No one likes the process really. Not the sales people being told by management to do it, or the unsuspecting prospects who are receiving the call. Frankly, I just don’t get why there is still such a large contingent of sales people out there who insist that cold calling is a viable sales approach. So, all I can figure is that they must be selling a product or service that is largely transactional in nature not requiring a lot of buy-in from senior management.

Calling High in the Organization

In enterprise level selling, which requires you to gain access to the relevant senior executive(s) in the organization, cold calling isn’t a smart strategy. Why? The traditional approach is to use a canned product/feature script that you rattle off to everyone you call. Executives aren’t interested. And, invariably you are coming to the party way too late anyway. Do you even know when the senior level executives get involved in the buying process?

Even if you can get the right executive on the phone at the right time in the process, is your call addressing their needs or yours? I think that most of us can agree that typically sales people are focused on their own agenda – getting that appointment or sale. The reality is that executives don’t buy features and benefits.  It isn’t that those things aren’t important, but a senior executive wants to know how what you sell solves their business problems on a much bigger scale. In order to know what problems they are facing, sales people need to do their homework. That’s where social media fits in.

“Executives are increasingly using the Internet to inform their views, but they do not type in the category because early in the process, they’re not educated enough to know where a solution will come from. Instead, they search based on the problem confronting them.” –Selling to the C-Suite.

For the naysayers who believe that social media doesn’t have a place it the world of B2B selling, take note of this quote. Executives ARE using social media to source information about products and services that can solve their problem. Moreover, using tools like LinkedIn can give you incredible leverage during the sales process. Gain competitive advantage by better targeting and qualification, as well as planning for that all important conversation when you connect with the senior executive you have in mind.

To get to the C-Suite, planning and research are key. Have you done yours?

You want to get married? We haven’t had a date yet.

At Selling Power, Founder and Publisher Gerhard Gschwandtner penned a brief online article about meeting buyers at the right time. He suggests an ideal scenario in which our sales hero enters a coffee shop and just happens to start up a conversation with a buyer who needs exactly what he has to sell. It got me thinking about the importance of timing in the sales process.

It is the dream sales situation, isn’t it? You meet a buyer at the exact moment that they have a thorny problem to solve. You just happen to have the ideal solution. You get along instantly; they want to hear more. There’s no haggling over price. This buyer is desperate to eradicate the pain and solve the problem. He’ll pay practically anything. You zip on over to the buyer’s office to complete an agreement that is approved by legal in minutes. Oh, and they cut you a check in advance to get the process started. A few short hours after that fateful coffee shop meeting, you walk away with a six figure deal.

Uh huh…let’s get real.

It rarely works this way in the real world. In the real world, we meet people all the time that would benefit from using our products and services. The problem is that we know it, but they don’t yet. It’s tempting to want to convince them, right now, that a problem is looming on their horizon. But timing is a tricky thing. Jump to fast, push too hard and too soon…bye, bye sales opportunity. When it comes to using social networking tools to expand their sales reach, I’m certain that this is a lesson that many sales people are destined to learn the hard way. Some, no doubt, already have.

Stay visible.

Technology provides limitless opportunities for the sales people who recognize that timing is everything in sales. When the buyer is ready to buy, these savvy social sales people want that buyer to think of them first! That’s why they remain focused on the bigger picture. Core elements of their process include building strong networks and cultivating sales opportunities by providing “value” in advance of the sale. That value can be anything from targeted information that benefits the buyer in their job, white papers about trends in their industry, relevant blog posts or connections to peers in their field.

To succeed in the social sales world, sales people (and their management!) need to accept that no one gets married without being courted first. Be patient and take the time to court your prospective buyer until they are ready to walk down the aisle. How you approach the courtship will say volumes about what happens after you both say, “I do”.

Sales Needs to Change

pattersonprocessIn a recent presentation I delivered, I talked about how John Patterson, NCR founder is typically credited with being the father of the structured sales process largely in use today. Patterson wanted a way to create a repeatable pattern of sales success and in 1887 rolled out his NCR Primer.

Patterson created a detailed management system to monitor and train company salesman. Scripts were given to salesman to memorize and they were each assigned territories to cover. Patterson strove to create a sales method that encompassed all aspects of selling, from the calculation of quotas and commission rates to the motivation of discouraged salesmen. Sound familiar?

Your sales teams have likely been indoctrinated in Patterson’s approach, given that the majority of today’s sales training programs still focus on methods introduced by Patterson 122 years ago. I think it’s about time for a refresh!

Sales leaders have told me of their struggles to increase sales using tactics that have worked for them in the past, but what they overlook (or haven’t quite accepted) is that the way sales is conducted has fundamentally changed. Now more than ever, it is a buyer’s world. And buyers have about had it with sales people who over promise and under deliver, who tell them half truths and outright lies just to get the sale in the door.

Today’s sales success will hinge on understanding and participating in the fluid, collaborative, conversational nature of the internet. This new world is driven by “conversation” and creates what Gerhard Gschwandtner; Publisher of Selling Power Magazine calls a conversation economy. No longer do companies dictate how prospects will buy, nor can they continue to pretend they really know what’s best for the client. This sales world is all about adapting to what the customer wants. You must match your sales process with your customer’s buying process and they definitely will not be the same.

On the internet your prospects are talking to each other. You must be there to engage in the conversation. When buyers have a need – they must think of you, but if your sales people aren’t visible on popular networking sites like LinkedIn then they will be locked out. Make it first priority to ensure that your sales people have profiles that are:

  • 100% complete
  • Include a professional head shot
  • Utilize key words that your buyers would use to search out your services in the summary and name header
  • Create a compelling summary of your offering
  • Utilize applications to add more oomph to your profile. Include a presentation using Slideshare, create an Amazon book list or integrate blog posts.
  • Use status updates strategically to stay visible with your network.
  • Build solid search lists of ideal prospects and work your network to secure introductions.

These are but a few of the ways to get moving with LinkedIn to build your buying network. So what are you waiting for? If your sales people keep selling the same way they always have…you will only end up with more stress and lower sales. What worked in past no longer does so it’s time to adapt to this new world…now!