Questions Sales Needs to Ask

I wrote in my last post about ways to gain executive buy-in for the integration of social media into a sound sales strategy. Rather than replace the tried and true, social tools can augment great sales efforts today. Used effectively they can also help your sales folks reduce sales cycle time by building relationships early and quickly through social communities. Yes, you can still attend in-person networking functions and you should – provided you are attending the right ones. Easy enough to burn hours of time that get you nowhere for the right events, much less attending the wrong ones. Instead invest some of your sales time each day to participate in online spaces, like LikedIn to connect, source business opportunities and prepare for your sales calls. Welcome to the world of social selling.

As I’ve observed companies considering how social media applies to them, I’ve also seen a tendency to want to short-cut the process. This is a big change and you need to prepare yourself up front for success. Asking and answering these types of questions should be the first step.

  1. Are your sales leaders prepared to adopt new sales communication approaches and tools?
  2. Will your current processes support a smooth integration to using new technologies?
  3. Have you established sales communication guidelines and social usage policies?
  4. What kind of training will your sales people need to make the shift?
  5. How will you hold people accountable to using new media as part of their sales day?
  6. Is your IT organization prepared to assist you in integrating the right social tools with your sales goals?
  7. Do you use customer data, survey’s and focus group feedback to update services, policies and processes on the fly?
  8. How well is your team “listening” to online conversations happening on the various social sites?
  9. How ready is your sales team to respond to negative commentary?
  10. What does your competition’s social media presence look like?

Don’t be seduced by the promise of number of followers = sales. Twitter isn’t for everyone and neither is Facebook for that matter. Think carefully about your strategy. It will make the difference between floundering around and achieving sales results.

Time for a Reboot

billmurray

A series of recent events has me thinking about how “stuck” people seem to be in their approaches to situations of all kinds. As human beings, I suppose its part of our hard wiring to resist change, even when presented with information suggesting we move in another direction would be wise. Reminds me of the movie – Groundhog Day. Bill Murray portrays Phil Connors an egotistical TV weatherman faced with living one day in his life over and over again. Connors is presented with the rare opportunity to take a different path when faced with the same circumstances. It is a clever film about do over’s and the challenges of changing our ways.

That brings me to the topic of sales.

Personally, I think it is about time for a serious shake up in traditional thinking about the sales process. Business is anything but traditional these days. Sales must adapt.

Some 78% of buyers consistently say that they go to the web to do research on something they plan to purchase according to Anderson Analytics.

Buying behavior has changed. These buyers are not interested in meeting with you personally to learn about your products and services. They can research you more quickly online. Further, they have more faith in the feedback from the social community than they do from vendors and advertisers who are clearly biased in their opinion of their capabilities. You can’t blame them.

Sales behavior and the approach to the sales process need to adapt to attract this new breed of buyer. A social sales strategy is required.

This statement usually draws some strong reactions from those sales professionals locked into their own methodology. They firmly, but politely reject the idea that using tools like LinkedIn to generate sales works. To them networking in a virtual world doesn’t have the same oomph as meeting people face to face. What they miss is that you do not need to ditch the tried and true, but it does mean that the effective use of social systems to create sales relationships must now be integrated into the sales process.

You won’t make money overnight!

Another area of resistance that often surfaces is an attitude that if it doesn’t make you money overnight then there can’t be much to it. Such an odd attitude really, because seasoned sales professionals know that it takes time to build a book of business. Starting a corporate sales job today would not mean I’d close a sale the next day. You get to know the customer base, you plan your introduction strategy, make calls and set appointments to meet with core clients…all of these tasks and more go into kicking off a new sales relationship. So like the building of a new sales territory, your investment in moving to a social selling approach will take time and patience.

Back to Groundhog Day…

Murray’s character has the opportunity to relive one pivotal day in his life…over and over again. The idea is that he learns from mistakes made in the prior 24 hours, which hopefully means better decisions and choices moving forward.

Given the choice, what about you?

Will you reboot your sales system and start with a fresh eye? Or, will you chose to remain caught in an endless cycle of doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different sales result?