Why Your Social Selling Index Means Nothing
You and your sales force are selling socially. You've got a LinkedIn Sales Navigator seat. Browser is fired up. You're sharing valuable insights and racking up Social Selling Index points ... showing the world you can use LinkedIn.
Full stop: Are you helping buyers buy? Helping buyers buy is where the action is.
Yet the buying decision process is only partially solution-driven. I learned this from Sharon Drew Morgen, creator of the Buying Facilitation method. I have yet to find a social selling training program teaching us how to deal with these facts.
- Selling doesn’t cause buying.
- Buying involves systemic change and (when there’s no other option) solution choice.
- Using solution data (content, research) as the main skill to make a sale restricts possibility, netting objections from clients who don’t know how to hear the seller’s point.
- Buyers buy according to their buying patterns, not selling patterns.
- Pushing solution data too early causes objections, regardless of need.
Morgen teaches us buyers are buyers until they recognize how to solve a problem with maximum buy-in and minimum fallout to the status quo.
Until buyers are certain they can’t solve a problem themselves with their own resources, they can’t recognize what is needed to buy.
"They will resist/object when having seemingly pointless content shoved at them," says Morgen.
So what' your role as a seller? To help buyers understand and manage change. Specifically, to know the full extent of internal challenges. Until you help them understand these challenges they remain unable to understand content details effectively.
"They object when pushed," says Morgen.
Facilitating Decisions Is Not Social Selling
Is your team applying communications techniques to help buyers buy? In other words, are they able to identify and facilitate change for each stage of customers’ buying process that does not include purchase consideration?
Closing more accounts has everything to do with creating interest ... nothing to do with creating interaction on LinkedIn.
Creating interest is a communications skill, not a social media or LinkedIn skill.
"There is an entirely different goal, focus, solution, thought process, skill set, necessary," to facilitate and enable change before any purchase is considered, says Ms. Morgen.
Pushing content to prospects, commenting, updating, sharing wisdom. These tactics work well to generate interaction, not so well to create early-stage client conversations. Interest.
Teach Sellers to Facilitate
Social selling focuses mainly on pushing content and sharing knowledge, mostly out of context to buyers. It rarely works. Because it limits outreach to clients who already recognize a purchase is the only way to resolve a problem.
At best this is 5 percent of the market, which often throw objections at your advance.
However, "You get no resistance when facilitating prospects through their own steps to congruent change," says Morgen.
"But you’ll need to take a different, additional, path through a different lens. You’ll need to understand the change management issues within your industry. And no, you cannot use your current sales skill to accomplish this," says Morgan.
Indeed, you can continue pushing content and getting objections, or you can add a new function to your outreach. A part that connects with the right customers sooner. One that allows you to enter their decision path, join them as a trusted advisor and facilitate clients who can buy through to buying.
"Just recognize the sales model doesn’t do the facilitation portion as it’s solution-placement based," says Morgen.
My bottom line for you: Social selling is, in practice, social marketing. Look around. Witness teams of sellers pushing content onto LinkedIn. All trying to stay in front of potential clients, convince them of sellers' thought leadership and pushing insights. But in the end social selling proves worthless compared to helping buyers get ready to buy.
Do you agree? What is your experience?
Jeff Molander is the authority on making social media sell. He co-founded the Google Affiliate Network in 1999, and has been selling for 18 years. Jeff is adjunct digital marketing faculty at Loyola University’s business school, a social sales trainer and author of the first social selling book, Off the Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You. Most social selling trainers teach the value of engaging customers and providing relevant content. Then they demonstrate the technology. But no one tells you exactly how to produce leads and sales—using a proven, systematic approach to content. Until now.