3 Questions to Ask Your Sales Team
The social selling backlash has begun. You might sense it or be experiencing it. But you won't read much about it online. I'm reading a lot of self-appointed experts whining, “You're doing social selling wrong, dummy!” It's as if the market is changing. Experiencing. Maturing.
Rest assured: For most sales and marketing leaders the backlash against social selling is becoming tangible. Personal. Reps are pushing back.
This in mind, here are three questions you should be asking sellers in every pipeline meeting.
- Why do you invest time on LinkedIn? (at all)
- How do you invest that time?
- Would you rather reassign that time? Why or why not?
Yes, these are basic questions. But that's the point: You want raw, un-filtered answers — insights on how your team's productivity is being hindered or helped by current social selling practices. These questions can be asked on a private basis or in a group. Both strategies can yield productive results.
Is This Your Sales Team?
Social selling has, for many, been a bust. It's a time-wasting venture in farming (marketing) conducted by those we've hired to hunt (sales).
We've wisely invested in tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator. However, many organizations are subscribed to a dangerous practice: ordering reps to abandon their hunting instincts — instead, focusing on planting seeds. Marketing.
- Sharing valuable content and articles and hoping for engagement
- Sending self-centered, templated email scripts via LinkedIn InMail
- Re-posting press releases on LinkedIn blogs and updates
“Management is forcing me to waste time posting updates on social,” say many sellers. Instead, they want to be on the phone — dismissing social entirely.
This attitude is often based on experience. They tried it; social didn't move the needle.
But did your reps go to battle with the best weaponry? With an effective, repeatable communications methodology? Or did they just push content out to customers and go back to their day?
1. ‘Why Do You Invest Time on LinkedIn? (Or Not)’
Asking your reps why they do (or do not) invest time on LinkedIn can be a real eye-opener. Especially when your organization mandates participation. If you're invested in Sales Navigator reps must be using it — frequently and effectively.
You want that ROI. Sales Navigator is expensive.
But getting to effectiveness isn't easy. I know, because my clients struggle with earning sellers participation in something they often:
- don't believe in (the status quo rep)
- know won't help them (they've tried and failed)
- are afraid of (they don't want to be a spammer or loudmouth)
If reps are comfortable with the status quo do they truly need social selling? The answer may surprise you. In some cases buyers are:
- not active on LinkedIn
- not contained in the LinkedIn profile database (at all!)
- disguising their purchase authority (to hide from over-aggressive sellers)
LinkedIn may not be a fit.
Validate Failure and Move On
You cannot argue with experience. Experience drives our behavior. Humans do more of what rewards them, less of what doesn't. Especially good sales reps!
If your reps have tried and failed with tools like LinkedIn, validate that failure and investigate why they failed. Nine times out of 10 it's lack of an effective “hunting” communications technique — and over-focusing on “farming” activities.
Be sure to ask your reps this important question. You might be surprised with (and benefit from) their answers.
2. ‘How Do You Invest Your Time?’
Asking your reps how they invest time seems obvious. But are you asking them? And are you prepared for the answers? Find out.
Are your reps feeling forced to post updates on LinkedIn? Or to blog about the company? Are they feeling pressure to, in essence, become marketers? And is this pressure fueling resentment and/or unproductive negative emotions?
Instead, today's most productive socials sellers are happy to:
- research potential buyers on LinkedIn and other social channels
- hunt for buyers by searching and then cold-emailing them
- listen for signals and trigger events in their prospects' LinkedIn activity stream
3. Would You Rather Reassign That Time?
This is the question most leaders are afraid to ask. Because they either know or sense what the answer is. But asking your reps if they would rather reassign their time isn't setting yourself up for failure. Because the second part of the question is highly opportunistic:
Why or why not?
Understanding why your sellers, as individuals or as a team, want to do more or less of anything is the path to sales excellence. Asking reps to justify their decision facilitates introspection. Reps are forced to examine the answer they just gave!
Yes responses indicate “this isn't working.” Probe deeper. Why isn't it working? Again, my experience points to the “hunter/farmer” (seller/marketer) issue.
No responses point to productive sellers — reps making the best business use of social media and tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
“No, I don't want to reassign my time away from LinkedIn. It's invaluable to me. Here's why ...”
The Market Is Changing
When it comes to social selling, we are all gaining experience. Maturing. I'm experiencing sales and marketing clashing behind the scenes. The backlash against social selling is becoming tangible.
Reps are pushing back. But others are excelling. How are they making more productive use of social?
How will you steer clear of this potential (or existing) clash? I suggest asking these three questions in your pipeline meeting. What do you think? What has been your experience?