Your Social Selling Strategy Is Broken
Ideas like: Never cold call. Cold calling is interrupting you customer. It's wrong, you shouldn't do it.
“Saying this is wrong and it's hurting people,” says sales trainer Anthony Innarino.
“More and more self-styled gurus popping up and pontificating to the sales profession that one form or another of prospecting is dead,” says author and sales trainer Jeb Blount.
“They pander to the salespeople who are scared of, uncomfortable with, or simply don’t want to do the hard work of sales.”
When it comes to selling on social media Blount and Innarino have a provocative perspective.
“Selling is about conversations and commitments. But conversations without commitments isn’t selling. It’s just conversations,” says Innarino.
In essence, it's marketing. Broadcasting.
Marketing is often about soft outcomes. Sales is about hard outcomes: Commitments.
"I defy any quota carrying sales rep and go to their sales manager and say, 'listen I really want to focus on social selling ... so I want to spend most of my day creating content and sharing it.' You'll soon find yourself in a new role. Probably not in that company, probably not in sales,” says Innarino.
Is Your Team Hunting or Farming?
The lines between marketing and sales are blurring. This is precisely the problem. Today's digital sales forces are been reduced to farmers, rather than being armed as better hunters.
It's becoming more about usage of LinkedIn, less about qualitative outcomes. Sales conversations!
“The big push on 'social' selling has turned a lot of SDR teams into 'send a LinkedIn invite then try to sell them 5 minutes after they accept,” says Mike Andersen, VP of Inside Sales at Mimosa Networks.
Sales people are not, and should not, be marketers (farmers). Yes, they should be listening using social media like LinkedIn and Twitter. But they should be using social to hunt more — farm less.
Are your sellers exploiting LinkedIn Sales Navigator to find potential customers and qualify them as buyers faster? Great. But don't let them get bogged down with commenting on posts, posting updates, sharing articles and press releases (creating noise).
My research and experience leads me to conclude: There are loose correlations between being visible on social media and closing sales. Farming is important. It's just less important than prospecting.
Today's most effective sellers are using LinkedIn to locate, research and provoke problem-solving discussions with potential buyers. Hunt.
Are Your Hunters Being Forced to Farm?
Do your sellers feel they're being forced to perform pointless activities on social media — that do not help find, nurture or close business faster?
Is there tension between sellers, management and marketing? Disagreement over what direction to take, why and how? You're not alone. This is the hunter-farmer conflict.
Both sides probably have valid points of view and goals. But each side's strengths are being lost in a cloud of negative feelings. This is often combining with pressure on the sales team to perform.
This is where having an effective digital communications technique makes all the difference. Being armed with sharper hunting tools is key.
Being a Trusted Expert Is Not a Strategy
Joining conversations and contributing value — without expectation or trying to sell yourself — will generate sales leads on LinkedIn. Right?
Being seen as a trusted expert by your customers is the outcome of an effective sales strategy. It's a sign that your communication technique is working. It's not the strategy.
Giving first without expectation often results in wasted time and lack of leads.
There. I said it.
Yes, you do need to give-give-give to get in this world. However, by structuring conversations to help customers understand why they want to talk with you they'll be more inclined to talk.
Are you providing incentive for prospects to talk about themselves when communicating? Are you reaching beyond being relevant to a problem or goal — being provocative?
Spark Conversations With Incentives
The more customers talk about themselves the faster they discover “why I want to talk with that sales rep.” Whether it's in a LinkedIn Group or in an InMail. The more they talk about their challenges, hopes and ambitions the more they begin to:
- Understand if they're willing to change (at all)
- See investing in you (changing) as a path to stability and excellence
- Experience your advice and assign value to it
Give them an incentive. For example, help them discover something that's missing. Then, ask if they're willing to do something with this new found knowledge. Force the issue of the status quo.
Help them see how damaging lack of change is — and see the disruption change causes as a path toward excellence and stability.
Social Selling vs. Social Prospecting
“The curriculum for many social selling programs is not in line with what really needs to happen," says Innarino. He's right.
Most social selling initiatives ground sellers in marketing concepts and tactics like personal branding, sharing valuable content. Farming activities that cannot be reliably correlated to prospecting outcomes.
Today's top sellers are applying an outbound communications technique grounded in direct response marketing. That's great news. Because DM concepts may already be familiar to some on your sales and marketing teams.
For example, sparking curiosity about the various solutions you offer... by using a "less is more" approach to communicating ... attracts buyers to asking for more details.
It always has.
Just like on a first date. Reveal too much, too fast to a good prospect? You'll rarely get asked-out.
Most sellers are offering too many details too fast in their hunting approaches. For example, when using LinkedIn InMail. Instead, a slower, attraction-focused communications process helps buyers get curious about what you're selling.
This way they self-qualify/disqualify themselves.
Beware the Gurus and Trends
What's at the heart of your social selling initiative? Is your team practicing a strategy that actually decreases chances of earning buyers' business?
For example, LinkedIn's Social Selling Index (SSI) is based on “social selling busywork” ideas. The more updates, the more connection-making, the more posts... the more raw activity on LinkedIn, the better “social seller” you are.
LinkedIn's SSI doesn't factor in productivity. By design it cannot. Yet the rush is on to get those SSI scores up! Pound away at prospects on LinkedIn. Turn up the volume!
What do you think?