With so much talk about becoming a social seller, adapting to the buyers journey, developing a personal brand to demonstrate credibility or the need to use inbound marketing strategies that bring buyers to you, you would think that sellers are crushing their quota goals. They aren’t.
Various experts insist that becoming proficient in the tenants of social selling is what will break the log jam of only 60% of salespeople achieving their revenue targets each year. Mike Drapeau at Sales Benchmark Index has boldly predicted that from this point on we will see a 15% increase in sales quota attainment each year. In other words, 75% of sellers will hit quota goals, and social selling is the reason why. Me, I’m not convinced.
You might be wondering why I’m a bit skeptical. After all, I was one of the earliest evangelists of using social media in conjunction with selling. I’m skeptical because of my years of experience selling and managing sales teams, and because the conversations related to social selling have largely been distilled down to simplistic sound bites that ignore the larger systemic issues that plague sales organizations.
Why is it that roughly 40% of salespeople won’t hit their sales targets? Two words come to mind: sales basics.
Here are 5.5 reasons why sellers keep hitting a wall:
1. Inability to secure a sales meeting with the true decision maker(s).
While you can use social selling tactics to identify decision makers, I’m often surprised that sellers still take the path of least resistance. They find anyone, at any level, who will talk to them. Just get your foot in the door is the mantra. The belief is that this approach will eventually help them land a meeting with the person who actually controls the budget. Not only is this a waste of time, you will find yourself pigeon holed at lower levels in the company where a deal will never materialize.
2. Prospects aren’t responding to email messages or phone calls.
The reason they are not responding is because you haven’t given them a reason to invest their time. You believe your sales pitch rocks the house, but guess what, the buyer doesn’t. Your message has to focus on what the buyer cares about, which means you’ll have to put in some time to figure that out. The payoff, however, is worth it. After all, isn’t your goal to get them to meet with you? Boilerplate sales messaging is not an effective strategy. It isn’t the quantity of emails you send or phone calls you make, it is the quality and relevance of your message that gets buyers to pay attention.
3. Lack of follow up and tracking to ensure that opportunities don’t stall out.
As a whole, salespeople give up pretty quickly. 94% of them have given up by the fourth call, and Herbert True, former Professor and Marketing Specialist at Notre Dame who studied and researched sales behavior also discovered that 60% of all sales are made after the fourth call. What is even more astounding to me is that 44% of sellers give up after making one measly call! Percentages are probably even worse for sellers who rely so heavily on email. In addition to being consistent in your follow up, you need a tracking – CRM – system. Small business owners, in particular, often tell me they don’t need one because…well, they are small. It doesn’t matter if you are a business of one, you need a way to schedule your follow up, track opportunities in the pipeline and evaluate what led to wins and/or losses. Investigate what Office 365 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM can do for you.
4. A demo dolly mindset.
This is an especially tough challenge for salespeople selling technology solutions. They confuse demoing a product with actually selling a solution. Of course, they are hardly to blame. That’s what they have been taught to do. The problem is that when you rely on the demo to sell for you, you are expecting the buyer to make the leap between what your product does and how it resolves the challenge they are faced with fixing. Features do not close deals.
5. Poor communication, listening and presentation skills.
This is the single biggest reason why I don’t believe the prediction that 75% all of salespeople will now achieve quota versus the 60% we’ve come to expect. Expanding your network, sharing content, creating lead lists or sending LinkedIn InMail does you no good if you cannot hold an articulate, consultative business conversation with a buyer when the time comes. If you don’t understand the buyer’s business, their pain points or all you do is pitch without listening, the social selling tactics that led to a meeting did no good at all. Even the basics of leaving coherent, relevant voice mail messages seems to be a lost art.
5.5 Contacts not relationships.
You have a lot of contacts, and contacts don’t exactly equate to relationships that open doors for you. A foremost authority on referral selling is Joanne Black, and you should read her book – No More Cold Calling or her latest – Pick Up the Damn Phone! Spend time cultivating relationships not collecting contacts. When you are referred into an account by someone the buyer knows and trusts, your ability to secure a meeting is roughly 50%. This also means that sales cycles shrink because an initial level of credibility has already been established for you. However, getting in the door is one thing. Earning the right to stay there is another.
Yes – sales basics matter in a big way!
There is no question that sellers need to incorporate social media into their sales mix. Are a few social selling tactics all it takes to successfully hit sales objectives? Absolutely not. If increasing the percentage of quota attainment among sales reps is the goal, it might be wise to invest in training and reinforcing the basics of good selling.
p.s. I really gave you six reasons but 5.5 is catchier -:)