Too much noise and far too many people polarizing the sales conversation by insisting that their way is the only way, or that all prior strategies and sales techniques are no longer relevant. It is creating mass confusion for sales leaders and salespeople.
Cold calling is a great example.
Do I think cold calling has reached a point of zero return on effectiveness? Yes. Are there people out there who insist that it works for them? Absolutely. I’ve said many times that it is the cold that is dead NOT the call. I don’t see the value in blindly smiling and dialing, but that’s me. If you are sure it works for you, do it.
I’m not a believer in cold emailing either, but if it works for you, great. The point is that you don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. You have to look holistically at your process, your prospects behavior, your sales cycle, your industry and determine how and when social selling fits for you.
Social selling is NOT all that you need to succeed.
Perceived as a hot buzz term, it seems everyone – even people who’ve never sold anything – are trying to capitalize on being seen as a social selling expert. Much of the expert advice is creating false expectations of what sellers can achieve and how long it takes, and for me, that’s a problem.
For example, I read a blog post recently that said you need three things to succeed with social selling:
With all due respect, that is patently ridiculous. Let’s see – have a nice LinkedIn and Twitter profile, which means I’m present, answer a few questions in social networking groups or share a few pieces of content and boom – deals will roll in. They won’t.
Yes, you need a social profile. Having a branded online presence is the price of admission these days. If a prospect finds you while doing preliminary research on products or services, what they find better be compelling to them. But folks that only scratches the surface of what it takes it achieve your sales objectives.
Maybe the time has come to stop calling it “social selling”, as if it stands apart or replaces selling. I think it is time we just got back to talking about sales.
Can we please get back to sales basics?
Salespeople need to get back to the basics of good selling. They are lacking in a big way. Training is needed and fast! When salespeople can’t be bothered to call someone back who has expressed interest in their product, how exactly does social selling fix that problem?
Good selling requires excellent business and communication skills – listening, writing and speaking. You are cold calling and blindly sending emails, but no one gets back to you. Could it be your message? Your approach?
We have salespeople refusing to make phone calls.
When these sellers do pick up the phone, their communication and listening skills are subpar. Let’s bust a major myth right now – social selling alone only takes you so far. Your activity should lead to a phone or face-to-face meeting. I know few B2B sales scenarios where “personal sales interaction” is not needed. But if sellers cannot handle themselves well on the phone or in face-to-face meetings, what now? Are they going to text across the table? The need for great interpersonal skills is only going to heighten in importance as video conversations become more mainstream.
Do salespeople even know what problem their product or service solves?
Are they able to clearly articulate that message? Prospects can gather preliminary information from the web to narrow their focus, but those insights are a starting point. When they decide to talk to a salesperson, they don’t need another feature dump. If that’s all you’ve got, you are not selling. Social won’t help with that.
Sales is sales.
Selling is a process NOT an event. Social is one – only one – aspect of the cycle. If you think that sharing content, always connecting and yakking away on Twitter all day will net you sales, because some expert told you so, good luck with that.
Is social selling useful when done well? Yes.
Can social selling help you secure net/new meetings and increase leads in the pipeline. Done right, yes.
Do all your other business development strategies need to be tossed in favor of social selling? Hardly.
Does the same approach work for every salesperson in every conceivable industry? No and no.
Will every prospect you need to reach respond to social selling? Again, no.
When you are faced with leads or revenue challenges, examine your entire sales process and the skills of your people from beginning to end first. Broken process and people who can’t sell? Sorry. Social selling (as currently defined by most experts) doesn’t solve these problems for you.
That, my friends, is truth based on actual experience selling and managing sales teams for over 25 years, and that same number of years understanding how technology fits the selling process. Social media is the newest technological wave, but like all technologies before, technology will never sell for you!