“In the midst of this communication revolution sales must adopt a new approach that incorporates social media. When we overturn the old business practices, what emerges is something one person called “smarketing.” Sales and marketing no longer work as two separate entities. Instead, they work in tandem.”
These words were written in early 2009 as the introduction to my book, The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media. At that time, I believed, as I do today, that adoption and integration of a social media strategy would align marketing and sales once and for all. These two camps have traditionally had adversarial relationships, often barely tolerating each other. Great strides are certainly being made, and there is still a very long way to go.
Even today, there is confusion about the role social media plays in marketing and how that differs from where social media fits the selling process. Both play important roles in driving revenue. That makes strategic integration and hand-off points even more important. For example, marketing may be creating awesome content for their salespeople to share, but somehow it never happens. My experience working with clients tells me that this usually happens because:
- Salespeople don’t know where the content resides, they are too busy to go search out what they need, and they often actually aren’t sure how or why they should share content at all.
When planning a social selling initiative, which is far bigger than conducting a few training sessions, process and hand-off points between marketing and sales needs to be carefully considered.
Sales Has Been Slow to Adopt Social Selling
In the almost four years since the book was published (August 2010), I expected that sales teams would move quickly to adopt these new platforms and integrate their use into their sales process. I was wrong. Not that sellers wouldn’t move to adopt social selling, but that they would move more quickly.
As more research and information surfaced to confirm that decision makers block sellers at every turn and have no time for “old school” sellers, I thought sales would adapt more quickly than they have.
What dawned on me some time ago, and this point is often missed in the typical social selling rhetoric, is that while sales has always been social, salespeople largely do not understand how to practically apply the use of social media and social engagement strategies to their selling process. It is easier to keep doing what they’ve always done.
You Can’t Force Something New Onto Something Outdated
The biggest social selling failures come from…
A tendency to try and force new technology and new mediums to fit current process. That’s a mistake.
No strategy, no training and inconsistent execution.
Using channels to broadcast the same sales message that buyers are already ignoring.
Refusing to accept that buyers want more and expect more. You think your company history or that last round of funding is important to them. It’s not.
The Good News – Yes, There is Good News!
The momentum is building. There is no denying that social selling works. Our own research report Social Media and Sales Quota confirmed that for three years running (2010, 2011, 2012), the salespeople who used a social selling approach outperformed their peers – 72.6% – and this was even during tougher economic times.
My own clients have seen success using social selling when previously salespeople were being locked out of deals. They implemented the strategy, provided the training, created processes to support social selling, salespeople were patient and consistent in their activities, and activities are being measured and tracked allowing them to course correct along the way.
Asking salespeople to change what they’ve always done is not easy. Think CRM adoption or any new technology that came before the rise of social media, and you know what I mean.
Social Selling isn’t the future of selling, it is selling now. There may be sellers who are slow to join the party, but eventually they will make the leap.
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