The social selling noise has become deafening with the constant and repetitive missives telling sellers what to do to succeed. Not many original thoughts on the topic these days. Comical, in a sad sort of way, because if you follow the #socialselling hashtag on Twitter, you will soon discover that the experts are pretty much just pitching to each other.
I’m concerned about the hype…
Sales leaders are dealing with serious issues. For all the hype, surface level social selling tactics won’t solve them. Period.
In 2011, estimates pegged the average tenure of a Sales VP as roughly 24 months. By all accounts that number now hovers in the 16-19 month range. Sales leaders need serious solutions to help them deal with the challenges that plague their sales organization – like faltering pipeline and revenue, people with the right sales skills, competitive threats and more. The job depends on it!
In the next 5-6 years, we will continue to see a shift in the sales profession unlike almost anything we’ve seen before now. This goes well beyond today’s trend of using social media as part of a selling process. By 2020, the role and required skill set for the consultative B2B seller will have changed even more dramatically. The question is whether sales leaders are investing in the skills training that salespeople will need to make the transition. And are they hiring people today with the skills and ability to adapt to what’s needed tomorrow?
Customer experience = sales…
The challenges facing sales leaders will not be solved with a few crash courses on how to put Social Selling to work in their organization. Revenue goals are not achieved by sales alone. Sales may carry the quota, but other functional departments – Marketing, Service, Operations, Accounting and the C-Suite – play a big role in wins and losses.
According to a CEI Survey, 86% of buyers will pay MORE for a better customer experience. But only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations. Let that sink in for a moment – one percent feel their expectations are met.
In 2013, only 37% of brands received good or excellent customer experience index scores. That leaves a 64% gap of brands earning a rating ranging from OK to very poor from their customers.
And what about the buyers who never become customers at all? Do you know why? Is it the broadcast sales pitches? Salespeople who don’t understand their business? To much time spent waiting for someone to get back to them with information? No phone number on your website? The poorly trained receptionist who answered the phone?
Aberdeen reported that “85% of business leaders who participated in their 2012 Chief Service Officer (CSO) Summit, stated that their organization was placing an increased importance on customer service, given the constraints of the global economy and an extremely competitive marketplace.”
Isn’t it interesting that eight-five percent of business leaders said “service” was important, but there was very little improvement in overall experience statistics in 2013.
And in Oracle’s report: Why Customer Satisfaction is No Longer Good Enough, they report that one of the key drivers for a customer to spend more with a company is the overall improvement of the customer experience.
Why aren’t more companies focused on experience?
It’s hard work. All departments must come together to design the experience that a potential buyer and customer will encounter. For experience, as a strategy to work, you need an organized and phased approach for integrating the right processes into your business. Agendas and assumptions have to be put aside. Everything has to be considered from the prospect and customer point of view. It is not easy to challenge every thing you think you know about what your customers want.
That’s why I believe banging the drum of – all you need is social selling – is no longer good enough. Experience – at all levels, with all departments and with all employees – drives revenue.
At the “zero moment of truth”, when the buyer is pondering whether to talk to sales or determining if they buy from your company or not, how will their experience inform their decision?