Technology has been my constant companion since the mid-80’s. An encounter with an IBM 3270 mainframe propelled me into a sales career selling hardware and software solutions. From that very first introduction to computing, I understood the immense power and opportunity that technology presented. It has been thrilling to bear witness to the changes and the rapid pace of those technology changes through the years.
Today, we live in an age dominated by digital and social media. A more open, collaborative and certainly more transparent way of doing business is becoming the norm. Prospects don’t want strangers pushing information at them; they can choose to consume information when it suits them. And whether you like it or not, prospects can look up our social profiles and decide if they think having a conversation with us will be worth it or not. Choose not to participate; you will be overlooked.
When you do score that meeting, buyers want you to add more relevance to the process and bring fresh insights to the table. They want you to educate them. What challenges haven’t they considered? What do you know about their competitors that they don’t? How can you help them co-create a strategy that leads to improved business performance? Feature dumps are for amateurs and prospects don’t much care about your company’s history. Sales people need to catch up to this reality.
Surprisingly, even after the 10+ years that social media has been around, there are sales professionals who still view social media as a “fad”. In the early stages, I get it, but today when there is ample evidence to the contrary? I hate to break the bad news, but the importance of using social media as part of your selling process isn’t going away. We are not reverting back to the “good ole days” of smiling and dialing. Eventually, as leads dry up, meetings decline and revenue tapers off, you’ll finally figure out that what worked back in the day doesn’t work now.
These same naysayers also said…
- No one will use email to do business.
- You can’t close deals over the phone.
- Nobody will buy products online.
- The internet was dead after the dot.com bubble burst.
- Surfing the internet on mobile phones via free Wi-Fi in a coffee shop? Hardly.
- Having a sales conversation using a laptop and a headset won’t happen.
- People won’t use software applications that aren’t installed on their computer.
THEY were wrong! The numbers make it pretty clear that the use of social media is not a fad and the people using social media are not just a bunch of college students hanging out on Google+. My recent Social Media and Sales Quota report co-authored with colleague, Jim Keenan, makes it clear that using social media as part of the sales process leads to a measurable return on investment.
Social selling is here, and if you keep resisting, you may just resist your way out of a sales career.