Guest post by Barbara Giamanco, Founder & CEO @ Social Centered Selling
When I first began evangelizing the concept of social selling in 2006, salespeople and their managers often gave me the side eye when I suggested that changes in buyer behavior meant sellers would need to evolve their sales approach and that social media would play an integral role in selling. Creating value with social selling wasn’t fathomable!
Fast forward to today.
Reaching today’s buyers is harder than it has ever been. Not impossible but blocking unsolicited sales calls and ignoring emails has never been easier for those decision makers we want to reach. The answer to getting around this challenge? Social selling strategies, of course. Or is it?
Let’s first clear up some myths about the concept of social selling.
Myths About Social Selling
- Social platforms are tools. They don’t sell for you and never could.
- The “secret” to improving your prospecting results (i.e. converting activity and connections to sales conversations) isn’t the medium, whether that is phone calls, emails or social media. The secret is in your approach and message.
- Social selling tactics don’t stand on their own. By the same token, integrating the use of social into your selling strategy isn’t a quick fix for the sales challenges that all of us face.
Sales Success in Modern Sales
Yes, it is tougher to break through the collective noise to get your message heard. New tools and technology, including artificial intelligence, isn’t the answer though. Technology enables process. That’s it.
When it comes to social selling, it is not as simple as having a perfect online profile, connecting with the most people, or sharing your content. Using social channels to achieve your sales objectives requires a blended approach, one that includes traditional selling skills.
Using social media as an avenue to engage a buyer and get them to agree to a sales meeting is step one. What happens from that point forward makes or breaks sales opportunities. People buy from people. Therefore, salespeople must have a firm grasp on the interpersonal skills required to be great at the craft of selling.
When CEB (now Gartner) reported that some 60% of the buying process happened without a salesperson’s involvement, I think the implication was largely misunderstood. They didn’t mean that salespeople couldn’t impact the early stages of the buyer journey. They absolutely can. IF and WHEN salespeople – starting with sales leaders – change what they do.
Buyers tend to avoid sellers because they don’t have faith that salespeople can be trusted to act with their best interest in mind. Who can blame them? Websites, social channels, forums, and independent reviews make it possible for buyers to do early-stage research without talking to salespeople. That’s their preferred entry into the buying process.
I’ve listened to hundreds of prospecting calls, read thousands of emails, sat through more presentations and demos than I can count, and I can confidently say that buyers have a point.
Ditch the Pitch
Delivering a better sales experience starts with changing your mindset. This seems to be a tough habit to break, regardless of whether sales or marketing craft the messaging.
HOW we sell is more important than WHAT we sell. If your social message isn’t focused on what the buyer cares about (hint: it isn’t your product features or that last round of funding), they don’t pay attention.
Research is clear. Buyers want to work with salespeople who bring business value to the process. In Salesforce’s State of Sales report, buyers said they would make time to talk to salespeople who demonstrated that they were “focused on helping achieve their company’s needs, not just making a quick sale.”
People give lip service to using social selling to reach decision makers in the right way. They claim to understand the importance of doing upfront research and personalizing messages to make them relevant. However, most sellers still shortcut this process… then wonder why all that activity isn’t converting into sales conversations with qualified buyers.
Don’t try to shortcut the sales process. Deliver a valuable experience to your prospects and buyers, whether it be via social or more traditional methods.
Interested in learning more about how social selling tactics can fit into the selling process? I have the pleasure of moderating a panel discussion at Rainmaker with forward-thinking sales leaders who will share real-world examples and advice about how to improve prospecting, engage buyers, personalize communications, and convert passive activity into proactive sales conversations.
I hope to see you there in a few short weeks!
For more on the best ways to utilize sales and social selling strategies to achieve measurable sales results from Barbara Giamanco, join us at Rainmaker – the sales engagement conference – March 11-13 in Atlanta!