I struggle with this on a regular basis. Do I put more effort into my social network or do I put more effort into “prospecting quilifed prospects”? My efforts normally get divided as I try to employ a balance. but this is a compelling argument for the Social side of things.
Mark Fidelman, ContributorAn OP/ED View of the Next Generation Enterprise
Sydney, the CEO of a mid-size advertising company was sitting in her office, when she got a call from one of her vendors. Her sales rep, Mike wanted to talk about his new offering. Sydney was busy and didn’t have time to talk right then. She was interested in hearing more, but didn’t have the time at that moment. She politely asked Mike if they could talk later. Mike said yes, but continued to ask more questions. Sydney again, said she needed to talk later, but Mike just wouldn’t let go. When she finally got rid of him, she went to Twitter and asked: “How do you deal with pushy sales reps, my sales rep from company A is driving me crazy.”
David works for company A’s competition. He follows Sydney on Twitter. He saw Sydney’s tweet and with in 10 minutes of the tweet called Sydney and asked for a meeting and got it.
This is a true story. It is one of thousands of successful social selling stories.
Social media is no longer about what someone had for lunch. Social media is more than just people complaining about their shoddy Internet connections or their constantly crashing software applications. Social media is more than just listening to a brand’s senseless new promotion. Social media is more than just a trivial tool of the self-absorbed and treating it that way will leave you out in the cold. Social media is now a powerful communication platform and communication will always be at the heart of selling.
The Point is: Using social media to sell = increased profits.
Selling through social channels (social selling) is the closest thing to being a fly on the wall in your customers, prospects and competitor’s world. Using Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media – supplies information that is almost impossible to obtain through traditional means. A lead today can be someone complaining on Twitter that their current vendor is driving them crazy. It can be a question in a LinkedIn group. It can be a unassuming comment on a Facebook page. Today, leads are far more than a call from a friend, a business card from an event or a chance encounter on a flight.
The phrase; “Go where you customers are.” has always been true and now it’s truer than ever. Your customers and prospects use social media. Their employees use social media. Their fans and detractors use social media, and they are ALL talking. This chatter is information. Information the best and most sophisticated sales professionals are using to find qualified leads and grow sales. The best are using social selling right now to be where their customers are.
Communication has changed selling and the way we sell for years. Mail ended the carnival pitchman and catalogues were created. The phone put an end to the door-to-door sales, and cold calling was born. Now, social media is changing communication and how sales are made – yet again.
Today, buyers spend far more time researching and moving through the buying process before they engage vendors. Much of the buyer’s journey leverages social media. Social selling allows sales people to engage buyers much earlier in their journey.
Cold calling has traditionally been the approach of choice for hungry, driven sales people. However, according to a recent study by InsideView over 90% of CEO’s said they NEVER respond to cold emails or calls. The return on cold calling is drastically decreasing.
Replacing the decline in cold calling is the warmth of social engagement. Buyers are far more responsive to social media messages around relevant topics initiated by the sales person or the buyer. Remember, the definition of a lead has changed. When a potential customer complains they are frustrated, they are far more likely to engage with a sales person who responds to their frustration than a cold call pitching a product.
Customers are changing how they buy. They are engaging vendors much later in the sales cycle. They have access to more information than ever before. Their conversations, thoughts, frustrations and concerns are becoming increasingly more public and visible. Their customers are expressing their thoughts, frustrations, and concerns publicly. All of this is changing how sales is performed and how quota is met.
To play in this environment and to access this information means sales people need to embrace social selling. It means they need to have a Twitter account. It means they need to participate in LinkedIn groups. It means they need to comment on blogs. It may even require they learn about what someone is eating for lunch.
Indeed, learning what a potential customer had for lunch, may mean someone isn’t eating yours.
About the Co-Author
Jim Keenan has over 15 years of experience in sales leadership and leading sales teams. He’s been cited in Harvard Business Review, SoldLab Magazine, and Great Business Project Magazine. His blog was named one of the top 50 blogs by Top Sales World, and Sales Crunch as well as listed in Guy Kawasaki’s AllTop Blogs. A Twitter fan, Keenan was named by enterprise resource planning company SAP as one of the top 30 sales experts to follow on Twitter.