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The Sales Review

Tactics and strategies to align with the modern buyer

Stop Selling Like It’s 1900, Start Selling How The World Is Buying

Posted by Amar Sheth on Oct 26, 2016 11:05:35 AM

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The reality is that someday, over time, most companies are going to embrace social selling. We’re still very much in the early adopter phase of the maturity curve.

The question is: why is your company doing it now or evaluating doing it in the future?

From my personal observations, training is the easiest thing to do—it’s tangible in its delivery but typically completely unmeasured in its effectiveness. Let me know if I’m wrong in my assessment.

It’s natural to want to jump into training sales professionals with social skills. After all, isn’t that what this is about? Aren’t we trying to give sales professionals the necessary knowledge to become more social?

Not quite.

This is About Transformation

I realize that the word transformation is considered scary, trivial, or laced with hyperbole to others. But believe me when I tell you that social selling is not what this movement is about.

It’s about digital transformation.

If you see what’s happening around you – that the world is becoming more digital by the second – then you’ll innately understand why social selling is so important.

The digital world is reshaping buyer behavior, but most organizations are still operating on a 1900’s buyer behavior model. As buyers change the way they want to buy from us, we have to change with them.

Social selling, then, is about our ability to meet buyers in a way they want to be met. The declining response rates by phone and email are a clear indication of this. This is deeper and goes beyond our sales teams; it touches marketing, product, HR, and more.

The Starting Point: If You’re Just Doing Social Selling Training or Buying Tools

There are proven risks with this approach. Virtually every time we speak to organizations about their social selling approach, it can be categorized into one of the following buckets:

  1. “We’ve done lots of workshops on social selling.”

  2. “I’ve already purchased [Insert Social Tool Name, like LinkedIn Sales Navigator] and got training from them.”

  3. “I’ve got an internal training team already working on that.”

While these solutions are good, that’s all they are—simply a starting point. If you have already done something similar to this, there’s no need to stop.

Are You Plateauing?

What will naturally occur though is a plateau effect. You’ll begin to notice a myriad of issues, including:

  • Workshops didn’t quite translate to a tangible shift in behavior.

  • Usage of social tools (like LinkedIn Sales Navigator) isn’t as strong as you expected it to be. On the flip side, what is strong usage supposed to be? You may think your team has strong usage but you don’t know by how much and if it could be better.

  • Your internal training team is busy imparting knowledge, but is it making an actual impact across your entire sales org?

Social Selling Is an Evolutionary Process

I don’t want my words about transformation above to be misconstrued. Your executive leadership very well may not be ready to acknowledge the digital revolution that’s upon us. That’s a reality for many companies.

As a result, when organizations deploy social selling initiatives, they experience poor buy-in from other parts of the business. Sales leadership may not fully link the importance of social selling to a company’s digital transformation initiatives. Marketing may not understand the correlation between customer-centric content vs. product content. HR may not be aware of future-thinking hiring profiles that should be evaluated.

Don’t be discouraged by this. Change is a gradual process for most. The human condition is real.

The Bottom Line

I’ll end with this: know where you are and where you’re going. To help with this, we’ve designed a high-level journey map to visually illustrate the process.journey-map-social-selling.pngEach facet of this journey map requires an evolutionary shift in thinking.

So why are you on the path of social selling? What’s your reason?

Tweet me your thoughts @AmarSheth or connect with me on LinkedIn to collaborate.

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Amar Sheth

About the Author

Amar Sheth has trained thousands of people worldwide on the topic of Social Selling, through a style that’s part storytelling and part motivational.

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