This morning, one of our sales professionals was having a meaningful conversation with a potential client. The client already has a social selling program underway, and a few social selling resources assigned to the project. They've realized that social and digital selling techniques need to become a part of the overall sales process. However, they fear they're not moving fast enough.
They feel the pain of competitors getting into social and digital selling faster than they are.
Their senior vice president just told us, "We can continue to do this in-house. We really don’t need an outside agency to help us. This seems to be fairly simple. All the ideas are online."
The SVP is absolutely correct when he says this, but there's a fundamental flaw in his judgment. How important is speed to market or speed to revenue for you and your organization?
If it's a low priority for you and you seem to have dominant market share, you may actually consider to do the whole social selling program built in-house. However, for the majority of firms that are in market today, the competitive threat should propel them. It should compel them to drive faster to our social and digital selling adoption.
What this SVP doesn't realize is that his largest competitor in the market who has over a 60% market share is at least two years ahead of his sales team with social sales adoption. For an SVP, that's a scary thought, isn't it?
As a side note, it continues to boggle my mind when senior leaders placate to their fears, when they allow their fear of the unknown to cloud what is for the most part excellent stewardship of their departments and their businesses.
Social is absolutely in the confusion category. Ask yourself the following question, and this is as simple as it gets: If you have $100,000 to spend on a sports car, are you going to build your own sports car, or are you going to buy it from your local Mercedes dealership?
If you have $100,000 to spend on a sports car, are you going to build your own sports car, or are you going to buy it from your local Mercedes dealership?
It sounds like an asinine question to ask, but this is literally, at the heart of it, the core of the analogy that can and should be applied.
When companies recognize that social is necessary but cannot muster their resources, the energy, and the speed at which to implement a successful program, turning to outside agencies and outside partners and vendors becomes a necessity.
Pill Popping Vs Hitting The Gym
Far too often, our society has now accustomed ourselves in treating our ills with pills versus the prevention of the disease in the first place.
Why do I bring this up?
The purchase of social selling tools fits into this analogy. Buying the tool and expecting results without enabling the tool to be successful is also a foolhardy strategy.
There are many times where companies will invest in a tool only to find that the investment has been for naught, that it really does not have any usage or minimal at best, and they haven’t done a good job enabling the tool to shine for its true purpose.
Our own internal data shows 76% of salespeople with Navigator send zero InMails every month. That's a flat out waste of one of Sales Navigator's best features. And the salespeople's reasoning? Lack of training.
I think social selling pioneer Tim Hughes says it best: “LinkedIn does NOT equal being a social seller.”
IS YOUR WORK CULTURE CONDUCIVE TO DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION?
What I'm really getting to is the fact that most companies, for deep cultural reasons and obstacles, are afraid to commit to transformation.
Over the past nine years, digital organization researcher Jane McConnell has conducted several surveys with organizations around the world on the toughest obstacles to change, which she has grouped into five categories:
- Slow or stalled decision-making caused by internal politics, competing priorities, or attempting to reach consensus.
- Inability to prove business value of digital through traditional ROI calculations, resulting in lack of senior management sponsorship.
- Too much focus on technology rather than willingness to address deep change and rethink how people work.
- Lack of understanding operational issues at the decision-making level and difficulties when going from theory to practice.
- Fear of losing control by management or central functions, and fears that employees will waste time on social platforms.
Work cultures, she says, can help alleviate these obstacles. The following image illustrates how each specific obstacle is best solved:
This is absolutely now bleeding over into our industry in sales. Without realizing it, you are being affected by the digitization of your buyer.
When I use the statement the world is becoming more digital, there should be no refutation of that fact. Study after study, news article after news article, is evidence to this new reality that societies are becoming for more digital in nature. If you don’t believe me, take it from Gary Vee:
"The market is always right. And we sit in ivory towers thinking we're super f***ing smart, and we disrespect the market every day, and that's why we lose.
In last year's fiscal year, 96% of the Fortune 500 companies in the world lost market share. They lost market share because they're marketing like it's 2005, they're marketing like it's 1997, they're marketing like it's 1984. That's why they lost market share.
And I know this because there's only one other time that we've seen this big of businesses lose this much global market share. It was the late 40's and early 50's, when the world transitioned from radio to television. My friends, we are transitioning from television, to this [holds up iPhone].
It's already happened. I've been here for a long time. I implore you to join me."
If you doubt that, consider that you yourself are a digital buyer. While you may not apply it in a B2B setting right now, at this very moment, you are applying it in your consumer life, and it's only a matter of time before these habits bleed in and become far more accepted in your business life as well.
Invest In Services That Will Enable Your Tools
We have a lot of choices to make. As leaders, we have to understand that social and digital are here to stay, that building a program internally and with the vendors’ help will get you to your end result faster, that the two are not a dichotomy, but they should be in harmony.
Also, consider that tools alone won't solve your problem. We're about to hit a paradigm shift with Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn to change this false perception that exists. Because Microsoft is such a channel-centric player, it is just a known fact that you don’t just buy a Microsoft tool. You need services to enable that tool, which is beneficial for organizations.
Similarly, people in the B2B sales world will begin to realize that it's not just about LinkedIn Sales Navigator. It's not just about social selling training. It's not just about Twitter or Facebook or the myriad of other platforms out there. It's about everything, and you’ll need to find a way strategically to wrap your head around all of this. So, consider the following.
Are you focused on cultural transformation? Or are you focused on intermediate pill popping solutions?