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Welcome to your sales weekly roundup for February 10-17. This week we’re checking out the #1 problem for modern salespeople, Altimeter’s latest report on digital selling and the value of creating consistent messaging in sales. Enjoy.

The #1 Problem For Salespeople in 2017

Well-respected sales kickoff speaker Tony J. Hughes delivers a spot-on analysis of how ‘the rise of the silent sales floor,’ ie, social selling, is a huge problem for sellers who are neglecting the importance of the phone. Why? Because it discounts the importance of human-to-human interaction and the value of a multi-touch cadence.

Some important takeaways:

Lack of pipeline. This is the problem, misconceived, says Hughes. The real problem is an aversion to high levels of the right combinations of intelligent activities. These so-called intelligent activities are multitouch cadences: call, voicemail, text, email and inmail consecutively. Bang, bang, bang.

Every conversation MUST provide value. Focus on the outcomes you can help them achieve. Lead to the value you offer rather than with a pitch or value prop. Also, don’t forget about the importance of humility “peppered with passionate belief in the difference you can make.”

Technology and automation come into play when you’ve found a buyer but the timing is not right. Know when to hand-off a buyer to marketing automation that can lead nurture with content. These strategies, paired with an airtight customer experience, are essential for building long-term sales pipeline.

The Transformation of Selling: How Digital Enables Seamless Selling

Altimeter’s latest report examines the transformation of selling in complex B2B transactions. There’s tons of emphasis on social selling, but the report makes a point to say something larger is happening within the space.

Here are some highlights:

Social selling has seen mixed results, despite its obvious potential. “Altimeter found that 43% of companies surveyed had social selling programs that were either being optimized or mature, with another 39% planning, piloting, and in the first year of implementation. The results are being felt in tangible ways; data from LinkedIn shows there have been significant advances in social selling activities across both geographies and industries. But uptake by Sales has often been limited, a common complaint being that social selling does not generate enough leads to justify the time it takes away from traditional sales activities.”

SSI-score-altimeter.pngSocial selling initiatives lack depth. “They focusing on simply training Sales on how to use LinkedIn and Twitter, giving reps access to LinkedIn Sales Navigator, or pushing out content via an employee advocacy platform. These initiatives don’t go far enough to address the fundamental changes taking place around buying and selling.

Stan de Boisset, the Commercial and Inside Sales Lead at Juniper Networks, explains, ‘It’s not because social selling doesn’t work. It’s because transforming an organization takes time, education, practice, and discipline. It’s like giving someone a Formula 1 car — just because they have a driver’s license doesn’t mean they can win a race.’ We found that organizations that were most successful at rolling out social selling considered it to be just one piece of a successful digital selling organization, which is made up of an aligned Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service/ Success team.”

Training specific skill development can help create a mindset shift within sales. “Sprint for example, treated their initial pilot with 100 salespeople as sales enablement rather than training. ‘The reason our salespeople loved it is that digital selling is a true skillset that they can apply at Sprint and also take with them,’ explains Sprint’s Chris Hutson, Business Social Selling Strategist. ‘This is in contrast to training about a specific product that is useless if they leave the company.’

Sprint established a 10-week program that included gamification elements and transparency, with weekly reporting of SSI scores. Leadership also provided executive sponsorship with twice-a-week follow-ups. At the end of the 10-week training period, 95% of the salespeople had finished the certification and SSI scores were up by 40%. Hutson credited the success of the program to the accountability of the weekly SSI score, saying, ‘We wouldn’t let people fall behind, but we also didn’t need to beat people up to do this because they could see the benefit to themselves.’

Why Your Value Messaging Has To Be Consistent In Content And Training

CSO Insights Director Tamara Schenk delivers another high-value post based on her research in sales enablement. Too often, she points out, training and sales content are not consistent; the received messages are different. This leads most salespeople to respond to the inconsistency by switching off the enablement noise and going back to simply using what’s already on their laptops.

What you need to know:

Less than 10% develop product training and content together to ensure consistencyThis means, as it currently stands, there is no such thing as a consistent sales force enablement approach if almost two-thirds report not having aligned their training and content services.

This lack of consistency leads to low levels of adoption, so there is little to no impact on sales performance. But driving sales performance is the main goal and the core purpose of enablement’s existence in the first place, isn’t it?

Times of change require enablement leaders to set up enablement production and collaboration frameworks that allow them to quickly adjust their content and training services as needed. The resulting consistency earns salespeople’s trust. And when they trust the services, they use the services. And that increases their adoption rate, which in turn increases their productivity and effectiveness.

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Jamie Shanks

Author: Jamie Shanks

Jamie Shanks is a world-leading Social Selling expert and author of the book, "Social Selling Mastery - Scaling Up Your Sales And Marketing Machine For The Digital Buyer". A true pioneer in the space of digital sales transformation, Jamie Shanks has trained over 10,000's of sales professionals and leaders all around the world.

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