social-ambush.pngSocial Selling is our specialty here at Sales for Life, so it’s a big part of everyone’s daily routine (if you’re looking for a daily social selling routine click here). But recently, I was on the other side of the equation, and someone socially sold to me! The experience was eye-opening, and really drove home the value of social selling. Here’s the story:

Over the last two months, we’ve been interviewing candidates for a new trainer position here at Sales for Life.

We used a four-stage process:

  1. Candidates submitted their resume and cover letter online.

  2. Those who were shortlisted moved forward to a 30-minute phone interview.

  3. We then narrowed the pool down further, and those who were selected had a 45-minute in-person interview.

  4. The candidates then performed a one-hour mock presentation of our material, so we could understand their presentation style and skills. They had a week to prepare for the presentation.

We had hundreds of applications from around the world with various qualifications. However, one candidate stood out to us and ultimately landed the job. Our brand new trainer, Ron De Appolonia quickly separated himself from the pack by doing what we teach our clients how to do—social sell.

The Blast Approach—A Quick Road to Failure

Quite frankly, out of all the resumes we read, only a few candidates took the time to research our company, understand what we do and mention it in their cover letter. These individuals told us they loved our organization, loved the sales innovations we were providing to the market and talked about how their skills could benefit Sales for Life.

The majority of candidates, however, used a “blast” approach. For example, one candidate sent us a cover letter and resume that wasn’t personalized at all but their experience and qualifications were strong enough to lead to the phone interview stage. Within 15 minutes, it became evident that this person didn’t know a single thing about our company or our industry.

When I asked “Can you tell me what you know about our company?” the candidate said, “To be honest, I don’t know anything about your company.” I was astounded! I said, “you expected me to spend time researching you (i.e. reviewing their resume and LinkedIn Profile) but didn’t spend even 5 minutes researching our company before our schedule call today?!” As I’m sure you can imagine, the conversation ended shortly after.

This is exactly like sales professionals who use traditional sales methodologies and tactics. So often, sales pros will have one email or one cold calling script that they use to send out thousands of blast emails or make hundreds of cold calls. Their approach isn’t personalized at all but they still expect people to resonate with their message! These sales pros are just playing a numbers game and it’s obvious that they’ve sent the same message to hundreds of people.

On the flip side, Ron and a couple of other candidates set themselves apart in their cover letters by letting us know about the research they’d done on our company and the value that they saw in it. In their cover letter they said such things as ‘I believe your company is at the forefront of sales and marketing strategy 2.0 and would love to be a part of it.’

Throughout the process, it became evident that Ron was committed to do everything he could to win the position and personalizing his messaging was a big component of his successful strategy.

Again, during the phone interview stage, Ron was well-spoken and talked at great length about how impressed he was with our company. He made mention of our CEOs YouTube videos from various speaking engagements, referenced several of our blog post and attended multiple webinars. All of these actions allowed Ron to speak about us in a very genuine manner which other candidates had not been able to do given that they had simply blasted their resumes out to 100s of companies with zero research or personalization.

Social Selling in reverse

Then, Ron socially sold me!!

As the process continued, Ron not only connected with me on LinkedIn but also connected with my colleagues and peers. He connected with notable industry leaders such as Jill Rowley, which was a big indicator he was actively involved in researching social selling.

He “liked” and commented on pieces of content that I shared, which immediately appeared on the lock screen on my iPhone. I’d be out with friends on the weekend and here was Ron’s name popping up on my phone reminding me wherever I was about his passion for our company. This constantly kept Ron top-of-mind and ultimately positioned him as the winning candidate.

What makes you stand out to your buyers?

We had several amazing candidates and we had a difficult decision to make between three people who would have made excellent trainers. But unfortunately, we were only able to hire one trainer at the time.

This is just like the sales world. Many buyers in the marketplace are faced with tough decisions when choosing a vendor. They may have to choose between two companies who on the surface seem very similar in their products and services. Their solutions, price point and value are comparable. What it really comes down to is the relationship, the rapport, the connection and constantly staying top-of-mind with value driven engagements.

In Ron’s case he was top-of-mind for us because he was both directly and indirectly taking actions to increase his visibility. This combined with increasing his knowledge about our services, our marketplace and our client-base positioned him as the obvious choice amongst several highly qualified candidates. I was socially sold by Ron and I couldn’t be happier about it!!

The Numbers Game is DEAD

So in summary, many sales pros out there are still beating their heads against the wall trying to win new business by playing the numbers game. STOP!! Buyers are simply fed up with your boiler-plated platitudes. These communications lack a genuine desire to connect on a human-to-human level and result in poor response ratio.

More dials DOES NOT necessarily equal more dollars!! More research, more commonality, more personality and most importantly, MORE VALUE equals more deals won. Focus on specific opportunities. Create specific value-statements for them based on their unique needs and don’t ever stop providing value. This is the only way your buyer will choose you over your competitor. It worked for Ron and it will work for you too!


Dave Howe

Author: Dave Howe

Dave is a gifted salesman with a passion for training. Having started from humble roots as a doorknocker in Australia, Dave quickly excelled over his decade long sales and marketing career to hold several VP and Director level positions. Prior to joining the Sales for Life team, Dave was involved with start-ups; building and training their sales teams from the ground up.

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