Note: This post is intended for anyone who is interested in growing revenue. Yes, this means you. In a social world, everyone is in business development.
Sales has changed.
Has your sales training adapted? Has your sales process evolved?
Social and professional networks, data, instantaneous insight and the ability to create, nurture and build hi-tech, hi-touch relationships in a social world are at the fingertips of every sales professional and leader; yours for the taking.
It’s the early stages of selling in a social world. Wait too long or worse, disregard and you fall into the laggard category and know your rewards (relationships and sales) diminish. Period. It’s just that simple.
Mike Derezin, VP Sales Solutions talked about this at Sales Connect 2015. Where do you fall on the curve?
These slides are from Mike Derezin’s Sales Connect 2015 keynote.
In early January, I was invited to join a panel of marketers to discuss “Future Trends – Ready for Disruption?, Trend #4 – Sales & Marketing Trends That Will Impact You in 2016 hosted by ISA (The Association of Learning Providers). A fellow panelist, Rich Wellins, Senior VP at DDI and co-author of Your First Leadership Job How Catalyst Leaders Bring Out the Best in Others discussed DDI’s journey toward an integrated marketing and sales strategy and social selling.
When Rich mentioned, during a planning call, that he asked Matt Collins, Senior Talent Management Advisor at DDI to join our panel, I headed over to LinkedIn and reviewed his profile. His profile captured his personality and demonstrated his expertise – I read and shared his latest post and I knew he would add insight and interest to our panel.
As we joined the webinar and introduced ourselves, Matt’s first comment to me was, “Good to meet you. You must be the Colleen McKenna that took a look at my LinkedIn profile yesterday.”
Matt added great insight, just as I thought he would. After the webinar, we followed up by connecting on LinkedIn, following one another on Twitter, and most importantly, scheduling a call to discuss social sales.
Matt is a natural. He is marketing and sales rolled into one with the inquisitive nature of a journalist, the polish of a diplomat and good nature of a home-grown midwesterner. Matt and I will probably never do business directly but he is someone I want to know and include in my network. Our call prompted the following exchange, unedited for your reading pleasure:
CM: You started in marketing at DDI, why did you move to sales?
MC: I learned quickly that marketing gets people to think differently, but sales teams get people to act differently. I wanted to be in on the action and watch my clients’ ideas progress from a concept to a new way of doing business.
CM: Do you think having a marketing background made it easier to:
move to sales?
embrace social selling?
MC: Absolutely! One of the things I like most about sales is I still get to be a marketer half the time – especially when I’m engaged in social selling. The fact that LinkedIn includes “establish your professional brand (publishing content)” and “engage with insights (share meaningful updates)” as two of the four categories that factor into their Social Selling Index supports this thinking.
CM: What three attributes do you see as critical to your sales success?
MC: Positivity – There is so much in sales that’s outside of your control. The times I let this get to me are the times when I’m the least productive, assertive, proactive, and excited about my work. Thankfully, I’ve always been a pretty happy and optimistic guy; I try to maintain that mindset even when hurdles come my way.
Tenacity – I can’t count the number of times I thought someone had lost interest, gone with a competitor, or maybe fallen off the face of the earth, only for them to reply to my 36th message (and suddenly in a rush to move forward). Or, the number of times I helped someone even though there was zero potential for them to become a client – at that time – then they came back two jobs later to seek my help again, this time as a customer.
Humility – This is a tough one for me. I’m very competitive, and I can fall into the trap of thinking I’m pretty swell. But, I experience the most success during times when I: seek input and aid from others, admit lack of knowledge or mistakes, explore others’ thinking, and remain open minded.
CM: What are the two or three actions you take everyday to further your social selling skills and outcomes?
- I’m big on numbers, so I measure the heck out of my social selling performance. The Social Selling Index from LinkedIn is a great lead measure for what I consider to be the best platform for social selling (there are several apps that perform similar tracking for Twitter and Facebook). I also keep my own records of new opportunities and closed sales that originate from social selling efforts as a lag measure, which are the numbers I use in performance reviews.
- It’s crucial to spend time building your network. This means building new connections, but also building stronger connections with the critical few who will become your social selling allies. This blog post is a great example of this: we were strangers who happened to be co-participants on a webinar, we scheduled a call based on similar interests, then determined to stay in touch and help each other on efforts like this one. Last night I actually coined a really catchy term for these connections. Then I fell asleep and forgot what it was (recommendations, anyone?).
- I try to actually read the daily notifications that come through from my various social networks. That means at least scanning headlines of all job changes, posts made by my connections, work anniversaries, news about my prospect companies, etc. I know many salespeople who subscribe to these, but few who regularly use them. I find it helps to schedule it as a daily exercise rather than trying to fit it in “when I have the time.” For me, tackling social selling while I eat lunch usually works well.
CM: What social selling trends do you see emerging this year?
MC: One trend I think will continue is the increase in the number of people engaged in social selling. Based on history, this also means more people will give up this year than ever before when they don’t get results following a few weeks of tentative experimentation. This creates enormous opportunity for those of us who truly commit to social selling to differentiate ourselves.
As for emerging trends, I think we’ll see an exponential increase in the number of companies who create and deploy social selling strategies. I see it becoming a requirement for newly posted sales jobs, which will create a culture clash with the significant proportion of salespeople who have preemptively decided that social selling “isn’t for them.”
CM: What holds people back from embracing social selling?
MC: It used to be lack of ROI data. That excuse hasn’t been relevant for years now (though it doesn’t stop people from trying). The main reason today is fear. And the fearful salesperson…doesn’t last long.
CM: Any qualitative stats or results you can share?
MC: A year ago I exceeded my quota by 20%, which also happened to be exactly how much of my sales came from social efforts. I was spending about an hour a day on social selling, three days a week; what a great payoff for my time!
Matt’s results fall in line with LinkedIn’s social sales stats:
This is the result for social sales professionals who schedule the time to include these activities in their sales process and day to day workflow. CEO’s – Who is your Matt? I hope you have an entire team of women and men just like Matt who understand sales in a 21st century world. A world that is networked, responsive, educated and ready to buy from those they like, know and trust.
Want to learn more about how to become social sales leaders? Check out our blog or Colleen’s posts on LinkedIn, several of the posts cover sales and social selling. If you need to learn more, contact Colleen.
Watch Mike Derezin from LinkedIn discuss LinkedIn Sales Connect: How to Unlock Competitive Advantage
Social Selling stats from Hubspot