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Is anyone other than me exhausted by the terms “social selling,” “digital transformation” and “AI”? Based on all the posts and Google results I’ve seen recently, you’d think we’ve finally discovered the holy sales grail. And worse, we’ve encouraged people to think selling is easier than ever. More tools, more results.

Unfortunately, this is misleading and confuses many, especially those tasked with selling in small to mid-sized companies. People up against hefty quotas and sales enablement initiatives are looking for sales validation. The best marketing tech stack collects data, reveals patterns and provides a hint of predictive behavior and yet, can still leave you in the dust.

Of course, we use some of these tools. As I write this blog, I notice three people just opened an email I sent them following up on a previous conversation. What do I do now? Stop everything and ping them again? Mention that I know they read/opened my email? Yikes, that sounds a bit intrusive, in fact, borderline cyber-tracking, don’t you think?

The line between marketing and sales has blurred, and while that’s a good thing, in general, it does create role and accountability-morphing. When does real selling begin? How do you get in front of the right people at the right time with the right message?

Don’t be fooled into thinking the Marketing Tech stack can solve the sales problem you and your sales team face in 2018. There are more disruptions, distractions, and ways to combat the Marketing Tech stack from infiltrating than ever. Smarter sellers mean equally smart buyers.

In Aja Frost’s article, 75 Mind-Blowing Sales Statistics That Will Help You Sell Smarter in 2018, there are some important takeaways; 75 of them, in fact. Let’s look at a couple of stats that stand out and deserve your consideration.

Let’s start with this vote of confidence, not so much.

Just 17% of salespeople think they’re pushy — compared to 50% of prospects. And along similar lines, only 3% of buyers trust reps. The only professions with less credibility include car sales, politics, and lobbying.

As Aja adds, “Ouch.”

How to overcome some daunting numbers? Think more strategically. I spoke with a potential client last week who straightaway said,

“I have received InMails, messages, cold calls from lots of people just like you. I’ve never responded and the only reason we’re talking is because you come highly recommended by a colleague.”

What could be better? I talked with a client today, and we talked about this type of endorsement. It’s every person’s superpower, secret weapon. Developing a great network should be every salesperson’s number one priority. Build the best damn network you can. Period. Being smart, informed, gifted with witty repartee and wicked subject matter expertise is a given so, in no way, am I overlooking these and other attributes.

And once you build this kick-ass network, make sure they are crystal clear about what you do. No one calls me and says:

“I hear you’re a social media expert.” “I hear you specialize in Facebook, Twitter, Salesforce, Hubspot, AI, digital transformation.” They do say, “I hear you specialize in LinkedIn.” From there, I can elaborate.

While your business may be far more complicated, your people (aka your professional network and evangelists) should get it and be able to articulate who you are and what you do.

We’ve written extensively on the value of your network and your Centers of Influence. We believe they make a difference and the numbers reinforce this.

I trust the data. Yes, it’s from a trusted set of sources, and it plays out in the work we do every day. 90% of buying decisions are made with peer recommendations. If these numbers don’t speak to you and show you a way to your sales pipeline, I’m not sure what will.

To every sales manager, there’s one simple question, “How are you helping your salespeople build and leverage their professional relationships and network?”

What could be more important? Coach and encourage them to know the right people, whether they are inside or outside salespeople.

And guess what? When you need a new job, change careers or enter a new phase of your career, (and you will), many of the folks who care about you now, and serve as your evangelists will help you again. Learn what works, and take it to the bank.  

Thanks to Hubspot and Aja Frost for sharing this article.