Professional Sales and the Social Network Factor: Is This the New ¡˥∀WɹON ?
Sales professionals have over 200 social networks available to them, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn … and the list goes on and on. But is being “on the line,” as Billy McMahon (Vince Vaughn) said in the movie “The Internship,” really important? It’s a question that every sales professional and sales leader struggles with continually.
Sales professionals hear constant background noise while fighting for every potential advantage to gain new business and stand out from the competition. The truth is, selling with social media is the new not-¡˥∀WɹON “normal.” Social selling is more impactful for sales professionals than any technology pushed in their direction in decades. Why? Because buyers are digitally enabled, socially engaged, mobile-attached and video-hungry. As a result of the new digital dynamic, what has worked for salespeople in the past isn’t as effective today and will be even less so tomorrow.
So, what is this thing called “social selling”? Help your sales professionals understand each of these components.
For sales professionals, branding requires having social profiles that are aligned with the customer’s buying journey. For example, most sales professionals and marketers with a LinkedIn profile make the mistake of letting their profile read like a resume. This type of LinkedIn profile will lose a buyer after the first click. Ask sales professionals to define their goals: What do they want their LinkedIn profile to do? Once they decide, they can map their profile to their buyers’ quest for information in a way that will help them solve a business problem.
Finding and developing their voice so that it speaks to the needs of the modern buyer means that salespeople must understand who they are and what they need and then being able to relate what their company offers in a way that engages, entertains and educates their audience. How are they building unique value and expertise around your brand and the products and services they represent? To build your brand and connect with the social world, it is critical for your sales professionals to understand their prospective audience. As Lewis Carroll said, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” Begin with the end in mind.
Do your buyers think of you as relevant? Do your salespeople relate to your audience and provide information that is mapped to their journey as customer and buyer? Are they providing insights that are unknown to the audience? Are they helping them solve business problems?
In today’s business reality, professionals are on a constant search for information and insight. What information and insight can your sales reps provide relative to their known and, even better, unknown business challenges? Think of the impact on a potential customer who gains a competitive advantage for their organization from information that your reps shared with them as a result of understanding their business and industry. They see alternatives that were unknown to them, and the salesperson has become a virtual business advisor for this individual or decision-maker. Being relevant and insightful will draw people to the rep, rather than the rep wandering the real or virtual world trying to find qualified prospects.
Building a strong and trusting buyer relationship means that helping the buyer uncover and solve business problems. The successful salesperson is consistently providing new information, vision and insights that help their engaged audience solve their most pressing issues. They are continually building the relationship on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
This relationship-building goes well beyond pushing interesting facts about your product or service; that’s what normal sales reps do. Doing the (not) ¡˥∀WɹON requires deep thought and the ability to think beyond their own operating reality, being engaged with their prospective customer in a way that gives insights that are impactful to their business. Building is not about selling a product or service; it is about increasing credibility in their field of expertise from the customer’s perspective.
When sales professionals brand, understand, relate and build relationships by helping and not selling, sales will follow. Through their brand-building, they have created trust, credibility, rapport and respect with their audience. Selling becomes a demand pull, instead of the traditional supply push. Simply put, their audience seeks them out instead of them trying to find their audience. Selling with social networks turns the sales process upside down and allows reps to connect in another way—one that buyers find preferable.
Ultimately, adding social selling to your salespeople’s regimen must be the new ¡˥∀WɹON. It provides information to your targeted audience: people who are seeking information that will positively affect their business results. It means investing time to consume useful information and insight as a means to help your audience, as opposed to just leveraging countless hours blindly prospecting or cold calling. If there is one thing to remember, remember this: #DontDoNormal. Your company’s new and future customers are seeking you!
Jeff Seeley is the CEO of Carew International, a top sales training and sales leadership training provider. He enjoys a leadership role within the training and sales industries as a popular speaker, author, strategic consultant and champion of cutting edge insights and practices. Follow him on LinkedIn or Twitter.
Mario Martinez Jr. is the CEO of M3Jr Growth Strategies, LLC, a startup advisor and contributing writer to The Huffington Post. He is a leading sales and social selling expert and was named one of the Top 10 Sales Gurus in the world by Rise Market Insight. Follow him on YouTube, LinkedIn or Twitter.