In the last few weeks, I have read many blogs, tweets predicting the death of sales people, lack of importance of sales, salespeople will become like dinosaurs and that solution selling or a value based selling is dead. I know some will agree and disagree but here are my thoughts.
My humble opinion is that they are wrong and I personally do not believe in the scare tactic but I do believe in Social Selling.
The good news is that they are bringing awareness to the new social world and how it applies to sales and you, the sales professional or VP of Sales. Social selling skills and training are necessary. I have seen many transformations in my career, from the PC on the Desktop, to Email, to Call Centers, to Inside Sales, to the Internet, then the Cloud and now Social. But I have also seen that in the end most great sales organizations successfully adapt because they invest.
Also from what I see and read, leading social companies such as LinkedIn, Hubspot, Google, Salesforce.com, Adobe still has sales teams, and yes they are investing in and growing them.
My message to all sales professionals, Sales VP and sales organizations is ADAPT to Social Selling skills. These social tools are great, you can adapt. The buyer is much better prepared and educated by the time they call or contact you. Learn these tools to level the playing field between you and the buyer throughout the sales process.
Specifically I recommend all sales organizations assist and train their sales teams and individuals on:
• Up-to-date LinkedIn profiles, business pages and groups and how to effectively use them.
• Twitter account usage and guidelines
• Facebook pages for business
• CRM like Salesforce.com and all the new tools associated with CRM
• Lead scoring tools, qualification and buyer personas.
Use the Tools
Having the tools is one thing. We use the tools. In fact about 50% of our business comes from referrals and 50% comes in from leads. We are a boutique sales consulting firm that uses the following:
• LinkedIn for Salesforce.com. Great tool, allows you to see more information on inbound leads, opportunities and decision makers plus a lot of other great features.
• Website is optimized and inbound leads are integrated with Salesforce.com and Hubspot.
• Google for Adwords, documents and email, calendar, chat, video, sites, docs, email, contacts all in the cloud. Amazing set of tools for business.
• Salesforce.com and Data.com CRM with Gmail integration. Tracking and cleaning our inbound sales leads, opportunities and accounts.
• Hubspot for Inbound Marketing. Tracks lead quality, effectiveness of our campaigns, blogs, tweets and a lot more.
• Twitter for @salesresult (yes we tweet)
• Blogs: salesresult.com/sri-blog
• Facebook pages, Google+ pages, LinkedIn for our company and groups we follow. We post our blogs or re-tweet relevant information.
• Wordstream, SEM Rush, SEOMoz.org, Google Adwords, analytics and Webmaster for our SEO and keywords. These tools assist with our keywords, competitor’s keywords and the effectiveness. Yes we use both paid and organic.
• Mention.com. Great to track who is talking about certain keywords, phrases, competitors or your own company. It also provides filters for relevant keywords.
• A clearly defined sales process that incorporates the above tools
• Finally because so many are using these channels you need to filter to get the information and data that is relevant to you and yes there are many tools for that.
You are great Sales Professionals, great VPs of Sales. As you become great at Social Selling make sure you:
• Be yourself, that's what made you succeed to date.
• Be relevant and add value in your social interactions.
• Be original. Think through what you are going to say first. Look at what your competitors are saying, try and distinguish yourself from the crowd.
• Be very careful what you tweet and post. You can damage your brand if the wrong tweet and post is out there.
• Try to help and engage your audience by that you can become an “expert” in your field.
• Don’t over do it. I personally find social friends/business connections that post every hour, or tweet every hour or blog every day akin to the same people that use ALL CAPS in their emails. Its coming across to me doing two things, screaming for attention and or trying to get ranked higher in keywords or other areas. It does or may work for them but clearly not my style.
Power of Personal Interaction still has Sales Relevance:
Whether you are insides sales, outside sales, channel sales or any type or now social selling the power of the personal interaction is still very powerful in todays selling environment. You just can’t put these tools on auto-drive and expect to win all of your engagements. Your ability to add value to the prospect, build relationships, differentiate, answer objections, close deals are not going away anytime soon. Good Selling and please take the time to learn, adapt and to enjoy the sales journey and provide Sales Relevance in a Social World