There has been an insidious trend in the last 4 years in professional selling. It is a misinterpretation of the term 'social selling' where people cruise along doing non-selling tasks sprinkled with researching, emailing and grooming their social platforms... all while treating the phone like it's covered with spiders.
The only thing that works in new business development, whether for inside sales or in the field, is the right combinations of effective activity... and lots of it!
Any sales floor that sounds like people are snoozing is in trouble. I was talking with someone last week who told me that all salespeople had to book a 'booth' to make prospecting calls so that they do not disturb others on the sales floor! You've gotta be kidding me... "bring back the buzz!" So many businesses and salespeople have confused 'social selling' with 'social marketing'. Social platforms certainly play an essential role in research and creating a strong personal brand that sets an agenda and evidences insight and credibility. But selling is all about engaging the buyer in a meaningful two-way conversation and the human voice is like nothing else for achieving just that. If 'outbound' activities do not culminate in lots of phone calls then the methodology for creating sales pipeline is just a recipe for failure.
Every salesperson must personally 'own' and masterfully execute these 3 things if they are to succeed in high-value, or any form of business-to-business, selling:
The first BIG prerequisite for elevating the way we sell is to create the right 'value narrative'. Instead of leading with who we are and what we do, we should instead lead with why a conversation should matter to the other person. We need to hook interest with the worthwhile business or personal outcomes that we can help them achieve.
The call you make should have been preceded by social marketing activities in the days or weeks prior where you' get yourself into the orbit' of you prospects without any hard-sell. Then first thing in the morning, before the others snoozers arrive at the office, you're hammering away with your COMBO outreach strategy:
- Phone their cell/mobile and if you don't get a live voice on the other end ...
- Leave a voicemail. Confident, to the point and without mentioning your products or solutions... just the value for them in having a conversation.
- Then immediately send a LinkedIn InMail or connection request (with context, not 'cold')
- Then send them an email.
Two to three minutes per contact maximum on your pre-prepared list. Ideally, you're working from your CRM or 'dialing software' but a sheet of paper will do the trick. Never blame technology for your failure to drive the necessary level of intelligent activity required to achieve the success you need. Here is a step-by-step guide on using these advanced techniques leveraging the power of Sales Navigator.
Join the phoning revolution where 'social selling' goes back to the future to save businesses from revenue atrophy!
Next, we need the right mindset... just like Arnie who is very smart but also has always been highly driven, inquisitive, disciplined and ambitious. We need a minimum of two hours every single day doing outbound prospecting where we seek conversations and meetings with potential clients. We MUST do this regardless of how 'successful' we are with current revenue and no matter how busy we become with existing clients. Before you go home each day, make sure you have your list of 30-50 calls to make first thing in the morning.
I cannot tell you how many salespeople I meet who just won't accept responsibility for the creation of their own pipeline. Treat leads from your website, channel, marketing or inside sales team as a bonus. You've gotta own your own success, fight for it, work for it, change inside to be worthy of it. Be your own SDR and time-block 2 hours EVERY day for proactive outbound prospecting where you focus on the phone. Use social media and LinkedIn to support your sales strategy but don't use it to hide like a coward from the phone.
Click here to download keynote slides
The video interview below discusses where 'social selling' has gone wrong. Can you believe that one company is cited for removing phones from the sales area altogether! Wow...complete lunacy in my view. On the other hand, no-one should be doing pure cold calls because 'warming a call-up' is an incredibly easy thing to do today with fast pragmatic research tools such as LinkedIn or using your CRM properly.
Build your personal brand in non-selling time.
Yes, you need a strong personal brand because 75% of people research us online before deciding to engage or buy. Get it done in your own time at night and here are some tips. Have a professionally friendly photo with a headline that is your 'promise of value' to the customers you serve. Show you personal values and also what you deliver in terms of business outcomes in your Summary. Tailor your URL and include your contact details... you're in sales so forget privacy and instead make it easy for people to reach you!
Should you be publishing content? Yes, but not during selling time. If you can't write, just focus on sharing content that your clients will value. Create a free Buffer account or use your company's Hootsuite, Hubspot or other content curation software. Publish content that gets on the front foot to head objections off at the pass. If prospects say they're too busy to meet you, write a post about how 20 minutes with you saves 10 hours and reduces risk... writing it will be the best sales training you've ever had.
The new 'Neptune' release of LinkedIn is designed to dial-down your narcissism and ramp-up your sales effectiveness. Boolean search is gone in free or Premium... time to buy Sales Navigator on your own credit card if the boss won't buy it for you.
Stop treating LinkedIn as a vanity tool. It's a valueable marketing and sales resource!
Beyond the big three of 1) an insightful value narrative that is relevant to the buyer, 2) the right effective combinations of activities, and 3) the right mindset where you absolutely take personal responsibility for build three times your target in a qualified pipeline... you need these things to be successful in sales:
- Intrinsic value and 'market fit' in the product, service or solution you offer
- Passionate belief in the value you offer and the people you work with
- High EQ for people skills and above average levels of intelligence
- Genuine curiosity and desire to learn (about your customers and about how to be successful). Stop telling people about your company and products and start talking about your customer's problems and opportunities, and the business results you passionately believe you can deliver for them.
- Courage and discipline the size of mountains to get out of your comfort zone and do what is necessary... forget merely doing your best
- A phone. This is the most powerful of all social selling tools
- A LinkedIn Sales Navigator account. Like the phone, it's a basic tool of trade and you've can't survive without it.
- A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system integrated with marketing automation and lead nurturing
- A boss who will believe in you and hold you to account.
Is everything on this list essential? Is there anything on this list you could actually live without in your professional life and still be successful? Or is there something you think I should add?
If you valued this article, please hit the 'like' and 'share' buttons.
We invite you to subscribe to this blog which is free and provides access to all our 'subscriber only' content and a periodic newsletter.
Tony Hughes is ranked as the #1 influencer on professional selling in Asia-Pacific and is a keynote speaker and best selling author. This article was originally published on LinkedIn where you can also follow Tony's award-winning blog. Also, visit Tony's keynote speaker website at www.TonyHughes.com.au or his sales methodology website at http://www.rsvpselling.com/.