Every solid sales executive I know is telling me they want to see less social and more selling. - Matt Heinz from his Anti Social-Selling Manifesto
Really? Matt Heinz is by no means a Luddite. He's an amazing thought leader when it comes to sales and marketing on the bleeding edge of the industry so I respect his opinion greatly. I think it would be fun to make the devil's advocate case for why sales people should blog and leverage my platform to get the opinion of my tribe. What do you think about this? Does it lower productivity? I inadvertently got inducted into the Social Selling Mafia by walking my talk on these subjects.
Much of that can be done by curating good content vs. creating it, and you get basically the same external value for your sales reps at a fraction of the time.
Do you think curating is as effective as prosuming, creating, mashing up, remixing or writing your own content to build your position as a thought leader in the industry? Certainly LinkedIn's own Social Selling Index (SSI) algorithm very highly favors curation but also creating it seems to have a dramatic impact. I shot up to 82 on SSI while my mentee is at 72 after 7,000 friends and almost a decade on LinkedIn sharing and curating.
But what they really mean is that they want their reps to focus on selling. They want their best, highest-paid people focused on the activities that help them build relationships, rapport and velocity with targeted decision-makers at their best prospective accounts. I don't really care whether you call it selling or sharing or helping or whatever. Your best reps should focus on sales.
Let me ask you this? Are you able to leverage LinkedIn Publisher at the core of your social selling strategy?
I outlined The Four Pillars of Strategic Social Selling in the post at this link. It's a new term which I believe I've coined with a brand new hashtag [#strategicsocialselling]. To innovate the practice, I've combined the best of battle-tested neoclassical strategic selling frameworks and methodologies from the trenches with the best of the best from the Strategic Social Selling Unicorns.
- Pillar I - Social Listening
- Pillar II - Social Publishing
- Pillar III - Social Research and Engagement
- Pillar IV - Social Collaboration
I'm currently training and coaching enterprise sales executives on these methods and they're consistently accelerating and closing six figure deals with this advanced, complex B2B format of #socialselling at the fore.
So let me unpack why I advocate for your top sales people unleashing a Social Selling 3.0 strategy. Here are two blog posts for background on exactly how to implement this to drive tangible revenue:
Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things. - Peter F. Drucker
Let's really think about this quote as it applies to strategic selling, strategic content marketing and strategic social media application in a modern context. What you're really trying to do is the precursor of Challenger Selling. You're trying to leverage provocative insight to access key decision makers upstream, pre-trigger event, so that you can be the emotional favorite™, as Craig Elias and Tibor Shanto put it eloquently. B2B rich content and thought leadership allow for a steady stream of enablement, helping to walk your prospects up the ladder of engagement.
Mark Roberge, the CRO of Hubspot speaks about how suddenly, CXOs would just reach out to grab dinner and sign their whole company up for HubSpot the next day. Why? The power of content marketing carving rock like water. The opportunity is as wide and deep as the Grand Canyon but it won't take a million years to carve that rock. Most people simply haven't taken a data driven approach, mixed in strategic selling frameworks of yore and turned the volume up high enough 10X to truly extract the value out of strategic social selling methods. I've also noticed that the basics are ubiquitous but the advanced methods that I teach are very rare in the marketplace of sales training. Any tactic that can be a force multiplier supplementally can be re-engineered from first principles to become the core of a go-to-market engine or deployment of a Weingbergian Sales Attack.
So without further ado, here are the ten top reasons:
- Customers buy from thought leaders they know, like and trust who challenge the status quo with provocative insight and help them to reimagine existing business models.
- Customers are 57% through the buying process, according to research from CEB, so the goal is to either get there before it begins or differentiate yourself online while they embark on the process.
- Rich, relevant content intercepts deals to close pre-trigger. You can snatch deals out of competitors mouths like a breaching apex predator!
- Salespeople can move from servicing demand to creating it!
- Imagine being so early in a sales cycle, it hasn't even started yet. Like Steve Jobs said, 'let's give the customer what they never knew she always wanted.'
- The key differentiator in any enterprise deal? The sales rep aka you. Build your brand equity and powerful brand presence to differentiate in the marketplace.
- 10X your reach to literally become omnipresent in the industry via your remarkable, heavily shared content. Hat tip to Grant Cardone on this point.
- Just like becoming a millionaire, the person you'll become by blogging everyday, the effort and research it takes to generate compelling insight and the ability to communicate at the highest levels, will revolutionize the way you actively listen, present, pitch and close in the analog world too.
- The best way to sell to a buyer is to empathize with what they go through. Show that you can see the world through their eyes and your content will convince and convert.
- Book deals, speaking engagements, consulting gigs, guest posts, interviews and the opportunity to meet new and exciting people from every walk of life all over the world! Reverse mentorship by experts in your field abounds to help you step up your game (and theirs!).
Need I say more? Whether you vehemently agree or disagree please tweet this out or leave a comment below. So what about reps that aren't natural born Ernest Hemingways or Om Maliks?
Content is like a resume. You should constantly be trying to improve and add to it. Sellers should get a writer/mentor and gradually learn to write...and speak. - Joel Heffner
This all seems to reflect the modern insight selling funnel that is more collaborative and multi-channel than ever. Here's data from The Rain Group which is "the result of a study which focused on more than 700 B2B purchases made by a broad sample of buyers. In aggregate, these buyers were responsible for $3.1 billion in annual purchases. Along with their survey research, they've now spoken to more than 150 corporate buyers about their recent purchasing experiences."
The top 3 factors separating winners from 2nd place finishers? According to this research, all 3 must be practiced in tandem...
"Level 1, connect, is the price of entry. When buyers perceive sellers don't understand their needs and don't have a solution that can help-and if the buyers don't like them-sellers don't win. Even when sellers succeed here, it's simply table stakes. More needs to be done.
[What's a better way to connect meaningful in real-time with any thought leader? #social]
Level 2, convince, increases wins. When sellers don't convince the buyers they'll get a worthwhile return, the risks are acceptable, and they're the right choice, the buyers simply might not buy at all, might buy much less than they should (or only be willing to pay less), or may select another provider.
[Big deals take a finesse close, enablement and education over time which typically means longer sales cycles. What's the best way to do this? #social]
Level 3, collaborate, is when the seller becomes a key component of buyer success. The sellers who are perceived as level 3 collaborators, bringing new ideas to the table, cocreating ideas and insights, and working with buyers as a team, will find themselves in the winner's circle."
[What's more collaborative then starting your own industry forum or LinkedIn Group? You guessed it! #social]
Strategic social selling can be utilized at all three steps in the modern sales process that increases propensity to win in major deals: Connect, Convince & Collaborate.
It's time to secure your place in the Winner's Circle and embrace Publishing as a Top Sales Leader. Become a micro-marketer and embrace social media as your core strategy. I suggest a LinkedIn Publisher post each day sharing your expertise and unique insight, a case study, a personal story and incorporating in a selfie style YouTube video. Shoot for building 5,000 followers on LinkedIn Publish [hub] and watch the leads roll in. You'll need to do this consistently every single day with Twitter, Google+ and Facebook as the spokes to amplify this out. Consistency, persistence and patience pay off. Just dedicate a half hour to an hour each day.
Salespeople who take my advice on this will have a massive edge in 2015. They'll do this in addition to all the other great things they do like effective prospecting by phone, face to face meetings, thorough discovery and qualification. They'll simply be able to work more deeply down into the funnel or on an empty playing field so far upstream, there are few to no competitors. That serenity alone is worth it's weight in gold.
Now it's your turn: Do you agree with Matt Heinz that 'sales reps shouldn't create content' or are you on the fence? I would divulge how much revenue I've driven personally to my business in just 90 days but I guess you can imagine just how big a payoff it's been for me by looking at my 150+ posts, many long form to get to that coveted 1,900 word, 7-minute sweet spot. Why would I do this? I prefer my sizzle with some steak, mate! As a 30 year veteran, my time is money and I invest it where the most is made. Adapt or die. The content selling #strategicsocialselling revolution will not be televised. It's already happening and top enterprise sales teams [case studies] on several contents are executing on this powerful strategy!
Major Caveat - Managers please pump the breaks and proceed with caution:
I understand (mostly) what you say, but I think the consequences of individual corporate salespeople becoming content writers are far reaching & serious. There are focus issues, skill set issues, prioritization issues, brand alignment issues, writing competency issues, etc. My personal observations from consulting companies big and small in a variety is industries is that too many salespeople fail from lack of focused new biz dev activity. They look for reasons not to proactively sell. Asking them to become authors provides another wonderful excuse not to do their primary job. You, Matt and I are consultants with platforms; we should be writing. Salespeople should be selling! - Mike Weinberg
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 in 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/.
Main image photo by Flickr: Mike Licht
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