Category Archives for "Social Selling"

Social Selling Is Not Just About The Sales Team

The 21st century has opened an entirely new world of sales. The internet and our ability to engage through social media along with the time demands on decision makers has changed the way we need to sell to be successful.

Cold calling, emails and personal visits are producing fewer and fewer results. I can avoid you in all of those instances if I choose to do so.

The world of purchasing has changed as well. Like most of us who research our purchases online prior to making a decision, the same goes for our business customers. Buyers are now 57% of the way through a buying decision before we are aware of the opportunity, and 75% of them have researched potential vendors in that process.

That means we have to change how we engage in this brave new world.

Today our sales teams need to become experts in the process of “Social Selling”. If they do not, they do so at their own peril. There is one major change in the selling process however that too many companies overlook. While many understand that their sales and marketing teams must adjust, they ignore the fact that everyone in the company needs to be a part of the process.

Let’s use LinkedIn as a prime example. If I am researching a company and I search for your company in LinkedIn, I will get the people that have LinkedIn accounts in my search results. Have you ever examined what their profiles look like? I may not get one of your sales people. I may get your CFO or your HR manager profiles. Are they setting the proper image for your company? If not, I may eliminate you immediately.

Today everyone can participate in the sale process. They can be the conduit to a sale. Just like you want them to be good ambassadors for your company when they are engaging face to face with people, you also want them to be great ambassadors through social media.

Don’t overlook the importance of every employee’s ability and responsibility to support your corporate objectives. Teach them how to do it. Hire a company that can help you do it, but don’t ignore this strategy, this is the 21st century after all.

Who are You? Does Anyone Know?

The title of this article is a result of an interesting conversation I had with a good friend a few months ago. He is in the business of matchmaking (bringing businesses with similar needs together to grow their respective revenue and solve problems).

He told me that business was flat and that he was having trouble connecting with people and getting face to face meetings, which has not typically been an issue for him. It seems that people are busier than ever and connecting is becoming an issue. I mentioned that Social Selling was really helping me drive my business and that he should consider it one of his options. His response was; “I am on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, but I am not getting any traction from them.” I suggested we take a look at his activity.

We first looked at LinkedIn and his profile. It told us he was a Sole Proprietor in his header. When we reviewed his Summary, there was nothing there. His work history was absent although he has a tremendous work history. There was nothing under Education, Articles/Posts written, Volunteering, Groups, etc. and he has a tremendous background in all of these areas. His Twitter account was similar, 62 followers and he isn’t following anyone and he has no Tweets! Facebook was the same, a picture and nothing shared.

The bottom line is being on social networks and being social are two different things.

I suggested that we look at a few people that are his competitors. We looked at three. One had a fully completed LinkedIn profile, Twitter account and Facebook page. The other two were similar to him. The question I asked him is; “Who are you and does anyone know?” The answer of course was easy. “Who do you think you would connect with if you had an issue?” The answer was obvious, the one with a full social inventory.

I see this same thing with many people. They are leaders in their business and industry, but no one knows it, because they are not telling anyone who they are.

Social and Social Selling are a fact of life in today’s business world. If you’re not there, the new selling process is passing you by. People buy from people, and they want to know who they are buying from and how, they can help them solve their problem. If there is nothing to tell them you can help, they will continue their research and find someone who can.

My friend now has a fantastic social profile over a number of sites, and he is in Groups and writing articles and posts and establishing himself as an expert at what he does. He offers great insights into his area of expertise and his business is growing again.

People know who is he is! Do people know who you are and if not, will you do something to change that?

The Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada Get It!

Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA) has just released a TV spot intended to position CPAs as valuable assets to businesses heading into uncharted territory.

The spot, entitled “Record Label,” takes viewers back to the 1990s, on the verge of widespread disruption in the music industry. A group of business leaders, brainstorms solutions to declining CD sales amid the emerging so-called “internet fad.” When a CPA suggests embracing market trends and going all-in with a digital subscription platform, she’s dismissed by a shaggy-haired executive who wonders how this will help him sell CDs.

Fast forward to 2018 and the fact that Social Selling is replacing the old ways of selling:

  • Cold calls
  • Email blasts
  • Drop by visits

Like the disruption that online streaming and downloads brought to the music industry in the 1990’s, Social Selling is disrupting the Sales Process today. The question is; are you listening and are you prepared to make the changes required to embrace how the world sees selling in 2018?

Here are a few facts:

  • 57% of the buying journey is completed before a sales rep is ever involved. (Source: CEB)
  • 54% of people are now involved in the average B2B buying decision (Source: CSO Insights)
  • 75% of B2B buyers now use social media to research vendors (Source: IDC)
  • 90% of decision makers say that they never respond to cold outreach (Source: Harvard Business Review)
  • 74% of buyers say they choose the sales rep that was FIRST to add value and insight (Source: Corporate Visions)

Your world is being disrupted as we speak, just like streaming and downloading crushed CD’s and CD retailers. The question is; are you prepared to transform your sales process and engage a new way of selling to grow your revenue and find new customers?

Don’t be like the blind executive at the CD company, open your eyes and mind to the new reality and build your business before the competition shows you how it is done.

Are You a Nowhere Man in the World of Social Selling?

The year was 1965 and John Lennon wrote the song Nowhere Man, which was an introspective about his life at that time. He was asking himself; “Where am I going?”

Where am I going, is a question, all corporate leaders should be asking themselves today about their company’s commitment to Social Selling. If you are not committed to it, if your sales team is not actively participating in it, you will become a Nowhere Man, and the positive revenue growth you expect from your sales team will likely become a slow decent into frustration and declining sales.

Take a look at a few of the Lennon lyrics below and ask yourself, if this is how you view the world of Social Selling;

Nowhere man, please listen (are you listening and observing what is going on around you)

You don’t know what you’re missing (do you realize that buying decision are 57% complete before you hear of them and you are missing out on sales opportunities)

Nowhere man the world is at your command (this is your opportunity to beat the competition to the sale and grow your revenue)

Or does this describe you?

He’s as blind as he can be
Just sees what he wants to see.

If this is your view of the opportunity that Social Selling offers and if this describes you and your company, you need to set a new path for your company and Sales Team. Like Lennon, if you are asking yourself were your company is going, if you’re looking for new ways to generate revenue, find new business opportunities and make your company more relevant, you need to explore Social Selling today.

The world of Social Selling can be at your command, all it takes is a little introspection on your part and a willingness to take the blinders off and see what you are missing.

Don’t be a Nowhere Man.

Use Your LinkedIn Profile to Stand Out and Lead or Get Out of the Way

If you’re at a networking event and you meet three different people and ask them what they do; based on the following responses which person will you most likely wish to engage?

  1. I am the CEO / President of company XXX.
  2. I work at company XXX and we manufacture XXX product into the XXX industry.
  3. I am a mentor and coach to my fellow employees and work on our business everyday to create a better environment for them.

In each case, I could be speaking with the CEO / President of a company, but response #3 will get my attention far easier than the first and second. It also establishes a better groundwork for conversation, and it tells me something about you as a person. Response #3 offers the opportunity to begin a business relationship.

If we can agree that response #3 will most likely get your attention as it does mine, as opposed to the first two responses, why is it that 90% of the people that have a LinkedIn profile list their title and their company name?

LinkedIn is the greatest business networking site in the world. They have one half a million users, and it is growing daily. It is by far your best opportunity to network and grow your business through social media.

Think of yourself in a room full of Presidents and CEO’s. If everyone starts with their title and company, no one has stood out from the crowd. Isn’t that what we as CEO’s and Presidents are always trying to get our employees to accomplish. We ask them how can we as a company stand out from the competition. Well it starts with you. How will you make yourself stand out so that you draw people in and make them want to learn more?

LinkedIn is that room full of people. If you want to stand out, you have to be different than everyone else in the room. Isn’t that how you got to the top in the first place, you stood out.

First let’s look at a few facts:

  1. 75% of B2B buyers now use social media to research their vendors. They not only research the company, but the people in the company (IDC).
  2. 57% of the buying journey is done BEFORE a sales rep is involved (CEB/Gartner).
  3. 90% of decision makers say they never respond to cold outreach (Harvard Business Review).

It is plain that without a great social profile, it will be difficult to stand out and be seen by your potential customers.

You are the President or CEO and it has to start with you. If you have a weak profile, then why should any of your employees be any different. As with all things in a company, people look to the leader as the example. You can’t ask people to do what you aren’t prepared to do yourself.

The facts above speak for themselves, your customers and potential customers are searching for the company to fulfill the next contract. Do you and your employees stand out enough to grab their attention? If not here are a few simple tips on how to develop a better profile and begin the process of standing out:

  1. Create a header that speaks to who you are, not your title. You want to create a relationship. Think about response #3 at the beginning of this article: I am a mentor and coach to my fellow employees and work on our business everyday to create a better environment for them.
  2. Develop a summary section that speaks about you and what you can bring to the table for your potential customer.
  3. Fill out your work history, all of it. Show potential customers you have the experience and background to support their objectives.
  4. Post articles and educate people on your industry, become an expert in their eyes.

There is more to do, but this is a good start. Social is here to stay and as per the Harvard Business Review, 90% of decision makers say they no longer respond to cold calls. Social is the new norm, don’t get left behind. Develop an enhanced LinkedIn profile, and get networking!

Vinyl Records or Music Streaming – Cold calls or Social Selling

I am an avid collector of vinyl records. I have had a fascination with them since I first started collecting in the 1960’s. I was working for a rail company as a Redcap (carrying customer baggage for them), and I would get tips that I then converted into vinyl records. Everyday I would go into the record store and browse the thousands of records wondering which ones should I buy today. In those days LP records cost $2.98, so I was able to buy 2 every working day. I soon had a great collection and continued to add to it oven the ensuing years.

The came the fateful day in 1987. I was sitting on the veranda at the great Pinehurst Golf and Country Club in North Carolina and reading an article in the newspaper; The Death of Vinyl Records. I was stunned thinking this can’t be! It seemed at that time that a new form of recording was coming to the market called CD’s. I immediately decided that I would quote my Father when he said: “The Beatles will never last.” Of course, CD’s would not become the go to listening format.

Well as we all know, they did and now they are a thing of the past for the most part as well. Digital downloads and music streaming sites have taken over and who knows where it will lead to next.

I write this because I am seeing a similar disruption and transformation taking place in the world of Social Media today. Social Media is becoming the go to form of communicating, purchasing, researching, etc. for society. Whether we like it or not it, is here to stay and will continue to evolve and integrate itself into all areas of our life. The question is; will we embrace this form of media or will we continue to play our old vinyl records?

As a business person, I am continually surprised by the fact that business people use cell phones, email, online purchases, etc., but have not made the business transition to Social Selling and Marketing. They play those vinyl records without seeing that the world has moved on. Cold calling, emailing and unannounced drop by visits are old school. Business today is being done more and more on Social and if you are not there, then you are missing out on a high percentage of opportunities to grow your business.

This doesn’t mean that you abandon your sales force or marketing department. It means that you give them new tools to drive your business. There is still a need to make sales calls. There is still an need to educate from a marketing perspective. The difference is that the opportunities are uncovered using Social, because that is where your customers are today, and if you are not there, you will miss out.

What do some of those tools look like?

  • An online profile that speaks to who you are not what you sell.
  • Articles and posts that establish you as the educators in your industry.
  • An online presence in multiple social sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, etc.
  • An understanding of how to create relationships online the same way you did in the past, face to face.
  • Etc.

I have not abandoned my addiction to vinyl, but I also understand it is harder to find it (although it is making a bit of a comeback), and therefore I need to embrace music streaming, because the opportunity to listen to 100,000,000 songs is available to me as opposed to the limited opportunity I have with my vinyl collection. The same in business, we do not abandon the opportunity to meet with people and sell them our product, but the process of using social increases the number of opportunities to create new relationships and therefore the opportunity to drive our business.

Get Social!

If You’re on LinkedIn and Not Active………….. Why are You There?

Ask yourself this question: Would I go to a networking event and not take any business cards? Unless you are going to be a people watcher the answer is no. Ask your self this question: If I take business cards will they have the information people need to want to do a follow up call? The answer of course is yes. Then you would take the opportunity to engage with people and let them get to know you better.

Today in our enlightened world of Social Media you have joined the networking site LinkedIn. I am going to assume you are there for the purpose of attracting attention to you and your business, otherwise I would ask why be there. Given that you are there because you want to be seen and heard, how do you expect to do that with a profile that says nothing?

I am constantly looking for new connections on LinkedIn that I feel may be able to help me, or I may be able to help at some point. What I see in my searches is that the top executives have made very little or no effort at using this valuable tool the way it was meant to be used. There is no real headline, there is generally no summary and in many cases, there is no work history. Are you expecting others to fill the information for you?

In the social world today, most companies are looking for their suppliers through Social Media. They not only research companies, but they also research the people that lead and work at those companies. They form opinions of companies and people based on their social profiles and activity. As a CEO of a company can you afford to be the silent networker?

If you want to be serious about supporting your company and your employees in generating new business here are a few tips:

  1. Create a profile headline that draws people in and makes them want to read further. Tell them who you are, not what your position is. Start a relationship with them.
  2. Develop your summary to expand on who you are. What have you done and leaned from your life lessons that have provided you with the wisdom to support and lead others. If it is engaging they will move to your work history.
  3. Complete your work history and that means all of it. Tell people what you did, don’t just add a bunch of bullet points that state your accomplishments. How did you do it?
  4. Complete your educational history.
  5. Join some groups and post articles and posts on them to establish yourself as an expert in your business.

There is more you can be doing, but this will be a good start. Once you have done this, you will start to see results. It is hard work, but in the Social Selling world today it is a must.

Now ask yourself if you are not doing this to support your company and your people; Why are you there.”

Are You the Internets New Door to Door Sales Person?

I just got another new connection on LinkedIn. No sooner had I sent a message of thanks to the person, I immediately got a reply trying to sell me a service. Really!!! That is how you present yourself? I equate this to walking up to a person on the street and saying “hi how are you”, and the person replies; “hey do I have a great product/service to sell you”. Meet the new door to door sales person! The nice thing is that on the internet, it is so much easier to slam the door on the person’s foot.

The door to door sales person has gone the way of all extinct species, so why is it that some of the most professional people think that it is OK to revive it in a social setting? Because one of us out of 1,000 relied and they made a sale. They believe if they send enough messages, something has to click regardless. They don’t stop to think that their batting average is .001; they just know they got a sale and ROI doesn’t factor in their evaluation of their investment. As long as they get one out of 1,000, they are happy.

If this is how you sell today, the new rules for emailing in the European Union will be bad news for you. General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) will be implemented on May 25, 2018. The European Union is bringing in extremely strict rules for email spamming and companies and individuals will be subject to significant fines:

  • a fine up to 10000000 EUR or up to 2% of the annual worldwide turnover of the preceding financial year in case of an enterprise, whichever is greater, where there has been an infringement of the following provisions (Article 83, Paragraph 4[18]):
    • the obligations of the controller and the processor pursuant to Articles 8, 11, 25 to 39 and 42 and 43,
    • the obligations of the certification body pursuant to Articles 42 and 43,
    • the obligations of the monitoring body pursuant to Article 41(4).
  • a fine up to 20000000 EUR or up to 4% of the annual worldwide turnover of the preceding financial year in case of an enterprise, whichever is greater, where there has been an infringement of the following provisions: (Article 83, Paragraph 5 & 6[18]).
    • the basic principles for processing, including conditions for consent, pursuant to Articles 5, 6, 7 and 9,
    • the data subjects’ rights pursuant to Articles 12 to 22,
    • the transfers of personal data to a recipient in a third country or an international organisation pursuant to Articles 44 to 49,
    • any obligations pursuant to Member State law adopted under Chapter IX,
    • non-compliance with an order or a temporary or definitive limitation on processing or the suspension of data flows by the supervisory authority pursuant to Article 58(2) or failure to provide access in violation of Article 58(1)

OK I know you are in North America and we don’t have those rules here. We will!! The more that people continue to send replies like the one I mentioned above, the more likely we are to get strict regulations. So, what should we be doing to ensure that when we want to sell our product the message will actually be heard? The following suggestions will help you in your efforts:

1. Create a Professional Image

In the same way that we dress for success, you need to create an online professional image that resonates with prospective customers. Be a person and create a relationship. When you walk into a prospective buyer’s office, you don’t walk in and act all stiff and business. You engage them, you begin a relationship and then at the right moment you get down to business. Do the same online, be a person, tell people who you are and something about you. Draw them in so that they will want to learn more about you.

2. Become Known as the Expert

In the new world of Social Buying companies are looking for people who are experts. Remember, they do not know you yet. The way to become relevant is to write articles about your industry and build your reputation as an expert. Don’t sell, become the knowledge broker. Be sure to share content as well. Re-share and Retweet articles about your industry and inform people. Buyers want to deal with experts and doing this will raise your profile.

3. Listen to the Customer

Go to your current customer web sites and prospective customer sites and see what they are saying and then develop content that speaks to their need. Once you have posted the content it will be seen and you will move up the food chain in their decision making.

4. Use Groups and Lists

Both LinkedIn and Twitter offer groups (LinkedIn) and lists (Twitter) to allow you to engage with people of similar interest. Join them and develop content to post there.

5. Research for Prospective Customers

Find prospective customers on various sites and make connections. Don’t sell! Look at their profiles and find something other than business you have in common to engage about. The same as you would do if meeting them in person for the first time. Build the relationship. They will ask you to engage on the business when they are comfortable doing so.

6. Monitor the Competition

What are they doing? Who are they connected to? Who is following them and who are they following? What articles are they posting? Get in front and make yourself known to the same audience.

These are a few tactics of many that can help you get the sale, but please don’t follow the door to door sales person technique, not if you want to build longevity into your career. One last tip; read up on GDPR and avoid problems by doing things right and now.

The Beatles Changed Their Business Model…. Will You?

I am a huge fan of The Beatles. From the first time I saw them on Ed Sullivan to this day, I regard them as the most inventive writers and musicians in rock/pop history. While I love the lyrics, melodies, harmonies and musicianship, they were far greater than the sum of those attributes. They were four people who loved music and created a soundtrack for our lives, but what is not generally recognized and appreciated is that all four of them were outstanding business people. Once they shed the yolk of Brian Epstein, they had to find a way, as newly minted entrepreneurs, to continue the success they had enjoyed over the years. Those later years were their most productive as they reinvented themselves as a band and as individuals.

As business people we can learn a lot from The Fab Four. The reason for longevity in any business is an ability to lead change and get there before the competition. From Rubber Soul and Revolver to Sergeant Pepper’s and on, they invented new sounds. Gone were the melodic sugar infused songs of the pop world to songs that engaged us as they described their and our lives. They told the rest of the music world, if you want to stay with us, you’re going to have to step up your game.

I am reminded of all of this, because business today is going through a disruptive and transformational change, as social activity infiltrates itself in our businesses. Like those early days of sweet pop music, how we engaged with our customers yesterday is becoming a dinosaur. Cold calling, emailing, networking events and trade shows have diminished significantly in their ability to get us business. Today Social Selling is the new music. It has reinvented the sales process and those who want to play the selling game the old way are being left behind.

Today decisions are being made and vendors are being sourced, based on a company’s ability to navigate the new world of Social Media. Today you need to build relationships (online), you need to become an expert (online), you need to be where your customers are (online). Those companies who support this new Social Selling Process, and support their sales team in learning how to use this process, are winning the sales game.

Like The Beatles, they are current and understand that there is a new way of thinking. The Sixties was a time of upheaval and protests etc. The Beatles saw that and created music and a persona that reflected that. By staying current they not only kept their following, but were able to bring new listeners who gravitated to the new sound.

If you are not gravitating to the new sound of selling, you will disappear like many of the other bands in the sixties that couldn’t keep pace with the new sound The Beatles created. Don’t let it happen. Step up your game and embrace Social Selling, invest in your sales team with Social Selling training. Use the money that you spend on PPC to do it. It is a much better investment and will keep you at the forefront of your industry, as The Beatles have done for six decades as a group and individually.

Is Your Social Selling Process Developmentally Delayed?

A Developmentally Delayed Social Selling organization is one that is missing an effective Social Selling System and as a result its management and employees are seriously impeded in their attempts to be productive and successful in today’s new social world. The organization typically faces a host of symptoms including:

  • over-defensiveness because sales direction and accountabilities are ambiguous;
  • increased revenue targets with no new tactics to achieve the increase;
  • fear of change in part because even the status quo is uncertain;
  • departmental silos and other forms of protectionism.

In a Developmentally Delayed Social Selling Organization, managers find themselves distracted from their necessary “30,000 foot” thinking, by having to spend their time trying to figure out how it is that the competition is beginning to get an edge. They run around barking out direction, identifying problems and getting people to perform processes that the organization has been doing for years. The absence of an effective Social Selling System is a major barrier to implementing organizational change required to compete in the new Social world. It is becoming a significant threat to organizations and their leaders, especially newly appointed CEOs who are trying to put their stamp and vision on their new host.

Leaders Need to Manage

Findings now are that organizations are more effective when leadership behavior (influencing the actions, motivation and priorities of people) is diffused throughout organizations when a Social Selling System that is part of the organization’s culture.

I believe that many organizational leaders, especially those recruited externally, presume that the sales organization they now lead, actually works. They assume that when they pronounce clear direction through a strategic plan, that the organization has the wherewithal to make it happen. But all too often, the organization is a Social Selling delayed organization. If you are facing challenges similar to the SSO symptoms listed at the beginning of this article, you might consider to what extent your organization is Social Selling Delayed, and whether you need to look into implementing a Social Selling System as quickly as possible. A Social Selling System needs to be part of your sales organization’s culture, and supported actively by you to make sure this happens.

CEOs ask me whether they really need to do this. The answer is “yes” you do have to do this – this is part of the leader’s role. Consider that your personal success as the CEO is dependent on your knowledge and skill at translating your intentions into reality. You need to know enough to judge the effectiveness of the Social Selling System and assess its adherence and use by your direct subordinates. And of course, you need to use it to manage your own direct reports, which includes the head of all departments. If you’re the CEO or President, that is your job.

Summary

I recommend to both the current and incoming Leaders of all organizations to ensure that your organization has an effective, Social Selling System.

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