Category Archives for "Social Selling"

Unfreeze/Refreeze: A Simple Change Model for Social Selling

The unfreeze/refreeze model is one of the simplest models for understanding organizational or social change. Kurt Lewin developed it; a physicist turned social scientist. Because of his professional background, he used physical science analogies to help explain social phenomena.

His analogy deals with changing the shape of a block of ice. Say your brother-in-law has a large cube-shaped block of ice. He brought it home with the intention of making a round tire-shaped ring of ice with cherries in it to float in a big punch bowl. You tell him, “Hey, that’s no good, it’s the wrong shape.” So, now he wants to change the shape.

If he attempts to force the ice into a round ring, he’s not going to have much success. He can squeeze it as much as he wants, or pound it with a hammer. Most likely it will shatter. If he tries to use force to make the change, it will be resisted. Why? Because that block of ice is a system made up of interrelated H2O crystals in a latticework that will resist being changed. So, what can he do to make the frozen H2O more receptive to a change in shape? Obviously, he can make it liquid. He melts it in a large pan on the stove and it ends up as a great big puddle of water. At least now, it is in a form that is amenable to change. But the shape he wants it to be in is a round ring. So, he pours the liquid water into a circular mold. It’s still the same chemical compound as it was when it was ice, but now it has a new shape. Unfortunately, it won’t hold this shape. If he picks it up (as your crazy brother-in-law might do), it will pour all over the floor. In order to make it keep its new shape, he refreezes it. He adds cherries to it and puts it in the freezer. After he refreezes it, he can take it out and plop it into his punch bowl. He has successfully converted a cube of H2O into a tire-shaped ring of ice with cherries around its circumference.

The three stages he went through are unfreezing, change and refreezing. You can use the same three stages to describe any change in an organization, and especially a social change. The problem is, in an organization, we often forget one of the three steps. Typically, we forget Step One, or Step Three. We remember Step Two — we make the change — but we are never successful because there are three stages to consider, not one.

Step One: Unfreezing

How do you unfreeze a sales organization so that it will accept change? In other words, how do you make the sales selling system receptive to change? How can the sales selling system be made to want to change if you are trying to install for example, a Social Selling program? The first thing you have to do is make the sales organization receptive to change, otherwise your sales organization, like that block of ice, will naturally resist change.

One strategy is focus on an area where there is already some feeling that things aren’t working out right, that is, to go where the hurt is. That where it will be more likely that change will be accepted. Another way of putting it is, “People gotta wanna change,” or there will be this natural resistance. Then go beyond it. Go not only to where the hurt is, but also to where the hurt should be felt, but may not be. What can you do to make your sales people recognize the need for change where it ought to be recognized? How can you get your sales people to see that there is something wrong, that there is need for change?

The Unfreezing Process

Let’s take a look at today’s sales situation. Today cold calling, spamming emails, unannounced sales calls and networking are ignored and distained. Companies are not providing their sales teams with the tools, know how and training to deal with this whole new world. So how do we unfreeze the current process?

Feeding back sales people’s opinions is one good way to begin the unfreezing process. The feedback technique makes the organization aware that there are problems, that people are upset, that morale is low, or that work attitudes and performance are not what they ought to be. That’s a form of unfreezing.

In a company, you could set up a committee to investigate a problem, to see if they can get enough data to unfreeze the organization. Or you could use a consultant to do the job.

Unfreezing is often missed in training programs, and particularly in sales training. People are simply sent to courses, but they don’t see any need to change and so unfreezing does not occur. They are not receptive to learning. Someone else is simply telling them that they should change their ways, but they don’t see any need to do so. Part of the problem is that the person may perceive the training program as focusing on changing her or him. In this person’s view, someone is saying, you have been doing the job wrong and you have to change.” Naturally, there is resistance. It is preferable by far, when the person sees it as an opportunity to learn new skills, to improve himself or herself or to do the job even better.

Management training often misses the mark because the person who is to learn new skills, or the organization that is to learn new skills wasn’t unfrozen. Some effort must be made to put the organization or individual in a state more receptive to change. They gotta wanna change.

Step Two: Making the Change

In Step 2 you actually make the change. You propose the solution to the problem (a Social Selling System) that you may have identified or highlighted in Step 1. Then you get people doing it. You start your diet. You learn new skills. You make the change. Installing this change is the subject of Step 3.

Step Three: Refreezing

This step is often missed. We get an employee to change his or her work habits, but then don’t refreeze that change. We put in a new Social Selling system in an organization, but we don’t refreeze the change. If we don’t refreeze, the change is likely to be temporary.

What’s refreezing? We have to do something to the system or the organization so that the change becomes a permanent part of its operation. We refroze the water so that it would hold its shape permanently. You have to do the same thing in an organization. Just because the change happened once doesn’t mean it will continually happen or that it will maintain itself. You’ve got to cement the change into the sales organization’s culture — into the way things are done in the sales organization.

As an example: once we have established a new Social Selling Process, we need to inspect. That means that we set expectations for each person:

  • Establishing a new online profile
  • Developing content for sharing
  • Monitoring what the competition is doing
  • Joining groups (LinkedIn) and lists (Twitter) and posting relevant content.
  • Mining new potential customers by using search tools.

There are other expectations that need to be developed as well, but once they have been set, just like any other objectives we need to monitor them to ensure that the refreezing sets.

This step is usually missed in management training programs. We teach people skills; we hope they will use them back on the job but we don’t build the use of these skills into the standard operating procedures of the sales organization. Suppose your organization wanted to implement Affirmative Action. How do you make the basic concepts and practices of Affirmative Action a permanent part of the organization’s work patterns? If you have a zero defects manufacturing program that you want to implement in your manufacturing plant, how do you make that change of focus in production a permanent part of the way things are done? By refreezing.

Guidelines for Change

The strength of the unfreeze, change, refreeze model is in its simplicity. I think it gives very clear guidelines for implementing change. You’ve got to go through all three stages. Some stages may be very quick. You may go through the unfreezing stage almost instantaneously with somebody by saying, “Unless you change, you lose your job.” That may put the person into a state rather quickly of wanting to accept change, but it is still a stage and it can’t be missed.

You have to get the sales organization receptive to change. People must see that there is a need for change. Then you make the change. Once it’s done, do something to build it in as a permanent part of the organization. With skill training, where employees learn specific skills to use on the job, refreezing can happen simply because the employee uses the skills. The feedback the employee gets is that the skills work. The results are positive and the employee is more likely to continue using his or her new skills because they have been reinforced. That is why quick successful use of skills after a training program helps to refreeze change into the individual’s personal practices.

Ensuring Sales Organizational Success and Progress

A critical responsibility of today’s CEO is to improve his or her sales organization’s ability to progress – i.e. the ability to implement change successfully. However, most of the barriers to successful sales organizational change and implementation are corporate characteristics. Rather than focusing on personal issues such as leadership style, the CEO needs to ensure that the capacity to change is built into the fabric of the sales organization, so that progress becomes a sales organization trait and an asset, and not dependent upon individual personalities.

All sales organizations change. New employees join and others leave, technology changes, clients change, the people themselves change, and the services or products tend to change. But not all sales organizations progress.

Progress means a purposeful planned change towards desired goals or objectives. A sales organization progresses if it heads in the right direction and its intentions become reality.

But your sales organization will progress only if both its plans for progress are good and these plans are successfully implemented. Your initiatives for change or what you want to have happen are obviously critical for progress. High quality plans usually head you in the right direction and poor plans will likely set you back or even ruin the venture.

But the more important factor determining your sales organization’s progress is its ability to implement change, whether or not the plans for change are of high quality. In fact, the quality of a plan or an initiative is only hypothetical until it is implemented. So faulty implementation can brand even your best plans as poor.

As a consequence, sales organizational leaders must devote as much attention “to the nitty-gritty of execution” as they do to creating plans and initiatives, if they ever hope to see their sales organizations progress.
It has been observed that “Even in the best run companies, it is too easy to feel that the work is done when the Big Idea is hatched.” For example, the return realized from the time and money you invest in strategic planning or new product development is ultimately determined by your sales organization’s being able to implement the strategic plan or successfully market the product.

This is critically important in the new world of Social Selling. If you want your sales organization to progress and implement successful change, you the CEO must ensure that your corporate characteristics support it.

Social Selling is the new world of sales. Companies are 57% of the way through a buying decisions process before you become aware of it. Companies have researched vendors prior to engaging with them in the buying process.

It doesn’t matter if you agree or do not, this is the new reality, and if you want a successful sales process and the ability to achieve your corporate revenue targets, you need to ensure the following:

  • You need to build the fabric for change into your sales process.
  • You need a high-quality plan to develop a Social Selling process.
  • You need to create an environment for successful Social Change implementation.
  • You need a plan and a process to follow up on the execution of the new plan.

Social Selling is here to stay. As mentioned above, your customers are already actively using Social in their buying process. They do not answer cold calls, reply to spamming emails and have gatekeepers guarding their doors. Ask your sales team to continue to do these things and you the CEO are impeding the sales team ability to deliver on the objectives you have set for them.

Social will not replace your sales force, but will give them the ability to do the following:

  • Build relationships with new and current customers.
  • Become educators and called upon for their industry knowledge.
  • Get to the finish line ahead of the competition.
  • Involve the entire company in the sales process.
  • Get the face to face meetings they need to build your business.

There are many more benefits, but to be sure if you do not move in this direction, you will find that year after year the same old will get you less.

Sales organizational change needs to become the usual, rather than the exception. Sales organizational leaders are no longer captains of slow moving ocean liners but pilots of combat jets, with the need to change direction continuously, both as a reaction to the chaos in the Social environment and as a planned strategy to survive.

Executive edicts, visioning and communication won’t bring about successful organizational change and progress. Change has to be “managed” to make it happen. “Attention to detail” and “gentle relentless pressure” aren’t attitudes familiar to many leaders, but they’re requirements for shepherding change into an organization.

Fix the System, Not the Sales People

Introduction

Organizational leaders ranging from military commanders 4000 years ago to the leaders of today’s corporations – commercial, government, even professional sports organizations – learned that the cardinal advantage of an organization is that success for the organization can come from a group of average, competent people working together, and not necessarily from a collection of harder-to-find experts. In fact, the world’s best are often not successful working in an organization. Being able to work as a contributing member of a team, with personal skills that improve over time and guided by effective processes and procedures (structure), are more likely the determinants of success – than any individual’s superior skill-set and knowledge.

I have worked with a number of companies and their sales teams over the years. This age-old lesson has been ignored by companies, who promote a politically correct but largely unsupported thesis that success in organizations comes from selecting only the best people possible and weeding out the less than exemplary, as if to purify a gene pool. They rank sales employees and dismiss the bottom level; using an array of tests and measures with questionable validity.

The facts and experience show that this philosophy isn’t very successful in strengthening organizational performance. Many times, the results are the opposite.

Don’t The Best Organizations Have the Best People?

The assumption is that quality organizations require quality people, and so leaders should make sure that only top-notch skillful people are recruited, selected and placed in the organization. Great people will produce great results, and especially when they feel engaged and have the freedom to perform. The flaw in this strategy is that it overemphasizes the personal influence of individuals over the culture and design of the organization.

Today as I continue to work with companies and their sales teams, I am stuck by the desire of the sales team to be successful. They want to deliver the revenue objectives that the company has set, however they are handcuffed by the fact that the world of sales is changing constantly. The sales world today is one of social selling, but leadership is not in tune with the changes and therefore can’t understand it when sales continue to stagnate or decline. Management’s expectation is that what worked previously will continue to be the method that will solve today’s problems. Well, if you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got!

It’s Not the Sales Team

Smart, skillful, “qualified,” eager-to-please sales teams are of course very beneficial to an organization, but they’re of little value to the organization if they are handcuffed to the usual cold calling, email spamming and unannounced sales calls.

Clear, unambiguous, timely, appropriate direction is critical, but also of little value if it’s not changing to accommodate the new world of Social Selling. If the direction they are given is inappropriate, incorrect or unacceptable, then corrections must be implemented quickly or the organization is spending resources to go in the wrong direction to deliver the same or failing results.

Let’s assume the following:

  1. You have a good sales team however;
  • Good performance is not going to continue if your sales team doesn’t have the right tools to do the job in the new world of Social Selling.
  • Good performance is not going to continue if your sales team doesn’t know how to do the job in the new Social Selling environment.
  • Good performance is not going to continue if your sales team doesn’t understand why they have to change in the new world of Social Selling.
  • Good performance is not going to continue if your sales team doesn’t understand what they have to do to be successful the in the new world of Social Selling.

In order for your sales team to optimize their selling process, the organization’s top leadership also needs to be ensuring that the “sales organization” works; that the required processes /systems /procedures /tools are in place (that the machine is properly designed and constructed) so that sales team can run it. Like a poorly designed or broken car, it still won’t work properly no matter how skillful the driver is without the proper process.

Today your company needs a Social Selling Process. Social Media is the name of the game. It is a fact that buying decisions are already 57% of the way down the road before your sales team ever hears about them. It is a fact that 75% of vendors have been vetted through internet research. If you expect your sales team to be effective using the tried and true, they are bound to fail because your sales process no longer works!

How many cold calls have you answered recently? How many spamming emails do you get that make you angry? When was the last time you stopped by a potential customers office unannounced and were able to get past the gatekeeper?

A good Social Selling Process gets your sales team around all of those situations. It helps them create relationships with prospective and current customers. It helps them become educators so that when a company is looking for the expert, they come to your company. It makes them a part of the 75% of vendors being considered.

Quit treating symptoms and get to the root of the problem. The problem is not your sales team, it is your antiquated sales system. Your people have the ability, they do not have to be superstars, they just need the support mentioned above to take them to the next level. Help them become the sales team they envision of themselves.

Great Systems are More Important than Great People

For the CEO who thinks that the individual skills of the officers and the troops were the reason for their success — that’s rarely ever the case. It’s the processes of the organization, resources and the discipline of the army that usually wins the war.

Publications on diagnosing employee performance problems emphasize that correcting the system (that generates performance problems) is the successful route to resolution and problem prevention; rather than blaming the individuals involved.

Conclusion

CEO’s miss the opportunity to strengthen and improve their sales organizations when they focus too much on addressing day-to-day employee performance problems. Instead, the 30,000 foot perspective of the senior executive requires him or her to develop and implement a Social Selling System into the operations of the organization to prevent continued sales stagnation.

Timing Is Everything Baby

As a musician I have learned that timing is everything. As a drummer, I have learned that without the foundation of the bass and drums together for the other musicians to lean on, there can be chaos very quickly.

Timing is so critical in many areas of our lives and business. When I think of timing as it applies to business, it has become even more critical in the new world of social media. The world is moving faster than ever and without good timing you can very quickly be left behind.

Today 57% of buying decisions are completed before we are aware of them. 75% of vendors have been researched by interested companies as a part of their due diligence. So without good timing how do you get involved in the process.

I suggest the following:

  1. Get a good social presence. Update your LinkedIn profile and develop it not to sell someone, but to tell them who you really are. You want to develop a relationship.
  2. Become an expert. You need to write articles and blogs and don’t sell people, just write on the subject at hand and educate. Once seen as an expert, people will explore your profile.
  3. Be active. This is not a once a month activity. You go to work everyday because that is how you build your business. Now you need to make social activity a part of the work day. If you think you don’t have the time, make it! This is an integral part of building your presence and if you don’t do it, the competition will.
  4. When you get inbound reply don’t just ignore it. Thank people for their comments, likes etc.

There is a great deal more to do, but this will give you a good start. The bottom line is this; timing is everything and if you are not online and involved in social your time is up.

Tony Chapman Is Right

I was reading a great post by Tony Chapman today regarding the current state of online shopping and how it is impacting the traditional brick and mortar stores. As an introduction, if you don’t know Tony, he was the CEO of Communique – Capital C and is a world renowned speaker and regarded as one of, if not the most knowledgeable marketers in Canada.

Tony’s comments resonated with me because I can remember the good old days when you shopped at the local corner store for everything. Yes, I am showing my age. Then came the malls and people deserted the local stores, then came Big Box and the demise of traditional retailing was further eroded.

Tony commented that social selling today is now eroding all brick and mortar. To quote him; “Retailers are no longer in control of the game. Consumers are: Treating their phones like the world’s largest vending machine. Gaming the system through apps that inform them of their best deals. Demanding that conventional retailers match these deals.”

While I have empathy for his justifiable concern, the horse is out of the barn. And so, I draw a comparison to how we try and sell today. In the day, we used cold calling and personal visits to build our business. With the advent of email, we began to supplement the preceding with email requests. Like the local stores, malls, etc. those methods have also gone the way of the DoDo bird.

I know many readers will take exception with my comments, but they like many of the retailers that have gone belly up in the last few years, cannot see the forest for the trees. Social is here to stay and if you want to be successful in todays world of social media, you need to upgrade. What do I mean by upgrading?

  1. Get a good social presence. Update your LinkedIn profile and develop it not to sell someone, but to tell them who you really are. You want to develop a relationship.
  2. Become an expert. You need to write articles and blogs and don’t sell people, just write on the subject at hand and educate. Once seen as an expert, people will explore your profile.
  3. Be active. This is not a once a month activity. You go to work everyday because that is how you build your business. Now you need to make social activity a part of the work day. If you think you don’t have the time, make it! This is an integral part of building your presence and if you don’t do it, the competition will.
  4. When you get inbound reply don’t just ignore it. Thank people for their comments, likes etc.

Tony’s comments about retail should be a sounding bell for every person who is in sales today. Social will not eliminate your job, it can only help you grow your sales channel if used effectively. If you choose to ignore it you will lose your job, not through elimination, but to someone who understands and embraces social. We will always need face to face sales. It is how we get to the face to face that will matter.

Zig Ziglar Was Right

“You can get everything in life you want if you just help enough other people get what they want.” Zig Ziglar said this many years ago and oh how it applies in todays social media environment.

In todays world of “What’s in it for me”, we have forgotten that it is about people. I am so sick of all the unwanted emails and cold calls I get trying to sell me something. When I connect with some people on LinkedIn I immediately get a message trying to sell me something. On Twitter, I get replies from Followers that try to sell me before they even know me. In both of these cases I guarantee that they have even looked at my profile. If they did, they would be embarrassed to send me the sales pitches they do.

People buy from people. People build relationships with people. People that are successful understand the value of relationships, and they understand that getting to know a person and understand what they need rather than assume what they need is how strong relationships and partnerships are built.

Ziglar said: “help other people get what they want”, not what you want.

For all of you Spammers out there, and yes whether you use LinkedIn, Twitter, Email or Cold Calls, you are Spammers, here are a few tips:

  1. Get a good social presence. Update your LinkedIn profile and develop it not to sell someone, but to tell them who you really are. You want to develop a relationship.
  2. Become an expert. You need to write articles and blogs and don’t sell people, just write on the subject at hand and educate. Once seen as an expert, people will explore your profile.
  3. Be active. This is not a once a month activity. You go to work everyday because that is how you build your business. Now you need to make social activity a part of the work day. If you think you don’t have the time, make it! This is an integral part of building your presence and if you don’t do it, the competition will.
  4. When you get inbound reply don’t just ignore it. Thank people for their comments, likes etc.
  5. Quit spamming!

If you do this, we can have a relationship and perhaps I will buy from you. Thinks first about how you can help others, not sell them, work hard at social and you will get more business than you ever imagined.

Kafka the Visionary

Many years ago, I read the book The Trial by Franz Kafka. During 1914, Kafka began the novel which was the story of a man arrested and prosecuted by a remote, inaccessible authority, with the nature of his crime revealed neither to him nor to the reader. The book tells of how the society Kafka lived in was one where the authority knew of his every move.

When I look at our society today and the various tracking tools that various companies use to track most everything we do if we are active, it reminds me of the novel. So why I am I drawing this comparison.

It reminds me of the present day social selling process. Today 57% of decisions are made prior to us finding out about them. In addition, 75% of buyers do their vendor research on line before they make decisions. The information highway is changing the way business is done.

Are you present and visible to the people looking for your product and service? Do you have an online profile that provides them with a picture that creates inbound interest in you? Are you seen as an information expert in your area of business? Are you working at creating relationships online so that when decisions are to be made the contact talks with you first?

If you are not doing any of this and more, you will not survive in the social world. While you may shy away from social because you are afraid of how much people or companies may know about you, you do it at your own peril. If you want your business to prosper and grow, you need to be there blemishes or not.

Kafka was a true visionary without the knowledge of our 21st century.

Get Social or Say Goodbye

Using social media to deliver great customer service is no longer an option — it’s a must. Twitter reports that customer service interactions on social have jumped 250 percent in the past two years. Two-thirds of consumers are already using Twitter or Facebook for customer service. By 2020, Gartner predicts that 90 percent of brands will rely on social media in some capacity to manage their customer experience (CX) efforts.

Given the previous paragraph, what are you doing to enhance your social presence? Can you afford to keep saying I’ll wait to see what happens? Are you willing to let your competitor(s) get there first?
This isn’t a case of being a first adopter anymore, trust me, your competitors are out there doing this. Social is here to stay. Don’t think that this is just a role for marketing either, it is a role that every person in your company can and should play. Also, don’t try and do it yourself, if you had the people capable of implementing it, you would be doing this already.

Exponential Sales can help you get started, we have the experience and “World Class” partners Digital Leadership Associates to support you and help you take your business to the next level.

Spammers…. Please Knock It Off!!!

If you are like me you get and hate the number of spamming emails, messages and InMails that come with the new digital age. The digital world has opened up a whole new world for lazy people. They can sit at home or in their offices and inundate us with products or services we have no intention of buying or needing. What they are really doing is driving people away and souring people on the benefit of the digital age.
I call them lazy and they are, because doing anything properly requires hard work, not mindlessly sending out garbage.

Building an online presence and business is about relationships. Remember those? We take the time to educate people about the things we are experts at. We provide them with knowledge about a product category, service industry or process and create credibility for ourselves as experts.

Today people shop for products and services online and are smart enough to make their own decisions. They look at what other people recommend, they look for referrals, they want the best and they want to know what the experts think. Once they have their research done, they then get down to deciding who will be the person or company they want to deal with. They may find more than one and have to make a decision.

The one thing they do not do is respond to spamming. They put in hard work to get to a decision. The people they choose to do business with have put in hard work to inform and be perceived as experts so that they will be noticed. Spamming is not hard work, it is laziness.

Quit spamming and get to work!

Find Continuous Improvement Through Social

I was watching an episode of Sunday Morning this weekend and they had an article about Japanese Whisky. Although Japanese whisky is not top of mind here, it seems that they have developed a wonderful product and one that is winning awards around the world.

The one thing that stood out to me in the piece was the fact that they are not satisfied with their formula. The lessons taught by Demming of continuous improvement are being applied to their whisky making. Unlike the rest of the world that is happy with their century old formulas, the Japanese are applying the continuous improvement process to their whisky making.

If you are unfamiliar with Demming’s process of continuous improvement it is described as; an ongoing effort to improve products, services, or processes. These efforts can seek “incremental” improvement over time or “breakthrough” improvement all at once.

As I watched the show, I began to think about the sales process today and how the development of social media has provided the opportunity to enhance the traditional selling process. While many companies continue to do things the old way (cold calls, emails, drop in visits) and get the same results, enlightened companies are embracing the various types of social media to develop a continuous improvement process for their sales teams.

Contrary to some opinion, social doesn’t replace the sales force. It makes the sales force more effective by providing them with the opportunity to better qualify leads and make contacts more productive.
If you are a CEO and want your company to grow, you have likely already applied continuous improvement to many areas of your business. Take the next step and create a social continuous improvement strategy for your sales and marketing teams that will take your business to a breakthrough year.