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?

Are You Fighting the Competition or Indifference?

The world today is one of busyness. There isn’t one person reading this article that isn’t being pulled in many different directions and unfortunately you only have so much time and attention to give. So, what does get your attention? When someone can provide you with the famous; “What’s in It for Me?” If someone can show you that they are listening to you and can provide you with what you need, then you are more likely to listen.

Unfortunately, today, too many companies are not giving their customers a reason to listen, and therefore the customer is listening, but not hearing.

If you are doing this, your biggest competitor is not the company selling the same product or service, it is you and your indifference to your potential customer.

Too many companies forget to talk to the prospective customer and determine what their needs are, because they are too busy tooting their own horn. They talk about their company and how good it is, and instead of speaking the potential customers language, they use their own.

While the customer is thinking me, me, me, the company unfortunately is thinking me, me ,me, as well. Alas there is no connection.

Your business success will come once you learn that the customer is only interested in themselves. Cut through the clutter before the competition does. Replace your indifference with listening.

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!

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!

Don’t Tolerate Unacceptable Work

One of the most egregious mistakes a manager can make is to tolerate unacceptable work from employees. It is, in fact, a predictor of organizational failure and a serious abdication of management responsibility.

Whether they are insecure, intimidated, lazy or demoralized themselves, when managers choose to “look the other way” they hurt everyone. Not only does the work not get done but also “unacceptable work” becomes the de facto acceptable performance standard. When rules and procedures are not consistently enforced, employees are unfairly driven to ask themselves “Is this one of the rules we have to follow, or is this one of the rules we don’t have to follow?” As a consequence, conflicts arise and productivity and morale plummet.

Good performing employees feel betrayed and cheated by the organization when they have to make up for those who are permitted to avoid their responsibilities. New employees wonder what the benefits are of trying hard to do their jobs correctly, while the experienced old-timers teach the others that good work doesn’t count.

Employer: Tolerating less than acceptable work is a slippery slope to disaster. Be aware of what your people are doing and if they go off track, learn how to step in with appropriate assistance as soon as you can. Rules, procedures and performance standards are there to be followed so that your employees can succeed in their jobs; they are the measures of job success for your employees. If some rules and standards are not appropriate or ineffective, change them or eliminate them. But if you do have standards of performance and job behavior, following them can’t be optional.

New Employee: You can’t tolerate unacceptable work from yourself either. Try hard to find out what your new supervisor expects from you. Be willing to ask where you can improve. What are your supervisor’s measures of success for someone in your job?

Don’t let others persuade you to coast or to goof off. You’ll find that job satisfaction really comes from knowing that you’ve done your job well.

CEO’s – Who’s in Charge of Your Companies Performance Management System?

You have just been appointed the CEO of your company; is your company broken, does it work? Did your predecessor leave you with a well-oiled machine or did you inherit a broken engine with missing parts?

If that is the case, you now face an abundance of organizational problems: little internal cooperation, poor follow through on assignments, resistance to change, low morale, overall poor organizational performance, and lackluster or little support to implement your new policies and plans.

Your new biggest challenge will be your greatest asset; your employees and management team. In order to overcome the existing situation, you will need to ensure that they are all on the same page as you so that you can manage them and implement your vision for the company. Without their support, your plan is destined to fail.

To avoid the forgoing situation, you need to ensure that your organization has a working and effective Performance Management System. Regardless of the size of your company (corporation or local gift shop), you need to ensure that the following three questions are answered to ensure that all employees at every level understand what they are responsible for and that they also recognize that you as their leader are there to ensure their success.

1) “What is my organization doing to ensure that everyone (top to bottom) knows what to do, why they are to do it, and how to do it?”

You need evidence that this Fundamental Requirement is being carried out. In particular, how is this Requirement assured? What’s the proof that this happens? If processes are not in place to ensure that this happens, something has to be done right away, or you’ll be trapped in the present and unable to articulate and communicate your plans to everyone who must know.

Many different tools or forms should be used to give direction. The Job Description is only the most common document in a much larger list of activities, procedures, concepts, processes and forms. The key would be that your organization clearly knows the reason why these directional tools and processes are being implemented, i.e. to ensure that everyone knows what to do, why they are to do it, and how to do it.

Why is this so important to the Organization Leader? Because, to revisit the previous scenario about the challenges facing a new Leader, the intentions of the Leader’s strategic plan, policy, philosophy or change initiatives must become translated into the job activities of all appropriate members of the organization. Otherwise their behavior may become inconsistent with the plan and more likely contrary to the required actions.

2) “What is my organization doing to ensure that everyone (top to bottom) receives support to make them successful in their respective jobs?”

You need evidence of this as well. More importantly, do your management understand that their role is to support their subordinates and to make them all successful? That should be your performance expectation of all your managers. Because even if your plans and ideas are clearly known and supported by all the organization, if your people can’t get it done because of a lack of ability or motivation, you will have failed again. As with the resolution of Question 1, there are a great many skills, programs and processes that managers can use to support their members and strengthen their abilities and motivation. However, this is an area where fads flourish so the organization needs to realize that the test for experimenting with any new management concept is whether it contributes to the members’ success in their jobs. The new concept cannot be just for entertainment or because the company down the street is doing it.

Why is the success of individual employees personally important to the Organization’s Leader? Because individual job success reaffirms the positive value and benefit of the Leader and the Leader’s plans, and increases each member’s support for the change. Failure does the opposite and wastes resources.

3) “What is my organization doing to ensure that everyone (top to bottom) follows through and is accountable for meeting his or her performance expectations and obligations?”

You need to find out what processes are actively used to keep people accountable and motivated to follow through with their responsibilities. This would include regular follow up and review meetings where managers and their direct reports jointly review the person’s progress in the job.

Surely having your people do what their position requires is the point of the whole exercise. If they don’t, why are you wasting your time, and why does the organization need you? The first Fundamental Requirement tells you, as the Organizational Leader, that you need to make it clear that you expect everyone to follow through with their job responsibilities. That’s part of their direction. The second Fundamental Requirement focuses your attention on making sure that everyone can perform successfully. And the third Fundamental Requirement closes the loop and brings closure to both your need to know that the organization and its members are on track, and each individual’s need to know that he or she has been successful and is a valuable member of the organization.

The importance to the Leader of accountability and follow through is that it proves the value of the Leader’s plans. Lack of follow through by any member reduces the perceived (and actual) value and success of the Leader’s plans and diminishes executive credibility.

Although this example above is about being a new Leader in an organization, the same questioning applies for any manager stepping into a new leadership position in any company, industry or organization, as well as for any entrepreneurs planning to start their own businesses. The three Fundamental Requirements must be in place or you and your organization will fail and all your plans and ambitions will stop, possibly never to return.

The three Fundamental Requirements for Managing Organizations have less to do with what individual managers do, as they do about what the organization needs to be designed to ensure happens. In organizations, management practices need to be a characteristic or a system of the organization, rather than just the skill set of individual managers. All three Fundamental Requirements need to be reflected in the organization’s culture and become operational through a Performance Management System and thereby an asset of the organization.

The three Fundamental Requirements are individually and jointly required for successful management. Since they all relate to directing, supporting and ensuring the required behavior of people, they are the Fundamental Requirements not only for the management of individual members of an organization but also for the management of the organization’s culture and the management of organizational change. As a result, these three Fundamental Requirements along with a Performance Management System are essential components of the job of an Organizational Leader.

Who’s in Charge?

Thank you to my Performance Management Mentor, Dr. Bob Kent, for being my inspiration to spread the word about Simple, Sensible Management.

CEO’s – It is Your Responsibility to Ensure All Employees Know: What, How and Why to Do Their Jobs

You have a group of highly dedicated employees and your management team is the best you have ever worked with. Why is it then that there seems to be so much chaos in the company? Your perception is that certain people are responsible for certain projects, but the reality is you see overlapping responsibilities and everyone waiting for the other person to complete projects.

Well welcome to a world that unfortunately exists in too many businesses. Whether you like it or not, tools and resources such as; expectations, policies, procedures, priorities, job descriptions, goals, performance standards, and performance factors exist, because without you being in charge, your employees will determine all of the above. The problem is that each employee will interpret them in their own way, or each manager will provide their interpretation with their direct reports. If you have six managers, you now have six different ways to implement the above tools and resources.

If you do not have defined job descriptions for each role, the employees will create one by assuming what you want done. If you do not establish, define and communicate goals, your employees will establish their own. If you do not establish policies, your employees and managers will establish their own.

Who’s in Charge? You are and you can’t wish away or ignore any of these company needs, because you need to ensure they are all clarified with all of your employees. You have no choice if you want a smooth-running machine and the ability to achieve your company vision.

If you do not take charge, someone else will. As leaders, we are there to delegate not abdicate our responsibilities. We’re in charge. If you don’t fill in all of the gaps, then you run the risk that what your employees presume you expect (in good faith) will be off the mark. This leads to performance problems, unfairness in the application of tools and resources and workplace unrest.

Who’s in Charge? You are and it is your responsibility to prevent an unhappy workplace by taking the time to ensure that performance expectations are clear and specific.

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