“…I know this is a hard leadership decision, because we are trying to help you evolve from the leaders of sellers to the leader of selling but, we all still have people, and those people have meant a lot to our organisations. The best things we can do for that organisation is to help them evolve and to quickly identify the ones who can’t. I’m sorry to make that sound heartless but our job is to prepare for what’s coming so, part of your scenario planning would serve your team best if you addressed how to support the people who will make the shift and the ones who won’t…”.

Maria Boulden, Vice President, Executive Partner, Sales at Gartner. This was her closing comment at the ‘Post Pandemic Scenario Planning for Sales Leaders’ webinar last week.

She added that this was “a reality…”.

Its been ringing around in my head all weekend…

Maria talked about how important it is that we reshape our Sales Motions to work with modern Buying Motions.

You may have tweaked your Sales Motions over the years. Perhaps you read a book or attended a course in the ‘new thing’ and moulded it into your own version and style that suited your business.

When I first moved into B2B sales, I was trained in the Miller Heiman process and methodology Professional Selling Skills and Strategic Selling. Some of you may remember the ‘Blue sheets…’? I used it for quite a while and an put it to good use but I found over time it began to feel old, so I looked for something new.

Since then there have been hundreds of Sales methodologies developed, some target specific areas sales some examine the whole Sales piece, you might recognise some of these...

  • Relationship Selling : such as business-to-business selling.
  • SPIN: an approach for Relationship selling
  • Customer Centred Selling: similar to SPIN
  • System Selling: Selling systems to systems.
  • High Probability Selling: Targeting the best customers.
  • Buying Facilitation: Facilitate the buyer's system.
  • Gap selling: Challenging assumptions and exposing the problem
  • The Challenger Sale: Making clients really think.

Nobody is saying you have to throw all of this away, but to get to the point where you can use any or all of this in the 2020’s your team have to become expert in Social Selling, also know as Virtual or Digital selling.

There are many people producing content about the need for a shift to Social Selling but most skirt around the main issues.

We all know that we need to be on Social but convince ourselves that we are already doing a great job. Regularly we hear "we are killing it on Social", "Marketing looks after it and posts on LinkedIn once or twice a week" and "We are nailing Social Media, our Salespeople are all over it"

Let’s dive deeper into these…

"we are killing it on Social, Marketing does it all and posts on LinkedIn at least once or twice a week".

This statement shows you are far behind in so many ways:

1. People buy from people, not companies and not "Marketing" your Sales team must be forging relationships, creating conversations and influencing their accounts. Getting somebody else to put out content actually harms your cause.

2. The question we often ask is "how invisible to your clients do you want to be?" Your buyers are all online, they are consuming content, if it isn't yours, it's your competitors. If you are only putting out content once per week, you are invisible for around 25 days per month.

3. It's not authentic. People buy from people, your sales team should be taking the lead and owning their territory. I was always told by my Sales Leaders that "you are the Managing Director" of your territory. Your territory and your buyers are digital, when are you going to seize control. 

4. In a world that is transparent, I can see how poor you are on Social, just by looking at your profiles.

Your profiles should be working at a biological, psychological level and providing digital optimisation for you and your business…simply dressing them up doesn’t achieve this.

"we have nailed Social; our salespeople are all over it"

1. In presentations, it's always great to find out who your named accounts are and then bring up sales navigator and demonstrate how few relationships your business has in those "tier one" accounts. Always worth watching people fidget when we do the same for the competition.

2. This is a common defence mechanism used when people either don’t know what they are doing, think they know what they are doing or are covering up that they have no clue – nobody expects you to be expert in this without training and coaching. Its not a fad, it’s the next evolution of the craft...

In my daily work I speak to a lot of leaders, mainly from SME’s. One common theme that comes up is the preconception that Social Selling is really for large businesses – Social Selling is absolutely for small business as it allows you to scale. Social Media closes the distance between buyers and sellers regardless of your size or industry. 

Social Selling isn't a quick-fix, flash-bang, short-term solution. This evolution of our trade requires a mindset shift, a definite alteration of our habits and behaviour. It’s all change for our internal language around Sales and Marketing, all change for our metrics and the very fabric of the way we work.

Social Selling needs patience and commitment. Its not the single-minded pursuit of that Purchase Order. Our buyers are smart so we must be smarter, they have powered up so we must power up.

This is all about building influence. Providing relevant content and insight to your prospects and customers. 

We can sit and wait for things to go back to how they were, or we can develop our Social Media Strategy, train the team, change the language, and build Digital Dominance in our chosen markets and sectors.

Live Social ‘21

Eric Doyle

Crux / DLA Ignite