Does having somebody in your company that has “social selling” in their job title, mean that you are a social selling business?

No, of course it doesn't.

It shows you have a problem in your company and have decided to paper over the cracks.  

To quote Dr. McCoy from Star Trek "It's Worse Than That.... "

The other problem is that everything on social media is transparent, which means that everybody can see you have a problem, that you don't understand social and have decided to paper over the cracks.

Social selling isn't a box ticking exercise

We always start our social selling coaching by explaining to people that social selling isn't what you know, it's what you do.

Businesses think that giving somebody a title of “social selling evangelist” means they are ticking the social selling box.

My business partner, Adam Gray and I were on a call to a CEO of a "social media" product and he said to us "we are very social as a business".

Now, we can see his profile and his employees profiles (as I can see your companies) and Adam and I could see that actually they were rubbish at social.

So we asked him "have you ever given permission to your team to go onto social?" and his reply was "we are a social business, the people know what to do .... it will just happen".

In business, nothing "just happens".

People are scared of being fired.

People don't know what to do.

People might feel they can use Facebook and Instagram but are scared of Linkedin.

People don't see it as a priority.

How as humans how do we get new skills?

There are many things in life where knowing and doing are two very different things.

Now I've never built a wall with bricks in my life.  But how hard can it be?  I'm joking.

It's hard and none of us would think we can build a wall with bricks, just because somebody in my team has been made "brick wall builder evangelist".  I won't have the skills to build a brick wall from having a couple of hours "hints and tips" sessions, either.

So why do we think that having a "social selling evangelist" will make any difference?

A path well trodden .... the social selling graveyard

Back in 2014 and 2015 I worked at a large US software company and we wanted to get our sales team to use social selling.

Easy we thought, run a couple of webinars, present how people can make more money and job done.  We ran a number of webinars and guess what?  Nothing happened.

We paid an outside expert to come in and do a two hour "hints and tips" session and guess what?  Nothing happened.

We created a job called a "social selling evangelist" and guess what?  Nothing happened.

This isn't how people learn

One of the biggest organizational challenges is making sure employees are not only engaged with the learning content they’re being presented, but that they also retain it.

Problem is, organizations often compound learning challenges by placing too much emphasis on formal learning.  Usually this involves "push training".  We have all been there, 100 power points and fact after fact.  What did we learn?  Nothing.

There is a learning framework called 70:20:10

The 70:20:10 model emphasizes the benefits of informal learning, it’s also a great methodology that encourages better employee engagement.

The methodology divides learning into three categories:

  • 70% – informal, on the job, experienced based
  • 20% – coaching, mentoring, developing through others (social learning)
  • 10% – formal learning interventions and structured courses

Of the organizations that have embraced the 70:20:10 framework:

  • 73% improved process
  • 72% improved efficiency
  • 63% improved productivity

Unless you (or your social selling supplier) is embracing, 70:20:10 for their social selling training, I'm sorry but a lot of money is going to be wasted and your management team are going to lose patience with you.

It's worth pointing out that a lot of social selling suppliers don't use 70:20:10 and they are more than happy to exploit your ignorance over this. 

Build or Buy?

One decision you need to make as a company is, do you build a social selling program or do I buy one?

If you build one, you can create a role of social selling evangelist and they can set about building the program.  I'm aware of one accountancy software company who has done this, it took the social selling evangelist, 2 years to build the program.  I have no idea if it was successful, but this person wasn't aware of modern training techniques and the whole thing was based on power points and push training.  How do I know?  I was able to attend one of his sessions.  It was similar to what we would have got in the 1990s. As I point out above, that isn't how we learn. 

At DLA Ignite we have a very success social selling program, we built the program based on the failings of my previous corporate role so that by 2018 we had a program that was repeatable and predictable.  Everytime we run it we get 30% increase in revenue and a 40% reduction in the sales cycle.  We don't use "death by powerpoint" learning techniques, we use 70:20:10.  We can start next week.

Just think how quickly you can accelerate your social selling program?

Just think how quickly you can take advantage of that revenue growth and reduction in the sales cycle.  Do that and leadership will see you as a hero!

As I say, you need to decide if you buy or build. 

What are other companies doing?

In case you missed it, the Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch have banned cold calling

The article states...

"Merrill on Monday rolled out a revamped adviser-training program that prohibits participants from cold calling and directs would-be brokers to use internal referrals or LinkedIn messages to land clients instead. The decision comes after the program’s 3,000 trainees were told to stop outbound recruiting efforts to find new customers last year after problematic phone calls."


"The revamped program is intended to bring the firm’s prospecting techniques into the digital era and boost completion rates."

No shit sherlock!

But surely cold calling has a better ROI than social selling?  Not according to Merrill Lynch.

"They will also be encouraged to contact prospects over LinkedIn, which has a higher hit rate than cold calling"

They haven't decided to employ a social selling evangelist and hoped that ... well I have no idea what you will hope for, I just know that hope isn't s strategy.

Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch are rolling out social selling across everybody, no ifs, no buts, no delay.  It's a strategy.